I recently returned from the idyllic Himalayan village of Andretta, an artists' colony in north India that was the setting for my latest Living Yoga retreats. Oh, what a treat it was to wake up to the crisp mountain air, stroll amongst winter meadows filled with wild purple blooms, and sip on hot chai as we take in the view of the snowcapped Dhauladhar Range. To break bread with new friends, spend languid afternoons getting our hands dirty making pottery, and cold nights warming up by the fireplace with heart-stirring conversations. What a treat it was to slow down and reconnect with Mother Earth as we immersed ourselves in her beauty and fed off her bounty!
Honestly, I was a little apprehensive how many new-to-India yogis would respond to the surprises and curveballs India has been known to dish out — in our case, massive flight delays and two-day long power cuts that left us in cold and gloom. But as I was humbly reminded, these situations are exactly what our yoga practice readies us for. Candles were lit, mattresses were lugged closer to the working electrical sources, and a shared sense of solidarity held us together in a circle of comfort. On certain days, even the lack of hot water for showers couldn't stop us from jumping into the pool, laughing till our bellies ached to keep warm.
When I close my eyes, I am immediately transported to our daily practices in the most gorgeous glasshouse shala I have seen. The blanket of calm as we sat in morning meditation, shawls wrapped tightly around our shoulders; stripping off thick sweaters as our asana practice warmed our bodies and fogged up the glass; the serenade of birdsong as we surrendered in yin practices and in savasana; and always, always, the sweetness of kula (a Sanskrit word that loosely translates to community, or a group of people who come together with intention and a shared sense of purpose).
I love teaching on retreats and to hold space for yogis who have, simply by signing up, already set their intention to step out of their daily routines and into a space of introspection.
It is so beautiful to see how quickly friendships form when there's a common love and reverence for the practice, evident in the first group of yogis I hosted. They came from all walks of life, yet were chatting away like long-lost friends by the first night, and making plans to practise together back in Singapore at the end of it all. It is equally beautiful to see how yoga friendships thrive. The second group of yogis I hosted was a big family reunion for the many who met on last year's Sri Lanka retreat and this year's teacher training. The sheen of new friendships had given way to familiarity and camaraderie, and good-natured jibes and heart-baring conversations were shared amongst plenty of laughter, hugs and all-round good vibes.
Andretta is a stunning place, but I must say that even its beauty pales against that of this magic little thing called kula.
Earlier this year, I made the decision to respond to the call of the wild in my soul, and wherever it takes me in 2020 to share and experience this magic of kula — on retreats, immersions and trainings. All events and updates are on my new website Living Yoga, which I must proudly say I created from scratch! (No small feat for a technology procrastinator!)
I'll still be teaching at Hom Yoga whenever I am in town, so I hope to see you around on the mats, in Singapore and beyond. Here's wishing you a very merry Christmas and a revitalising start to the next decade!
P.S. Some of you have asked if I would host another retreat in Andretta, so YES! We'll head there as an intimate group for one last time in April before the summer heat kicks in. More info under Events below, or reply to this email if you have questions.
With all my love,