Yoga tour 2019

Haridwar & Rishikesh – Days 1 – 4

Ali in Rishikesh

The latest tour of India with my yoga group has been amazing. Sometimes you must take the bull by the horns and make the most of the unexpected twists and turns.


Although our early morning train to Haridwar was cancelled, I took the group (+2 extras: Raven and Bridget from Aussi) to the Lotus Temple which was also closed! Then at the Lakshmi-Narayan Temple, which was open, we rested in the cool marble compound and drank chai. We finally caught the afternoon train to Haridwar.


When we got back to Haridwar the Ganga’s flow had been stopped for pre-Diwali cleaning! The once fast flowing river was now a slow trickle, so we headed over the bridge by autorickshaw to bathe in the ‘real’ Ganga.


At Chandi Ghat we found the sacred waters flowing fast and headed down onto the marble steps to bathe. Many western people think the waters of the Ganges are unclean, but actually the waters are amazing. Fresh, filled with Himalayan minerals and with a pH level of 8.9, these waters are seen as sacred. Bathing in the Ganga leaves you felling refreshed and alive! It is so clean and so natural. The water actually sparkles!





We spent a day and half in Haridwar, enjoying temple life and taking in the charismatic vibe of the place. Westerners are few and far between giving the place a friendly upbeat vibe.



Our next stop, Rishikesh, allowed us to find some time to relax, take in the sights, and catch up on a bit of shopping.


You can always find sacred moments in India which give us a chance to offer simple thanks for all the beauty and bounty of this extraordinary landscape. Then again, you can also find moments which make you think … only in India!




The meditation cave

DAY THREE – ‘CHARANPADUKA’ – God’s Footprint

Just before the sun rose, I followed local women who were collecting tulsi (sacred basil) up the path to a place called Charanpaduka – God’s Footprint.


Here at the shrine of the Holy Footprint, I had herbal tea with the resident Yogi Baba. The Baba, a member of Nath Sampradaya, runs a wonderful hut cave, which he makes available for visitors or overnight guests. Surrounded by breath-taking scenery, I imagined bringing some hardcore yogi form NZ back here for some satsang and meditation.

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The Baba told me there was another cave much higher up, specifically dedicated to women who want to meditate. I was keen to spend a couple of hours in unspoilt blissful retreat. So, I asked him to lead me there.

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I watched the Baba as he climbed down over rocks, picking his route carefully back down the mountain. This was the route I would need to take to return safely to base camp.

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The cave was very suitable for seated meditation. However, I found a flat ledge just above the cave entrance and settled in for a long meditation in full view of Nandi Devi Mountain. Just before going into the deep inner space of silent meditation, I took a few snaps to show people how beautiful and breath-taking the setting was.



In the emptiness of self, I found wells of gratitude, of appreciation, and of all the emotions.

In such a pristine setting, the feeling of awe saturated my mind. A sense of spiritual elevation was intensified by the presence of the mountain goddess – Nandi Devi.

Sitting there, I felt like a little bright jewel in the mountain goddess’s pendant. My eyes felt like clear waterfalls, my bones like rocky cliffs. My hair was the trees, the high rare air my lungs. This meditation place seemed to be the real reason for this part of the trip. I felt so blessed to have arrived to find peace and blissful silence. My heart repaired itself here.

This was perfection.

Bravest of the brave


This morning  I had scheduled a special Empowerment Meditation at 7am, where I envisioned myself and all my students, friends and family members, past and present, re-routing our energies through the highest planes – to connect to our higher self.


At 6.30am I headed to Mana West, the stronghold of the ‘Bravest of the brave’. Undeterred by snow and cold winds, I made my way down to the sacred waters of the Saraswati and Alakananda rivers.


In my meditation by the river, I envision all the people I know one by one. Some appeared to me as mountain gods, others as mountain goddesses. Some appeared as divine minstrels and some great energies. Other people were tuned out or distracted by the business of life.

I imagined clearing and cleaning up all past impressions, all energy deposits, and directing all that energy to the Akash, the highest realms. My intention was that everyone could reclaim their own energy, as could I. This clear pristine space was the perfect setting to let go and reconnect.


After the meditation was complete, I headed back to Mana village and up to the Vasudhara Falls. The trek followed the Alakananda high up the valley.


Mana village disappeared and the rough-hewn path made the going difficult. Finally, I reached the waterfall and I had to wonder if it was worth all the effort. Sometimes we follow the narrow path to make ourselves stronger. Sometimes the narrow path finds us reflecting on the true nature of the quest.

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I returned to Badrinath near sunset as the weather was closing in. Today was a fulfilling and enlightening day.


Reaching yogic heights

DAY ONE – Badrinath

Sometimes, when we put up with hardship along the journey, the destination offers the sweetest fruit. Badrinath is a jewel of a palace: with high altitude (3300m), thermal hot pools, rushing rivers and snow capped peaks. Immediately you feel your spiritual radar light up.

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The bus trip up to Badrinath took over 15 hours (319.5 km), via the rockslides and sheer drops of NH 7. I took the pilgrims route on a government bus packed with devout people. We were not alone.

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The traffic up and down the mountain was intense, with earthmoving machines working around numerous rockslides. As traffic banked up the trip got slower and more difficult.


The Haridwar bus terminated at Joshimath late in the evening, so I completed the final 50 km to Badrinath the next morning with a taxi load of people. In the taxi I got talking to an interesting young woman named Ashoo.

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In regards to spiritual life in the West, Ashoo said that the trappings of luxury, workplace competitiveness, and social status, diminish both our spirituality and humanity. She continued, “in their own eyes people see themselves as superior but in the eyes of god we are all equal.”  Ashoo reminded me that humanity is an important part of spirituality. If we treat each other with respect and kindness, rather that aloof coldness, the world and is a better place and our spiritual practice is made complete.


After bathing in hot pools filled with ecstatic splashing women, and paying homage at the Badrinath temple, I headed up on foot to the village of Mana – ‘India’s last village’.


It seems you can only find this level of natural beauty and simplicity high up in the mountains. The local Indo-Tibetan people carve out a basic existence and yet everything seems flourishing.



Just beyond Mana village, the  Saraswati River thunders out of the mountainside. The rushing waters carve out rock caves and fall with breathtaking velocity. The Saraswati joins the Alakananda River just below Mana.


Sitting at the confluence of the Alakananda and Saraswati Rivers, reinforced the energy of my  name given to me by Guruji – ‘Alakananda Saraswati’. I decided that this incredible place would be the site of my Empowerment Mediation scheduled for the next day.


Bathing in the river – Haridwar

A few members of the Tuesday 6pm class gave money regularly over a few months so I could hand small donations out to the poor. Local people in Haridwar were so grateful when I was able pass that generosity on.


Money was also given to buy flower malas and leaf boats to offer to the local Goddesses and the wonderful river mother- Jai Maa Ganga!


The sun was rising on a new day. The beautiful fast flowing waters of Mother Ganga washed all my old karma away. It is such a refreshing and uplifting experience. Offerings were made for our shared prosperity and health.

IMG_3595Birla Ghat, a public place where marble steps lead to river, is filled with song, devotional activities and natural energy. I come back here time and time again because nothing makes me feel as good as an early morning dunk in the naturally high pH (8.9 pH) waters of the Ganga.


A boy tries to catch coconuts, which are thrown into the Ganges as offerings for peoples’ prosperity. Blessings to us all on this beautiful day!





Waiting to leave Delhi

Calls to prayer woke me this morning at 5 am. Broadcasts from minarets echoed across the background noise of the waking city. This podcast captures the sound of that ‘ungodly’ godly sound.

Seaking retreat from the dusty streets of downtown Delhi, I took refuge in the lush green grounds of the Lakshmi-Narayana temple. The first morning light illuminated marble of this beautiful complex. Here I was able to release some residual stress and sit in peace.

Minor birds in the temple grounds seemed to be sharing news of the day. All around parrots, squirrels and abundant bird life seemed excited about life.

Feeling pangs of breakfast stirring, I killed two metaphorical birds with one stone and headed to Chandni Chowk to see what was there and find something to eat. All I can say is I’m glad the shops weren’t open because it seemed like a place that could get very crowded.


IMG_3584After stopping in a side alley for some lassi, I caught a cycle rickshaw back to the hotel. The crowds at Sadar Bazar were amplified by people buying presents and fireworks for the forthcoming festival of Diwali. Insane traffic!

My train leaves today at 3pm. Looking forward to waking up tomorrow in my fav town of Haridwar.




India updates for October 2019

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Ali will be in India from October 3rd to October 30th

See below for the NZ YOGA CENTRE class timetable 
See below for invites to our India Brunch – Sunday 29th Sept

INDIA 2019 – Oct 3rd-30th

Follow Ali’s weekly India blog at

After bathing in the sacred Ganga at Haridwar, Ali will head up to Badrinath and Valley of Flowers high up in the Himalayas


She will then return to Delhi and pick up her new India group and return to Haridwar.


We will visit Rishikesh, and stay at the Parmarth Niketan Ashram



We will then visit Guruji’s ashram in the rural area of Barsana.

Here we will engage in a special lingam installation ceremony to honour Guruji’s mahasamadhi (passing)


Ali and the group will visit her yoga kids in the remote village of Lodhauli, Barsana

After Barsana, the group will travel to Jaipur


Ali’s weekly blog will be posted via her Facebook and website page

NZ YOGA CENTRE – October timetable

WEEK 1 – Ali will be here teaching 

  • Sunday 29th September – 9.30 am class will run as normal,
  • Sunday 29th September – INDIA BRUNCH from 12pm-2pm Ali and Milan will host a special India Brunch (RSVP essential)
  • Monday  30th September – classes will run as normal at 9.30 am and 6.00pm
  • Tuesday 1st October – classes will run as normal at 9.30 am and 6.00pm
  • Wednesday 2nd October – classes will run as normal at 7.00 pm


  • Monday 7th October –student lead classes 9.30am & 6.00 pm – $10
  • Tuesday 8th October – student lead class 9.30am – $10
  • Wednesday 9th October – Class with Milan – $10 koha (see Milan’s biog below)


  • Monday 14th October – student lead classes 9.30am & 6.00 pm -$10
  • Tuesday 15th October – student lead class 9.30am – $10
  • Wednesday 16th October – Class with Milan – $10 koha (see Milan’s biog below)


  • Monday 21st October – student lead classes 9.30am & 6.00 pm – $10
  • Tuesday 22nd October – student lead class 9.30am – $10
  • Wednesday 23rd October – Class with Milan – $10 koha  (see Milan’s biog below)


  • Monday 28th October – student lead classes 9.30am & 6.00 pm – $10
  • Tuesday 29th October – student lead class 9.30am – $10
  • Wednesday 30th October – Class with Milan  – $10 koha   (see Milan’s biog below)

Milan has been practicing yoga for 17 years and has been coming to Ali’s classes since 2008. Like Ali, he has a Masters in Religious Studies and has travelled India extensively. He attained his certification as a hatha yoga instructor at Yoga Darshanam in Mysore, India. His classes are always tailored towards the students present in each class, but in general he focuses on strong, dynamic and aware practice.


A normal timetable of classes will resume throughout November

6 reasons why I’m strict vegetarian …

Ali Hale Tilley (yoga teacher and NZ Yoga Centre owner), explains why she gave up eating meat two decades ago, and has gained numerous benefits from her choices.


  1. To support spiritual purity

My relationship with India taught me that a strict vegetarian lifestyle, together with a disciplined yoga practice, promotes real spiritual clarity. We are what we eat! Therefore, my dietary choices are reflected in the longevity and clarity of my yoga and meditation practices.

Plus, choosing sattvic food (pure and alkaline), which means eating fresh, locally grown vegetarian or vegan food, provides me with huge vitality. Similarly, eating ‘pure veg’ food, which excludes all meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and gelatin products, supports my spiritual and physical well being.

My Guruji took dietary purity to another level. At his ashram in Barsana, we always cooked bhojan food, which prevented us from tasting food during cooking, and yet allowed us to offer ‘pure veg’ food to the temple deities. Blessed food becomes prasad.

As a result of my commitment to pure eating, I can walk into any spiritual environment and know my conscience is clear and my spiritual vibrations are fine-tuned enough to receive any blessings available.

  1. To avoid spiritual pollution

My godfather was a pig farmer so I got to see first-hand the squalor and stench of pigs! Similarly, feeding testosterone to beef cattle, estrogen to chickens, and using chemicals to disinfect sheep can affect our hormonal systems, leading to high rates of aggression, endometriosis, and immune dysfunction.

In contrast to the purity of sattvic food, meat products are tamasic, which means they are dead, highly acidic, and full of toxic waste, such as heavy metals, antibiotics, fertilizers and parasites.

With my gut is clear of tamasic pollution, I have the intuitive advantage of having the clarity to navigate through life’s journey with confidence and enthusiasm.

  1. To practice yoga morality

Ahimsa, the first of yoga’s moral codes, means practicing non-harming and non-violence. Yoga asks us to restrain our violent and selfish urges, and avoid causing cruelty or contributing to the suffering of any sentient beings.

Personally, I cannot see how one can reconcile meat-eating with the practice of ahimsa. As a yogi, I practice what I preach and would feel hypocritical saying ‘Namaste’ or chanting ‘OM’ one minute and tucking into a piece of fish or meat the next.  No one can afford to ignore the karmic debt of consuming animals that have suffered on the way to the dinner table.

  1. To help the environment

New Zealand’s Primary Industries (meat and dairy) have contributed to native forests being cut down, land being cleared, grass being chemically fertilized, and pastures being irrigated with communal aquifers.  Grazing animals belch methane, toxic effluents washes into waterways, culled meat requires expensive transport systems, and abattoirs stink like hell. 

However, by leading an organic vegetarian lifestyle, I feel I am doing my small part to slow down the looming climate crisis. My dietary requirements invite crop diversity, organic composting, sustainable production, and community gardening.   I am actively invested in helping save the planet, and my diet is part of that intention.

  1. To maintain ethical integrity

I am ethically opposed to animals being force fed antibiotics and growth hormones, and exposed to inhumane killing methods.  How can I talk about gaining personal inner peace and going with the flow in my classes if I personally rely on energy sources that are traumatized, sick and suffering?

I recognize that although I rely on dairy produce, which can also use inhumane treatment of dairy cattle, I try where possible to buy locally produced organic products from suppliers that ethically look after their animals. Maybe it is time to invest in a crowd-shared cow if anyone is interested!

  1. To sustain a healthy lifestyle

Due to my vegetarian and yogic lifestyle I never get colds or suffer from the flu and I have such a strong immune system that I rarely get sick or visit the doctor.  My largely alkaline diet means I have plenty of energy and an excellent gut flora. I am currently reminding myself to chew my food properly so my digestions stays strong!

Recent studies have linked red meat consumption with bowel cancer and breast cancer, and not a week goes by without a new case of a salmonella or e-coli outbreak from meat related products.

Many meat eaters thinks that vegetarian cooking is difficult or expensive. However, with a million vegetarian recipes on Google and the mindset to go meat-free a growing concern,  there is no time like the present to join the global movement of taking ethical responsibility for the planet by going MEAT FREE