This is my fifth day now in India, all of which I’ve spent in the beachside town of Varkala in Kerala. The journey began on 4th March, when I flew from London via Mumbai to Trivandrum, Kerala, arriving the morning of the 5th. I was treated to a ‘traditional Indian welcome’ when it became apparent my bag wasn’t on the plane and after a rather confused discussion with the Air India staff I got the gist that I’d be able to come and collect it the following day (they couldn’t deliver it to my accommodation for me for some reason – insurance presumably). This didn’t put me in the best mood for my arrival, knowing Varkala was an hour taxi ride away, and not particularly wanting to do another two hour round journey back to collect my bag the following day. Plus it was so hot and humid outside the thought of wearing the same clothes I’d just travelled in for 24 hours didn’t much appeal. But when I arrived at my destination – Sherin Cottage – which I’d reserved through Hostelworld, I felt a hundred times more relaxed.
As soon as I arrived the younger brother of Dipak, who runs the place, came to greet me from the taxi and carried my bags straight up to my room for me. The room is simple but large, with two single beds and I have my own en-suite bathroom. Lots of space, privacy, and very effective mosquito protection via screens on the windows – plus just 450 rupees (under £5) a night including breakfast – so not bad at all. The vibe of the place is like a family home – really chilled and friendly. Dipak makes jokes with me whenever I see him, saying ‘hiya!’ or ‘alright?’ (apparently epitomising the English colloquial lexicon), always with a big smile on his face. And I didn’t have to give my passport details or pay any money yet; it’s all very laid back. Some travellers have been staying here for weeks, even months (most probably on a very discounted negotiated rate). There are lots of communal areas too (balconies, terraces, a little garden and the roof-top), which is great for hanging out and chatting with the others staying here.
The first couple of days I spent settling in, getting to know the area, lying on the beach, napping, eating from the many local restaurants, and of course collecting my bag from the airport! (but let’s not go into that… I’ll get angry again.)
I had my eyes peeled from the get-go though for places to practice yoga, as this is one of the main reasons for me coming to India. On the second day I stumbled upon a very good class run by Dr Kamaraj, held on the rooftop of Baby House guest house, which I attended on three consecutive mornings. My intention was to try as many different centres and/or teachers as possible to give a really thorough review of what’s available in the area; however, of course my own practice is important to me, so if I find one that I like (and I really liked this one), it’s hard not to stick to it. Plus, this class has been full every day, which is always a good sign. Having done some more research – mostly by asking people I’ve met here, as there is very little online – there are a few more reputable teachers / classes I want to try before I go, one of which I attended this morning and which was also very good, led by a really nice man called Vasudev (one of the few with his own website: Yoga Varkala), and another I went to this afternoon. I will write a proper review of them all in a separate post soon.
What I’ll say for now is that practicing every day is such an incredible feeling. It’s only been four days but my body feels (and looks) so much stronger. I feel more grounded and centred, I am walking taller, sitting straighter, and noticing my flexibility and endurance improve so much after each class. All the classes here are at least one and a half hours long, usually two, which I think makes such a difference; an hour is not enough. They also all include some meditation and breathing exercises, which is so powerful for the mind. Every time I finish a class I feel just amazing and look forward to waking up the next morning to go to the next.
As well as yoga, I’ve been exploring the various Ayurvedic therapies that are on offer in the area and had an amazing Thai Yoga Massage a couple of days ago. Following that I am also now on a juice detox (second day in and very challenging!) But I will save that for a separate post. For now, just a few more pics of Varkala.