In January 2014 I’m heading back to India and taking a group of interesting, adventurous and curious creatives. Otherwise known as cool people.
We’ll spend a week hanging out on the beach, practicing yoga, chanting and singing away to mantras and writing our hearts out…we’ll also shop with cows, bless a few temples, negotiate some buddha statues with feisty merchants and resist the urge to live entirely on sugary, milky, Chai tea. In layman’s terms, I’m running a retreat.
Ever since I started teaching yoga, I’ve always wanted to combine my love of teaching with my love of travel and mix it up with my love of bringing people together and looking after them. It sounds simple, and it is, but only when it all comes together the right way.
For those who followed my adventures through India via this blog and from my own personal stories, you know that my trip had a profound effect on my life. India captivated me and, for want of a better cliche’ – it felt like a journey that was meant to be.
But, isn’t that stereotypical of a yoga teacher to say that? Perhaps – but hard to fight when it’s the truth.
Stereotypes aside, I wasn’t going to India on a spiritual pilgrimage to find my guru and a cool new moniker to announce I was enlightened. I just said yes to an invitation that felt grittier and more exciting than hanging around Fairfield County, CT crying into a martini over my first world problems. Although, truth be told, I did end up connecting with a guru and so, well, maybe I ended up being a little bit of a cliche after all – but that’s another story.
However, while a trip to India had its obvious selling points to a yogi like me; deities, mantras and Ayurvedic massages, I was most interested in finding ways to understand its people and how India could open up a way for me to offer more, in general.
So, while all the hippies and spiritual seekers were slithering and grinding on each other to trance music and quoting Eckart Tolle’s wisdom verbatim, I was sitting cross legged and drinking chai with the merchants in their stores. I got to know Taj, who made leather products, and hear stories about his 7 children and wife back in Delhi. His leather company employs 6 men, mostly family, but he is the main tailor and he is there night and day sewing away and drumming up business to keep his family fed and employees employed. His young brother, Kaiser, who was 23 and skinny as a beanpole (his metabolism, not because he was malnourished – he wore skinny jeans and a button down…he was a hipster for goodness sake) worked the shop most days and made, by hand, many of the bags I designed (the start of exciting things to come) while eating the little chocolates I would bring him.
I made friends with Sanjay the owner of the sweet beachside restaurant and guest huts with the same name – who loved to invite guests into his kitchen and teach them his famous dishes. Pardeep, the young guy who had been moving up very quickly in the political world when he quit everything, moved to Goa, became a gypsy and part owner of the popular hang-out Blue Pyramid, also became a dear friend. Near the end of my time in Goa I made friends with Angus, a british guy who motorcycles the world in the off-season and has spent the better part of the last 20 years in India. He is also the owner of the eclectic property that is going to stand to be the setting for our retreat.
I had this retreat in mind while I was there. I had been on the look out for the perfect venue, and I’ve been waiting for the right time when my offering felt authentic. I wasn’t satisfied with putting together just a yoga retreat. It felt too…passe! Too done, you know? So, for a long time I kept asking myself “What is it that I can offer differently?”
Besides the local friends I made, I spent a big chunk of my time writing. There was a lot of writing that I didn’t put out on the blog – because a lot of that writing was part of my processing. Which, is actually what writing can be a powerful tool for. However, the spiritual energy in India seemed to fuel a surge of creative energy within me and, I noticed, other people too. Something about the freedom of not being surrounded by the hard wired pursuit for social perfection tends to offer one permission to just create – I think.
So, when I sat and asked myself “What is it that I can offer differently AND authentically?” – yoga, writing and India were it.
It feels natural. Dare I say it? It feels like this is meant to be.
I don’t want to offer my experience of India, which is why I’m not cramming every minute with activities. However, if you’re on my retreat I want you to have an experience where you feel supported in your journey but so free to create an adventure you can all your own. When I landed in India, I wrote about all the ‘firsts‘ I was terrified of and, you know, I was slightly terrified when I landed. This kind of fear can completely dispel someone from even embarking on an adventure they might want – with this retreat, all your firsts will be taken care of. I’ll take care of you.
Not only that – but my dear friend Will is bringing his rocking musical talent to the shores of Goa and, along with his acclaimed and talented friend Jason, will be spending the week with us singing, dancing, playing and guiding us through a flute meditation!!!. Jason and Will bring years of musical wealth – and both have deep roots in the spiritual music scene as well as the wild dance/party scene. They connect the two to offer an auditory feast guaranteed to set our hearts alight and our bodies buzzing.
There is room for a few more cool people if you want to join. I’d love you too, I think you’ll love it.