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Journey into the heart of sacred India. The South India Yoga Odyssey unites lively local experiences such as market visits and cooking classes with daily yoga sessions and visits to sacred spaces. From UNESCO World Heritage ancient temples and bustling shrines to the hallowed Arunachala hills. Join temple ceremonies, cruise the tranquil backwaters, and explore cities that have drawn traders and intrepid travelers from antiquity. Journey through India’s multiple paradoxes on an entirely supported and deeply nourishing South India Yoga Odyssey.
All accommodation is self-contained and of a boutique-style when you are in the small towns. In the cities, you will stay in business hotels, hand-selected for authenticity and ambiance. You will stay in comfortable resorts.
This retreat, which is suitable for all levels of ability, offers a great opportunity for you to immerse yourself in a yoga and mindfulness practice and explore how this then affects your whole being. For those who do not know Jacqui and Shimon, they have over 60 years of collective experience in teaching, studying, and practicing yoga.
Shimon’s good humor will lift your spirit and Jacqui’s depth of spiritual wisdom will leave you quiet within. They will both take your yoga practice to the next level. Enjoy daily yoga classes and meditation sessions throughout the 15-day odyssey.
Provide insight into local culture with village excursions and temple visits. Participation in ancient rituals and sacred spaces.
Arrive into the steamy capital of Tamil Nadu. Meet your yoga instructor, guide and co-participants. Today we begin our first yoga session and set the tone for our journey together. After breakfast, you’ll explore the city streets with a resident expert hearing many fascinating stories that guide the common beliefs and practices of the region. After a sunset meditation, you’ll explore what brings you together and how you can support each other in the coming weeks.
Drive along the Coromandal Coast to the sprawling UNESCO World Heritage site at Mahabalipuram. A collection of ancient caves carved into and out of rock during the 7th and 8th centuries. Track the development of temple architecture and stone carvings during our site visit. After a spot of lunch, continue onto the former French colony of Puducherry. After an evening yoga session, enjoy a stroll along the foreshore at sunset and sample signature Indo-French cuisine.
After a morning stretch, you will take to the streets by bicycle to explore the French colonial enclave. Cruising along wide boulevards we’ll take in restored bungalows civic buildings among the bustle of rickshaws and daily life. In the afternoon you’ll take an excursion to the experimental spiritual society of Auroville. You’ll have an opportunity to learn more about the founders and philosophy behind the international community that continues to thrive today.
After a morning yoga session you’ll transfer to the unassuming town of Tiruvannamalai; an important pilgrimage spot where the Hindu God Shiva is embodied in the mountain of Arunachala. This afternoon you’ll be captivated by the vast temple complex of Arunachaleswar. Dating from the 11th century, the original structure has seen additions over the years and now encompasses walkways, towering gopurams (gateways aligned with the 4 cardinal points), water tanks, shrines, priests, sadhus, and trinket sellers.
Today, you will be surmounting the 800 meter-high boulder-strewn hill of Mt Arunachala. Leaving the village behind you’ll enter two important caves where the revered Hindu sage Sri Ramana Maharishi spent 20 years practicing self-inquiry. Practice a little of your own as a fitting tribute. Continuing in Sri Ramana’s very footsteps you’ll reach the top of the mountain where you’ll have an unsurpassable view over the town.
After a morning yoga session, you’ll enjoy an excursion to the tranquil Sri Ramana Ashram and visit the shrine where the much venerated Guru achieved Samadhi (ecstatic state involving conscious exit from the body). Set in beautiful green surroundings, you’ll unwind, meet devotees, meditate and visit the bookshop. In the afternoon back in town, you will have the option to return to the Arunachaleswar Temple to participate in the evening puja (temple ceremony).
Today you will be transferred to the ancient capital of the powerful Chola kings. Reigning the entire Indian Pennisula during the medieval ages the Cholas built epic temples and developed a beautiful signature bronze casting style (mostly of Hindu Gods & Goddess) that continues today. You’ll visit the UNESCO World Heritage Brihadishwara Temple and Fort complex this afternoon. Encompassing several pillared halls and shrines and 250 lingas along the outer walls this ‘Big Temple’ is the crowning glory of Chola architecture. You’ll also visit the 3 metre Nandi carved from a single rock and peak into the inner shrine.
This morning you are versed by Hindu priests in the ancient art of Vedic Chanting. Articulating the sounds that have reverberated this land for millennia, you will learn the time-honored practice and inherent wisdom behind the use of Mantras. Later on, you will visit the Royal Palace and Museum Complex taking in various halls, galleries, library and bell towers. Afterward, you’ll visit a handloom workshop and learn some signature South Indian drapes. In the evening you’ll enjoy a classical music recital.
After a morning yoga session, you’ll drive to the thriving city of Madurai. One of South India’s oldest cities, Madurai continues to be a place of commerce, pilgrimage, and learning. You’ll visit the landmark Sri Meenakshi temple located in the heart of the old
city. The Temple’s towering gopurams are riotously decorated with a profusion of multi-colored Gods, Goddess, animals, and other mystic figures. The world within is no less vivid with a bustle of temple activity around shrines, multi-pillared halls, and a water tank. Inside the Temple Art Museum, you’ll witness some exquisite bronze sculptures.
An early pre-dawn rise will have you experience the city in an altogether different light. You’ll observe householders decorate their doorsteps with mandalas to welcome prosperity into their home. Flower and vegetable markets as farm fresh produce rolls in and famous tea sellers boil up their spicey brew. Later you will have the option to visit the Gandhi Memorial Museum or continue to explore the city streets. In the afternoon you will visit a home and learn some of South India cuisine’s specialties.
After a morning yoga session, you’ll cross into the verdant state of Kerala. A land blessed with fertile soil and home to many of India’s spices, Kerala has been dubbed ‘God’s Own Country’ and it's easy to see why. You’ll unwind under the shade of coconut palms or indulge in an Ayurvedic massage. Enjoy the spectacular sunsets of the west coast.
Today you will enjoy a tranquil houseboat cruise on the beautiful backwaters. Reconditioned rice barges navigate the vast river network that runs the length of the state. An area rich in agriculture, you’ll observe farmers in the fields and produce making its way to market alongside people going about their daily lives. You’ll sample delicious home-cooked curries and even try the heady local brew of fermented coconut water.
You will be transferred to the laid-back Fort Kochi, a place that has lured travellers and traders for over 600 years. Its varied colonial past is visible today in the Chinese fishing nets, Jewish Synagogue, mosques, Portuguese houses, and crumbling British residence. You can take a leisurely walking tour around the colonial quarter taking in the Portuguese Palace and St Francis Church. Meander along backstreets and fill your lungs with pungent spices from the very warehouses from where they are shipped around the world.
After a morning yoga session, the rest of the day is free to enjoy the delights of the market and pick up any souvenirs for home. You may want to take this opportunity to book an Ayurvedic massage, drop into the numerous art galleries promoting local and
international art or just hang out in courtyard cafes. In the evening you’ll witness a dynamic Kathikali classical dance performance before enjoying our Farewell Dinner.
You are free to depart anytime today. Hotel Checkout is 12 noon.
Jacqui's passion for yoga was discovered after her first foray at age 16. 35 years later, after extensive training and study, that passion has been transformed into a holistic way of life, where teaching and sharing experience is as much a part of her yogic journey as her daily practice. At Hawthorn Malvern Yoga Centre, Jacqui brings a wealth of knowledge, teaching and nurturing her students, while integrating her own unique yogic philosophy into every class. As a principal teacher, Jacqui conducts advanced yoga classes, meditation, pranayama, Prenatal yoga, and Restorative yoga.
For over 20 years, Shimon has been imparting his passion and commitment to yoga to students of all ages and abilities. As a highly accomplished practitioner, Shimon relishes demonstrating the power of yoga, but without ego or pretense. As a principal teacher at HMYC, Shimon teaches a broad cross-section of yoga classes and workshops but specializes in beginner students. Every class with Shimon is dynamic, fun, and accessible. His philosophy is deceptively simple to engage, assist his students, and allow them to discover their own unique passion for yoga.
Claire Prest is an Australian born professional tour guide and lives and works in India for the past 20 years. She speaks fluent Hindi and has extensive knowledge about Indian history, mythology, and geography. She is warm, friendly, and extremely knowledgable.
This yoga tour takes your to Southern India. You will visit Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Tiruvannamalai, Tanjore, Madurai, Kerala, and Kochi during the 15 days of holiday.
Delicious organic and locally-sourced produce served daily throughout the 15-day odyssey.
After the morning yoga session, you will have Sunday, November 15 all to yourself. Feel free to take this opportunity to book an Ayurvedic massage, drop into the numerous art galleries promoting local and international art, or just hang out in courtyard cafes.
Chennai International Airport
Transfer not provided
You can book your flight to arrive at Chennai International Airport (MAA). Airport transfers are not included but feel free to send an inquiry to Hawthorn Malvern Yoga Centre for more information on how to get to the venue.
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