How did I end up doing a yoga retreat in India? Well firstly I have to say I had no intentions of going anywhere anytime soon. January was supposed to be a quiet, head down month. 2018 had been a very busy year for me travel wise and for the most part I was juggling a business and a full time job so it was non stop. However, I kept seeing Purple Valley Yoga Retreat (based in Goa, India) popping up everywhere on my social media, then people kept talking to me about retreats, ....it must be a sign!! I had never heard of this particular one but I was drawn to it straight away. It also occurred to me, I could kill two birds with the one stone as I had always wanted to add an Indian collection to my shop (and this could kick start that too) also to be perfectly honest I badly needed a couple of weeks of just focusing on myself and my well being...I mean with all those reasons to go, how could I could say no?!
Purple Valley specialises in Ashtanga yoga, which I had very little experience in. I quickly checked if they catered for beginners, and then trusted my gut and went ahead and booked a place on a two week retreat starting the first week in January and wow..what a great start to 2019!!!
The Retreat: Purple Valley Yoga, Assagao, Goa http://www.yogagoa.com/
My idea of a retreat was more of the pampering type than the bootcamp type, well Purple Valley means business....you go there to become much better at yoga and to understand the real concept behind a yoga practice and that's the priority. I'm so glad that I didn't know this beforehand because I may not be in the position to write this blog now if I did :) I had very little knowledge of Ashtanga and for some time now I really wanted to learn more about this particular yoga ,not just to tone up and get fit, but also from a mind/spirit perspective. I was definitely at the right place.
Ty Landrum https://www.tylandrum.com/ was our teacher for the two weeks and with his assistants, Sam Silversides and Anna Guryeva, I couldn't have been in better hands to kick start my Ashtanga yoga journey. Ty travels the world doing Ashtanga yoga workshops and retreats. People travel from all over the world to attend his courses and I can see why. He combines teaching practical yoga with theory and philosophy and it's a perfect balance. You get the all round yoga experience. The morning kicked off with a Mysore class, which is a non lead class, but for us beginners we had Sam (http://www.samsilversidesyoga.com/) & Anna (instagram: @anna.guryeva.ashtanga ) to lead us in the right direction. I seriously could not have gotten as far as I did with my practice if it was not for the combined effort of these three fantastic teachers. Yoga class was followed by an hour of pranayama (which is a formal practice of controlling the breath) and chanting. In the afternoon we had a 2 hour yoga/philosophy workshop. Full on?...right! But I wouldn't have had it any other way. We were a group of 40 people mainly women and the camaraderie between us was pretty special. No egos involved just down to earth people. It truly was a breath of fresh air.
The lounge area @ Purple Valley - not too bad!
The accommodation - the cottages
The Shala @ Purple Valley
Workshop @ The Shala
Evening of singing bowls @ The Shala
The grounds @ Purple Valley - stunning!
Aurvedic/massage hut - you can still fit a bit of pampering in around the schedule ;)
Buffet meals @ Purple Valley - so yum!
What we did between yoga classes:
- Ashwem & Morjim Beach, North Goa
Palm Grove restaurant @ Ashwem beach
Ashwem beach - you can see why Goa is famous for it's sunsets. Stunning!
Gallery wall @ Morjim Beach
More art @ Morjim beach
- The Project Cafe, Assagao https://theprojectcafe.in/
This stunning colonial style property is only a 5 minute walk from the retreat. It is a cafe bar but also a guesthouse inclusive of swimming pool which they allow non guests to use so yes we took total advantage. The food was fabulous and they served the best chai, how could we not! They also have a small shop selling beautiful handmade clothes, arts and crafts. This place is definitely worth a visit.
Guesthouse @ The Project Cafe - pretty fab!
Alfresco dining @ The Project Cafe
The most delicious butter paneer @ The Project Cafe
What's not to love about this place?!
- Rangeela Store, Assagao
Just a short walk away from Purple Valley. I loved this quirky fun boho style lifestyle shop (did someone mention 'boho lifestyle'??). I really could have purchased the whole shop (no surprises there).
- Saturday Night Market, Arpora
This vibrant night market has a lively fun atmosphere with traders selling anything and everything. You can also grab dinner and a beer there at one of the many food stalls and there is also live music which will keep you entertained while you eat. Worth a visit just for the atmosphere alone.
- Mapusa Friday Market
It takes place every Friday from 9am to 7.30pm. It is a very authentic market and they have a greater selection of goods for sale at much lower prices.
So yes we had fun exploring Goa in between our yoga retreat. It was a nice combination and I am still feeling the positive effects two weeks later. I'm so blessed to have gotten the opportunity to spend such a wonderful experience with such awesome people from all around the world and some I'm sure I will see again. If you are looking for a retreat and are serious about learning or improving your yoga skills and would like to see a bit of India too then you should definitely sign up to Purple Valley. I just want to say a big thank you to all the staff at Purple Valley and of course Ty, Sam & Anna for hosting such a fantastic retreat.
Not quite, lucky for me I had 3 more days left to enjoy Goa post yoga retreat so I took myself and my new lovely Icelandic friend Harpa to South Goa to enjoy the less healthy things in life ie. pizza, prosecco and cocktails :) Come on ...we deserved it!
Agonda Beach, South Goa
We dumped our bags at the nearest Italian restaurant and off we went to find a beach hut. We decided on Seascapes, these huts were right on the beach with an amazing view. They cost around 2500 rupees a night. All of the beach huts in South Goa are taken down at the end of each season around May time (just before Monsoon) and built back up again when the season starts in September/October. The beach hut experience is a must in South Goa, I couldn't imagine staying in any other accommodation there. It makes it more authentic as long as you make sure your beach hut comes with a hot shower, a fan and a sea view ..that is all you need :)
Pizza was definitely calling us at this stage!
And not forgetting cocktails on the beach :)
Me: 'Life is good'
Random reunion with an old friend, Adam. It had been 7 years since we last saw each other. Adam happened to be staying at the very next beach! Thanks facebook for helping us reunite and also what a small world!!
A reunion calls for a celebration. Cheers Adam!
A bit wary of my camel friend!
Mandala Cafe: This veggie cafe gets my vote for brekkie. Great hippie decor and fab food.
Sloppy photo but you get the gist. Delicious omelette and big thumbs up for their chai tea.
The White Resort: We had lunch here and it was nice but most importantly how fab are these dreamcatchers?!
I miss this view!
Yes please...if only I had more time :(
So that was South Goa. The perfect end to a perfect trip.
General Travel Info
If you are interested to travel to Goa, the best time is November through to April otherwise it will be Monsoon season. Christmas period is peak and most expensive. I flew direct from Manchester to Goa with Thomas Cook Airlines which was around a 10 hour flight and it cost £550. You can also get direct flights from London. There are ATMs at the airport so you can get your rupees there. Bring plenty of mossie spray and get your travel vaccinations and check out the visa requirements for your country. I applied for a tourist visa online which cost around €60 and was processed in 48 hours. Otherwise you are good to go to Goa :)
I hope you enjoyed my blog. If you have any questions about the retreat, North Goa or South Goa please feel free to message me or leave a comment below.