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Archive | January, 2016

12 Most Beautiful Locations to Build an Ashram

acm group building community

If you were a master on the lookout for a stunning location to build your new ashram, what would be some of the prerequisites you would be taking under consideration? Probably: the aesthetic geographical aspect of the site, the sacred energy vibrational quality of the location, the architectural features of the buildings, the public transport accessibility, the friendliness of the municipal authorities, and whether the site truly speaks to your own soul. Here are my 12 most beautiful locations to build an ashram.

Top of the list would have to be Ubud on the Hindu island of Bali in Indonesia. This mountain paradise has all the peace and geographic beauty to stop you in your tracks and contemplate more than your navel. The vegetation is beautiful, the views are breathtaking; and the local people are exquisite. This part of Bali has retained its spiritual flavour and religiousness.

Next, the stunning secluded monasteries in Ladakh in Kashmiri India have all the other worldly qualities to inspire the most jaded soul. Austere and difficult to reach by steep narrow roads, these ancient buildings cry out for silence.

Kerala on India’s Malabar Coast is a tropical paradise for ashrams and retreats. On the shoreline of the Arabian Sea, and containing the mountainous Western Ghats, this visually impressive land holds all the aces for a timeless spiritual ambience.

Rishikesh in Uttarakhand, again in India, has a rich tradition as the home of many ashrams. Yoga flourishes in the foothills of the Himalayas. Silent meditation in the presence of divine natural beauty is breathtaking.

Mangrove Mountain in New South Wales in Australia is a natural Mecca for ashrams and retreats. The bush setting and the sacred energy of the location is magnificent.

Of course the Blue Mountains where we’ve set up our ACM Group centre is one of the finest locations to clear one’s mind and truly transcend the hustle and bustle of Sydney just an hour’s drive or train away. Coming soon will be photos of our ACM Group students practicing yoga in all the vistas and vantage points of the Blue Mountains such as Evans Lookout, the Three Sisters and Leura Cascades.

Bangalore in India is another eminently suitable location for a beautiful and inspiring ashram location. It is home to Sai Baba’s ashram.

Koregan Park in Pune, India is another great location for an ashram, utilising the grand old homes of the British Raj in a tropical garden setting. Peacocks wander gracefully around amid the memories of the provocative Osho.

Mount Abu in central India has been home to consciousness raising gurus for centuries and more. The spiritual energy here is in the air and tangible to all who traverse here.

Woodbourne in upstate New York is home to a number of ashrams, retreats and monasteries in beautiful woodland settings.

Nepal, south-western France and Queensland’s Daintree rain forest are all locations with something special to offer the spiritual master in search of quality real estate for his, or her, ashram.

A History of Yoga Lineages & Philosophies

acm group history of yoga

Yoga as a spiritual practice dates back a long way, right back to around the sixth century BC in India. It was not as we know it now, a collection of specific poses, but rather it was a meditative breathing practice aimed at spiritual development. Today, yoga has been embraced by the west as a means of physical exercise, with mental and spiritual dimensions. Some of the yogic strains have morphed into things like ‘hot yoga’ and ‘yogilates’; but what were the original lineages?

Yoga is mentioned in the Rigveda, which is an ancient collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns. The word ‘yoga’ is derived from the root ‘yu’, which means ‘to combine or join’. The sense of the word ‘yoga’ developed over time, as all words, generally, do; and in many ways it has come to mean ‘the science of’ in terms of its application to what we understand the practice of yoga is all about. The first appearance of the word ‘yoga’ in its modern sense is in the Katha Upanishad, from the third or fourth century BC; and it refers to the ‘steady control of the senses’ in meditation to achieve a supreme state. Yoga is a Hindu philosophy and one of the six astika schools of Hinduism.

Ashtanga yoga, which is often called ‘Raja yoga’, which means ‘yoga of the kings’, emerged out of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali; and these are considered to be the foundation scriptures of classical yoga. Hatha yoga is a later form of yogic practice, from the first millennium AD, and it focuses on using the body/mind to build strength through establishing and holding postures. Gorakshanath is thought to have popularised Hatha yoga in his Goraksha Samhita text in the eleventh century.

Tantric yoga sees the impact of Buddhism on yogic practices and this emerged late in the first millennium, as well. Utilising both Buddhist and Hindu texts, Tantric yoga employed visualised mandala arrangements and sexual techniques. It charted the chakras and the route of energy through and around the human body.

Swami Vivekananda was one of the first Hindu teachers to actively promote yoga to a western audience ; he toured Europe and the US in the 1890s. Vivekananda was from the Ashtanga School of yoga; which became Raja yoga. The most popular form of yoga in the west in the twenty first century is associated with Hatha yoga and its asanas. These are the postures that devotees of the exercise form seek to perfect in body, mind and spirit, here at ACM Group we are mindful of the past which directs our future ambitions.

ACM Group Australia 2016