I am unfit for global travel due to being geographically retarded. Until shortly before take off (from Halifax, on Canada's East Coast), I'm convinced that we will be crossing the Pacific Ocean to get to India. Also, it is only after we land in Doha that I realize Doha is not in India. It is in Qatar. We flew Qatar Airways. And yet all of this is bewildering news to my Gravol-ridden brain.
We arrive in Goa to find that the driver we arranged is not waiting for us. None of us had the foresight to write down the phone number or address of the retreat. A number of cabbies descend upon us, trying to take our suitcases out of our hands. They have no idea where Purple Valley is. Thanks to the kindness of strangers (in this case, airport staff) after an hour or so of hanging about, we get a printout of the address off the internets and secure a ride. Even at 4am with few people on the road, the ride is predictably swift and terrifying.
Our room is rustic, lovely and insanely hot. Think it might be due to the lights having been left on all night in anticipation of our 4am arrival, we’ll see tomorrow.
There is a chalkboard proclaiming Beginners at 7:40am, Mysore at 8:00am. For some reason, likely exhaustion, this sets off a wave of anxiety in me. I think it has been called imposter syndrome before. Do I belong here? Is this a trick? Do I deserve to be in India? Am I a beginner? What time do I go? Decide that I’m on vacation and shouldn’t be worrying so much. After 2 hours of dozing, we make our way down to the shala for the 8am start time. Apparently there are no beginners because everyone seems to arrive at the same time. Phewf.
Despite jet lag, exhaustion and dehydration, it is one of the most comfortable practices of my life. Primary feels nurturing, as it should. The warmth and humidity bathe my joints, and everything feels easy. I am parked behind a large support pole and blissfully I do not notice much of anything else going on in the room although there are 40-50 other people practicing. I score an amazing Paschimottanasana squish from Nancy herself. She is superlight and confident in her touch and very quick.
We convene for the evening discussion and mainly cover admin/etiquette. The rules:
Take care when rolling your mat and towel out or up if someone is practicing next to you. Don’t kill their tapas by sending a breeze their way. Makes perfect sense, we have this rule at home too. Eliminate “flourishes” (I didn’t 100% understand this, but I take it to mean any movement outside of the breath count or traditional description of a posture) and keep to your mat, being aware of others in the space around you. Bring a small towel for the assistants to use when adjusting you. Bring a name tag for the front of the mat for a few days so the adjusters can learn names. Raise your hand or wait for help if you need to be adjusted in a pose. Skip vinyasa between sides if you’re being adjusted.**note here: it wasn’t clear if this is general etiquette or simply a logical way to spread 3 adjusters across a room of 40-50 people more efficiently. Regardless, as soon as I started practicing intermediate, on day 3, I was very grateful for this rule as the wait for an adjustment could be a few minutes if you were hitting backbends or karanda at the same time as a few others.