My Yoga Retreat Experience
As some of you may know, I just returned from an incredibly thought provoking journey through the sacred cities of Varanasi, Bodhgaya, and Nalanda, India. It was beyond question, the most revealing yoga retreat experience I’ve been on thus far. Known by the Sadhus and Rishis as the “Abode of the Gods”, India is a sacred place of raw truth and power, and after experiencing it for myself, I understand why it was named so.
A Two Week Journey
I spent two weeks with an extraordinary group of 14 Yogis who I led on a journey with the Yoga4Change documentary crew. Guided by our Indian Ambassador, Deepak, we traveled from sacred sight, to historical monument, to breathtaking iconic destinations, all documented by Amardeep and his team of epic videographers who make up the Never Ending Light Production crew.
Some of the most amazing moments that were captured on film included practicing Yoga at the Bodhi Tree where the Buddha first reached enlightenment, and teaching orphaned children of the Chandromole Children’s Trust Yoga Asana. We wanted nothing more than to create a documentary to share the beautiful and unique nature of Indian travel.
I found I had some of the most profound moments while in meditation at these most sacred sights, taking me to another place entirely of complete truth and tranquility. This yoga retreat experience had brought me insight to the wonders of this world, insights I want to share with you.
In the Beginning
When I first stepped off the plane, I knew immediately that this trip was going to be a yoga retreat experience of a lifetime. Everything exploded around me — from the smells and sounds to the first rickshaw ride to my hotel in New Delhi. I knew that the air that filled my lungs was full of flavor, color, and culture, and that it would lead to an amazing adventure I had yet to encounter.
Upon arriving at the first hotel, I immediately whipped out my organic travel kit with my Yuni Shower Sheets. I’m guilty of being a bit of a clean freak, and wanted to freshen up before I met all the yoga retreat attendees. In India, it’s difficult to find a place to wash your hands, and as soon as you step outside, you are engulfed in city dust, leaving you mystified as to how you stay clean. I thank my foresight every day for reminding me to bring my YUNI organic travel kit along; it saved my life on multiple occasions.
A Special Gift
I laugh now thinking about how nervous I was about this being my first international yoga retreat experience. I was so nervous that I didn’t even check to see who signed up until I arrived that day to meet the attendees.
To help ease the attendees into our yoga retreat experience, I came fully prepared with gifts for all those who joined me on this adventure. I love the idea of greeting others with a gift, so I gave each attendee a YUNI organic travel kit, fully packed with the essentials. There were Shower Sheets for antibacterial wipe downs, Pocket Savasanas for when you need some essential oils to help you feel relaxed before bed, and some Chillax muscle recovery gel for those sore muscles after morning yoga and crazy hikes during the day.
I felt as though every single attendee was exactly where they were meant to be, and as I looked into each of their eyes and greeted them with the organic travel kit and a hug, I could feel that this trip was going to take us all on an incredible journey through the thick teachings of India’s sacred land.
Stunning Temples and Monuments
The first morning of our yoga retreat experience, we were greeted by the kind staff of our hotel with an array of unique food for breakfast — everything from fresh papaya to Indian style sweet dhal. We ate all we could and then hopped on our bus, coincidently named Guru Ji, heading towards our first stop at the Lotus Temple of the Baha'i religion.
The Lotus Temple
The Lotus Temple was beautiful. Not only architecturally stunning, but stunning in the feeling and energy that flowed from the temple. Although there were people from all over the world buzzing around, it was a place of deep peace, and I was excited that this was only the first place on the list of many that we would get to see.
The Taj Mahal
We went to the Taj Mahal after, which was glorious in and of itself. To stand at the site of such greatness was an ethereal feeling that contributed to the grandeur of our yoga retreat experience. The Lotus Temple was incredible, but the Taj Mahal was something unexplainable. I stood there, staring at the towering structure, breathing it all in. It all felt surreal. To be standing on the grounds of something so powerful was, on its own, a journey in oneself.
The next day brought us to Sarnath, a place that was once named Isipatana, meaning “the place where holy men fell.” You could feel the sanctity of the place radiating from the ruins, and the ancient building was a sight to see. The decaying ruins hid a truth behind every shambled piece — a history so beyond our capability of understanding that the magnitude was overwhelming.
Yoga and Ceremony
After visiting these monuments and temples, we woke up the following day to watch the sunrise on the Ganges. There, we practiced yoga, each of us connecting on sacred level to a place that was nothing but spiritual. That evening we watched a cremation ceremony, learning about the traditions and journey for those that have passed on.
Connecting with Others
The end of our yoga retreat experience consisted of visiting a monastery temple in Nalanda, where 30+ beehives inhabited the place and spending time with the children of the Chandramauli Children Trust Orphanage. Every moment felt extremely spiritual, connecting with the nature and the people surrounding us.
As a self proclaimed cleanliness enthusiast, I noticed something when interacting with those around me — they didn’t mind being dirty. It was a beautiful thing to see that people, and especially the orphaned children, cared more for connecting with each other and the nature around them than staying clean. Almost everyone we met in India had this notion of connection over cleanliness, and they seemed to have a profound want for connection. Not just with each other, but with the mother that lays in the ground and in the trees and plants.
The End of a Journey
My time in India was something extraordinary. Being enveloped within a culture so unlike my own brought forth a notion of what is precious on this Earth. Exploring this world is part of the creative journey, and only when you yourself take the chance to become enlightened, you see the beauty and truth behind every experience, connecting you to nature and the consciousness all around you. Traveling connects us all, and isn’t that what we all want, to be connected?
Go forth and explore the world. The adventure of your lifetime awaits you.
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