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India… my journey home.

Inhale Life India retreat - pench safari

(more than a testimonial here is a brave story)

The 2018 Inhale Life India retreat was absolutely divine. A journey home to my heart that was truly sacred. From the moment I decided to go, the journey began to unfold…

I noticed moments of trepidation, excitement, joy and fear in the weeks leading up to the departure date. Each an opportunity for growth in preparation for what was to come; to simply trust and go with the flow. 
The moment we stepped off the plane and were greeted by Romina at Nagpur airport, I felt a shift in my heart that is hard to explain. I felt my heartbeat quicken and space opened up. I was ready to receive the fruits of this retreat. I knew I was home. I knew I was held. 

It was a superbly balanced retreat, with daily yoga and meditation, thrilling jungle safaris, pampering Ayurvedic treatments, heart opening moments with beautiful local people, delicious food and luxurious accommodation (with very comfy beds!). Importantly, there were daily opportunities for rest and quiet, time to choose activities or solitude and honour your own needs. In fact, these choices to listen and be were encouraged.

The retreat group bonded so gently, yet closely. Romina was the glue between us all. We held each other with compassion and grace; gave each other space and support when it was needed. I came home with life-long friends. We continue to hold that space for each other, instilled so deeply by Mother India. 

I have many precious memories from this journey to the heart of India, but one was quite profound and unexpected. We were on safari. Huddled together in an open top jeep searching the vast jungle for wild tigers, our guides had heard bird calls which signalled their presence nearby. In haste, we’d driven down the dirt track (in reverse!) hoping for a glimpse of these wild beasts. 

We sat and waited… all eyes fixed on the jungle… No one dared breathe. The anticipation cut the chilly morning air.

Then in an instant, I saw her! I tried to speak but found no volume, no air to force out the sound from within. My gaze transfixed on this graceful, powerful tigress, I reach out for Romina’s shoulder, my left hand floating in super slow motion. My right hand gradually stretched out, pointing towards the beautiful tiger. It was like a scene from a Hollywood feature film.. it felt like an eternity, though in linear time, was perhaps only a few seconds. In these moments, the tiger and I merged, there was no distinction. No awareness of others, no breath or sound… the instant my left fingertips touched Romina’s shoulder, sounds again arose from the stillness, others followed the direction of my outstretched arm, we gasped as one as the sight of this divine queen of the jungle filled our beings with awe and wonder…

A truly remarkable moment of yoga in action.

India – you are magical! You hold my heart. There is something quite special about being in this country, this energy and among these people that provides a unique opportunity for transformative growth and personal development – the deepening of one’s personal practice on and off the mat. 
I recall the drive to Nagpur when Romina asked me to write a blog… it’s been a little while brewing and perhaps it’s not quite what either of us imagined… but I know it must be perfect just as it is! Honestly I would have struggled to see that a year ago!

The words I jotted down to begin this request arose so organically- the words wrote me.

A little extract is included here…

‘I am taken aback by the vast open space, the lush green fields, the shepherds taking refuge in the shade of a tree watching over his bovine charges with care and attention. “What are you thinking?” I wonder. What do you feel? The poverty the richness, abundance of this land astounds me, captivates me, steadily holding my attention as it draws me inward to a place so deep it resides within my very heartbeat.’

Ahh India… you are the window to my soul. I arrive in your land, I immerse in your culture, I come to know myself with gentle acceptance and humility.

Looking back, I am so grateful that I chose to explore a little after the retreat. The days in Mumbai with my fellow retreaters were equally as transformative as the time in Pench – a second chapter in my Indian journey. India is a land of contrast. The sights and sounds of daily life, the wealth in the hearts of the poorest people, the chaos of traffic – somehow it all just flows!! Into a taught me so much – about life, culture, my passions and inner joy. 

Most of all, India taught me about my self. I learnt to trust my heart and be open to the flow of life… in ways that could only happen in this land of apparent chaos and exquisite beauty. I came home radiating love. India continues to weave her magic in my heart. 

Romina’s care, grace and vision was remarkable. Each day she shared her wealth of experience in yoga, meditation and Ayurveda in a variety of practices. Her genuine heartfelt desire to guide each of us on our individual journeys of growth and transformation shone through every day. We were gifted the experiences and open space  needed to gain maximum benefit from the retreat. Rare is the opportunity to truly rest in the space of self awareness and presence… these days are divine gifts that I will treasure forever. 

I discovered I am a writer. I discovered I am at the beginning of the beginning. I discovered I am whole. I discovered I am quietly adventurous. I discovered I love life.

Romina  – thank you so much for offering this incredible experience again this year. I know it will be transformative for all those who listen to their hearts calling them home to this sacred land.  

If you are thinking about going on the Inhale India retreat this year, if it feels right, trust that feeling. Let the questions arise and greet them with curiosity and lightness.

The journey has already begun…  

Written by Naomi McGowan

Naomi McGowan_India_2018
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