I am just coming to the end of a six night stay at Munkudil, an Ayurveda Yoga retreat in a rural part of Kerala, South India. The environment here is sublime. The entire place is founded on ecological principles, as well as being incredibly beautiful and, most unusually for India, very peaceful.
The climate here is warm and tropical, but there is generally a gentle breeze that comes across the river to cool us. Elephants often visit the river to bathe and I was fortunate enough to see some whilst I was here. The gardens here are packed with healing herbs, there are three bee hives (the honey is used in the Ayurvedic medicines), cows (whose milk is also used in ghee and medicines) and beautiful Yoga Ayurveda inspired artwork through the whole house and grounds.
Each day begins with a Yoga practice with Yogi Hari. The Yoga here is suitable for everyone, so all are welcome to join in this holistic practice, which is offered daily at 730am and 5pm. Following Yoga we enjoy a delicious traditional Kerala breakfast. This is followed by free time or a fabulous Ayurvedic treatment, usually massage focused but it can be other things too!
In Ayurveda lunch is the main meal of the day, and a hearty lunch is enjoyed here daily at 1pm.The afternoon allows time to walk along the riverside, to relax, to enjoy more Ayurvedic treatment or to read and rest, before the afternoon Yoga session. In the evening a light supper is served, usually vegetables and chapati or similar. Those who have seen the Ayurvedic doctor also have herbal medicines to take at each mealtime. And so then we retire to bed!
Whilst here I did venture out a couple of times! Most notably to Munnar, a hill station surround by lush green tea plantations, just a two hour drive away. We explored the hills and valleys, visited a stunning national park, drank spicy masala chai in the mist whilst goats, cows and dogs wondered ghost like amongst us. On in the evening to see a traditional martial art of Kerala, a Kalari fighting show, which was just incredible. I also explored closer to Munkdil the local forest with a bird guide. This was a beautiful, mindful afternoon well spent and I would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in nature. It brought home to me that India is not all about banghra and tooting horns, it has so much more to offer if we know where to look. The culture, the gentle nature of the people here (especially at this retreat), and the whole approach to life. The belief systems that are held here are thousands of years old, steeped in nature and the elements, and this experience has helped me to truly realise that.
I feel incredibly privileged to have experienced this place and this authentic way of living in the routines recommended by Yoga and Ayurveda. I recall very well the days when this was all a distant fantasy, and now I find myself here , in this place, it can feel very surreal at times, but also very much like it is all meant to be.
In the words of a fellow retreat guest this week, “This place is a little piece of paradise.”