2018-12 Varkala, Instalation and retreat

• It’s December 29th and I find time and inspiration to resume my writing. Jean left Varkala last night, it was his fourth visit to Varkala, he had decided to extend his stay beyond the yoga class. I find myself alone again this time without any agenda, without pressure, without any obligation towards anyone but me. I arrived in Varkala on the 12th of November 7 weeks ago, I had time to settle down, I feel that the moment of enjoy fully has arrived. The house I’ve been renting for the past four years had been fully repainted on the outside, as well as the windows and doors, all that remained for me to do was to have the kitchen repainted and probably other rooms too, to feel comfy in this fresh and embellished house. The unpacking of my belongings took a few days, the prayer flags bought at Kallimpong had arrived, I was able to start the installation of the roof and and canvases to create privacy. The flags were perfect and in sufficient numbers, my friend Vibhu helped me to stretch the tarpaulins outdoors, on the coconut trees, the space of the terrace is thus much more airy and open onto the nature and the trees of the garden. For the interior, I chose the colors and decided that the central room and the stairwell would also be repainted, the painters came a few days later and were able to also repaint the entrance, two layers in one day, that Saturday night all was all over. I could now start installing the kitchen and spend more time preparing the beach. Yes the beach must be prepared, cleaning but also cut passages and spaces of shade. The beach is overgrown with cacti, often at the expense of other more beautiful trees. I had started clearing a large plot last year to give space for an almond tree. This work has been successful, the almond tree has developed and has taken off. I continued the work on this space and cleared the side that remained inaccessible, blocked by cacti. I also cleared access to water sources and two other small shaded spaces. The cleaning of a part of the beach was not easy either, a lot of rubbish of all kind littered the beach which is neither maintained nor cleaned by anybody. You have to collect the rubbish and take it to the end of the beach where I dispose of it in a hole, hoping that the municipality will take care of it at one time or another. To do this I have a fishing net bag made by a fisherman, this bag grows to infinity as it fills, the sand can also escape through the mesh. This work is physical and takes time and effort, it took me at least ten good mornings to get everything ready. My shaded space is superb and allows to hang five hammocks, my sewing machine went to the workshop for a repair, I was able to make two additional hammocks. This space runs along the cliff, the water flows, the vegetation is beautiful, all kinds of growth have sprung out oput of the earth since the cacti has been removed and light is now coming into this space. I will be able to take advantage a few days before the beginning of the retreat with a student I met in Pondicherry who came to pay me a visit. In the meantime I ordered and received my electric bike, restored my three conventional bikes, I leave two available to the children of the neighborhood who are very happy to use them, they can be a little invasive and not very attentive to the items I lend them. Last week I decided to stop repairing the bikes they kept breaking, and some tools having disappeared from my garage, I decided to stop lending my tools and the bike pump. I was able to calmly explain my decision, they are disappointed but understand that they broke their toy and that it will not be repaired. That did not stop me from distributing Christmas cakes to almost every home, which comes to a total of 20 family cakes. The comings and goings of children and their requests for help and repairs are now over, its now quite and calm in my house. My friend Thangal has repaired the awning of my garage so that it opens and closes effectively, bikes and tools are now safe there. I met up with Thangal the first week of my return. Our relationship had suffered a lot last year and I was relieved that it’s all behind us and going very well for this new season, we are new good friends even though our relationship has changed. He continued his home improvements at the beach, with a shower room and toilets, some hens and roosters, a goat and a cow that was added last week. His son is now one year old and we both visit each other and spend some time together. Back to my house where I planted some flowers, some cuttings made last year held, it’s a pleasure. With all this, almost three weeks have sped by at great speed. I have one week left before the start of the retreat. I do not have much to prepare because I rely completely on a resort. Accommodation, breakfast and classes take place in its enclosure. I do not take care of meals and I only make reservations for massages and of course I have a yoga class every morningto give. Everything looks great until the day before the first arrival when I discover that the yoga practice space, the roof of the resort, was booked by another group for exactly the same dates and that the manager seems completely lost with room reservations. I keep my calm, the roof of my house is available and is a good fallback solution. Regarding the rooms I let him sort it out, I go to the beach to try to relax. On my return the manager announces that the people in my group will be accommodated in rooms of a higher standard than the one reserved, I am relieved. Regarding the practice area, they insist that I look at a space called the platform that is in another place near the restaurant where breakfast is served. I discover this space overlooking the ocean, it is in the shade until 9:30 and is very private, it is much better than the roof, everything is much better than expected, all is looking great. Arrivals are smooth, 3 trainees are repeat participants and the other 3 are coming to India for the first time. As for yoga, 5 come to my classes in Paris and the 6th, he accompanies his husband and is a novice in yoga. The restreat goes well, I adapt the practice to the levels and skills and I try to bring precisions and improvements in the practice for each one. I propose two guided meditation sessions in the evening as well as some excursions. Trainees are massaged regularly, the days are filled effortlessly, time flies, the retreat advances and ends, all seem happy with their practice, their stay, their experiences here. For my part I am delighted with the formula that I found and implemented, the collaboration with the resort went very well, I was able to free myself from many of the constraints, obligations and hassle of previous years and the quality of service was, I think, much better overall. I am confident that I can propose this formula for the years to come. After the internship, Gilles and Jean have decided to extend their stay, Gilles wants to discover a little more of Kerala, I proposed him a route, Jean remains in Varkala but we all wish to visit Fort Kochi modern art biennale. Gilles leaves one day before us so as to discover the unique backwaters, Jean and I follow the next day by train. We spend two days together to visit the different sites and exhibitions and enjoy the good cafes and restaurants of Fort Kochi as well as the shops to buying some shirts and kurtas. We meet another mutual friend who is staying in Kochi before giving a singing workshop in Kottayam, it’s a pleasure to meet and share our experiences. After a night in Kochi and a second day of exhibitions, Jean and I return to Varkala, which we are already missing. Gilles will spend another day there before taking the road to the tea plantations of Munnar and then down the moutain to catch his flight home. Jean enjoys a few days at the beach not doing much before leaving for Paris for the end of the year. So here I am in full preparations for the end of the year … lol, not really. I’m not a party animal and I feel pretty calm and I just want to take the time. At the physical level I have to resume a rhythm of practice and strengthen at all costs my abs and my back because I felt some signs at the level of my lumbar and I do not forget that the reason I started yoga was following a lumbago and that the MRI shows a compression of lumbar vertebrae. My lack of personal practice following my wrist issues the past years and the fact that when I give lessons I take care of my students and not of me are showing. When I teach, I never maintain the postures just doing demonstrations and then jumoing out of the posture to do corrections and adjustments, and I almost never do restorative postures. I work out a series of postures specific to my problem, I’m now five days into this continuous practice and I feel the effects, now I must continue this practice daily and as my strength comes back to my bnack, I can then add other postures to this series. For this end of the year I am very happy with myself, the various choices that I have been able to make, the experiences that I have been able to experience myself and shared with others. For the new year I have a lot of ambitions and the feeling that I will be much more active and creative and can expand my skills and experiences much further than what I am doing now.

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