Category Archives: Guest reflections

January at Purple Valley – two weeks with Kino and Tim

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Coni Hörler Photography

Each retreat brings new teachers, students and a brand new energy. January in itself beckons a new start and it seems that Purple Valley is always ready to greet new batch of guests and teachers with friendliness and of course, fresh flower displays.

Starting the year in Tim Feldmann’s company was not only a gift, but a true learning experience. Kino’s presence in the Shala half way through the first course was a buzz of excitement and enthusiasm, but the background energy felt constant and smooth.

Although I believe that one should spend time with one teacher, there should also be space to seek for understanding, and keep the learning process open on a constant basis. All teachers are passing down to us -students- what they have learnt, and this can be a real gift, when one is open to receive. Not all teachers choose to impart their knowledge with as much generosity and kindness, but those two certainly did….

During these two weeks with Kino and Tim, the focus was on guiding students – regardless of level or ability- and time was always given for a helpful tip or adjustment to take each person where needed into the practice.

Kino has had a lot of bad press for being such an exposed personality in social media, but in real life, she has a discreet, quiet and yet strong presence: none of this hyper-energized online persona came through in the shala. Her knowledge is incredible and she is constantly giving and sharing information. That is quite a feat for someone who travels so much and knows that she will probably not come across some of the students again. Many teachers choose to give a little and leave people figure things out for themselves, on their own and in their own time. Not here. Kino is wholly implicated in each person’s practice, and does like to push people beyond their limits – or rather the limits they have imposed on themselves. She is a firm believer that one can do more – try harder, do better- and why not? This may be the best place for most people. There are no commitments, work to get to, nothing to rush to nor stress about, so this is THE place and time where each student can give their full energy to the practice. It is a nice thing to observe and experience. I would never bother to try tricky arm balances so many times (either because I know what is coming next or I feel I should save myself for the rest of the day) or try tic tocs with so much dedication. But after all that efforting, she also clearly reminds everyone, that yoga is not a destination but a journey to be experienced and explored….

Some words that would normally make me cringe (‘squeeze the abs’… ‘really pull that foot…’ etc.) stayed with me for a long time and worked more effectively that anything else. Simplicity and clarity. Full stop.

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Coni Hörler Photography

On the other hand, Tim’s humorous, soft and yet incredibly strong presence simply seemed to make everyone feel at ease and relaxed. So relaxed in fact, that one would actually want to believe the impossible could be possible. His adjustments were (are) intense but with a gentle, deep slowness that makes one able to relax into postures. After all there is no rush.

One thing that struck me and stayed with me until now, was the act of softening into asanas, whether tricky strength-based postures or simple, basic, asana. By relaxing fully and allowing the body to sink into a position, this creates space for the muscles and bones to align themselves, to then allow the asana to reveal itself in its fullest. Let’s say you are trying to lift your entire body off the floor in Kukutasana – before using brute strength to push up, try sinking down and then lifting up.

So this all mostly stayed with me – even after returning to a cold climate with less leisurely time to practice – as did the attempt to find that soft balance between effort and subtle steadiness in asanas… As Tim rightly noted, one of the keys is “not getting tricked by the relative toughness of these asanas and to approach exclusively from effort, but balance the abhyasa and vairagya” (practice and non attachment… Yoga Sutras, 1.12 – 1.16)

His focus on the slowness of the breath and his consistent slow counts when adjusting, is a reminder that all ‘this’ is a breathing, energetic practice. Perhaps it is also a way to soften that stiff, muscular shield we all tend to build and carry through our lives and on our mats.

All in all, it made practice a whole lot more interesting. Becoming aware of the vastness of things to work on and to let go of. Going deeper into poses without a sense of rushing and hardening. Softening and allowing the body to fully release into postures.

Both their inspiration and full commitment to the practice of yoga as a whole transpires and really makes them shine as teachers. Beyond Kino’s seamless glow there is deep knowledge and faith. Beyond Tim’s playful character, there is immense love and desire to share.

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Coni Hörler Photography

Teachers:

http://timfeldmann.com/

http://www.kinoyoga.com/

Photos:

http://www.chphotography.ch/

Where a yoga dream becomes a yoga reality….

 

I used to love reading One Thousand And One Nights when I was little….. 

In fact, I still do though it does not happen nearly as often as it used to.Tales of kings and queens in far away places, of forbidden love and endless passion, of magic lamps, flying carpets and mystic sadhus walking on fire…The never ending adventures of Aladdin, Sinbad the Sailor and Ali Baba got me completely spellbound, and I had no problem picturing myself in their exotic world of spices, crowded markets, beautiful palaces and colorful garments.

During this past week at Purple Valley, I was brought back to this exotic world again.With its amazing rooms, terraces and beautiful gardens, the resort could be the palace of king Sharyar and his queen Schereazade, or maybe princess Jasmine. It is indeed a lil’ taste of the world of Aladdin, though slightly safer and without the stressful markets and sadhus walking on fire (ok, so a fire was lit when this week’s teacher R. Alexander Medin did a fire puja, or an “oma”, on the terrace, but that involved walking around a fire rather than on top or through one).

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Santosh and Krupa preparing the Oma altar

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Rangoli painted for the Oma ritual

The day would start off with half an hour of “jappa”, followed by Mysore practice. The stroll down to the shala, snuggly situated all the way at the bottom of the garden, was a meditation in itself and set the mind in just the right mood for what was to come. After a well-guided practice by Alexander and his lovely assistant Kaiza, breakfast would be served on the main terrace, a buffet of exotic fruits, nuts, toast, home-made musli, juices and hot drinks. On some days, there would be delicious banana muffins fresh from the oven, or if lucky, the chef’s chocolate-avocado-strawberry porridge, a dish that made me have seconds and thirds when I thought I was full.

Between breakfast and lunch, one could take one of the many scooters to the beach, or read a book by the pool in the garden.The latter became a choice of preference, as one wouldn’t want to miss lunch…The meals at this place are a culinary heaven and beat those of One Thousand And One Nights by far. A variety of fresh salads, chutneys, dips, pesto hummus and normal hummus, vegetable soups, various rice dishes, vegan tiramisu, fruit salads..Every day would offer new, healthy surprises on the table, always a combination of Western and Indian vegetarian dishes. If you’re on a diet, this is not the place to go as you would miss out on an essential aspect of the Purple Valley experience.

At 16 p.m., the day’s second yoga session would begin. Led by Alexander’s melodious voice, class started off with chanting in sanskrit, followed by a lecture in Yoga philosophy. Alexander’s knowledge in the classic works of Yoga is beyond what I have ever encountered and it is always just as captivating to hear him speak of the Yoga Sutras or the Bhagavad Gita with such enthusiasm. The class would end with a little bit of “soft” yoga asanas, just in time for a quick shower before the gong called for dinner.

When on a yoga holiday, one heads to bed at a reasonable hour. However, for those wishing to postpone the journey to bed with an hour or so, they could settle comfortably among purple cushions on the terrace as a movie was on the repertoire every other night. In my case, I preferred sneaking up to my balcony for a lil’ hour of reading or dreaming under the stars. If I had brought One thousand And One Nights, this would be the perfect time to get absorbed in its magic. But since I didn’t, I had to do with my own, dreamy mind. And that seemed to work just as well.

Katinka Sætersdal Remøe is an adventure-seeking, wine-loving yogini with a passion for the unknown. Her curiosity has led her into many peculiar situations, from having tea with Sudanese ministers and road tripping through India’s heartland searching for guerrilla soldiers to crossing the Alps on skis. She loves contrasts, which is why you find a mix of high heels, climbing shoes, cowboy hats and yogamats in her closet, and strongly believes it enriches her life. Katinka made a visit to Purple Valley Yoga Center in Goa. where she joind the Alexander Medin retreat, now she is back musing on her mat in Mysore but will be back in Romsdalen, Norway, in a couple of months to continue teaching at Romsdal Yoga, bake apple cake at Sødahl-huset, and daydream on mountaintops. Check out her website and blog or connect with her on Facebook.

Below you can see one of interviews we made with Alexander Medin, while he was in Purple Valley in Goa…

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