If the start of the new Millennium taught me anything, it was to overcome my fears, for you never know what magic awaits you on the other side!
In early 2000, I felt a calling deep within in my soul. It was a calling to visit India and experience her sensual delights for myself. The colours, tastes, sounds and smells. I wanted to soak it all up and drink it all in. So, in 2001 I embarked on a trek through Nepal, with my mother, sister and three friends. Following the trek, I made my way to Delhi – solo.
Once I was alone in this huge, bustling, chaotic city, I really felt the absence of my family and friends. I felt scared, unsure and lonely. I was too frightened to leave the hotel. So there I stayed, holed up in the comfort of my room for 48 hours!
I had dreamed so much of this moment, yet now that I was actually in India for the first time, it was turning out to be nothing like I had expected. I had intentionally left any solid plans by the wayside, as my goal was to eventually head south to a yoga school.
I had no accommodation booked, no itinerary planned. I was determined to do this on a shoestring budget and not stay in a Five Star luxury hotel. I wanted to experience the true essence of India.
Day Three arrived, and I was still in my room! “This is ridiculous,” I thought to myself. I decided then and there that I needed to either get out and explore this incredible city and country, or get on a plane back home to Australia. There was no question as to what I had to do – explore India.
Little did I know that the most magical and amazing adventure was about to unfold (as it often does when we overcome our fears). It was huge!
My first outing was an exhilarating tour of Delhi – in a rickshaw! I was so blessed to have been put in contact with a wonderful travel agent, who told me what areas were out of bounds and what times I could safely be out. Through him, I saw the Golden Triangle and the Taj Mahal. The driver who took me there was like my Guardian Angel. He didn’t impose at all, but he was always there making sure that I was OK. He advised me how to behave at certain places, in order to respect the local customs. He was there for me in every way, and I was able to be completely trusting.
After this, I flew to GOA. I knew I was going to an Ashtanga yoga school called Purple Valley and I had booked my accommodation based on everything I had read in my Let’s Go India guide. Well, within minutes of disembarking the plane, someone approached me to buy drugs! Then, I arrived at my accommodation and it was awful! The place was dirty and I had to sleep on the floor, on top of my clothes. I was awake all night waiting for the sun to rise. I read my India handbook over and over, hoping to find the hidden messages in all of these accommodation places (there are two “sides” of Goa – the yogi side, and then there is a huge dance party scene). I eventually found accommodation that I thought would suit my needs and expectations.
It was in Baga Beach in a family run Bed and Breakfast. I had a room and bathroom to myself and I was super close to the beach. I stayed there for a month and I totally acclimatised. I hired a scooter and rode to sunrise yoga each day. Then, I would come back, have fresh smoothies on the beach and read. All I wanted to do was yoga, retreat and read on the beach. It was bliss!
Eventually, I befriended people from the yoga school and we went out a bit. I became great friends with another yogi and our slogan was, “Anything is Possible.” In India, it really is!
When I arrived home a month later, I resumed my corporate job at Nike. After a year, I decided to take a year off and live in Byron Bay, doing yoga teacher training.
Nike was grooming me to move to world headquarters in Portland Oregon. One of the partners had offered me a brand manager job in Sydney, and I was also offered a management position in Melbourne. I followed my gut and I chose the yoga option. I just wanted to dive as deep as I could into yoga. That was the effect India had on me. During my travels throughout India, I met wonderful people (whom I now consider angels) and learnt how to truly trust my instinct.
I ended up staying in Byron Bay for two years. I finished my teacher training at Yoga Arts and started teaching straight away – in Brisbane and assisting Rachel Zinman in Byron Bay. Then, I was awarded a scholarship for Ishta yoga with Alan Finger in New York! During my two-month tenure there, I was offered a job at QI Yoga in Manly. I met with Mark O’Brien and began my next chapter in the Northern Beaches, ‘working’ full time teaching yoga.
That is where the big opportunity came. A yoga travel agent wanted to do a pilgrimage from Kolkata to Sikkim and they asked me to take it! Here are selected pictures from the Kolkata to Sikkim pilgrimage.
In 2007, my partner got a job in Nagpur so we moved there with our two-year-old daughter. It was there that I was asked to teach Yoga and Meditation at the Virdhbarba Cricket Academy (VCA). The VCA was made up of the selected top 60 cricket players of the state, who were all boys aged from 16-19yrs. I instructed the same group for two years. It truly was a blessing to be with them on their yoga and meditation journey.
Also, during this wonderful time, I gave birth to my second child, a little boy. Here we are at our friend’s wedding in Nagpur.
Earlier this year (2015), I was thrilled to be able to share the place that I called home for three years with a lovely group from Sydney and some locals from India. We conducted a Jungle Yoga Retreat from Nagpur. It was in the Pench Jungle and it lasted seven days. It was so amazing to share this experience and have my dear friends in India (who are like my family) greet and host us. We all felt so incredibly welcomed.
The success of this retreat had three of this year’s participants register for next year. I asked them what were they hoping to get out of next year’s retreat? The response was, ‘more of what I got this year’. This has now become an annual retreat and extended to 10 days.
So, in January 2016 we will host our second annual retreat to Pench. It could be you who joins us to experience the Mother Land in its raw and humble form. Let yourself dive deep into your Yoga and Meditation practice twice daily – we will explore the Chakras from all perspectives. Choose sunrise or sunset safari, Ayurvedic treatments, safari photography workshop and time out for writing, reflecting and immersion in the delight of being in nature.
You never know what will unfold on the other side of your fear
Miracles can and do happen on the other side of fear. The motto from my first visit to India was ‘anything is possible‘. Over the past few years, through my personal experience in the Mother Land, I have realised without question that anything is truly possible.
I would love to share this retreat with you! I invite you to join us as we take the journey to my previous home Nagpur where we will be met by family, to embark on our exploration to Inhale India’s Yoga & Meditation Jungle Retreat in 2017.
To register see registration form here (Early bird price ends 22nd August, 2016)
For more details or Q’s email me or Cathie on firstname.lastname@example.org
Nadja Warner – taken in Kolkata – Sikkim
Imtaz Hasim – taken in Nagpur
Ujjawal Majumber – taken in Pench, India
(great photographer who will be available on retreat)