Jen and Heather got it Goain’ on with yoga in Goa! The inspiration for our 2 week yoga and cultural trip to India started with our son’s high school journalism teacher turned yoga instructor. Jen Mitchell just retired from teaching high school on the eve of this trip after having successfully started Twist Yoga several years ago, a vinyasa yoga studio in our hometown of Edmonds, WA. Together with her business partner, Heather Falcon, they have been offering yoga retreats in Hawaii and Oregon, and this was their first international yoga retreat. They designed the yoga program at Ashiyana Yoga and Spa Village in north Goa and asked us if we would set up a post-retreat cultural adventure to Varanasi, the Taj Mahal and Delhi.
The trip sold out quickly. Although Anne and I were not originally planning to go, it took little convincing by other participants on the trip to join them. I’ve practiced yoga much of my life, and the thought of starting a trip to India doing yoga for a week in the tropics morning and afternoon, filling the day in between with massages, Ayurveda treatments, adventures on the beach and napping was just too appealing. By the end of the week we were cleansed, streatched and balanced with all our chakras open and re-energized. After all that yoga and one of the best massages in my life on our last day, I was walking on air with a big smile on my face.
Jen and Heather put much spirit and talent into the yoga program “7 Days / 7 Chakras” they designed and taught. Each day we focused on a different chakra starting with the first Muladhara chakra positioned at the base of the spine and moving up the body to the ultimate ethereal Ajna chakra on the forehead opening up to that which is beyond the body. This is where Indian women wear their bindi and men are marked between the eyes with a painted tilak when visiting the temple. It's also how guests are received at hotels and in peoples homes like we were so many times during our trip. It's a wonderful way to be reminded of the meaning of Namaste: I salute the God within you.
For every day of each chakra, Jen and Heather had designed corresponding spa suggestions and outing activities like reflexology to open the lower chakras, Thai Yoga massage, Ayurvedic Bliss Therapy, and other treatments to spark our Shakti at higher levels. Some days we focused on the gentle yin and water chakras, and practiced more restorative yoga stretching longer to go deeper; on those days we spent the time between yoga sessions walking on the beach and swimming in the warm waters of the Arabian Sea. Other days we fired up the yang energy practicing prana (breath) techniques along with more challenging inverted and balance postures; and on these more active days we did outings such as the amazing cooking school Julie, Cindy and Scott attended learning how to prepare spicy hot South Indian cuisine while others joined me surfing and paddle boarding.
On the fifth day after feeling pretty good doing some headstands and balance poses I had a bit of an awakening during shivasana (relaxation). First a tear of joy welled up. I felt the Shakti rise so I just sat with it and let it take me. Everyone else had left the pavilion except Heather who approached me to gently set her hand on the back side of my heart chakra. Like a good yoga instructor and kind spiritual guide, she sensed that I opened up more to her gesture of love at which point she offered to sit cross-legged in front of me chanting in Hindu so I could just take in her beautiful song and the flood gates opened…I went into deep guttural laughing and a cleansing outburst crying of joy. I found myself, that happiness of who I am and where I was in that moment in my life in Goa at the start of a Wildland Adventure in India!