Tag Archives: varkala

South India experience – the Video

We had a wonderful stay in Kerala, the most religious state in India, often cited as “God’s own country”. Our Yoga & Meditation retreat in Varkala, our visit of Kollam, followed by a 3 days cruise on a traditional “Kettu Vallam” house-boat across Kerala, from Kollam to Allepey and  Kochin! This is the video of our amazing South India experience, a bewitchment of the senses!

P.S: YouTube has decided to prevent me to use the beautiful “Indifference” song from Pearl Jam, so the video has no music from 9’25” to 13’… which will feel a bit weird (algorithmic retrieval of the music which is supposed to leave the other sounds intact, but that’s not quite the case…), but it’s still worth watching! Enjoy…


Connecting Body & Mind

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.

Homa (Fire) Meditation
Yoga Master Syam Ji

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.

The Yoga Shala 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”)


We are in India!

What a journey: 48h to reach the Kerala state in India, and our final destination: Varkala.
3 hours flight from Brisbane to Cairns. 7 hours from Cairns to Hong-Kong. 8 hours to go to Bangalore. Another 2 hours flight to Cochin the next day. And finally 5 hours of crazy taxi-driving to Varkala… We were cooked on the arrival!

As soon as we landed in India, the trip become intense, which is expected in this country that can not compare to any other country in the world. It’s a different planet, especially when it comes to traveling on the roads… We left Delphine at the Cochin airport (she went for her own Ayurvedic retreat while abandoning me with the kids;-) and took that crazy taxi-driver who must have tried to break the Cochin-Varkala speed record.

It seems local drivers must believe in some sort of road divinities who guide their destinies and survival if you consider the general insane driving habits. Several times, I thought we would crash. By night, under heavy monsoon rain, it’s kind of a miracle that on a 2 lanes road, a cow, a cyclist, a moped with a whole family on it, an overcrowded rickshaw, a truck, a bus and finally our taxi, all manage to perfectly align in the last second to allow all vehicles coming in different directions to cross with just a few centimeters of space between them!
When such a miracle happens several times in one journey, you definitely tend to believe in road divinities;-)

we finally made it to Varkala, one of the nicest beach city, but also home of holy saints and of authentic Yoga practices.

It was the place to take a full week Yoga retreat, which we just started with intense 2 x 3 hours a day, with the kids attending some of the more simple meditation and yoga sessions. I feel really blessed to share this experience with my children!

Kids also rejoiced (well, not really) to start school again, but this time it’s a bit different with Mindfulness Meditation classes and some Yoga for sport. The hardest thing for them so far is to adapt to the Yogi regime, especially the rice soup at night;-)

This is the beginning of our Indian journey that we wanted to be the spiritual part of our family experience, and it is starting just like that.