Yoga in the Goan Jungle
AdventureYogi Winter sun retreat South Goa, January 2015
‘The Goan jungle is alive with prana, practicing here brings strength and peace’
We all know that wherever and whenever you unfold your ‘magic carpet’ your practice is special and sacred. However, in the tropical outdoors, listening to bird song, feeling the soft yet awakening breeze on your skin and watching a beautiful bright-green dragonfly silently hover, swoop and dive through the shala, yoga practice becomes even more inspiring.
‘Prana’ is the Sanskrit word for ‘life force’ or ‘life energy’. It is present in every living and non-living thing: the air; wood; earth; every atom of matter. Working with prana is central to the yogi philosophy and includes the practice of ‘pranayama’, which translates as ‘to open up the life-force of our body’ or ‘to release the life-energy into our body’.
Practicing yoga in South Goa, within Lotus Yoga Farm’s organic ecosystem where the visible wildlife includes monkeys, eagles, woodpeckers, several species of song birds, colourful butterflies and fluorescent dragonflies. Where the trees are actually growing up between yoga mats in the Forest Shala is about as full-powered-prana as it gets!
Different environments hold different prana. The Goan jungle has an abundance of prana, it is a stable and nurturing force supporting our practice. We are close to the ocean and can hear the quiet ebb and flow of the waves layering on the liberating qualities of water to our practice. There is heat to relax and lengthen muscles, yet it is not too hot or humid. In short, it is perfect.
Our yoga teacher for the Advetnure Yogi retreat pointed out in the first day’s class that ‘the air is thick with prana’. With our teacher’s words in our ears, we are inspired to inhale the surrounding prana deeply and expel our stale aeroplane air. Throughout the retreat so far our teacher has constantly yet gently reminded us to drink in energy from this pranic-rich environment. From moving beautifully through dancing warrior to practicing mandala yoga (a circulating practice on the mat) the Goan jungle holds us beautifully for each sequence. In crow pose we used the jungle’s energy to fuel udiana banda in order to ‘fly up’ and lock and we practiced half-hanuman pose whilst the monkey’s swung from the trees around us.
The retreat taking place in India, the birth place of yoga, holds its own magic. Its good to be mindful during our practice of the thousands of yogis who have practiced here before us; shaping and forming the yoga we now know well in the West. It’s going to be pretty tough going back to indoor yoga in the UK but carrying this experience with us will certainly help!