Swan Yoga Retreat

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I find myself repeating the same desire for knowledge and deep sense of wanting to understand everything on the first day.   Something seems to have shifted as I entered this retreat, my desire for needing/wanting to know everything, record everything suddenly slipped away and replaced with a deep desire to simply experience what was about to unfold knowing that the information would settle itself somewhere deep inside me and come forth when the time is right.  I found myself disconnecting to the onslaught of information and instead craving to be in the experience.  It was a refreshing change!

Upon arrival at the front gate of the retreat centre I met by a staff member and lead let to a bungalow, I crawled directly into bed and fell fast asleep. The next morning I awoke to a strange feeling of being in another country where I don’t know the lay of the land, it is brutally hot, I am surrounded by beautiful jungle sounds, the crickets, the many different birds chirping their own sounds, so many sounds, so many beautiful sounds.  Upon awaking a few hours later, I stumbled into the bathroom barely remembering the lay out of the room but found my way, I flicked on the light, opened the toilet seat and just stared!  Stunned, confused, knowing I had not used the toilet since my arriving but what appeared in the toilet was what looked like a huge pile of poo.  I just stared.  Suddenly things started to come into focus and I realized I was staring at a large frog.  I slammed down the lip and crawled back into bed it would have to wait until morning.   The next time I woke, I stumbled out into the common area to get a staff member so I could use the toilet.  They assured me it happens all the time, just flush the frog down the toilet. Luckily the frog was not there.  Once I peed and had a look around scoping out my surroundings I went to meet the staff who quickly explained how things worked and what the schedule would look moving forward which was really a futile effort considering I was functioning at a very low level, jet lagged, with very little sleep, my brain was not recording any of the information presented to me.

I stepped into the programming in a vegetative state.

The grounds are well laid out with many bungalows, a common area, a reception area, a fake beach area, a second yoga studio for flame gazing meditation, a temple area, an Ayurvedic area with treatment rooms, a juice bar and the yoga platform at the top of the property all nestled into the jungle.  Everything is built from recycled materials, they grow their own herbs and plants along with two wells on the property.

 

Two vegetarian meals a day, water and tea were provided.

The first morning I slid into the schedule which changes each day but adheres to a basic routine adding and deleting activities throughout the week.  Meditation, Yoga Nidra, Yoga Asana practices either once or twice a day, brunch at 10am and dinner at 6pm, this would certainly be different from the way I had been eating the last 10 days on my own travelling around Bali.  The diet is Ayurvedic which means vegan, all the colours of the rainbow encompassing all the tastes Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter, Pungent, Astringent.  Free time is scheduled between activities; the first few days would simply be resting and acclimatizing my body to this heat; the transition was not as smooth as I would have hoped!

Bali average temperatures in April range from 27°C to 30 with 85% humidity and in GOA, India, the temperature roves in between 30°C to 40°C with the average humidity at 75%. 

Temperatures have been averaging 40 with high, high humidity, my body could handle the 30 weather but bumping it up to 40 changed things quickly.  I have been sweating for the past 4 months, coupled with full on menopause which presented me with 10-12 hot flashes per day all coming together at one time.  Hot flashing through meditation sessions at 30 degrees is a whole new ball game.   

Each day starts with 5:45am meditation, keeping the mind engaged on one thing at a time working towards retaining focus on one thing; your body, outside of your body, the sounds around you, the sounds inside of you; finally getting to a place where you just allow your mind to do whatever it wants, allowing thoughts, pictures, visualizations, anything the mind wants to bring about.  The interesting thing is that this is where your mind is like a child, when given free reign it no longer has an interest in running all over the place, instead it just rests in the emptiness, sometimes.  It is also very similar to a child in that it is different everyday, you never really know what you going to get day to day.  You get what you get and you accept it as it is.  

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The cleansing portion of the program was to come on the second morning of my arrival, still groggy and not fully present, I went along with the programming and showed up at the “fake beach” where we all gathered to hear Om tell us about the cleaning rituals in Ayurveda and what we were about to undertake.  First, we would flush our nasal cavity with a netty pot.  I have experience this before so it didn’t seem to out of the ordinary for me.  I knew this one.  We would flush out each nostril twice then blow our noses by blowing the breath through our nostrils in quick succinct blows (like when guys just blow their noses without a tissue, so gross!)  From there we would go over to the sun beds and lay in child’s pose and allow any more of the water to seep out through our nostrils.  Lovely.

The Asana classes are what we would consider yoga, Alicia the 4pm instructor is brilliant, we warm up the body, then we do three different pranyam exercises, then we move into the sun salutations briskly moving the body to get the the heart rate up as we move quickly through the practice.  Finishing with some slow deep postures focusing on a specific area of the body working on a very specific body part.  I would have to say in all of my  years of yoga classes this is one of my favorites. 

Next we would drink four tall thick glasses of salted water (the water is salted to each individual’s own desire, a measure of the taste of your own tears) quickly and simultaneously not allowing the saliva to partake.  Om advised us to imagine we were in a drinking contest pitting countries against each other, Germany, Britain x2 and Canada.  After drinking the 4 glasses of water we were to move over to the trees, stick our fingers down our throat and vomit all the water back out, it literally pours out of your mouth much more violently than it went in but it comes back bringing a feeling of relief to get the water out of your bulging stomach.

Finally, the sexiest one of them all, we would go to the community area, lay out our yoga mat and continue drinking the salt water, this time a little more slowly but continuously, 2 glasses to start followed by a series of exercises to push the water deeper into our large intestine, thereby releasing the karma stored in our intestines.  Each exercise to be completed 5 times.

  1. Hands clasped above the head stretching up to the sky, come up on toes and drop down onto your heels with a thud
  2. Hands clasped above the head stretching up to the sky arching your body to the right and then to the left 
  3. Swinging your arms side to side turning your body to look at the opposite ankle, twisting your body to the opposite side
  4. Start in downward facing dog to laying on your stomach with your hands by your sides turning your head to the right to look at your left ankle, continuing to the other side to look at the right ankle then back into downward dog. 
  5. Walking like a duck

Two more glasses, one more round of exercise, two more glasses, one more round of exercise then “go to your room” sit on the toilet and shit it all out.  Quiet something really.  Sounds gross, IS gross, but the result feels quite good and cleansing.  It is quite the introduction to the new people in your life, Stewart this is Jodi, Jodi this is Stewart, we are going to blow snot out of our noses, puke violently out of our mouths and then sit on the toilet and shit for half an hour, nice to meet you.  

And the frog never came back!~

Welcome to Swan Yoga Retreat!

The first couple days I was very groggy and all I wanted to do was sleep, literally feeling like a zombie participating, here but not really being here.  I didn’t quite realize the place to which I had gotten, the grogginess was not lifting but I just kept up with the schedule, thinking that allowing my body to rest during the breaks would be enough to bring me back.  I continued to sweat it out non-stop, showering frequently, sitting in front of fans in the common area but continuing to feel extremely low energy.

Wednesday was to be meditation by the Ocean day, a field trip as we all gathered in the vehicle and took a trip to the local beach where we would meditate with the Ocean right out in front of us.  

They say that everything happens for a reason … the reason we may never know;

They say that everything happens when it is suppose to … nothing is coincidence;

They say that trauma and painful memories are stored in your body in layers;

They say that you will release each layer when you are ready to let it go;

The combination of so many things, the heat, the humidity, the yoga, the meditation, the cleanings, the pranayam, the clean vegan diet eating, the newness of another country, another new bed, meeting another group of people, getting to know and used to the ways of the retreat and the people running it, another set of ideas to wrap my brain around, the jet lag, the being away from home for 6 months, so many choices.  

But something happened and I felt like yet another layer from the deep storage in my tissues was being tapped into.  

We did some deep work on the hips, opening, waking, allowing space, the following day I was flat on my back and literally could do nothing except lay, in and out of consciousness all day long, perhaps allowing the release of whatever I had still hiding in the deep tissues of my hips.  They say that the hips hold a lot of our experiences and traumas.  This concept is quite interesting and the more I journey along the more I see it unfolding in my own body. 

I went down in a way I have never experienced before, I could not get out of bed, I felt like I weighted 1,000 pounds, when I got up to use the toilet I felt delirious, dizzy I could barely make my way, my head was swimming, my body could barely move, I just wanted to lay down again.  It was so hot, so brutally hot, I had one ceiling fan going but it barely provided any relief.  I lay in bed sweating, unable to move.  My friend, Stewart noticed I missed the morning meditation class and came to check up on me thankfully, I told him I was quite sick and needed to just lay in bed, he notified the staff who brought me another fan, a concoction to drink and continued to check on me throughout the day.  I did not move, only to pee, the rest of the time I stayed in bed, I could not even imagine eating,  The liquid concoction provided enough energy for me to stagger to the dinner bell and eat some rice and stagger back to bed for the rest of the night.   I woke the next morning feeling better, human but still only functioning at about 60% but I knew I had to get out of bed and out of the heat of this bungalow.  I made my way to the common area threw myself onto the couch directly in front of some fans.  Each move sucking up a portion of my very small energy reserve laying there sparing my limited energy. 

I made it through the day still very groggy, and the introduction of my new friend diarrea and a very unhappy gurgle tummy, it reminds me that perhaps this is another layer of letting go, shitting it all out.

It took two days of careful water intake, hydration powders, probiotics, careful eating, slow practices, and lots of rest and I am human again.  7 days after arriving in Goa, I feel like myself again.  My brain just suddenly kicked back on, the whole time I was here I had no desire to write, nothing happening upstairs, not the usual fireworks, not the usual fluster of ideas, nothing just plain nothing.  It was interesting to watch myself experience this phenomena and just go with the flow.  Kinda worrisome in a way because I didn’t realize how bad of a state my body and mind had actually gotten to but now that I am back to normal I see it all so clearly going downhill.

I have been in Goa for nearly a week and there have been plenty of mixed feelings being in this Country, from the start of my excursion to the feeling just after getting off the plane there was plenty of ground to make up. 

Cows in India are regarded as pets they are free to road wherever they like, come home for dinner, provide milk to the family and everyone is happy.  As soon as the cow no longer provides the milk it is no longer welcome in the home and the feedings will discontinue.  Man, you don’t want to have a bad day as a cow in India. 

The dog problem is even worse in India than in Bali, there are lots of stray, wild dogs here in Goa, and they seems to accumulate around the beaches.  It is so sad and breaks my heart. 

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Each place I end up I am to meet another group of people walking the same path, some just coming to a place like this to recuperate from a busy life, take some downtime and have no interest in spiritually at all, others on a spiritual path.   I have been fortunate enough to meet two wonderful people from London, Stewart and Charlotte and the three of us would end up exploring together, venturing to different beaches and checking out the local markets in between puking and shitting.

Stewart, Charlotte and I wandered through the market at the end of the a day.  Not unlike Bali, in many respects, with the bardering system in full swing, the vendors claiming they saw you earlier on the beach and wondered if you remembered them, or they would say I remember you from last week.   Once you were in their kiosk you were fair game, I was wearing a borrowed bikini, thanks to Charlotte, and there was no way I was putting my stinky clothes back on so I walked to the market in my bikini and walked pretty much into the first stall to get myself a sarang to drape around my overly exposed body and cover myself up.  First mistake, seem desperate!  They were all over me like flies on shit, badgering me waiting in line to bring me to THEIR shop next, offering good deals, showing me dresses, shirts, pants, everything the had in the booth.  I was immediately overwhelmed.  I had been swarmed.  

Each time I enter a new country I have to learn the currency all over again, I was having trouble making the numbers stick in my head.   When I arrived at the market I had a shaky grasp on the currency and a shakier grasp on the prices of things and the bartering system in India, essentially I was the freshest meat around and they all knew it!

Since I still didn’t have my suitcase and in need of a wardrobe immediately, I’d say the Indian women did alright that first day.  I did some bartering but once my head cleared I realized the they had a very good day and it was still so inexpensive for me.  I look at is a form of giving, in my own ignorance, I am helping people.  

The very next day my bag arrived, a testament to a developing equanimity; not getting phased by my bag not arriving with me, making two phone calls to ensure my bag was in transition, then waited without the worry, without the anxiety, just knowing it would all work out the way it was suppose to and I lived with the clothes that did not belong to me, clothes that have been sitting in a pile of lost and found somewhere for however long, each piece containing a rancid smell, a stench.  I had no choice, stay in my disgusting, sweating, b/o smelling clothes or put on the wrinkled slightly rancid choices the ashram provided. 

Friday is a free day so the three of us went on another adventure and got to to see first hand the duality of this beautiful place, GOA, India.  Starting the day with a jungle walk then off to an Indian market bustling with thousands of people pushing and shoving, yelling and screaming, cars and bikes squeezed into two tiny lanes of traffic honking and buzzing past as the pedestrians walking along the side of the road, a couple of men dressed in full uniform blowing their whistles in an attempt to direct traffic that literally has no control, complete chaos buzzing all around. 

The people at the markets trying desperately to get you to purchase their wares at their “cheapest” price.  Some following you badgering you to buy this is that, having said no thank you time and time again, only to have them walking beside you continuing to offer you their best price, they are insistent. 

We stopped in a bakery and bought a treat and a young man decided then and there that he was going to be our tour guide walking us around the market, showing us this and that, he did not speak but he ushered us around the busy bustling market pointing here and there leading us to all his favourite vendors. 

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It would be a nice combination of the yoga retreat and free time to go exploring.

The first beach we stumbled upon, had my happy pants on …

La Cabana Beach & Spa Resort

Oceanside …

Nilaya Hermitage…

Swan Yoga Retreat and was a wonderful experience, the programming is solid, the yoga classes are intense and very good, the food was amazing, I never really realize how wonderful it is to simply show up and eat after the sound of the “dinner” bell, it takes away a another level of thinking.  The staff were friendly and very good at what they do.

I enjoyed my stay and would recommend Swan Yoga Retreat to anyone looking for a good yoga and meditation retreat in GOA, India.

Each of the excursions was to be another treasure, so much beauty each boasting their own special twist.

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