INSPIRING INDIA

A New Year's Eve Retreat of Gratitude + Giving Back

December 28, 2018 - January 7, 2019

India is one of those countries that you could return over and over again and have a completely different experience, as the entire landscape is as eclectic and versatile as the people who encapsulate it. Southern India, Kerala will always be a bucket list destination that still conjures up mystery and intrigue. From getting lost in the lush backwaters to waking up to chanting and soft bells in the distance, this is a place that inspires all of the senses to be illuminated. Spices and incense smoke waft through the air as decorated tuk-tuks clamor amidst the hectic, yet perfectly synchronized balance of mammal, machine, and man. The most beautiful and distinct colors can be seen in India, woven into the saris, painted on the holy cows that roam freely in the roads, to flower petals that can be seen on the ground outside of the ancient temples. India beckons for dreams to realized and realities to be dreams. Joining you is Jordan Ashely, Founder of Souljourn Yoga. Chelsea Gilson, Tour Leader of Willow & Blair and Alyce Biddle of My Name is Kumar Foundation.  

THE PROJECT WE ARE SUPPORTING

An engaging yearlong program of activities for secondary school aged girls delivered to them outside of their classroom. The program will aim to increase confidence, inspire and educate them about topics they wouldn’t learn about in school. Why? We wish to tackle some of the repeated problems we see regularly affecting girls we work with; child marriage, teenage dropouts, teenage pregnancy, lack of ambition, low self-esteem and self worth. We believe that all the girls we work with can do whatever they put their mind to in life, but they are too often limited by the barriers that society, their families and even the education system places in front of Indian girls. We would like to use the donation from Souljourn Yoga and Willow & Blair to plan and deliver a year worth of activities under this program. Girls will meet once a month outside of school time. 

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Ideas for activities include:

  • Self-defense and martial arts 

  • Yoga and meditation

  • Career talks and mentoring 

  • Advice on higher education, travel or apprenticeships 

  • Talks and demonstrations from successful Indian women 

  • First aid course

  • Talks about sexual health, menstruation and pregnancy 

  • Swimming, trekking and dancing 

If we raise enough money we would also like to fund a special weekend residential trip for girls on the program. Most of the girls on the program have never left their district, let alone the state of Tamil Nadu. We believe that taking a group of girls on a trip away from their homes will give them valuable new experiences and open their eyes to new things. Click here to learn more about the foundation.

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Itinerary

DAY 1: WELCOME TO INDIA

Meet and assist on arrival into Kerala, private transfer from Trivandrum International Airport (TRV) will be provided. Get settled, unwind, and relaxed. We will meet for an opening ceremony and evening yoga practice before dinner and a good night’s sleep as we begin our amazing journey together.

DAY 2: KERALA BACKWATER BOATING

Sail around the beautiful Kerala backwaters in a traditional Keralan houseboat. Enjoy lunch on the boat. Float by rice paddies, temples, exotic flowers, banana’s and coconut groves. Then spend the evening in the colonial majesty of Kochi where we’ll dine out together.

DAY 3: KOCHI TOWN VISIT

After morning practice we’ll travel the short distance back to Kochi and you can spend your time wandering the alleys and lanes of the fort town. Visit one of the many architecturally inspiring churches, temples or art galleries. Or just sit with a tea and watch the world go by. An opportunity to visit a local charity working with street animals is available also. We’ll share together in an evening Satsang (spiritual study) and Kirtan (chanting).

DAY 4: RELAXATION DAY/ NEW YEAR

Today is for relaxation and self care. Start your day with a practice together then spend your time at the spa receiving a traditional Ayurveda massage, take a walk, or a swim in the hotel pool. We’ll share together a special NYE’s meditation and intention setting as we bring in 2019 together. 

DAY 5: SCENIC DRIVE

After early morning yoga we’ll begin our travel to Tamil Nadu. This is a long journey in which we will have multiple stops for food, restroom breaks and for photo opportunities. The ride will afford a real glimpse into South Indian life and you will have the opportunity to experience the full breadth of the diverse South Indian landscape. Think tea and spice plantations, waterfalls, British hill stations and quaint hillside villages. We’ll have motivational discussions along the way to help pass the time and perhaps even a half way meditation to restore our tired eyes.

DAY 6: TEMPLES/PONDICHERRY

Stretch your well travelled bones with morning yoga or a dip in the pool. In the morning we’ll go on a sightseeing tour of the ancient temples in Thanjavur. After lunch we’ll depart the hotel for our final stop in Pondicherry. Dinner is at your leisure, with an optional yoga and meditation class in the evening.

DAY 7: DISCOVER PONDICHERRY

Early morning yoga practice followed by a scrumptious breakfast before we get discovering Pondicherry, which is a French colonial settlement clad with tree lined streets, vibrant colonial villas, and stylish boutiques. The group will take a walking tour of this historic town and then will have the afternoon to explore. Evening yoga and dinner will follow.

DAY 8: DAY WITH MNiK

After breakfast we’ll head to My Name is Kumar Foundation for a look into some of the work your donation is supporting. We’ll enjoy jewelry making, henna design and a dance workshop with the children. We’ll share a tasty banana leaf lunch and the girls will teach you how to eat with your hand, the Indian way! We’ll finish the day with a talent show and celebration all together.

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DAY 9: AUROVILLE/MNiK COMMUNITY

Get a taste of utopia with today’s visit to Auroville, the unique community granted special permission by the Indian government and home to more than 3,000 people. We’ll tour around this ideal of communal living with some of the secondary school aged girls from the My Name is Kumar project and look upon the magnificent Matrimandir – a giant golden globe built in the 1970s as a space for meditation and contemplation. On our last evening together we’ll have a dinner with the girls and say our goodbyes.

DAY 10: REFLECTION + CEREMONY

Our last day together on the tour. Take some time for yourself; receive a massage, go gift buying, or visit one of Pondicherry’s bakeries or ashrams. We’ll end our amazing adventure together with yoga, meditation and a closing circle. 

DAY 11: DEPART PONDICHERRY

Wake for sunrise yoga and meditation or sleep in for your last morning in India. Transfer to Chennai International Airport.


What's Included:

  • Backwaters Boat Tour
  • Kochi Town Visit
  • Jewelry making
  • Henna design
  • Visiting Auroville
  • Traditional dance class
  • New Year’s Celebration
  • Daily Yoga/Meditation  
  • Thanjavur Temples Tour 
  • Tea/Spice Plantation Tour
  • Tradtional Dance Workshop 
  • Scenic Drive Across South India MNIK Community interaction/activities/visits Agasthiyar Falls Beach Day 
  • Ayurvedic Spa Treatment 
  • Transfers to/from Airport 
  • $300 US tax-deductible donation to My Name is Kumar Foundation

Not Included:

  • Flights
  • Visas
  • Travel Insurance (Compulsory for anyone who travels with Willow & Blair and Souljourn Yoga)

Price:

  • Shared Room: $3230
  • Single Room: $3800

Click here to fill out your our Waiver of Liability + Participation Agreement