Welcome to this week’s Postcard From – the feature where I chat to some lucky explorer about their recent travels. This week, Anne is sharing her experiences and photos from an Ayurveda Retreat in India – she actually sent this Postcard whilst she was on the retreat but this is the first chance I’ve had to share it!
Anne is a moonlighting travel blogger who had travelled to over 70 countries on six continents. Her website, TravelTheGlobe4Less is where she shares personal travel experiences, and lots of fabulous travel hacking tips (the art of earning free hotel nights and flight upgrades using hotel and airline reward points). You can her also find her on Twitter @TTGLOBE4L.
Hi, Anne! Where are you right now?
My husband and I are visiting India for a two week break, the first week of which is to Devaaya, an Ayurvedic retreat nestled on the banks of the Mandovi River. It’s truly an oasis of calm as it inhabits the tip of Divar Island, far from the hustle and bustle of everyday India. Here, we are indulged with twice daily treatments, yoga, meditation and a controlled healthy diet for the week.
It’s a beautiful place, perfect for relaxation, which is the primary aim of this trip, although we are also bumming around a few different places, to get a taste for different parts of Goa.
Sounds incredible. Do you have perfect weather for relaxation?
We are here in October, which is at the back end of Monsoon season, and it is hot as hell! Mid thirties every day, but thankfully there is a pool to keep us cool between treatments, air conditioning and room fans.
So, you’re on an Ayurveda Retreat. What’s the accommodation like?
We stayed at Devaaya, which is a true gem. After just a few days, I’m feeling like I’ve shed stress and toxins, but a week is simply not enough. You can find a full review on my site.
What’s been your highlight so far?
Morning yoga overlooking the river, watching the sun rise whilst stretching my aching body. It’s so nice simply to be back to a regular yoga routine, as it really helps my mind and body. I’m suffering with a back injury and I’m convinced it has flared up because I’ve allowed my yoga routine to wane (travel blogging has taken over my life!). Going to morning classes here has reminded me how much I love it!
It’s incredible how fascinating hummingbirds and dragonflies can be, when you are practising yoga outdoors surrounded by nature.
I’d love to try an Ayurveda Retreat and get a bit more practice at yoga – it’s something I sorely need! hows the food at Devaaya?
The food is tantalisingly good, so much so that my hopes of losing some weight here are rapidly disappearing. Three full courses are served daily in outdoor restaurants overlooking the pool, or river.
Pineapple soup and banana curry are just some of the dishes on offer, but you can take your pick from curries, dhals, sambars, or even some western grub such as porridge or toast. A range of herbal teas are also served including my favourite, cinnamon and honey. Yummy!!
Have you managed to find anything fun to do outside of the retreat?
Devaaya doesn’t encourage visitors to leave, after all alcohol, smoking, caffeine and any other foods are banned on retreat (I think they are just worried you may be tempted off the healthy path!).
That said, we grabbed one of the free bikes from reception and cycled to the ferry port, a few miles away. for a quick hop across the river to Old Goa. The city is a UNESCO world heritage site, and is rammed full of dazzling white churches and cathedrals from the Portuguese era. It’s worthy of a visit but be warned, it’s frequented by many Indian tourists and you may find yourself the centre of attention.
Alternatively you can hop on the river boat immediately outside Devaaya, and visit the neighbouring island. This is a tiny place with just 40 homes. Turn right off the ferry, and right again at the crossroads to visit the dilapidated white and blue church which lies half abandoned, overgrown and crumbling. It’s a surprising find in this sleepy place!
Do you have any tips or advice for anyone who wants to visit an Ayurveda Retreat?
Be sure to check out the retreat’s policy on diet if you do not want a highly restrictive experience. Some retreats will severely limit your diet, so it is worth clarifying the retreat’s stance and likely treatments for your aims before booking. That way, you won’t be in for any shocks! Some of the treatments can seem a little bizarre to uninitiated westerners, and can be pretty invasive. Forewarned is forearmed!
Have you read any new books on your trip?
I brought with me the latest edition of National Geographic Traveller which is slowly falling to pieces so well has it been thumbed. Rather aptly, it contains an article on spiritual India.
I swear the editors of that magazine can read my mind, as each month they deliver articles which always address items on my wish list! No wonder my bucket list never gets any shorter!
And finally: what do you love most about travelling?
The chance to explore new places, meet new people, and spend quality time with my husband!
I’m collecting memories too!
NB – all images are owned by Anne.