Join us for the Colour Madness at Holi 2016! – 22 Oct 15

If you get our newsletter, you have already received an invitation to the retreat we planned next: the Holi Retreat 2016! While in the past years we just loosely invited everyone with a special offer for the time of the colour festival, we now have a complete program ready for a first-hand experience of India, the Ashram and of course the colour madness of the Holi celebration!

Holi, for all who don’t know it, is one of India’s two biggest festivals of the year! It is a huge colour celebration and while the rest of India celebrates it on one day in spring, the town of Vrindavan hurls itself into colours a whole week long!

It is an exceptional time of the year during which you can really feel like a child again! You can play tricks on each other, paint with colours without worrying about your clothes and throw colours onto one another as well!

With our Holi Retreat program, you will have the possibility to enjoy Indian culture from within, starting with a welcome-party at the Ashram followed by a guided tour through Vrindavan so that you know the city you will spend the next one or two weeks in. Next, you will get to see how Holi is celebrated inside the main temple of Vrindavan, how we prepare fresh colours ourselves and then take part in the big Holi celebration at the Ashram on the climax day of Holi. In the safe environment of our private party, we will get crazy with the colours!

After Holi is over, your holiday will continue a bit calmer but not any less interesting! You get to visit our school and the school children, have time for a question and answer round with Yashendu where you can ask whatever you want and of course you will make a trip to see the Taj Mahal in Agra! In a presentation of Indian spices, you’ll get to know what creates the wonderful taste of the Ashram’s food and in an Ayurvedic Cooking Workshop you will learn how to prepare these dishes yourself. With a walk around the town and a stop at the evening fire ceremony at the river, we will conclude the program – and after a farewell party, you will be on your way back home with the most beautiful memories on your mind.

There will be daily yoga classes and enough time to explore the surroundings yourself, relax at the Ashram, take Ayurvedic massages and treatments, play with the children or go shopping in Vrindavan’s colourful bazaars!

With this Holi Retreat we want to combine the fun of the Holi celebration with the feeling of being taken care of in your experience of incredible India – and we are already looking forward to getting coloured together with you!

Here you can get all details for the Holi Retreat 2016!

And here you can see pictures of previous Holi celebrations

Please read this if you go on Holidays to escape your daily Life – 2 Feb 15

Yesterday I told you a little bit about my feelings when I go on holidays. I know I have a different attitude towards holidays than many people. And I tell you one thing: a lot of people’s way of talking about their holidays tells you that they are doing something wrong. Not on their holidays – in their daily life!

I can tell you, I love my holidays. I love being out in another city with my wife, love doing whatever I like without a bigger plan before, love the fact that we can simply stay in the hotel the whole day if we feel like it and love that we can choose a restaurant for dinner every day. I love all this – but it is not important for my life. I don’t depend on my holidays. My whole year is not centered on my holidays. When we come back, we talk about how nice it was – and look forward to getting back to our daily life as well.

I love my work, I told you that just recently. Not only my work, I love my life, the Ashram, the school, our charity work and our business, my family, friends, visitors, children and guests. And I know too many people who don’t. Who are not happy with their normal life.

When people leave the Ashram, we often see tears. Of course, we are happy when the reason is the great time they have spent here and the regret of having to leave friends on the other side of the planet! Sometimes however, the tears don’t show that the past weeks were so nice. Sometimes they show that the future weeks won’t be nice! They regret that they have to go home to a life they don’t like.

Whether it is their work, their family situation or general loneliness and dissatisfaction – their holiday for them was a time when they could be happy while they are usually not. A holiday should not be a ‘getaway’ which is these days so much advertised! Yes, on a holiday you get time to recharge and see something else, do something different and meet new people. But you shouldn’t book your holiday to escape your normal life!

Don’t let your regular life drain your battery like this! If you feel that you are only living for your holidays, waiting for them and dreaming of getting away, you are not living your life. You are only alive for maybe four weeks a year.

Don’t waste your life. Make a change and do it now!

Why I want to stay in Hotels on my Holidays – 1 Feb 15

I decided to write something about my personal life every Sunday now. Not in a row, not always what happened in the past week but about what happened, what moved me and what I felt and feel. Today I would like to write about a preference I have on my holidays: I actually want to stay in a hotel on my holiday, not in a friend’s house.

I actually told this to a friend whom we visited in Amritsar. We were in their home for two evenings and spent a very nice time together. When the lady of the house asked me to stay there next time instead of going to the hotel for sleeping, I replied her exactly this: when I am on holiday, I really prefer being on my own, with my wife and daughter.

That may sound funny to you, as you have read before about how quickly I make friends and invite them to my home and welcome them here with much joy and love. It is however exactly this: we are always among people. We live in a joint family, of course, but that’s not what I mean: apart from my brothers, father, grandmother and kids, there are always our staff members, school children and also Ashram visitors around.

We have guests the whole year around and we mostly don’t know them before. We get used to each other, we get to know each other and we of course also live our personal life a little bit according to that. And we love it, we all really do.

When I go on holidays however, things are a bit different for me. I don’t want to stay in someone’s home and take care of everyone’s feelings when I want to put my arm around my wife’s shoulders. Or confirm with everyone when they get up, when the bathroom is free and so on. I prefer having a hotel room where I then don’t need to really look after people around me.

Now don’t get me wrong, also when we were in Amritsar this time and whenever we were on such holidays before, we met friends of the area. We spent time with them, had great dinner made by the hands of loving friends and talked for several hours. It was great – but nevertheless, Ramona, Apra and I also enjoyed our time in the hotel, just by ourselves.

So please don’t be surprised or even feel insulted if I don’t come to stay in your home when I come to your town – I will love to meet you but I will prefer staying in a hotel!

Bye-bye beautiful Island Gran Canaria – 30 Jun 14

So today we are leaving Gran Canaria. In fact, while writing these lines, we are sitting in the plane already, on the way to Germany. Apra is fast asleep, lying on the seat next to me, her legs on my lap. We had a great time on this island and thanks to our friend Betty, we could get to know quite a few Canarian people, get to know more about the culture there and also understand that living on an island is quite different!

First of all, there is of course the fact that you are always close to the ocean. On Gran Canaria, this means from anywhere on the island, you can drive an hour and you will reach the seaside – either beautiful sand beaches with soft waves or rocky coasts with stairs into the water or a beach with black stone pebbles.

Particularly on Gran Canaria, the miniature continent however, you can also have nearly every other weather and landscapes: just drive up the mountains and you have views like in the Alps on one side or rocks reminding of the Rocky Mountains on the other. And you can see the reminder that you are on volcanic islands when you look at some lava-shaped mountain sides that look like molten ice-cream. I heard that two years ago, a volcano was even active on another island!

If you want to go any further though, if you want to go to any other country, if you want to have a longer drive and actually cross a border, you have to take a ship or a flight. There is no other way. It’s not like in Germany, where you can take your car and, depending on where you are, drive a few hours to reach France, Switzerland, Denmark or even Italy! You have to get onto a ship or into a plane. Apart from having to pay more for such journeys, you also need to calculate more time. And that’s why Gran Canarians, as we have learned last week, go for holidays on their own island!

Yes, it is true and we found this very funny. Actually, in Germany, it has become fashion, too: you make holidays in your own country. That can mean however to drive eight hours to the North Sea and get a hotel at the beach. Or the other way round, go skiing in the Alps! In India, you can anyway take a flight of three hours and still land in the same country.

On Gran Canaria, people don’t need to drive that far: they simply take their car, go for a ride of one hour or one-and-a-half and then rent an apartment where they reached! That can be in the capital, at the sunny beaches of the South, in a windy fisherman’s town in the North or high up in the mountains with a spectacular view on the mountains.

They are away from their home, so it is holidays. It doesn’t matter that in other countries – like India or Germany, the two countries where I consider myself being at home – you would probably go home in the evening, even if it was still a drive of two hours! It is all a matter of the mind. It all happens in your head. And thinking like this, you can actually even make a holiday in your own home, not even moving away from your own bed.

Just change your point of view – maybe even to ‘island-view’! 🙂

A Weekend out in the Woods – 20 Apr 14

When I was in Germany in 2006, I of course met a lot of the people whom I had become friends with in the previous years. There was a group of such friends with whom I had agreed to meet over a complete weekend in a holiday home. Just for fun and enjoying the time. This was something new for me and I thought it would be an interesting experience.

My friends were a group of young, spiritually interested people. I had got to know them when they had come to my meditations the year before. Also in that time, we spent long evenings talking and being together in my organizer’s home. There were a few musicians among them, interested also in Indian music, and I had been in touch with them via email even while I was out of Germany.

This time, they called me on my mobile and we made our plans more concrete, fixed a weekend when I was anyway in their area and they told me that they knew someone who owned a cabin in the woods to stay there overnight. They would pick me up and drop me back off. I was looking forward to it.

When the weekend came, they did come to pick me up and after a drive of about two hours, we reached a forest. The road turned into a rather dusty path that led us deeper into the forest with many bumps. Finally, the path stopped as well and we had to get out and walk the remaining way. It was then that I saw the many things they had in their trunk: pots, spoons and plates, vegetables and lentils, rice and water, yoga mats, blankets and of course their instruments. We were about 15 people and had come with four cars. Everybody took something and off we walked into the woods.

The way was not far and we reached a small clearing where I saw a wooden hut on one side and a fireplace on the other. It was a beautiful scenery and when we all had unloaded our things, we walked around the area a bit, exploring it further.

When the sun started going down, some of the group started a fire while we others cooked together on a camping stove. Such a meal is always beyond comparison – out in the open, by the fireside and without the formalities of a regular dining table.

After the meal, the musicians made some music. We sang, we talked and enjoyed the evening. A few young men and women found each other for further intimacy and soon retreated in couples a bit further away from the fire into the semidarkness closer to the trees.

While many of them stayed up through a big part of the night, I went to sleep in the hut, on a few yoga mats on top of each other. I had one of the two rooms for myself – most of the others slept outside under the open sky.

In the late morning, we packed our things and left after a beautiful evening. I had enjoyed myself – but on the other hand, I also enjoyed lying in a proper bed again the next evening.

Our adventurous Journey from Vrindavan to Lucknow – 23 Dec 13

We just came back from our long weekend in Lucknow. We, that is Ramona, Apra and I. It has been a long time, more than two years, that we did this kind of journey within India. Yes, you counted right, we had our last weekend trip in India when Ramona was pregnant. This means this is the first such journey within India together with Apra. It was, as expected, an adventure, from beginning to end, but a very nice one!

We had booked the trains quite a while ago already, as they tend to get very full. So we had our reservation for the Thursday evening train at 10 pm. As it is winter time and trains can get delayed, we checked online and read there that our train was on time. So we started on time and reached the train station in Mathura early enough to make it comfortably to the train. Very comfortably actually, because signs said the train would be 4 hours late due to fog! For the internet website, that obviously didn’t seem to count as delayed yet! The official time was thus 2 am Friday morning but workers at the station told that the same train of the day before arrived in Mathura at 6 am in the morning! What were we supposed to do? Go home and come back at 2 am only to then get to know about further delays? Wait at the train station, maybe for eight hours or more?

We decided not to take any chances with our three-day-holiday but instead quickly booked a flight last minute for the morning. Apra however was not happy with the change of plan at all. The whole day long we had told her we would go by train and now we were at the train station, there were trains everywhere, why didn't we sit in one and leave? She urged us to finally get into one of them and was disappointed when we tried to explain her that we would go back home instead!

That's what we did however and we could even lie down a bit before we had to start to the Delhi airport at one in the night. Arriving in Delhi, we got to know that the flight, too, would be delayed for two hours. As we had arrived on time for check-in, at 3:30 am, we thus had another 5 hours at the airport until departure.

Apra, having slept at home and in the car, woke up at the airport, fresh and ready for the new day! She was so excited to discover that she was at the airport, she was laughing with joy! She marvelled at the aquarium, had some idli for breakfast and took many rounds on the escalator. It reminded her of Germany, where we had taken escalators in all shopping malls and was thus shouting out from time to time "Apra is going to Germany!"

We then had a smooth flight, which Apra enjoyed because she came ‘to the moon’s home’, and finally reached the hotel, only three hours later than we were supposed to reach, had the train been on time.

Although one could see this as a rough start into a holiday, we enjoyed this rescheduling, rebooking and changing of plans. We had a positive attitude, had decided that we wanted to be happy and not get stressed or annoyed and Apra had fun anyway!

Most of all we were happy that we had decided to fly because the next evening we got to know that the train which we had planned to take finally reached Lucknow 12 hours later than scheduled! No, flying had been the better thing to do!

I will tell you more about our long weekend in Lucknow tomorrow and the next days.

Beginning of the Himalaya Journey 2013 – 28 Mar 13

Today, having had a short recovery time after the big Holi party, our group of guests departed towards the Himalayas! Yes, seven people and Yashendu came down to the main hall this morning, their bags and suitcases in their hands, the walking shoes ready and their yoga mats under the arms. They packed everything into the small bus, where lots of water and travelling snacks had already been stored, said goodbye and climbed into it in anticipation of the big journey which finally started today.

Every time when we organize such a trip it is something special. Last year, the participants had the chance to join our big celebration of Apra’s birth and this year they were here just in time to celebrate Holi with us.

After having Holi parties full of fun, they are now on their way to Rishikesh, also called ‘the gateway to the Himalayas’. They will meet the two last members of the travelling group so that they will be ten travellers altogether, finding themselves tonight at the banks of the river Ganges, getting used to the view of the mountains around them.

Tomorrow they will have time not only to explore the city of Rishikesh with its bridges across the river and of course its big yoga business but also to discover the beautiful nature around it, the caves and forest paths that regular tourists will only find if they leave the town with a local person who knows his way around.

They will then leave Rishikesh to travel further up into the mountains where they will make a stop at a very non-touristic place, Bhatwari, Barsu, where they will find themselves in the midst of nature and an amazing landscape. They will have their first longer walk here, a trek which will take them to a beautiful lake at the shore of which they will have a picnic and probably enjoy a musical session.

They will probably also do some yoga out in the nature there before starting to go further up the mountain towards Gangotri, the source of the river Ganges. A part of the group has already been there together with us in the last year and they are looking forward to sit at the river again, hang their feet in and just enjoy the flow of this mighty river at a place where it is so pure! If the way is open, they will even try to do a trek up to Gaumukh, the place where the source glacier of the Ganges is situated.

Coming back down, our group will have a stop in Maneri at the Maneri Lake, once more enjoying the calm and quiet mountain area before coming back down to Rishikesh, their first and last stop of the tour.

The big surprise for the travelers of this year is that they will go back from Rishikesh to Mathura by train instead of the small bus! It is the longest trip of the journey and they will be able to walk around and relax a bit better while looking out of the window and seeing the landscape run by.

They will finally reach back in Vrindavan and we at the Ashram are already looking forward to welcome them back and hear of all their adventures of the journey!

See pictures of last year’s Himalaya Journey

Experiences of Meditation and Ayurveda Yoga Retreats at the Ashram – 24 Nov 11

At the moment we have a full Ashram and enjoy the time with our guests very much. They have come for different retreats, the Ayurveda Yoga Holiday and the Meditation Retreat. It is an international group and we daily have fun with different languages, talking about customs in different countries and comparing whether the vegetables that we eat here are available there or not. They are from Germany, Australia, France, Portugal and the UK.

Most of the participants take part in daily meditation classes. Twice a day they either go into my cave to meditate or they enjoy Chakra dance, a dynamic meditation to energize and stimulate their energy centers. Nearly all of them also take daily Ayurvedic massages and have daily yoga classes. They get Ayurvedic food that fits their body type and of course my mother, in charge of the kitchen, loves to make another special dish every day so we are always surprised about a new item on our dining table. Yashendu is busy guiding them through their programs and I am there for everyone if they have any problem or issue they would like to talk about. After talking to the participants, I thought I share some of their experiences with you so that you get a better idea of how they enjoy their time here.

“During the massage, I felt like a child. It is beautiful to be taken care of so completely from head to toe! You feel so loved, as an individual person! Someone is there, only for you! I never had this feeling in any massage at home!”

“In the beginning you have to get used to not doing anything but now, after a few days, I really like it! I can imagine how difficult it will be to get back to work after my holiday!”

“From the very first email contact I felt special and important. It is a feeling that I still have now.”

“My skin is so soft from this oil! I love it!”

“Normally my nails break really easily and they are thus always very short but here they grow and I have the feeling they get stronger. I don’t know whether it is the climate, the massage oil or maybe the Ayurvedic food but my hair and nails are stronger!”

“I never realize the time during our meditations! One hour goes by so quickly, I feel as though it was only twenty minutes.”

“It is difficult to get so fresh food at home every day. And when I buy spices there, they just never have this taste! I will definitely get some spices here and take them home!”

“I enjoy being just me. I don’t have to pretend to be anyone else!”

“The beautiful thing about the yoga classes is to see how much you improve every day! I was fully stiff when I came one week ago and now I already feel so much more flexible!”

“How beautiful to see the children here every day! Living with them, being with them, it makes you feel alive.”

“There is always someone around whom I can talk to if I want to. And if I don’t want to, I can find a quiet place just for myself, too.”

“I love to have the meditation in the morning and then yoga, some movement to start the day. After that time for yourself to explore the town or just relax before a nice massage and another meditation. Perfect!”

“You see monkeys, squirrels, so many birds and butterflies, we hear the cows in the surrounding and sometimes even some puppies come in. It feels like we are fully in nature!”

It is beautiful to hear all this and to see that they are happy. They interact with the Ashram boys, they laugh and enjoy and while we are sitting here in the office I can hear them giggling outside. We are having a good time together and are happy to have them here.

How to avoid stress and burnout in business life – 10 Tips – 13 May 11

Yesterday I wrote that you should allow feelings as a businessman, too. When meeting friends who are daily a part of the corporate business world, I have become familiar with their lifestyle, their workday and also their private life. I see how much stress many of them take and I have collected ten ideas of how they can remove this stress, take off pressure and thus prevent burnout and nervous breakdown. If you take care of them, you will see a significant change in your life.

– Small Meditation Breaks

Don’t worry, you don’t need to have experience in meditating for doing it. Take small breaks of five minutes in between meetings and appointments to just sit, close your eyes, breathe deeply and think of something beautiful. This can be anything you like – your family and your home, the last meeting with your best friends, a beautiful scenery with flowers and rivers or doing your favourite sport. This is meditation, easy and effective. In a normal hectic day you often breathe superficially, in this way you fill your body with oxygen, too. This practice will relax your mind and your tensed muscles and will make you ready for the next task of the day.

– Find a Meaning in what you do and love it

Businessmen tend to struggle after several years of doing business because a question comes up ‘What am I doing this all for?’ Find a meaning. In which way does what you do help people? How do you contribute in this world by what you do? And if you don’t find anything in the product that you sell, convince your company to donate to charity or do it yourself. You won’t believe it but this really changes your attitude towards your work. Love and enjoy what you are doing. Bring feelings into your business, especially joy, happiness and love.

– Delegate and share responsibilities

Don’t cling to the idea that you have to do everything yourself in order to make it work properly. There are other people who have abilities in the same field and who are capable of sharing your responsibility with you. If you delegate or share a few tasks in a team, you will feel lighter because you don’t need to take care of everything yourself anymore. You need to have trust in them of course but if you do, you will realize that it takes a lot of stress off you – and it is much nicer to work together than always alone!

– Take care what you eat and how

No matter how stressed you are and how many appointments you have in one day, never eat in standing or while walking or even running. Don’t live on fast food. It would slowly kill your intestines and you. Eat healthy in a way that gives you strength and energy for your tasks.

– Do Regular Workout

Especially if you spend long periods of time sitting in a chair at the computer or a conference table, your body needs to stretch and bend sometimes. You should take some time for yourself, either in morning or evening, and run, swim or do any sport that you like, that makes you sweat, that strengthens your muscles and brings them in another position than the one that you are in the rest of your time. Yoga is a nice way to flex your muscles and can additionally to your daily routine be done while in the office and on a chair. Do whatever you like but move your body! This reduces stress and tension both from your muscles but also from your mind because it gets free for some time and concentrates on other things. Additionally your workout stimulates the blood circulation to your brain and helps you concentrate even better!

– Don’t be afraid of failure and don’t be a perfectionist

Perfectionism creates a lot of pressure. You cannot be perfect because no human is. I have written about this topic before, too. Perfectionism makes you afraid that you could make a mistake and that you could not be perfect. If someone is afraid of failure, he is always in stress and under pressure. Don’t take this pressure. See the bigger picture and understand that even if you do a mistake, the world will keep on turning and you will survive.

– Spend time with your family

Don’t let work be the only thing in your life. If you are not married and have no children yet, visit your parents, aunts, uncles, cousins or people whom you see as family. It is important to have connections with people who have nothing to do with your business. They will certainly be happy that you keep the relation alive and you can relax, enjoy and also have the feeling of security that there is someone else, a support and someone there who loves you.

– Take several short or even longer holidays throughout the year

Take a break. Take time for yourself. If you are self-employed or in a very high position in a company, you may say that there is no way for you to take time off. But there always is a way and you have to do it, otherwise you will ruin yourself. If you cannot take holidays for two weeks in a row, make it one week or even only a prolonged weekend. Make sure not to take work-related things and that you will only be contacted in emergencies. And then lean back and trust that your co-workers or employees can take care of matters for a few days.

– Share your feelings with your friends and your wife or husband

Talk about what you do in your work and let out all the feelings that you could not during work due to the circumstances there. Tell them what you liked and what made you angry. Explain what you like to do and what you don’t like to do. Your friends and your partner will be there to support you and just to listen to you. It will actually make them happy that you let them take part in this and share your feelings. And you will get rid of those feelings instead of suppressing them and risking a big explosion one day.

– No business in the bedroom

After sharing some stories or your work-related problems and topics with your husband or wife, don’t bring business talk everywhere. Really, stop it, at the latest when you go into the bedroom. No business is allowed there anymore, just love and the relationship of you and your partner. Here you should really concentrate on other things! That is why this rule should be strictly followed: no business in our bedroom!

Why it is not good to hold Yoga Poses for long time – 21 Mar 11

We have had a wonderful celebration weekend, with Ramona’s birthday on Saturday and a big Holi party on Sunday. It was lots of coloured powder, lots of coloured water and lots of fun! Everybody enjoyed it very much. Yashendu also gave the yoga workshop to the participants of the Ayurveda Yoga Holiday and in that time I remembered another incident that I wanted to tell you about.

Once in a healing session, someone asked me about a certain yoga practice. He had heard that one of his teachers was able to remain in each yoga pose that he did for a complete half an hour.

‘But when I try this, I start getting pain so quickly. I bend forward in Paschimottasana and my back hurts, I sit in Padmasana, the lotus seat and my knee hurts, I am in the shoulder stand and my hips start aching. What can I do to reach that level?’

As he asked me for my opinion, I did not hold back with it. I told him that I thought this idea was completely wrong, simply a wrong approach to any physical exercise and definitely a wrong way to practice yoga.

First of all, there are many poses which are physically harmful if you hold them for such a long time. There are postures for example that hurt and injure your joints after a certain time because they are twisted in an unusual position which is not how your body is meant to be. Inversion postures, such as the shoulder stand and the head stand, should never be performed longer than ten minutes. These poses are beneficial for you because more blood flows towards the head due to gravity but if you keep it for a long time, this same fact can harm the blood vessels in the head due to the increased blood pressure. What is good for you for a short time is harmful if you do it for that long.

Even if you practice a posture that is medically fine to hold for such a long time, you should never ever exceed the limits of your body. It is not any miracle if someone can do this. The human body is very flexible and you can practice and train it to do nearly whatever you want. But it is wrong. Why would you give pain and hurt to your body in order to force it into an unnatural position for a long time? Yoga is meant to be enjoyed. It is not a competition and it is nothing that is goal-oriented. Feel the benefit of a pose when you are in the pose, no matter how well you can perform it.

Don’t give pain to your body or cross your own limits! Listen to your body and what it tells you, it knows best what is good for you.