Currently I am in Goa, India for 2.5 months. The main reason for my stay here in Anjuna is to practice Ashtanga yoga with Rolf and Marci. Aaron (my boyfriend) introduced me to Ashtanga two years ago and since then I have been sporadicly practicing Mysore (self practice) but mainly attending his Ashtanga Led Classes at New Farm Power Yoga in James Street, Brisbane.
It has taken me a while to really adopt a self practice of my own and make yoga a daily or even regular occurrence. I have been heading to the Gold Coast once a week on and off to practice with the amazing Mark Togni but I still didn't have the will power, motivation, control, discipline etc, to do my own regular home practice. Nine months ago I spent a month with Prem and Radha in Ubud, Bali. I really enjoyed practicing with these guys as they are both great teaches and they have recently opened a beautiful new shala which looks incredible. During my month with Prem and Radha I learnt the half primary series without needing a sheet to follow. Unfortunately as soon as I got back home to Queensland my home practice didn't continue and again I only practiced 3 - 4 times a week.
I have now completed 6 weeks of Mysore practice here in Anjuna with Rolf and Marci and I am loving it. I now know the full primary series and am flowing between each posture without having to think about what comes next. Again there are no sheets allowed to follow as the memory of the series is apart of the practice and moving in a mediative flow. Now to learn all the names of the postures and pronounce them correctly.
I feel in just 6 weeks my practice is so much stronger, not in the way of my physical body but in the way of mentally letting go and not looking around and worrying where other people are up to and not worrying if I can't totally straighten my legs in any forward bends or the fact I am still working on my lotus. These things will come, as the quote goes from Shri K Patabi Jois "practice and all is coming". I love being able to strip away all the layers and come back to the basis of the practice and the importance of correct alignment and listening to my body. This could explain how I torn my hamstring 8 months ago, thinking I could do certain postures and maybe even letting my ego take me to a place where I was not yet ready to go.
I like the fact that both Marci and Rolf let you take your time in the postures and Marci is helpful and very knowledgeable regarding injuries. They take you to where your body and mind is at. They give strong adjustments but also use a few props to help with opening your hips, chest and back by using straps, blocks etc. I really appreciate being taught the hip and shoulder openers and the back bend preparations as this is a major part of my practice I need to work on. Opening my chest (heart) is seeming like it will now one day happen for me.
I started practising here on the 21st January. Rolf and Marci will send you an email confirming your starting time. I started on the 8 or 8.30am shift and due to there being many people I did often have to wait for about 1/2 hour or more before a space became free for me to start my practice. After the second week Aaron and I were then able to join the 5am shift which is wonderful. The shifts changed 4 weeks ago when it started heating up (even more). It's pretty hot here now so I tend to stay indoors through the middle of the day. I wear a jumper in the mornings but I don't need it for anything else. So far it has only rained once. The mosquitoes are annoying and start to come and feed off you from 6.30am onwards. They bite me through my yoga pants and for some reason mainly attack my bum. They also like to buzz around your ear just as you lift your legs in shoulder stand and/or head stand. Rolf starts at 5am with the opening chant and Marci joins the group about 45 minutes later. There has been a few mornings which were really busy with around 20 - 30 people starting at 5am but the last couple of weeks have been quieter. More people come for the next shift and the next and it continues to be pretty busy in the shala. When it comes to your finishing sequence you go to the dirt area and finish your practice there. I have heard that this is a busier time of the year and when the monsoons come in around July is it much quieter. There are many mosquitoes so make sure you bring a natural repellent with you. I bought a neem and citronella outdoor roll on. It is not easy finding natural insect repellents and you will not find them by this name. They will be called 'outdoor spray' or similar to this if they are natural. I bought mine from Flannerys supermarket.
You can look at the yoga bones website to give you many recommendations of accommodation. We are staying at Countinos Nest which is really nice. We call it the purple palace. We have hot water, air con, a fridge, a safe, double bed with linen (I still bring my own sheets and pillow cases). Agatha the owner is very helpful and friendly and if you need anything just ask. We hired a motor bike for 5000 per month. Petrol is 55 rupee per litre from the petrol station or you can get it from many stands on the side of the road for 70 or 75 rupee.
Getting around is really easy and you can pull over and ask anyone if you get lost. I have only seen a handful of people wearing helmets and we are two of them. Anjuna and the other coastal towns are not like other parts of India where I have been. You don't need to cover up as you do in other parts of the country. I think that's what the beach does to people. You can wear shorts and singlets or I have seen many people with less. As soon as you leave the beach you should really try to cover up and if you are travelling to holy cities or temples its just common courtesy. I just saw a guy in the supermarket with nothing but his underpants and a trolley. I had a little chuckle to myself.
It's an amazing place here in Anjuna and I am excited to explore more of Goa. If you want a laid back, easy going, safe, nearly hassle free place to start your Indian adventure then come to the Goan coastline. The beaches are ok but I guess coming from Australia I can't compare. There are many areas you can swim, they are not always manned so be careful for rips. I have seen lifeguards and there are flagged areas but I have seen a few of these guys just relaxing and sleeping on the job so please be safe and watch your mate.
I have been to many yummy cafes and eateries so stay tuned for my recommendations on where to eat.
Peace and Love from Anjuna, Goa.
You can find Rolf and Marci at Yoga Bones: http://www.yogabones.org/
Or if you are travelling to Bali you can find Prem and Radha at Ashtanga Yoga Bali: http://www.ashtangaworld.com/index.php