We are just out of a fantastic Yoga & Meditation retreat at Agnihotra Yoga Retreat in Varkala in the Kerala state south of India.
Eight days out of time in a place filled with energy and compassion, learning authentic & holistic Yoga, that is to connect the body and mind through Asanas (physical exercises) and Mindfulness Meditations, 6 hours a day.
We were fortunate to be tought by a wonderful person, our Yoga Master, Syam Ji (Rakesh Kumar is his civil name), fully dedicated to the teaching of is art and lifestyle, a Yoga practice that is rooted in ancient Veda’s wisdom with Hata Yoga Asanas coupled with Homa Meditations, a practice that is using fire to purify the atmosphere… and the soul!
The Yoga Asanas teaching was very progressive, from the classic poses to more advanced one, working on strength, flexibility, and of course equilibrium. The Yoga Meditation part was also very well guided with breathing techniques, body scanning, and the fire and mantra chantings as wonderful ways to fix attention and totally be present to the moment.
Food was also adapted to the retreat with a specific Ayurvedic regime to cleanse the body.
Syam Ji is truly incarnating the values he his teaching, and his chanting of the compassion mantras were pure positive vibrations. He also was very generous with his time to engage in passionate conversations about Indian culture, the Vedas, the commonalities across religions and laic spirituality nowadays.
Kids attended several sessions, and I was proud to see them progress pretty quickly, and be able to focus attention for almost 3 hours, which is not easy for kids aged 12 and 10 yo! Together with the Mindfulness meditation classes I humbly gave them, I hope they will remember the experience & the benefits as a gift for their adult life .
Varkala was also an interesting place to do such a retreat, as Kerala is one of the most religious but also tolerant state of India where all confessions live together in peace. In most cities, you will find Muslim mosque facing a Christian church and a Hindu temple.
At the quiet Secret Garden (the place where we stayed and practices Yoga) we could hear the Muslim chants mixing with the Hindu celebrations, all day long. The place was really filled with energy and peace, in the middle of nature.
For those who seek to go beyond the western view of Yoga (that is a “Gym” practice), I highly recommend Agnihotra Yoga Retreat: it can be a life transforming experience!
Information about the Retreats can be found on the website: http://agnihotrayoga.com/
Please find below a short video showing the kids and I attending one of the first sessions (both funny and beautiful at the same time).
This retreat was a great start for our indian journey. We are now heading for a trip across Kerala backwaters on a traditional boat (Kettu Valam).
Namaste (which is a salute saying “the divine in me recognizes the divine in you”)