In Eat Pray Love, Julia Roberts undertook a series of life-transforming steps. One ofthose was a yoga trip to India. Many interesting forms of yoga have emerged in recentyears and they can be part of your next break. A yoga retreat at Taj Mahal, a standuppaddle board yoga course in Australia or a meditation experience with your pets—they all offer a nourishing experience for your body and soul.
印度詩人泰戈爾說: 泰姬陵是“一滴愛的淚珠”。“沙迦罕，你知道，生命和青春，財富和榮耀，都會隨光陰流逝，只有這一顆淚珠，泰姬陵，在歲月長河的流淌裏，光彩奪目，永遠，永遠。”那雪白的大理石圓拱頂，周邊的蒙兀兒花園、水道、噴水池，還有左右兩座清真寺，聯合國教科文組織UNESCO早已將之列為世界文化遺產。這充滿“ 靈氣”的地點，近年吸引了不少旅客到此來一場“ 瑜珈避靜旅遊”，跟著當地大師暫時離開俗世，透過練習瑜伽或者冥想，放慢繁忙的生活節奏，感受泰姬陵奇妙的能量。
Soul Cleansing at Taj Mahal
Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore described Taj Mahal as “a teardrop of love”: “You knew, Emperor of India, Shah-Jahan/ That life, youth, wealth,renown/ All float away down the stream of time./ Only let the one tear drop/glister pure upon the check of time/This Taj Mahal.”
Taj Mahal’s iconic ivory-white marble dome is surrounded by Mughal gardens, streams, fountains and two mosques. In recent years, many tourists visit the UNESCO world heritage site for a yoga retreat. By practicing yoga and meditation with local masters, they let go and slowdown to feel the magical energy of Taj Mahal.
A yoga retreat is both soul-cleansing and self-challenging. Participants get up at 5 am to practice breath regulation and meditation. It then moves on to physical yoga, massage, meditation and chanting. The activities last a whole day. It is a truly unique experience to practise yoga while learning about the love story behind the mausoleum and its architectural structure.
Following in the Beatles’ Footsteps
Yoga has a history of over 5,000 years. The moves are slow and elegant, with a focus on the balance between body and soul. Rishikesh is a small town in northern India free of industrialisation. Located at the base of the Himalayan range, it is considered the origin of yoga and dubbed “theyoga capital of the world”. In 1967, the Beatles also practised here. The mountain scenery, sounds of nature and clean air there all provide sanctuary for the soul.
The town is full of yoga pilgrims from around the world. Sanskrit chants fill the air and they arouse a sense of empathy for different forms of lives. Souls are cleansed amid the natural environment of Himalaya and bodies are conditioned on the shore of Ganges as the sun sets. Breaths and pulses become a shared experience among visitors in Rishikesh.
Australia: Follow the Waves
Yoga in other countries can take more creative forms. At Tallebudgera Creek in Palm Beach near Sydney, stand-up paddle board (SUP) yoga classes are run every week. Beginners first learn to regulate breath and try to balance on a SUP before they proceed to perform strengthening moves on the board.
The instructor will first anchor the SUP and then guide participants to relax. Each move is then explained and demonstrated. Practising yoga on a SUP requires even more focus and balance, but working out in the tranquil sea somehow feels even more relaxing than on the ground. It is not easy even for experienced yogis to practise on a SUP. Alignments become even more important as they help balancing. Participants would become more aware of the section of core muscles that they are working out. Even if you lose your balance and fall into the water, it is still fun and refreshing. What if the SUP drifts away? Everyone is floating around anyway, so embrace it instead of fighting it. It is after all part of yoga to learn to live with nature.
Loved by Celebrities: SUP Pilates
Apart from SUP yoga, there are also SUP Pilates courses in Palm Beach. Pilates is similar to yoga as they both focus on the breath. It is said Pilates delivers strengthening results quicker because it emphasise score and back workout. It has gained popularity among celebrities and sportspeople, and is now commonly practised in Australia.
As dawn breaks, SUPs with yoga and Pilates practitioners can be seen floating in the middle of the sea. Practising in the refreshing air along the Australian coast feels even healthier. SUP yoga is also popular in the UK,US and Asia. SUP yoga makes participants feel like a dolphin jumping out of the water, doing difficult moves while surfing. Although it is no easy task to do yoga or pilates on SUP, but the sense of accomplishment is totally beyond description when an advanced move is successfully performed.
Connecting Human and Pets
There are now goat yoga and beer yoga, both attracting a lot of attention. However, it is pet yoga that catches the eyes of true yoga enthusiasts. Founded by Mahny Djahanguiri,“doga” has become a hit. Growing up in the Alps of Switzerland, Djahanguiri spent a majority of time with nature and animals. She said as a person hugs a dog while doing yoga moves, the dog will also learn to adjust its breath and moves. This enhances the connection between the person and the dog and improves the health of both. In the process, stress and emotions are released. Blood pressure and pulse rate will be lowered,adrenaline level regulated and the digestive system improved. As a result, the lives of both the person and the dog will be prolonged.
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