LIVING YOGA: YOGA & MYTHOLOGY SOUTH INDIA RETREAT 2022
Sat 3 Dec to Sat 10 Dec (8D7N)

A semester abroad in a quiet Gujarati village and many subsequent visits navigating India’s chaotic beauty have taught me more about the practice of Yoga than what can possibly be learned on the mat. Amidst the country's kaleidoscope of sights, scents and colours are all lessons — in patience, equanimity and surrender. In other words, India is 'Living Yoga' in its very essence.

This December, I invite you join me for a seven-night journey into the spiritual heart of South India. Stripped bare of our daily routines and habitual mental clutter, we will traverse three cities and immerse ourselves in all the magic that Tamil Nadu has to offer. India can sometimes be extremely confronting, and it is helpful to experience and process it in the company of like-minded seekers and practitioners.

Itinerary

Our journey begins in Chennai, from which we will head down to nearby Mahabalipuram for lunch, and to marvel at the ancient temples of the Pallava dynasty. After that, we will drive along the coast towards the bohemian-chic seaside town of Pondicherry, our home for the next four nights. The former French colony Pondicherry (commonly referred to as Pondy) retains its old-world French charm in food, language, culture and architecture.

 

We will practise Yoga daily, and head out to visit temples, the famed experimental township Auroville, and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. In between that, you'll have plenty of time to take in Pondicherry on your own terms, whether it's to walk around the shops and cafes in quaint White Town, or stay in the resort and relax by the beach. Our guest teacher Prasad Rangnekar will join us on the fourth day, sharing with us his favourite sites in Pondy, and lead our end-of-day reflections (satsang). A respected teacher who's taught Yoga for 26 years, Prasad has studied under many accomplished Yogic masters, and is extremely well-versed in sharing the wisdom traditions of India.

Together, we will then journey to Tiruvannamalai, home to the sacred Arunachala Hills and one of the main five holy Shaiva places in India. Prasad will be with us throughout our two nights here to introduce us to the region's spiritual and mythological sites and practices.

Our journey ends where we started – Chennai. We will go on a city walk guided by Storytrails (one of my best memories from my last visit) to soak up the history, mythology and folklore embedded in the city's streets, and then spend the night at the iconic Taj Connemara, which will be a wonderful reprieve from our travels on the road.

The retreat ends after morning practice and breakfast the next day (Sat 10 Dec).

Accommodation

Travelling through India is extremely stimulating for the senses, which is why I have carefully chosen highly-rated hotels for us to relax and decompress after a day outside.

In Pondicherry, we will be staying at the beautiful beachside Le Pondy Resort

In Tiruvannamalai, we will be staying at luxury eco-resort Sparsa, with views of sacred Mount Arunachala.

Back in Chennai, we will spend our last night in the luxurious environs of the five-star Taj Connemara.

All rooms have A/C and ensuite baths and toilets, and can be outfitted with either a double or twin beds.

Fee: S$2,800 in a twin-share room

Inclusions

  • Daily vegetarian breakfast and dinner (let Leigh know if you have further dietary restrictions)

  • Once-daily Yoga practice (this may be either in the morning or evening, depending on the time we have to head out for our sacred site visits)

  • Evening satsang to reflect on and digest what we have experienced in the day

  • Entrance fees to the sites we visit together as a group

  • All transport fees, including Chennai airport pick-up and drop-off if you travel on recommended flights

Exclusions

  • Air tickets

  • Visa fees

  • Compulsory travel insurance

  • Expenses incurred should you test positive for Covid in India. Please make sure your travel insurance adequately covers this.

  • Any necessary Covid tests, if regulations require them then

  • Lunch

  • Driver and guide tips (please budget ~USD20 a day)
  • All other personal expenses eg. laundry
  • Any special individual rituals (puja) at any of the sacred sites
  • Camera fees where applicable

Recommended flights

  • 3 Dec 2022 Singapore Airlines SQ524, arriving in Chennai at 08:50 hrs local time

  • 10 Dec 2022 Singapore Airlines SQ525, departing Chennai at 10:00 hrs local time or 
    Singapore Airlines SQ529, departing Chennai at 23:15 hrs local time

(Please note that late checkout from the Taj is subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed)

The retreat starts at 10am on Saturday 3 December. If you're flying in on the recommended flight, the bus will be there to pick you up from Chennai airport arrivals. If you are staying in Chennai the night before, please pick a city centre hotel that is along our bus route (I will share a list of suggested hotels closer to date).

The retreat ends at 10am on Saturday 10 December after an optional morning practice and breakfast. You may have to miss this if you're taking a very early flight out.

 

If you have a few days more leave to spare, I recommend flying in a day earlier to settle in, so you can start the retreat rested and ready. 

Booking and cancellation policy

For ease of entry and travel throughout India, I can only host fully vaccinated participants.

The retreat will go on so long as international travel regulations allow quarantine-free travel between India and Singapore. Please stay updated with the latest information on the ICA website here.

Please email Leigh to register. A non-refundable S$500 deposit will be required to secure your spot. Your space is not confirmed until I confirm that I have received your deposit. The remaining fee is to be paid in full by Wed, 31 August 2022.

  • Cancellations communicated by Fri 30 Sep will be refunded the full amount, minus S$500.

  • Cancellations communicated between Sat 1 Oct to Mon 31 Oct will receive a 50% refund.

  • Cancellations communicated between Tue 1 Nov to Thu 1 Dec will receive a 40% refund.

  • No refunds will be made from Fri 2 Dec.

  • To avoid paying the cancellation surcharge, you can get someone else to take your place on the retreat.

  • In line with the cancellation regulations of the tour company planning our trip, the policy above will remain in place regardless of your reason for cancellation, including spikes in Covid cases and acts beyond our control. This is a risk you assume upon registration. Please purchase adequate travel insurance upon confirmation of your spot on the retreat.