The founder of Journeys of the Spirit, Julie Baker, shares her story of Kerala and how the Ayurvedic retreats evolved.
The next retreat I am guiding to Kerala is from 27th September – 11th October 2016.
To reserve your place or find out more contact Amanda on 0405344149 or Julie on 0427766716 .
Why Kerala? Why Ayurveda?
This is the story of Kerala and how our Ayurvedic retreats have evolved into being our foundational Journeys of the Spirit experience….
I have been practicing yoga and meditation for decades.
Ayurveda is a 5000 year-old form of traditional healing that incorporates meditation and yoga practices as important elements within this natural healing modality.
Ayurveda, pronounced ‘R U Veda’, translates as ‘the science of life’. Its foundation is the holistic rebalancing of your whole being – your physical self, your mental self, your spiritual, emotional and physiological self – through various modalities such as treatments, food that is medicine for your particular body type, yoga, meditation, pranayama (yogic breathing) and much more.
Each of these components has to be delivered in an authentic manner according to the ancient Ayurvedic traditions, with most of these being passed down orally from generation to generation.
It is through this authentic delivery that we receive the magical healing elements that will allow us to release what no longer supports us – mentally, physically, spiritually, physiologically and emotionally – to allow us to bring into our life whatever we desire. Whether this be good health, emotional stability, joy, lightheartedness, happiness, peace or self love.
Journeys of the Spirit creates authentic retreats, journeys and travel experiences immersing you into the healing, spiritual or environmental essence of that culture. It was a natural progression for me to create an Ayurvedic retreat as an extension of what I had already been practicing for a very long time. And as Kerala in south west India is the birthplace of Ayurveda, it was the natural choice for our first retreat.
It took me a year and a half to find a Retreat that delivered Ayurveda authentically and with integrity. This was before the days when you Google’d it. In my quest for the best, I had a very clear & detailed list of what I was looking for.
It had to be easily accessible from an airport; peaceful and stunning gardens and environment; traditional accommodation – thatched roofed cottages – authentic to the region; clean and comfortable rooms with private bathrooms; comfortable places to laze about at your cottage; private; safe; access to the beach and a village; food and herbs grown in the garden that are used in your treatments and for your meals; organic where possible; delicious, inspiring, healthy food created according to the Ayurvedic principles; open air restaurant; caring & warm service in every department of the Retreat; Ayurvedic doctors knowledge , care, warmth and communication; authentic delivery of the treatments by the Therapists; quality of the Yoga, meditation and pranayama classes on offer; and most importantly the feel of the place.
The spirit. The essence. Did it feel healthy, peaceful and inspiring?
So back to my quest to find this Ayurvedic nirvana. I emailed and phoned people and organisations who might know or lead me in the right direction. From Ayurvedic doctors in Australia, South Africa and USA; Yoga teachers, other tour operators, books, Indian friends, the Indian Consulate, the Indian Government Tourist Bureau – for which the latter said they didn’t know, but when I found a good one could I please let them know.
About 16 months into my research I received a phone call from the Indian Govt. Tourist Bureau inviting me to go to Kerala to do a reconnaissance trip to help me find what I was looking for.
Off I flew, met by a driver in Kochi, the capital of Kerala in the north, with a detailed plan of where I wanted to stay and experience authentic Ayurveda.
Ten days travelling north to south, staying in a different place every night, visiting 17 properties, experiencing a treatment every day, the environments, the food, the service, the delivery of authentic Ayurveda overall…it was exhausting work !
I knew before I left home that I would be tired by the end of it, so I had booked myself into a particular Retreat for a 5 night stay to rest and recover. It also happened to be the most southern retreat in Kerala and close to the airport where I was flying home from.
Every Retreat on this journey ticked some of the boxes but not one was 100% of what I was looking for – to represent this unique healing modality authentically.
Hopeful that the retreat I was staying at for my last five nights would deliver, it was when I arrived at the magnificent wooden gates to enter that I got my first inkling that this might be a possibility.
As the gates slowly opened, I was moved to tears at what stood before me. Paradise found.
Over the next five days, I experienced that state of wonder that you get when you discover something for yourself for the first time. That magical feeling of coming home, that in one sense you want to keep to yourself because it is so precious….but you also want to share with the world and shout it from a mountain top !
As you can gather, this very special Ayurvedic Retreat not only ticked all the boxes, it has become our foundational retreat for Journeys of the Spirit for the past thirteen years.
Over the years, the owners of this magnificent property & I have closely worked and collaborated to create an even deeper authentic representation of Ayurveda for our Journeyers. Because of this collaboration and understanding that we are wanting the best quality version of Ayurveda so you can enjoy the maximum benefits, we have exclusive inclusions & privileges.
Kerala represents the heart of what is the core essence of Journeys of the Spirit….
to provide quality, authentic healing experiences allowing you to rest, replenish and rejuvenate to your natural state of balance and vitality.
I feel humbled and inspired that so many have, and continue to enjoy this very special piece of paradise.