North America, Asia · 14 Days · 33 Moments · February 2018

South India Retreat! 2018


11 March 2018

1 flight down, 4 to go!

9 March 2018

Sunset boat cruise at Cochin. The nets are large Chinese fisherman nets! I can’t believe it’s already our last night in India.
Sooo I’ve definitely slipped on updating my travel journal the past few days - its gotten so much tougher because all I want to do is relax in the beautiful resort!! I’ll try to catchup on a few things from my stay in Kumarakom. It was International Women’s Day two days ago (for this side of the hemisphere), and the Coconut Lagoon resort held a celebration that was hosted by the female staff. We played some games like musical chairs, and another involving filling up a wine bottle with water using a sponge! It was such a fun experience - especially getting to interact with the women staff members in that way!

8 March 2018

Butterfly garden at Coconut Lagoon. Fun fact: The largest butterfly in India is called the Southern Wing butterfly (I really tried to remember this from out Naturalist guide).

7 March 2018

Just a few of my favorites at our Coconut Lagoon resort (basically its own tropical island/jungle). We are here for 3 nights, so there was a lot more time to explore the resort area.
On our second day at Coconut Lagoon we spent the day on the water on a houseboat. There are actually a lot of houseboats in the area. The houseboats are made of bamboo and coconut, and apparently the roofs have to replace every 2-3 years. The houseboat we were on had two levels and was made of fancy looking wood - so pretty! There were 2 bedrooms w/ bathrooms and a kitchen on the first level, and the top level had lounge chairs and an amazing view of the water all around. I did get some motion sickness on the boat, so I stayed at the top level where it was calmer and had less movement while some people partied down below. My favorite part of the cruise was taking the smaller canoes into the narrow river areas. We got to see people building riverside homes and washing their clothes out. It was so green everywhere!

6 March 2018

Sunset boat cruise! The sunsets here just kind of disappear behind the clouds, but still a beautiful view.
Our home in Kumarakom for the next few days! The resort is on a lake (which I can’t remember the name of), so we actually had to take a boat to our hotel. It reminds me of Avatar the Last Airbender!
“Show us your coconuts!”
Our home in Kumarakom for the next few days! The resort is on a lake (which I can’t remember the name of), so we actually had to take a boat to our hotel. It reminds me of Avatar the Last Airbender!
A college in Kerala.
Tea gardens, also on the way to Kumarakom. Kerala has so much vegetation, it’s just such a green place. So beautiful.
We visited a local school on the way out of Thekkady today! Kerala is very green and mountainous, so the schools and buildings are all just sitting on hilltops. The view was so pretty form the school top! There are just under 200 kids at the school, and we were able to bring things like pencils, snacks, and toys to give to the kids. They were all so friendly and genuinely happy to meet us! They sang us some songs in English (including a very enthusiastic version of “Jingle Bells”), and were asking our names, since that is what they were learning in English. I think my name was a little too difficult! They also had their own organic garden they were growing to teach the kids agriculture and how to be economical.

5 March 2018

Elephant ride in Thekkady, Kerala! I just love elephants. Ours was named Morti. I felt bad halfway through the ride because Morti seemed a little tired. I’m not too sure about the treatment of the elephants, but I know that there are strict laws in the area around treating elephants and preventing abuse. Hoping that Morti is being treated well 🐘🙏🏼❤️
Spice garden in Thekkady. We got to see a variety of spices and the trees the came from, and learned how they harvest them! In order of the photos: Turmeric Cocoa Mango tree flowers Cinnamon Coffee Banana tree
Coffee beans from the spice gardens in Thekkady

4 March 2018

Home for the next couple days. We’ve officially left Tamil Nadu and are now in Kerala! This hotel in Spice Village, Thekkedy is probably my favorite of all the places we have stayed. It feels like we are in a tropical forest! They grow all the spices in the resort, and all the plants have a sign that explain what plant they are. The resort is known for being very green and environmental, no plastic materials used. Ive even spotted a few monkeys! I want to live here.

3 March 2018

Nighttime in Madurai. The first thing that became apparent when I arrived in India was that traffic is crazy and chaotic. Lanes are basically non-existent, and, because the roads are so crowded and the streets are usually narrow/underdeveloped, everyone just kind of weaves around. Most people are on motorbikes, even large families piled into one bike! Then there are actually bicycles and rickshaws and tuk tuks. Oh and the honking! Everyone honks constantly. Our guide joked that the horn is the more important than the brakes here! Which is a funny contrast from America where honking is seen as aggressive, whereas here it’s very normal. Amongst all the chaos and commotion though, I still have yet to see an accident anywhere on the roads, which is something I can’t say about America.
South India is such a spiritual place, you can feel it. Even from our hotel in Madurai we can here the religious rituals occurring daily. Can you imagine, setting up and doing rituals everyday! During yoga this morning, Rimmi explained that in India, the philosophy is that there is nothing about each of us that is so unique that we cannot find it in something/someone else in the world. It’s such a contrast from western thinking, and even the way I teach my own classes, where we emphasize individuality and how everyone is unique. That we are all special. We are all part of the things around us, and we are all sacred because we have a divine spirit in each of us.
The views from our hotel in Madurai!

2 March 2018

On the way to Tanjore we had the opportunity to meet some of the less wealthy locals. This was the highlight of the trip for me so far. The Tamil Nadu people are very friendly and welcoming, especially the kids! It was really eye opening to see their everyday living. They lived in humble homes/huts, maybe the size of my room at home but with 5 people living there. For sleeping they simply laid out thin mats on the ground. The woman in the last photo lived by herself in the hut she built for 70 yrs. It is unfortunately really common in India for females to have this sort of life if they are single and not wealthy. We also ran into a small school. The kids were really excited to see us! They all sang us a song. They also loved being photographed and seeing the photos. Lastly, when we met the little girl she was dancing outside her house. She came over to greet us and was so friendly and curious! She was following us as we were leaving. I still think about her and her family.
On the way to Madurai, we stopped by the Brihadisvara Temple in Tanjore. Such amazing architecture! The temple was built in 1010, so it has been around for 1000 years and is still structurally sound. There are carvings all around the structure that tell the history of the temple. Apparently in the building of the temple there was only one recorded death which is amazing when you think about how many had died building other large structures in history. The story goes that the king treated the workers well and gave all the builders a lot of land and wealth for several generations.
Leaving Tanjore this morning to Madurai! Started with early morning yoga in the peaceful lawn at the resort, and even got in some reading by the (extremely fancy) pool before leaving

1 March 2018

Visited a Chidambaram Temple this morning. Since the temple is more conservative, we wore traditional South Indian clothing. It was cool to see everyone dressed up! The temple itself was a beautiful monument. It was large so we could see it before the bus parked, and it was really colorful so it stood out amongst the earthy colors around it. The temple itself was HUGE, and the whole visit took about 3-4 hours. We got to witness a large prayer ritual and then meditate there while music and large bells were rung in the background. It felt pretty intense sensorally (is that a word?). The idea is that you meditate in a place where the spiritual energy is very high. Oh I almost forgot! I got to break a coconut after one of the prayer rituals as an offering to the deity Ganesha. The coconut is a symbolic of the brain, and the idea is that when breaking it you free the mind and open yourself spiritually. It was also just empowering to smash it on the steps!
Poolside views at our hotel in Tanjore.
As we are leaving Pondicherry, I wanted to compiles my favorite shots from our time there.

28 February 2018

I skipped out on touring the flower market this morning so I could sleep in...really feeling that jet lag. We got to visit an Ashram in the morning, which was a peaceful place where we were able to meditate for a bit. Other main events from today were Auroville (interesting, but not my cup of tea), and a tuck tuck ride.
Pondicherry hotel and Ghandi statue.
Yesterday after morning yoga we visited some abandoned temples and cave temple. The carvings were so detailed and are meant to tell a story. I like to think that, being a desert girl who lives in a humid place and frequently teaches hot yoga, I’m “used” to heat. But man was it HOT out! The sun is extremely bright, and there’s lots of humidity. Scarves are a great sun protector and are my new favorite accessories 👌🏼. I actually got a bit car sick on the bus yesterday due to the heat and the craziness of the traffic! The moral of the story is to pace yourself, and drink lots of water.

27 February 2018

These specific breed of stray dogs are everywhere! Must resist the urge to pet.
Good morning, India! After 4 time zones and 44+ hours, I finally made it! It’s so surreal to be here (and outside of an airport!). We started the morning with a beautiful yoga session overlooking the Bay of Bengal. Nothing like doing a Warrior 2 with sunrise. Off to our next destination! To be honest, I haven’t checked the itinerary much so not sure where we’re headed next, just rolling with the punches 👊🏼. It’s nice to let go and not have a plan sometimes.

26 February 2018

The Dubai airport, a.k.a. the fanciest airport I’ve been too. It legit looks like a high-end fashion mall! I kept getting distracted by the shiny architecture on the way to my gate.

25 February 2018

After spending the night at the airport (I don’t recommend this - airport arm chair benches do not make great beds), we are finally off to India!! Well, to Dubai first, then one more 6 hour flight. But then to Chennai! It still doesn’t feel real that this trip is finally happening. Timing is everything, and this trip came at just the right time in my life and I couldn’t be more grateful that I have this opportunity. Side note: this Emirates flight is the nicest flight I’ve ever experienced! Not that I have been on many international flights. But it’s fancy. I lucked out and got a whole row to myself (so naturally I immediately sprawled out across all 3 seats), and they provided blankets and other complimentary items (I’m sure this is normal for long international flights, but I spent the last day flying below average national flights, so this is a big deal for me). Not a bad start to the trip! Plus, look at these views. Next stop: Dubai!