Tag Archives: Varkala

Anicca: Help the Fire Victims of Varkala

Life can change in seconds and everything you built can go up in flames in less than 30 minutes.  Fire is a hell of a lesson in aniccathe Buddhist concept of impermanence.  We control nothing.

It is rare that I ask people to donate money to any cause but I and a friend in Varkala, India want to raise $100,000 to help the victims of a massive fire.  Varkala is where I held my first yoga retreat in India, 2013 and where I plan to hold another one next year.  My friend is a guesthouse owner in Varkala and she will be the one to distribute the money equally among the victims.

As many readers know, India is my second home and Varkala, a small coastal town in Kerala, and its people have a very special place in my heart. It is where I will most likely conduct yoga teacher trainings in the future.  I hope to live there part-time.

On Friday morning, April 17th, a massive fire happened in Varkala in the area called Tibetan Market. Almost 15 shops were gutted, three restaurants destroyed, and other buildings were damaged. According to local newspapers the fire started due to sparks from overhead electric lines near the area.  The sparks fell on a roof made from combustible material and combined with exploding propane gas canisters in restaurants, the fire spread rapidly.  People barely escaped with their lives.  The Tibetan families are left with nothing – no shops, no money, and no homes.  They are living in a temporary housing with food being donated to them.  The youngest homeless child is barely 2 weeks old.

varkala fire 4
Photo credit Time Out Varkala http://on.fb.me/1zM1bTk

Unlike in the West the victims do not have insurance and do not have any support except from private initiatives.  India does not have public service relief agencies as the West does.

The only consolation is that no lives were lost and it happened after tourist season, however, the victims absolutely need to start rebuilding homes, shops, and restaurants now before tourists start arriving later this year.

The official estimated loss is Rs.30 Lakhs — that is about US$50,000 or 45000 EUR, but that is only a very preliminary estimate, twice that amount is needed to rebuild.  To that end, I created a crowdfunding page on GoFundMe.  In the sidebar it says that this blog has over 800 followers.  If everyone donated a mere $25, that would raise about $20,000.  That is over a million rupees which is a huge amount of money in India and many could rebuild.  The gofundme page has already raised $1,000, however there are administrative fees that are deducted from that amount.

I hope Linda’s Yoga Journey readers can find it in their hearts and souls to donate something, even if it’s $10!  You can donate very easily on this link:  http://www.gofundme.com/sd8gcus

Know anyone with deep pockets?  Maybe some of you know know a person who can donate hundreds or even thousands of dollars so please share!

In metta, thank you!

UPDATE: who wants to go to India?

looking toward south cliff, Varkala, Kerala
the Heart of Yoga, Chennai

That’s a serious question.

Long time readers know that I started studying at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram in 2005.  I thought back then that I would never return to KYM or to India, I thought it was a one-time thing.  Little did I know that I would return to KYM only 6 months later in 2006 and that I would be blessed enough to return there yearly.   Who knew what a grip India would have on my heart?  Who knew that the longer I study in this lineage the more I know that I can study here the rest of my life?  It is an honor and a responsibility to be a representative of this lineage.

The senior teachers know me by name now.  When I walked into the building on the first day of training this year I was greeted like an old friend and it did my heart good.   The intensive, “Discover Yoga Anatomy”, was amazing.  It truly was an advanced training, beyond asana, on a deeper level.  Although the teachers have studied with Desikachar for years and years, they are still students of yoga.  One of my favorite teachers said she is still learning, that they learn from us and from each other.  They are humble.  One touches the feet of Krishnamacharya in his photo portrait that is the classroom.  They are not afraid to use the word “guru.”

I have scheduled the week of March 11-15, 2013 for taking a group for private classes.  I have scheduled an asana class; theory and practice of pranayama; chanting; meditation; class on the Sutras; and an introductory class on the Bhagavad Gita, 6 classes daily for five days.   The classes will be geared toward the students’  yoga experience.  When I was there an American yoga teacher had brought 18 people with her.  My group will be limited to 12, and I need a minimum of 6 people for the trip to happen.

After that week, I will lead a yin-yang yoga retreat March 16-24 in Varkala, Kerala.  In between my trainings, before I went to KYM, I spent 15 days in Varkala, a place where I had never been.   In fact, I spent 10 days, returned to Chennai, and then flew back to Varkala because I missed the vibe and the friends I had made so much.  They did not want me to leave.

Varkala has a chill vibe, as people there say, and I thought I would be put off by all the westerners.  I must say I had some culture shock when I arrived because I had never been with so many westerners before in my travels (apart from KYM.)  But I grew to love it.  The place is a mix of backpackers, package tourist groups, retirees, old hippies, young hippies, and families with children.  It’s easy.  Real easy.  And it would be a great place to chill after the cacophony of Chennai.  Besides which, ladies, you can get some great yoga pants made for about $10 by the tailors on the clifftop, pants that sell in the US for 7 times the price — I had 4 made.

The retreat — where I will teach one class in the morning — will be here.  I have already booked all the cottages facing the pool.  Double occupancy only so bring a friend!

I had energy work done by an amazing energy worker so a session with her and a dinner party in her garden on our last night are included in the price.  Ayurvedic consulations are available as well.  I had a back issue for five years (thanks to being Miss Gumby all my life) and after doing the yoga therapy practice every day that I learned in my first training and having medical ayurvedic treatments for 7 days at this place, I now wake up pain free — and I still do my yoga therapy practice.  The Varkala resort has its own ayurvedic doctor or there are many choices in Varkala.

Other activities are available if you want to run around, but I guarantee that chilling on the beach, eating fresh food every day, and meeting great people will be enough for some.

You will arrange the domestic RT flight from Chennai-Trivandrum and the 5 star hotel in Chennai before flying home on March 25 (very early morning) with my travel agent.  Those prices are NOT included in my package price.

PACKAGE PRICE IS $1,950.00 (OR $1,925.00 for one garden view cottage at Varkala resort) WITH A PORTION OF YOUR PAYMENT GOING TO THE BANYAN, A WOMEN’S SHELTER IN CHENNAI.




You are responsible for your international and domestic flights, one day/night stay your last 24 hours in Chennai, your Indian visa, food other than breakfast, sight-seeing, ayurvedic treatments in Kerala (if so desired), tips, and ground transportation in Chennai and Varkala.  Please be aware that your India visa starts on the day it is issued, NOT when you land in India.

This trip will be geared toward yoga teachers, serious practitioners, and those who are independent travelers and who can go with the flow.  I won’t sugar-coat it:  Ma India can kick your ass but good.  It did mine the beginning of this trip, my 6th, and then I surrendered and let go.  Once I did that, all was good.

The entire trip will be from March 10-March 24 (arrange  your flight to leave Monday, March 25 or thereafter.)  You must spend a day decompressing from your flight to India and acclimating a bit before KYM classes start on Monday, March 11.  However, I can tell you that after 6 trips with 16+ hour flights to India, I do not have jet lag when I arrive — I hit the ground running.

I’m throwing this out to the Universe.  Doing the best I can and letting the rest go.

Let me know your interest.

not where I had my treatment — I liked the sign!
looking healthy and happy in Varkala