Dorm Life in a yoga ashram
Have you ever shared a room with more than one person?
Ever shared a squashed dormitory with 29 others?
Well, if you haven't, let me tell you, it is NOT easy. Most days our dorm looked like a washing line of laundry decorated with green, white, blue or pink mosquito nets!
We kept our suitcases or backpacks under our beds and shared a shelf for essentials we wanted to grab easily in the dark. In my case, I kept my photos of Eliza and Louis, my mosi`spray, my soap and my water bottle here.
With only a narrow walk way between the cots, running up the centre of the dorm from the doorway to the door leading to the 10 bathrooms and toilets we shared, manoeuvring around required negotiation and patience.
Occasional spats broke out.
Often they were over filling the hot water heater or rather, it not being filled. Hot water was a luxury and for the first 3 days I didn't know we had a way of heating water. Showers were a bucket and jug standing on the concrete floor next to the raised plinth supporting the standing toilet.
It was sheer bliss throwing warm water over my aching body every day usually around 11am after 3 hours of yoga and brunch.
I needed little naps and my cot became my refuge. After showing and dressing, I would climb under my mosquito net, close my eyes and drift off for 30 minutes providing i had completed my Karma yoga tasks for the day.
Karma yoga is one of the 5 arms of Hatha yoga-the practical practice of Raja yoga and everyone was given a week long role to play in the cleaning and orderly functioning of the ashram.
I cleaned the toilets and bathrooms for the first 8 days, watered the plants, washed the pots after supper and cleaned the kitchen area and sink area after both brunch and supper. Not all at the same time or same week but during my time in the ashram.
Lights out was at 930 pm every night and I was delighted to crawl back in to my cot. My routine of sleep preparation included changing into my thermals, brushing my teeth and hair and washing my face, emptying my bladder, inserting my earplugs and covering my eyes with an eye mask, putting the pillow between my knees so i could sleep on my side and pulling my travel pillow around my neck as my pillow. I found this all helped me sleep and sometimes covered my neck and shoulders in muscle rub and added lavender essential oil to my pillow and chest.
The mattress was the thinnest thing I have ever slept on and my back and hips groaned in protest for the first week. I really am not exaggerating! No springs, no latts. Just a wooden board and 2 inch thin mattress.
I sleep very lightly so every time someone went to the bathrooms in the night, I woke.
It was a combo of the noise and torch light that disturbed me and then returning to sleep was often impossible, especially if it was around 4am which it often seemed to be judging by the bird and lizard sounds.
It is funny how I got used to having room mates. It was like having many sisters. We shared fruit, nuts and laughs on days we could talk to each other.
We looked out for each other and when someone was feeling emotional we were there for each other with a hug or a smile.
I'm definitely not saying I would like to permanently sleep in a dorm with 29 other women of all ages from around the world but we experienced more together studying yoga and a yogic lifestyle which was way more important than bed space and physical comfort.