Yoga is obviously part of the Indian experience. Charlotte, already a fan of ashtanga yoga (a kind of dynamic yoga), has been dreaming of taking time for a yoga retreat for a long time. What could be a better occasion than a world trip to achieve this? With the help of some colleagues and friends (for Charlotte’s departure gift), we were able to make the dream come true during our travel. Thus, we decided to spend a week in the middle of our journey from Rajasthan to Kerala; a more than welcome break after almost 3 months of a quite high-speed travel. Moreover, a world trip wouldn’t be a real world trip without a bout of fucking “travellers diarrohea!” Until then, we had been spared because we were very careful, but we were much too confident! One more reason to have rest and a wellness break.
Mathieu had never practiced yoga before, except maybe one practice when Charlotte was living in Marseille, but this was few years before. For us, this new experience of a full-week immersion was such a real success that we actually decided to extend our stay.
For a better understanding of what ashtanga yoga is, we took these words from the website of Joey Miles who was our teacher during the retreat www.ashtangayogaleeds.com :
“Yoga is a philosophy of life, which also has the potential to create a vibrantly healthy body and mind. Ashtanga yoga practiced in its correct sequential order, gradually leads the practitioner to rediscover his or her fullest potential on all levels of human consciousness – physical, psychological and spiritual. Through this practice of correct breathing (Ujjayi Pranayama), postures (asanas), and gazing point (driste), we gain control of the senses and a deep awareness of ourselves. By maintaining this discipline with regularity and devotion, one acquires steadiness of body and mind. (…)
Strength, stamina and sweat are unique aspect of this traditional Yoga, seemingly contrary to Western perception of Yoga. This demanding practice requires considerable effort and taps into and circulates a vital energy throughout the body, strengthening and purifying the nervous system. The mind then becomes lucid, clear and precise (…)
Mysore Self Practice is the traditional form of ashtanga yoga as taught by the late Sri K Pattabhi Jois in Mysore. Many describe self practice as a private class in a group environment. A self practice class allows each student to work at their own pace and rhythm while receiving personal attention and instruction from the teacher, as well as physical adjustements.”
Without going into too much detail about our 15 days there, let’s describe the general routine: wake up at 6am, meditation from 6.30 to 7.00, then, Mysore Style for advanced practitioners at 7 :00am or 8 :00am, beginners class (where Mathieu went) from 10:00 to 12:00 during the 1st week, then the beginners joined the Mysore Style during the 2nd week, and afternoon workshops from 4:00 to 6 30pm. Breakfast was available between 8:30 and 11:00, lunch at 1:00pm and dinner at 6 30pm. All the meals were vegetarian with water, tea, coffee, and infusions available at any time. So 15 healthy days where body and mind go in the same way, being and feeling good.
We also had 1 day off per week and 2 free afternoons to have some rest and rest our muscles, to enjoy the heavenly beaches of Goa, and try to do some bodysurfing in the great waves of Goa. Big up to Jacob who taught us the best bodysurfing technique ever, that allowed us to literally beach on the sand!
Finally these 2 weeks enabled us to focus on our inner self and to discover or to improve our yoga practice, but also to recharge our batteries after the intensity of the Rajasthan tour, and of course to meet really wonderful people, to have intense and nice talks with them, and also to share just simple good moments with the other practitioners: Steve (Mr Frog), Joy, Lucrezia, Matthias, Jacob, Monique, Renate, Daniel, Juan, John, Rachael, Davy, Joanne, Bindoo, Natalie, Izzy, Ana, Hanna, Beate, Stina, Joey, Rachel.
We would like to particularly thank Joey,Rachel and Jane for their great advice, their help and precise adjustments, their kindness, and for inspiration, and also the whole Purple Valley team that make this place so nice, quiet, peaceful and resourcing.
We wanted also to share our answers to some questions that Joey asked us during afternoon workshops: What are your goals for the retreat? What do you want to take with you?
My first goal was to discover this activity, new for me and so important to Charlotte, to 100% commit myself, meaning for me to plunge into it intensively. My second goal was to take time in order to give me the opportunity of introspection and finally, my last goal was to join body and mind at the same time.
I was really afraid of being bored or wasting my time during this week, but instead of this, I felt particularly good, peaceful and in connection with the “inner self”. I took so much pleasure in this retreat! Finally, I want to leave this retreat by taking with me at least 10 minutes of meditation each day and to try to go forward into yoga practice, if not regularly, at least sometimes by giving us the opportunity to practice from time to time during our world trip. The second thing I want to keep with me are Joey’s words: “You’re perfect as you are.” Not only are these words good for confidence and comfortable for the ego, but also they show us that we don’t need to change anything inside us, but trying to find the physical and psychic good feeling and being.
– Mathieu –
My first goal was to experiment with a daily practice of ashtanga yoga and meditation, and see what I would feel. My second goal was to find a way to this famous “surrender”, which means to me to practice with modesty and humility and not in search of performance: respect myself, listen to myself, be aware of my limits, let go the ego… A big journey…
After 2 weeks, I felt a lot of benefits from the daily practice, and I already miss this daily ritual. The ashtanga practice really helps me to calm down my mind, to make me more aware of my perceptions, and to bring me a kind of surrender or at least a very deep relaxation. The “static” meditation was much more difficult for me, but I was able to see the benefits of it and I think that this is a nice path for me to calm down my impatience and my hyperactive mind.
After this retreat, I want to take with me the desire to practice more regularly when we are back home, and to practice particularly when I am very busy, the common decision to keep on meditating with Mathieu each day during our trip (because if we don’t take time to do it during our travel, we won’t do it back home), and Joey’s advice to set a goal for the practice, to keep it in mind, and to think about it before starting the practice because it makes the practice much more powerful, it is also very motivating, and it really helps me to really go deeper into my practice and to feel stronger benefits.
To conclude, we are also very grateful for the amazing people that shared this retreat with us. We enjoyed our discussions so much, and the great time spent altogether on the beach, around the pool or around a table to speak or to play “Mongolian Belote”! Om shanti!
– Charlotte & Mathieu –