Update from Purple Valley in Goa…..
We are now on our second week with John Scott, Gretchen Suarez and David Keil, and one thing I can say about this retreat is – I am so happy John is coming back in April. I just love the practice. There are 60 students now, and the energy in the shala is great…
During the first retreat with Maria Boox, late rains caught us by surprise and for over a week, we had to deal with flooded grounds, but everyone remained high spirited. The sun’s appearance was even more welcome when it finally chose to make its way to Goa. Maria Boox was followed by Joey Miles and Donna. It was her first visit to the retreat and we all hope she will be back next year. It is always special to have both male and female energy in the shala. On the last days of Joeys’ retreat, Alexander Medin arrived with his ‘Back In The Ring’ group. You can read more about the project here, http://backinthering.com/
Needless to say, we had a totally different form of retreat with Alexanders group. Usually the retreats are busy with people who are only there because of the Ashtanga yoga practice…. Suddenly we hosted a whole new group of people, all with some kind of substance abuse problem, coming to Purple Valley not just for the asana practice, but also to help out in the village of Assagao, with both school renovation as well a biogas plant project. The idea is that the participants are being prepared for a normal life in a non-destructive and not drug influenced society. When one has been abusing drugs over a longer period of time, in the end one does not know how to act among people who never have had a drug problem. Through physical practice ( asanas), philosophy and karma yoga ( selfless service, or giving back into society without expecting anything in return), the participants are building up their self esteem, confidence, and ability to work: by respecting working hours, showing up for yoga as well as work. Something that may sound easy to us, but for many, it is not so simple.
Being used to see very health conscious yogis only at Purple Valley….suddenly the clientele became little different.
For instance, we had a smoking corner outside the retreat 🙂 something that has never happened before. Sometimes, especially after food, the terrace area became totally empty, while the smoking corner on the main road, was very full.
The group was also helping with garden work, supervised by Santosh. It was a totally new experience for our Indian staff to see retreat guests working in the garden, caring stones and washing tiles…
I must say however that in the beginning it was not easy for Santosh to ask them to work….he started out the first working day by saying: ‘I am sorry…but I have to ask you to help us work in the garden.’
We also carried out some work at the Assagao union high school…. below you can see the picture of the classroom before we started our work.
The part of the school we were renovating, is a big hall where about 100 small children are participating in classes every day. Some of them are children of our staff…
Finally, the last day, on the BITR group departure day, we were invited for the inauguration of the new hall, with dance, songs and snacks 🙂
First we saw the Ganesh dance….
Listened to Helges’ thank you speech
….and finally said bye to the happy kids….
After 2 weeks, the BITR group continued their trip towards Karnataka and Yelanpur to build a Ganesh temple…
After they left, the retreat felt very empty even though 60 new students came. Suddenly the busiest retreat of the year became a peaceful place.
Here you can see Alexander talking about the project.