It is unbelievable to anyone who knows me, myself included, that I would sign up for a solo yoga retreat to Nepal. I hate to do things alone, let alone travel. It’s not that I have never done it before – travelling alone. Back when I was doing regional sales, I was out of the country every quarter, often alone. But that was different. It was work and I had obligations.
So when the idea of going for a yoga retreat first popped into my head, I asked everyone I know if they would come along with me. None wanted to. They were either not that into yoga, or not at all. The first retreat advertisement I saw was in India. Everybody opposed when they heard of it. The rape cases were in the news then and so I shelved the idea. The next retreat I saw was this one in Nepal. Nepal was a county I had always wanted to visit. I imagined myself doing yoga against the back drop of the Himalayas and the opportunity was too good to miss, even if no one wanted to come. Hubby had a business trip during the same period and he was supportive of this trip. I wrote to the organizer, Routes of Yoga (ROY) and received a very assuring letter from them. So before I could change my mind, I transferred payment to them.
It was the best trip of my life. My accommodation at Chandra Ban Eco-Resort was one hour away from the rush and buzz of Kathmandu. Situated high atop a hill, we had a wonderful view of the valley. In the morning, the sounds of the valley mingled with the calls of nature.
The 6 day-trip was filled with yoga classes, hikes and excursions. Most mornings, we would be doing two-hour yoga classes before breakfast, followed by visits to famous landmarks around Kathmandu, which included the Pashupati World Heritage Area, Boudhanath where the largest stupa is located, two Tibaten monastries in Pharping and Namo Buddha and a night out at tourist spot Thamel.
There was a day which we went on a short hike, where we saw the peaks of the Himalayas above the clouds (surreal!), practised yoga among pine woods and then had a delicious vegetarian picnic.
On another day, we explored the hills and village around our resort and tried the bamboo swings which we passed by everyday going out of the village.
We had so much fun, since it had been quite some time since any of us had been on a swing. The villagers were friendly and one even offered to push.
The week while we were there was the week of Hindu Festival Dewali. (In Singapore, it’s know as Deepavali.) Travelling bands entertained villages, dogs, cows and humans were adorned in garlands, and buildings were illuminated with strings of flickering coloured lights like a gigantic Christmas trees, despite that the country has load-sharing, where electricity is limited.
My fellow yogis, four other women from Singapore, Canada, UK, and Japan, were also lone travelers and we bonded instantly with our two instructors. They were all easy-going, helpful and generally affable. We shared tales of our lives back home and and our dreams. The small group enhanced the intimacy of the trip and we were all glad we made the decision to come to Nepal.
It was a huge step out of comfort zone for me. But you know what? I learn that the place outside my comfort zone was more exciting, more amazing and more alluring. I just need to make that first step.