Following the first part of my trip to India, I’ll now go into details about how the retreat actually was like.
On December 2nd, 2019, I boarded my flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Kochi, India. I had very little idea of what an Ayurvedic retreat in India would be like and I’m happy that I didn’t have any preconceived thoughts nor expectations to what was lying ahead of me. I arrived with an open mind, a willingness to learn more about Ayurveda science and try out this way of living for 2 whole weeks.
How did it go and what did I learn?
To explain what happened, I’d like to use an analogy. Try to envision that your mind is a living room with a couch, a comfy chair, a table and a bookshelf filled with books, pictures of loved ones and posters to give the living room a bit of personality. There’s also a lamp to brighten up the room when it gets dark or to give some extra focus when reading etc.
My “living room” before the retreat was livable, bright and spacious, but honestly a bit messy, untidy and dusty in the corners. Some books have been left piled up on the table taking up space and the lamp was sort of flickering, not shedding light on what matters. Marie Kondo would not have approved this!
However, after just a couple of days on a strict plant-based diet without any sugar, caffeine, gluten or alcohol (obviously) and daily massage treatments as well as morning meditation and yoga, I started to feel so much better. Relaxed. Less stressed. And I managed to leave certain memories and conflicts behind. My physical health also changed. The tension I had in my upper back and shoulders diminished slowly and steadily day by day. I felt my body was more light and especially when doing yoga. I felt a better connection with myself and the way I would move from posture to posture felt like I’ve never done anything else but yoga in my entire life.
My mediation also became a lot more meaningful and today an absolute priority in my daily life. It’s safe to say, that the retreat opened up some doors and taught me a lot about how connected the mind and the body really are.
Although it is easy to get carried away when you find yourself at a beautiful and serene paradise, with a view to the Arabic Sea, delicious plant-based Indian food served 5 times a day made by Indian food magicians, I still think this experience taught me a lot about my own health and how to take care of it. I learned some valuable meditation techniques which as of today still come in handy when I feel stressed or need to declutter my “living room”
So I am truly forever grateful for this experience and, yes, I would go again if I ever get the chance!
However, I can’t help being a bit critical to the whole Ayervedic-universe and particularly the language use and rhetoric.
For instance, I was “diagnosed” with a pitta imbalance. The word imbalance connotes that something is not working, or something is not stable or you have lost control over yourself. Maybe this is true in some cases, but I would be careful using the word “imbalance” and “diagnosed” as it can easily create a feeling of being wrong.
I would rather think of my “imbalance” as a way to map out my current health condition to find out how to improve and tweak my health to be the best version of myself – like, you can be a good version, a better one or the best version of yourself by taking up the Ayervedic lifestyle principles.
Did I stick to my new lifestyle?
After the completion of the retreat, we were advised to stick to the diet and do yoga and meditation every day for the next 3 months.
While I had the best intention, I also knew it would be difficult as Christmas and New Year’s Eve came right after my return. Although I had the best intentions to refrain from the temptations, I fell short on keeping the diet for the simple reason, that I don’t believe in strict diets. I also don’t believe in bad and good when it comes to food and drinks. For me, food and drinks are something to be enjoyed and something that should bring you joy – not concerns about how many calories and carbs a certain meal contains, etc.
A conscious mind and moderations are key when eating. Be present when you eat (put away the phone and switch off the TV) and just eat with “con gusto” – it is that simple. I do stick to my meditation and yoga practice. Sometimes it’s only 10 minutes sometimes it’s longer – for me it still matters and it fits my lifestyle.
Until next time, India!