I caught up with my friend Libby a few weeks ago, just after she returned from this Yoga Retreat in India, and I could not believe how incredible she looked...
I asked her to write about where she went and the experience she had there and she has shared it below...
My last year has not been a barrel of laughs. It has been a steep learning curve and life changing events had left me feeling withdrawn, disconnected from myself and full of negative self talk. A series of events, starting with a friend suggesting to go to India for some sunshine and relaxation and which ended with me stumbling across the Ayruvedic Yoga Villa website.
I took the plunge, despite what friends believe, I am a very cautious traveller and hearing about the Indian chaos did intimidate me – so two weeks at a retreat IN India seemed a nice compromise!
And it was: set in the mountains of northern Kerala, right next to a large river, in a very traditional area. My daily schedule kept me surprisingly busy and my goal was to reconnect mind, body and spirit.
Each day I woke up at 5am (easy to do when your asleep by 9pm!) to attend morning Pooja (a variant of Indian prayers as it had a meditation aspect as well). I then wandered across the compound to attend Yoga class. It was a Hatha style of yoga, which admittedly took a while for me to get used to as I am accustomed to the Western approach of using Yoga as a cardiovascular and strengthening workout. All exercises here were completed as a meditation, with your eyes shut (my balance is MUCH better now!) and incorporating the use of breathing. I did like having a rest in corpse pose between the 10 rounds of each exercise!
My Ayurvedic treatment was straight after Yoga, I had 3 types of treatment throughout my stay. First off, for 3 days, I had an Indian Head massage, oil massage and then relaxed in a steam room. For a further 5 days I had an Indian Head massage, oil massage, then herb filled bags used to pummel my muscles into relaxation. The treatment then ended with me having nasal drips with medicines to relax and clear the mind. The third treatment was Sirodhara, a flow of medicinal waters on my forehead to assist with relaxation – I floated out of the room for the remaining 5 treatments.
And then breakfast! The food was AMAZING! Each meal was set out according to Ayurvedic principles of six tastes per meal – sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, astringent. This resulted in two types of coconut based curry, vegetables, lots of fruit, and carbs such as rice (with pomegranates), dosas and chapattis. The Sunday lunch was a much talked about highlight of the week with multiple types of different curries, side dishes, fruit and vegetables! Mmmmm.
To finish off a typical day there, as the above all happened before 10am, I relaxed after treatment, saw a spiritual healer, had lunch, went for a walk along the river, or ventured into town, attended afternoon yoga and pooja/meditation, dinner, chatting and bed by 9pm! The people I met at the Villa were diverse in background, age and approaches to life – I learnt a lot from this group and have taken away with me, many friendships which are positive, full of compassion and important to me.
A special experience was that we had the opportunity to visit Amma; a well-known spiritual guru in India. She is renowned for her compassionate hugs; often hugging over 700 people after one of her talks. She stays until every person who wants a hug receives one.
An important aspect that I learnt from the Yoga Master was how spiritual fulfilment can be incorporated into a western lifestyle. I have watched with envy while friends have moved away from working fulltime, embracing yoga teaching and becoming compassionate and kind. I wanted the same, but have never felt the drive to teach yoga or more importantly (to me!) to leave my job. He showed me that by being compassionate at work, working hard and remaining open, I could use work as a source of spirituality.
I have left the Villa being reconnected to my body, mind, spirit. I have new tools to use to assist me; yoga practices, knowledge of philosophy, meditation, a healthy approach to food, new friends and precious for me; guides to assist. A place well worth visiting!
I honestly can't believe the positive impact that this stay has had on Libby's life and well being.
Lib, thanks for sharing and I am so happy for you.
I've heard of a number of Yoga retreats and Ashrams in India, but this sounds by far the best. And tripadvisor seems to agree too.
I am SO keen to visit here!
More pictures on their website here.
Rooms from €510 per person for a week for a single room all inclusive.
Nik, I really think we should we go as a reward for competing our Yoga teacher training...
Anyone keen to join us?