Anuttara, home of stilness and unconditional love

/ October 2, 2016/ Holistic Nutrition/ 0 comments

I spent a month in the Anuttara ashram doing karma yoga. It was hard work… in the end, I finally got around to seat still and meet incredible people.

I found out about Anuttara because of an add looking for a yoga teacher. When I contacted them, they already had accepted an applicant and told me to look at their karma program. I did… I was very attracted to the remoteness of the place. I was craving silent and solitude for a while. I also wanted to try a much simpler life with a lot less.

view of the mountains Nass Valley

The first sight of the Nass Valley was as impressive as the pictures I saw on the website. Yet, I was not prepare for the energy in it. Maybe the Pitta in me felt the intense effect of all the water that surrounded us. Stillness in nature is unavoidable and is a true inspiration for our practice.

Similar to Bali, I found most people that come to Anuttara are under 30. Nirav, the founder, estimates 85%. During my stay only 4 people were above 30 and I was the oldest person in age. Some how that did not matter to the other karma yogis and I was not treated different than anyone else.

kolrabi salad with cherry tomatoes

There is a lot of physical demanding labor to do around the ashram. Most things we take for granted also require work like washing your clothes, doing the dishes, taking a warm shower or going to the toilet. The quorum decided the most challenging think was the dry compost toilet. As with anything, we get use to it or learn to deal with it. The simplicity of this life is captivating.

It was a little intimidating at first to be cooking for so many with so much freedom. When I realized that the karma yogis were always grateful for the food I put on the table, I relaxed and the love I felt for the place and the karma yogis started to be reflected on the food. Also, I got admit than having fresh vegetables from the garden harvested in the morning everyday was a huge help. They tasted awesome with very little work!

Meditation hall at Anuttara

The morning practice started with a fire ceremony (aarti) felt like such a gift. I couldn’t help connecting and being taken back to ceremonies I participated in Varanasi and Rishikesh. The yoga practice was different than any class I ever taken. At first, I didn’t understand why I felt so different.

black bear roaming for berries

The first time I saw I black bear was really funny. We were in the girls dorm and I was trying to convince my friend Patri to go back to the kitchen because I forgot to left the black beans soaking. She turned me down and replied, we can’t go there is a bear outside. Right, you are just saying that because you don’t want to go… and she yelled seriously there is freaking bear in the garden! Can he come into the cabin? maybe… let’s go upstairs! what am I saying he will climb upstairs… what are you doing? I am grabbing my zoom lens, I want to take some pics
Don’t think I wasn’t scared, I was but curiosity kind of won over fear.


Sita constantly runs around the valley chasing away bears and other threats and keep us safe. Thanks to Sita, I only saw a very small young bear one other time a few days before leaving just outside the dorm. She happily tagged along in our long walks and accepted to be on a leash for the duration without pulling in it just gently keeping up with our pace. So if you are scare of bears or other beasts, don’t be! Sita will protect you.

River view from the ridge

My favorite spot became the trail along the ridge of the mountain. I went by myself the first time. Yes, I did get scared a couple of times cause of strange sounds and thought bear? luckily it was something smaller and harmless. The sight of the river was spectacular and I was grateful that vertigo didn’t kicked in. I sat on the top looking at the river and the mountains for a long time. The only regret I have is not having enough time to walk this trail more often.

Fire ceremony

As synchronicity would have it, I had to perform a fire ceremony by myself. Nirav guided me through the chants and steps with patience and wisdom. Some time after I started chanting, devotion permeated through and I wasn’t worried anymore about the pronunciation or correctness. I knew it didn’t matter. Blessed with additional power due to the circumstances, I chanted the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra for the healing of the land where I was born. Hoping as always it would help in some way.

satsang at meditation hall

The teachings I received made and continue to have a big impact in my life and my yoga classes. Stillness has helped me to deepen in my meditation practice and really going back to the simplicity of just seating still no matter what without expectations. The knowledge of sublimation and the spiritual heart and incorporating it as part of the practice is the most transformative influence so far. Especially the sublimation of pain. Don’t worry if you don’t know what I am talking about, I will share details with you about it in a future post.

“Only in stillness, you can hear the secret vibrations of your spiritual heart. These are the vibration of love”


After learning about sublimation, it became more clear what was happening during the yoga class. Nirav teaches in a way to sublimate the energy through the chakras. This was the first time, I experienced it or became aware of it. Now, that has become palpable I am working my way to share it with you all.

Silence as a practice is encouraged. There is a badge you can wear and everyone is respectful and supportive of this practice. I met a woman that remain silent for a whole month at the ashram. She only spoke the last day before leaving! my own room mate practiced for 5 days before leaving the ashram. I practiced noble silence for 4 days noble silence as I had to speak to teach restorative and while cooking the meals. Again, I found silence very soothing and healing.

karma yogis

I was fascinated by the karma yogis. So young and already on a healing path searching for truth and purpose. But mostly, I felt admiration for the courage overcoming what has been a difficult start in life for most of them. And here is when I got a glimpse of what this place really means. A home where unconditional love lives. Nirav provides this home for everyone that needs a home and loves everyone without any judgement. Difficult task to accomplish with the diversity of people that lands at the ashram.

sunrise view from the dorm

One day I was cooking dinner, my friend comes in exited come an see. We all run out to the deck in the meditation hall and the sky was covered in beautiful colors. We stood in awe looking at the beautiful sunset. A yogi comes running, what it is? the sunset we replied…

mountain view from the ridge

Learning to play the conch was sort of a challenge… We had to play three sounds to announce that meals were ready. What I kept thinking is that in an emergency, one suppose to blow it ten times… I couldn’t make but wimpy sounds for the whole month. Just the last two days I was starting to make some short sounds and only the very last day I was able to blow it aloud and long!

I want to thank all the yogis I met during my stay for their generous friendships and all the support and love I received during my stay. I am very grateful to Sita, the protector, who always appear out nowhere to escort us back to our dorm every evening. Last but not least… I want to especially thank Nirav for his teachings, trust and unbound generosity. Look forward to visiting the ashram again!

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