When deciding to book a yoga retreat in Goa, I was referred to alot of amazing places. Most retreats offer Ashtanga Yoga which is an ancient form of yoga popularized by K. Pattabhi Jois and I was referred to Rolf and Marci who actually intimidated me with their serious looking pictures. I decide instead to go for Purple Valley Yoga which seems gentler and kinder to a newer Ashtangi.
The place is GORGEOUS with bright colors and lots of lounge space. We are greeted by the lovely Anoushka who is the hippest yogi I have ever met! She is from London but took time off to work at this retreat and she is a mix of street smarts and yoga compassion. She is our den mother and over the 2 weeks I will spend there, has to deal with the following: hospital visits- cases of India belly-multiple people locking their roommates in/out of their rooms and a police visit with one poor girl who was mugged and drug down the street by her purse.
Anoushka handles it all with grace and common sense. With her, cooler heads definately prevail and she helps me on more than one mishap!!
In addition to her, there is a large, mostly local staff who clean our rooms, do our laundry, and who make the most amazing meals in the world. Anoushka warns us that no one loses weight at Purple Valley, and she is right!! When we come out of the shala, we are greeted with a large breakfast of oatmeal, fruit, and local yogurts and lunch and dinner are fabulous!
Our teacher for the next 2 weeks is the amazing Louise Ellis-one of the few women to be trained by Jois and a practitioner for 38 years. She looks like a tiny little ballerina but during practice, she amazes us by having such strength to get us into difficult poses. Ashtanga is a silent practice first thing in the morning with an instructor assisting you in the poses, which often requires very hands-on adjustments. Despite her small frame, Louise carries amazing strength and gets me into poses I’d thought impossible!!!
Louise has brought her daughter Maria with her and she is a super-cool chick, from Arkansas now living in Istanbul. She immediately fits into the Goan style and culture and zips around on a scooter dressed stylishly. This inspires me to follow suit and attempt a venture out with my brave friend Sasha. Of course, since Maria made it look easy and since I grew up on dirtbikes and motorcycles, I thought it would be no problem. Not so! Sasha and I didn’t even make it out of the driveway before wiping out twice and hitting the gate to the amusement of the staff at Purple Valley. Sasha took it like a champ and didn’t complain about her scrapes.
Sasha is like my little sister -we immediately bond and geek out over yoga! On the first day, we convince Derek and Courtney to do AcroYoga with us as everyone in the dining area watch us land on each other in fits of giggles. Derek is the only boy for the first week of the retreat and he puts up with all of our goofy ways! After my scooter incident, only he and Maria are to be trusted as chauffers and he is booked daily for day trips around Goa. Between him, Courtney and Sasha, there is always laughter and fun times in-between the yoga, meditation and such. When Derek leaves-he gives us a 3o minute warning “Ladies, let the wailing commence!!”-and we are really sad to see him go!!!
Week 2 the lovely Lisa arrives. She is Scottish decent, now living in London and her accent is somewhere in-between the two. We have the greatest adventures EVER from running into “the man with the largest extremeties in the WORLD” to haggling on the beach with vendors to finding the best song in Goa “Just Chill”….. Poor Anoushka worries whenever we head out, usually with Sasha, Courtney and Jen in tow. She is an experienced Ashtangi who did her first half marathon and is doing a FULL marathon in Berlin!! While I love the yogic solitude and reflection of this place, Lisa provides the element of FUN that I miss so much!!!
But, in case you think this is all yoga and purity, we do find time for celebration. Both Louise and Niqua have birthdays while I’m there and we have a nite out at the ShoreBar with it’s hot owner and amazing band playing Santana . My friend Anne from Denmark and I have the most amazing night just frolicking on the beach, loving that we are actually in India dancing in the Arabian Sea.
After two weeks here, I am well fed, relaxed and more limber in both mind and spirit!!
I heart Purple Valley Goa!!!