Here’s what happened when I decided to bunk work to do yoga….

When my Monday morning started with a breathtaking sunrise, absolute tranquility & energetic thoughts, I decided to tell everyone about my travels to inspire them to go and experience all the beautiful moments & with this sole motive here I am telling you about my #SoloTrip

There is a lot written and said about travelling solo, so this travelogue is not going to be about tips, reasons to travel or the great things about doing the same. But this was my first time at travelling solo & while I enjoyed it thoroughly, there’s a lot I learnt (mostly about myself — things I will highlight here) all along my journey. In simple words it was a #JourneyWithin

It may feel as if I am exaggerating to claim that I was blessed to be able to take this trip but if you think about it, so many things need to fall in place for something like this to work in reality — an opportunity (thanks to being employed at a Yoga travel company), no prior commitments, the finance, time off from work & the willingness to leave everything behind and just go!

Even though a trip from Mumbai to Anantya Resorts, nestled amidst nature, in the Kanyakumari District of Tamil Nadu, India; is just two & a half hours by flight and an hour & a half by road; it feels like I was transported to a different world. A world where I belonged!

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My cozy cottage at Anantya Resorts

While I insist I am an independent woman, I do like a bit of pampering & being taken care of, so I was happy when my husband woke up early to book my cab to the airport & even carry my bags to drop me. Yes, he was happy he was going to be spending some bachelor time!

The journey to Trivandrum was uneventful, with me having no one’s hand to squeeze when the flight took off or landed; & having to subtly avoid the gentle man sitting next to me who found every excuse to make a conversation. Only then did I realize the immense attention a solo woman traveler gets!

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The cab ride from Trivandrum airport to Ananyta was more eventful, where I had two Romanians traveling from Dubai, also guests of YogaTrippe to keep me company. In between their 40 winks, they had tonnes of questions about India, the cows on the roads (we actually saw one in an auto rickshaw), the speed of the bikes & the volume of the car-horns! It was amazing to see these guests (I automatically assumed position of the host) amazed about all the little things we take for granted.

An old man’s Mundu (local attire) or a married woman’s Bindi, would have never seen the celebrity status they achieved during this journey! Very soon, I found myself describing little things about India with a sense of pride! The honesty of the Yelneeru seller (coconut water) & the driver’s excitement on sharing local Malayalam music made the journey more interesting!

This was just the beginning of the ‘Indian experience’ that continued even at the resort. Here’s highlighting a few more: the amazing hospitality of Anantya’s staff, their vivid explanation of the rubber plantations, the unique blend in the architecture of the resort & infinity pool, the beautiful villas that ensured privacy & open spaces to connect with nature. Anyone would love the little statues at different corners around Anantya which were a perfect blend of mythology & love for nature.

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The native experience of riding an elephant, was definitely an icing on the cake for us all. The animal lover in me was apprehensive on using Anupama’s back (the 6 year old elephant) to admire the vastness of the 10 acre resort area. But when I saw her lend her legs to support one guest after the other with such affluence, I knew I had to witness what she would show me from up above, without having the need to click pictures, but enjoy an experience that will linger on!

Talking of experiences, the trip had many more waiting for us. Day trips to tourist destinations nearby were a delightful mix of soaking in the culture & environment. While the King Marthanda Verma’s palace & the Thiruvattar temple showcased the past splendor of the land, the lively Poovar backwaters put up a show of a variety of fauna & flora for us to admire.

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The foodie in me can’t wait to describe the yumminess we literally feasted upon every single meal. We vegetarians were happy to see the variety & flavors & the non-vegetarians had an equally good menu to pick from. The presentation of each meal got most of us holding up our phones even before our spoons & forks! After all on solo trips, you don’t care about anyone judging you when you click pictures of everything & anything!

With some of us being part of the yoga retreat at Anantya, we had a special menu & the chef took all efforts to make us savor every bite. Even the global cuisine made especially to suite the European taste-buds was a treat for all our tummies! It was on this holiday I figured out that I am a true South Indian at heart (and tummy). I do not know if it was my greed to gorge upon the yummy appams, idiappams, pottu & other local dishes that contributed to my holiday weight or was it just the happiness of treating myself to everything delicious!

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Talking about holiday weight, this holiday also made sure to keep us in shape! With early morning walks in the rubber plantations & yoga sessions, I realized that I can be a morning person. I also enjoyed learning about rubber making from latex, different types of costal vegetation, species of birds & more.

It was a pleasant surprise that I managed to finish a glass of carrot juice & beetroot juice every morning without a protest! I’m sure my mother will not believe this until I demonstrate in person! I think solo trips, tell you there is no one to deal with your fussiness or pay heed to your drama! :P

The Yoga sessions were enjoyable, peaceful & still full of challenges not only for our physical bodies but even to our mental, emotional & spiritual selves. Our guru Srimathy Veeraraghavan is a beautiful person outside & inside and it truly was a pleasure to be in her company during this vacation. Her simple explanations, her modest claims & her brilliant flexibility taught us that she is a woman who can inspire anyone!

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In her class, we were all students who were craving to learn more, irrespective of our ages (we had a bunch of sportive grannies), sizes (not everyone can have a beach body, you know), beliefs (religious & otherwise) and culture (languages, clothing & everything else!)

While most of us were already exposed to Yoga practice, it was a wonderful experience to be able to practice with a bunch of strangers (read ‘new friends’). Not only the company of new people, but a perfect location, beautiful weather & great vibes around, together made this a perfect #YogaTrippie experience!

On this trip I also unlearnt some things. For instance about Yoga — When we say we practice Yoga we do not understand that Yoga consists of eight different aspects (Ashtanga) and only when all these Ashta angas are practiced in continuity can one claim to practice yoga. Even though I cannot recreate the experience of learning about the eight angas under the luminance of the full moon, on the soft grass at Anantya, here is a brief of what they are:

Yama — Moral codes, ethics & lifestyle one follows

Niyama — A manner of self-purification, that prepares one for a better life

Asana — Posture & poses performed by the physical body (more often used as an alternative to Yoga)

Pranayama — Breath control to sync the body with the mind

Pratyahara — withdrawing of the mind from the senses

Dharna — concentration & a pre-step to slip into a state of meditation

Dhyana — deep meditation — a state of allowing the mind to dissolve

Samadhi — union of the soul/mind with the object of meditation

The exchange of knowledge is always known to bring people closer. That is exactly what happened during this vacation. While I was telling my Romaninan friends more about India, our culture, our Gods, festivals, beliefs, languages & more they were educating me about their homeland, culture and experiences over a glass of wine overlooking the beautiful Chittar lake!

The other women in at the Yoga Retreat also shared stories from their lives, families & travels and a 1 hour 15 minute non-stop candid chat with the owner of the resort, on my journey back to the airport was as interesting as it was insightful! Here, I made another discovery about myself — I could keep a conversation with people even twice or thrice my age!

These conversations were a wonderful confluence of ideas, talent & storytelling and I believe this will continue with the WhatsApp group we are all now part of! — The Yoga Trippies of the new Anantya family ☺

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