Travelling thousands of miles through India can be pretty exhausting, as some of you may know. As a self-proclaimed yogi, people expect your stay in India to be all about yoga, meditation, relaxation… well in my case, after some rough backpacking I allowed myself to unwind for 3 full amazing days in Goa!
Also, the price is unbeatable, even for the most hardcore budget backpackers: 100 EUR for 5 days’ retreat. This was included for each day: 2 meditation classes, 2 yoga practice classes and one yoga philosophy class, accommodation in a simple private room with own bathroom and 3 delicious meals!
Preksha Yoga is located in Mandrem, in a quiet, beautiful area connected to the nature, but still within a few minutes’ walk away from the beach and the shopping streets. It’s off the beaten track but not secluded. The 5-day retreat package starts on Mondays and ends on Fridays, but the location also hosts yoga teacher trainings with month-long resident trainees.
The Monday of my retreat started with a tasty lunch which marked the start of my 3-day mini-detox: no coffee/tea/chai, no sugar, no milk, no eggs, practically only simple unprocessed food. The quality and variety of choice at lunch made it really easy to commit to these rules: 3 small veggie mixes (a cold side, a hot soup and a warm stew), with rice and chapatis (Indian pita bread).
After lunch me and my 7 fellow international “retreaters” were welcomed officially to the yoga ashram in a small ceremony (see pics below). Afterwards we were introduced to the first yoga philosophy class, followed by yoga practice and evening meditation. The schedule was quite well organized, so there was little for me to do but follow and enjoy 🙂
The yoga classes were hatha style, offered by Chandrika in the mornings and Vinod in the afternoon, and meditation sessions were led by Anjali. All classes were open-level, maybe rather beginner focused and I truly enjoyed reconnecting to the basics in a different setting. Also, as a teacher, I found it so insightful to observe new yogis’ challenges as they start on their journey, and these local teachers’ approaches to gradually introduce them to yoga.
Chandrika had a very precise and kind manner of teaching, providing very clear step-wise guidance for each pose, without disclosing the “end goal”. Her calm but clear explanations along with her light sense of humor made it really easy for everyone to relax, even in more challenging physical postures.
Vinod could hold space really well, with his quiet, focused manner of acting and teaching. We stayed for a lot of breaths in each pose he taught, and he didn’t use any motivational speeches or apologize for it – he taught us self-discipline. What I really appreciated were his on-point hands-on adjustments, which he conducted slowly and mindfully while we were counting down the seconds until we can release the pose 🙂
All classes were held in a simple colorful pavilion, without music, just accompanied by natural soundtracks of wind, birds, insects, animals. That is also where the yoga philosophy sessions were held, when we learned the principles of Swami Vishnudevananda‘s teachings, delved into the meaning of “om” and discovered more about ayurvedic medicine.
All throughout my stay I felt safe, happy and taken care of: from the mindful meditation, yoga and educational classes, to the clean and fulfilling menu of local healthy delicacies. Even on a set schedule, variety was a given, and every day was so easy, comfortable and nourishing for the body, mind and soul.
After 2 weeks of backpacking through India, the Preksha Yoga retreat was exactly what I needed to replenish my energy levels for the next leg of my journey (even though yoga practice left me with some sore muscles =)). At any rate, I won’t hesitate to come back and treat myself to a new retreat in this small local paradise ♥