23 Jun My 7 Day Experience At a Yoga Retreat In Kerela, India
– Klara Kovarova, B.A., M.A., Canada
In early June, I joined the Sivananda Ashram in Kerala for a week-long yoga vacation (retreat). I have been in India for over six weeks now, on my first visit to this beautiful country full of history and life. Situated in Bangalore in the state of Karnataka, I have been doing an internship, enjoying the bustle of the city, and absorbing all the new sights, smells, foods, and culture. Taking a week off to do yoga not only allowed me to immerse myself further in the culture of India but to also take some much-needed time off from the stresses of work and of feeling somewhat displaced from my many recent moves and travels.
In the next 5 blog posts, I will share my experiences and impressions with you. In this first post, I will start with an introduction that outlines my expectations and situation prior to the yoga vacation, followed by posts on the impact of yoga on stress, the body, the mind-body alignment, and how I am now integrating what I learned into my daily life.
In the past, I have practiced yoga on and off, taking a few classes here and there, but never really making it a significant part of my lifestyle. Like many people from the West, I have viewed yoga as a form of exercise for a healthy lifestyle, as well as a form of relaxation….which is why I decided to take my one week off in India to meditate and do yoga. However, I did not really know what I was signing up for or what to expect; I knew this would be very different from anything I had ever previously experienced.
Searching for a place to do a week-long yoga retreat was actually more challenging than I had anticipated; there are plenty of places where you receive five-star hotel treatment, while doing yoga. I wanted something more simple, and away from the luxuries of the cities. Rather than searching for a “yoga retreat,” it is better to search for ashrams in India if this is the type of experience you are looking for (a friend of mine recommended this place).
With lots of excitement, I registered with a friend to do 4 hours of yoga a day, plus 3 hours of meditation. I was excited, exhilarated, and ready to be somewhere in Kerala, surrounded by trees, nature, and yogis. As the trip approached, I have to admit that I began to feel rather intimidated, and asked myself a number of questions:
Would I be able to handle having so much time to myself and with my own thoughts?
When was the last time I had done something like this?
Was I ready for this sort of spiritual and physical journey?
As these thoughts passed through my mind, I began to wonder if perhaps I would end up more lost and confused than before…
Below are outlined the 5 points of yoga, which guided the structure of my yoga vacation.
The 5 Points of Yoga
1) Proper Excercise (Asanas)
2) Proper Breathing (Pranayama)
3) Proper Diet (Vegetarian)
4) Proper Relaxation (Savasana)
5) Positive Thinking and Meditation (Vedanta and Dhyana)