Imagine being in India, learning about ancient art and the healing powers of yoga, meditation, Ayurveda while experiencing deep transformation in your body, mind and soul. Just imagine.
Few places in the world are as rich in deep spirituality, ancient history, natural beauty, vibrant colours and culinary delights as India. Being on a personal path to a healthier, happier me with much focus on yoga and self-love, I am delighted to be joining Annie Wyatt of Namaste Retreats India on her 8-day transformational detox retreat in Rishikesh in October 2018. On the back of that, I’ve invited Annie to do a guest post introducing us to what will be offered.
Namaste Retreats India, by Annie Wyatt
I have run more than 20 deep cleansing juice detox retreats in South Africa near Cape Town and have over 20 years’ experience with cleansing practices both through diet and various yogic techniques. I love India with all its colourful facets, culture and ancient wisdom and have travelled and studied extensively in the country. On my last trip I reconnected with Veechi Shahi, the founder of A new Leaf in Mumbai, who has been offering life and wellness coaching, resilience training, women empowerment workshops and mindfulness programmes in India and internationally for individuals, groups, institutes and corporate clients for more than 17 years.
After numerous requests from clients who have been on my detoxing juice fasting retreats, together we felt there was a need in the South African market to offer a deep and comprehensive transformational experience right where it all began, in India, and with our respective cultural backgrounds, skills and professional experience we believe we are able to offer retreat travellers the best of both world.
Upcoming Retreats in India
Namaste Retreats India offers two retreats this year in September and October in the country’s most beautiful and historic regions in the South of India and on the foot of the Himalaya Mountains in the North. The retreats are limited to 30 persons each and promise to be effective and authentic as well as exclusive, safe, comfortable and even luxurious.
The SwaSwara retreat in Gokarna, South India, will focus on transformation and detoxing, while the Rishikesh retreat (the one I’m attending, Dawn) on the banks of the holy river the Ganges is a deep cleansing transformational retreat that promises not only to cleanse your physical body but your emotional body and mind also. You will come away from our retreats with clarity of mind and a way to move forward in your own life.
Veechi and I personally picked the venues, designed the programme and are running the retreats to promise an unforgettable experience. No prior Yoga experience is required, it is perfect for single travellers, and a wonderful way to get to know this beautiful country, its culture and its people while simultaneously going through meaningful changes in body, mind and soul.
Namaste literally means ‘I bow to you’.
What it is all about – some Hindu terms for you
‘Namaste’ literally means I bow to you. The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra. The gesture is an acknowledgement of the soul in one by the soul in another. How beautiful is this?!
The word ‘ashram’ comes from the Sanskrit root śram which means “to toil”. Traditionally a spiritual Hindu hermitage or a monastery in a remote place, an ashram today encompasses any sort of retreat. It means “a step in the journey of life” or a place where one strives towards a goal in a disciplined manner. Such a goal could be ascetic, spiritual or yogic. Our beautiful retreats are certainly a step in the journey of life. Open that door.
Transformation means ‘Parivartan’
Transformation is a fundamental change in a person’s sacred or spiritual life. In psychology, spiritual transformation is understood within the context of an individual’s meaning system, especially in relation to concepts of the sacred or ultimate concern. When life comes at us a thousand miles an hour, our deepest calling and truest self often gets knocked unconscious by storms of distraction, anxiety, and heaviness. It can feel as if somewhere along the way, we lost connection to ourselves, our direction and our ability to see things clearly. The truth is; we never really “lose connection”. The clarity we seek simply gets muffled under layers of toxic inner dialogue, self-limiting stories and conditioned mindsets.
“India has two million gods, and worships them all. In religion all other countries are paupers; India is the only millionaire.” – Mark Twain
Slash through the clutter
Our retreats in India – both in Gokarna and in Rishikesh – are the perfect way to slash through the inner and outer clutter weighing us down in a fun, grounded, uplifting and safe environment. The experience of being in nature while connecting with others who also care about becoming their best selves is a deeply fulfilling experience. You will learn practical ways to help strengthen the connection to your own internal guidance system while discovering life-enhancing tools to help move you towards the vibrant, abundant and purposeful life that feels most aligned with your soul.
Get rid of the mental clutter weighing you down by exploring different modalities such as meditation, nature walks, meaningful dialogue, insightful Q&A sessions, self-inquiry and presence and creating your very own “toolbox” that will help you navigate life with a lightness of heart, mind, body, and soul.
As a Yoga practitioner and teacher for many years, I believe your body is your temple and as such we have developed this retreat to help you awaken your consciousness and transform your relationship with your body, mind and heart. The food we eat plays an important role in loving and respecting ourselves by nourishing us at the cellular level. First, we must detoxify the body from environmental, emotional and physical toxins, then reactivate your energy through the chakras in order for you to shine.
Fasting to access the deeper self
Fasting has long been practised by so many who have come before us who have fasted as a tool to access their deeper selves, to cleanse the body and purify the mind. This has a strong effect on us as we open to a deeper connection within and without.
Our entire digestive system, our colon, in particular, is designed to process solid wastes from the foods we ingest. Overall health is largely about our digestive systems functioning optimally. A lifetime of improper eating habits, environmental pollution, medicinal drugs and various other lifestyle factors have contributed to an accumulation of poisons in the organs and tissues of the body. In most people, the colon has become clogged with impacted dried mucus, undigested food, inorganic chemicals which not only inhibits digestion and normal bowel movements but also causes toxication of the bloodstream which is the primary cause of disease and degeneration of every organ in the body.
Cleansing or fasting is our body’s natural way of removing or purging itself of poisons. Fasting purifies the blood, regenerating and rebalancing all vital functions in the body. Digestive functions use large amounts of energy and enzyme power in our daily life and fasting diverts this energy to detoxification and healing. During fasting, each and every one of the internal organs detoxifies itself, while digestive enzymes travel throughout the system digesting damaged cells, tumours, deeply impacted mucus, crystallised spurs on the joints and inflammation.
Fasting also stimulates growth hormone secretion from the pituitary gland which is the most powerful healing and regeneration hormone for the specific purpose of repairing damage to the organs and tissues as part of the healing process. Your own body will then naturally do the rest of the detox work through your blood, lymph, hormones and enzymes. But we do need to allow sufficient time for the natural system to take over. Three to seven days is usually enough to kick-start you on your own journey of healing.
Many people come on our retreats thinking that they will lose weight and get some rest and get strong but the effects are far-reaching. They do lose weight, they do get strong and fit but mostly they find clarity that they had not thought was possible. One can’t really know what real clarity, balance and health is while the body is full of toxins. Once the body is clean and clear, the mind follows and you will have full knowledge of this.
Following the detoxing juice fast will be Ayurvedic food. Ayurveda – the Knowledge of Life – is 5000 years old – one of the oldest medicinal systems in history. Ayurvedic principles and foods work with the body’s innate intelligence in order to promote natural self-healing.
How to prepare for your trip to India
India is one of the world’s largest, most populated, and most culturally diverse countries in the world, and one that attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year. Although India can be a challenging place to travel for the uninitiated, fortunately, the reward is well worth the time it takes to adjust to such a vastly busy, exciting place. Get into the right mindset and you’ll never forget the things you experience there. Knowing a few India travel essentials before hitting the ground will help you adjust more quickly.
Preparing for a trip to India involves planning your itinerary (before or after the retreat), making sure you have the necessary travel documents, and possibly obtaining standard immunisations in order to protect your health during your India trip. In addition, you’ll need to know what to pack, what form of currency to bring, and what precautions you can take in order to travel safely.
Rishikesh is Calling
Located in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, Rishikesh is known as the ‘Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas’ and ‘Yoga Capital of the World’. It is one of the holiest places to Hindus. Hindu sages and saints have visited Rishikesh since ancient times to meditate in search of higher knowledge.
Today most of the ashrams and retreats are found north of the main town, where the exquisite setting on the fast-flowing Ganges, surrounded by forested hills, is conducive to meditation and mind expansion. In the evening, an almost supernatural breeze blows down the valley, setting temple bells ringing as sadhus (‘holy’ men), pilgrims and tourists prepare for the nightly ganga aarti – the river worship ceremony.
The defining image of Rishikesh is the view across the Lakshman Jhula hanging bridge to the huge, 13-storey temple of Swarg Niwas and Shri Trayanbakshwar. Built by the organisation of the guru Kailashanand, it resembles a fairy-land castle and has dozens of shrines to Hindu deities on each level, interspersed with jewellery and textile shops.
A pleasant 2km walk south of Lakshman Jhula, along the path skirting the east bank of the Ganges, leads to the spiritual community of Swarg Ashram, made up of temples, ashrams, a crowded bazaar, sadhus and the bathing ghats where religious ceremonies are performed at sunrise and sunset.
Har ki Pauri is one the holiest Ghats in the country and the first place where Ganga touches plains, leaving behind the pristine ranges of the Himalayas. The ghat is also known as the Brahma Kund where you can view the stone which has an imprint of Lord Vishnu’s foot, as pointed out by the name. You will also see the Ram Jhula which is the iron parallax bridge and the newer bridge named after Lakshman’s brother, Lord Ram.
Shopping in Rishikesh is not only fun but a unique experience too and you don’t have to travel far – everything is available at pretty much everywhere in the town. A definite must is the colourful Lakshman Jhula market with dozens of small shops selling good collections of religious idols, wooden goods, ayurvedic medicines, artificial jewellery, rudrakshas, yoga gear, handcrafted gift items and more.
Many stalls sell rudraksh mala, the strings of beads used in puja (literally ‘respect’; offering or prayers). They are made from the nuts of the rudraksh tree, which is said to have originally grown where Shiva shed a single tear following a particularly long and satisfying period of meditation. Beads with mukhi (different faces) confer various blessings on the wearer.
Lastly, there are also several popular shops for traditional Indian garments, music shops with good CD collections on devotional and yoga music, religious books, gems and jewellery shops with semi-precious gemstones and unique religious and historical antiques at moderate prices.
While the emphasis of our retreat will be on transformation, meditation, fasting, Ayurveda and Yoga, we are planning numerous outings to give you a good insight into Rishikesh’s many beautiful sights and its colourful history. We know the place and its surroundings well and will guide you along knowledgeably so that you can enjoy a perfect, hassle-free time.
Located in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, Rishikesh is known as the ‘Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas’ and ‘Yoga Capital of the World’.
The Namaste Retreats India Packages 2018
1. 9-day luxury transformational detox retreat Gokarna
- 23 September to 1 October 2018
- Private Villa R30000 | Shared Twin or Double Villa R28000 per person
- You can book a single place in a double room. Our Partner Package allows you to save 10% on each
- Book and travel with a friend and pay R50 400 instead of R56 000 in total
2. 8-day transformational detox retreat Rishikesh
- 13 – 20 October 2018
- Private Room R18500 | Shared Twin or Double Room R15500 p.p. sharing
- You can book a single place in a double room. Our Partner Package allows you to save 10% on each
- Book and travel with a friend and pay R27 900 instead of R31 000 in total
The Retreats Include
- Airport transfers to/from Dabolim Airport Goa / Dehradun Airport
- Accommodation in your own private villa/private or twin room
- Nutrient-dense freshly squeezed juices
- Colon cleanse with psyllium husks
- Daily meditation
- Daily yoga
- Transformational workshops
- 6 Days juice fasting
- 3 days Ayurvedic meals
- Juice recipes
- Ayurvedic cooking lesson
- Vitamin-rich veggie broths
- Freshly pressed almond milk
- Superfood boosters (delicious and nutritious)
- Two full-body holistic massages or therapies
- Nature Walks
- Beach time
- Excursions to local sites and temples
- Emotional release
- Sharing with like-minded people
Useful Flight Information
Travelguru SA in Cape Town is on hand to assist with flights, visas and any additional travel itineraries. Rates are subject to confirmation on booking. 1. Flights for the Gokarna Retreat – Cape Town to Dabolim (Goa) 23 Sep – 2 Oct on Qatar Airways – ZAR 13443 | 2. Flights for the Rishikesh Retreat – Johannesburg to Dehradun (Rishikesh) 11 Oct – 22 Oct on Emirates – ZAR R10175.
A Passage to India: Books and Movies
Last but not least, India is incredibly inspiring. Here are links to some of our favourites to read and watch. Enjoy:
- Water – Deepa Metha
- The God of small things – Arundhati Roy
- A Passage to India – E.M. Foster
- Heat and Dust – Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
- A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
- Midnights Children – Salman Rushdie
- Slumdog Millionaire – Danny Boyle
- Lion with Dev Patel
- The Life of Pi – Yann Martel
- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – John Madden
Booking Contact Details Should You Wish To Join Me There
Contact Annie at email@example.com. They offer attractive Payment Plans for the retreats – book and pay one third now, one third in September and the rest one week before the retreat. I will be staying in the actual ashram ensuring a completely authentic experience. Watch – Journey to India with Namaste Retreats.
** Photographs supplied and sourced. I will be paying my own way there and for my stay in the Ashram as I’m doing this as part of my personal journey. I look forward to sharing a first-hand account of the transformation the retreat will offer me.