As I shared before, last weekend I went to a Buddhist temple to engage in yoga and remain silent for the weekend.
The weekend was a bit different than expected; we didn’t have to be silent, we just had to be quiet while the monks slept, and besides doing loads of yoga, we also socialized with the group and played group games. The games weren’t necessarily my cup of tea, but the others seemed to like it.
The schedule was very pleasant, we would wake up at 5AM and start chanting mantra’s of which I knew most of them, then we would perform yoga asana’s (poses) for 2.5 hours. After the asana’s it would be time for breakfast with the monks – the breakfast, of course, would consist of rice and you could add any of the assortment of pickles which were on every table. Pretty tasty, but mostly enjoyable. The lunch and dinner are basically the same as breakfast, although the rice is more watery in the morning and the assortment of pickled vegetables became grander the later in the day the meal with additional types of tofu (fermented, and also known as ‘stinky tofu’) & beans. Then off to do more yoga after a three hour (nap) break.
The atmosphere in the dining room is quite pleasant, the monks themselves aren’t quiet at all. Many elder women seem to work/help out there, these aren’t monks, but it seems like the ladies volunteer at the temple, whom I of course couldn’t engage with, but they would speak Chinese to me with a heavy accent (I’ve been told), and I would speak Dutch back to them. No need to speak English, we are lost in translation no matter the language.
At one point a bunny hopped right up to me, and I engaged a little bit with this bunny, but suddenly one of my favorite ladies at the temple mimicked that the the rabbit should be caught, and after a while our yoga teacher eventually caught the rabbit and the ruckus came to an end.
The yoga classes consisted of many different aspects of yoga; mantra’s, asana’s, pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation, and bandha’s (locks in the body), which to me weren’t new, but for the people new to yoga it was a great introduction and guide to start practicing yoga at home.
Saturday before sun-down we took a stroll in the village and enjoyed being in nature. Many people had informed that the main reason they were on this trip was to get away from the city and have a little breath of fresh air – I must say, it was extremely pleasant to breathe free.
One of the elder ladies, whom had a rounded back due to old-age, was quite active and after the meal would come over to our tables and ask if we were full in coarse Chinese with heavy accent. I sincerely admire all of the hard-working, sweet women at the temple, they are busy most of the time, and are otherwise engaging in loud conversation amongst themselves.
Here are some photos I took, I didn’t get to take photos of the monks or the amazing female volunteers for which I’m sorry.
If you are interested in the retreat: