I started Yoga over a year ago, and like most people who did, it changed my life. Yoga quickly became more than a weekly activity, it became an inward-looking journey.
After few months of practice, I wanted to attend a retreat somewhere. I also really wanted to take a solo trip, so when I heard about the Tallala Yoga Retreat in Sri Lanka, I knew I had to go there. Few days after I left my job, I booked my ticket and my retreat.
What stroked me first when I arrived in Sri Lanka was how smily and happy people looked. This instantly made me feel happy. Another thing that I fell in love with is how green the country is. Even the airport is surrounded by trees and flowers, with birds singing! I had a 3-hour drive from Colombo to Tallala and I just kept appreciating the nature in front of me.
Talalla is also a great place if you are an ethic and responsible tourist. In this case you should know that after the 2004 tsunami, the management decided to take in charge all those affected by the tsunami and help them. One member of the staff for exemple lost most of his family and was fully supported by Talalla. They also employ locals, installed solar panels and compost the kitchen waste, among other things.
Oh, and another great thing I loved is that the dogs that live in the retreat have all been treated because the owner or manager's wife was a vet and she took care of them. They were so cute and they would spend time with us on the beach or even attend our yoga class!
Something I have noticed about Sri Lanka is that people are just so kind and smiling. They look happy and they smile to you for no reason or just to say hi even if they don't know you. They smile even if it is obvious that they live in conditions that we would call poor. They are simply happy and you know what? It becomes contagious! :)
The program included two 90-minute yoga classes a day, one early morning (around 7 am° and one in the afternoon (at 4:30 pm), Vinyasa and Hatha Yoga.
Our two instructor, Martine and Saffron were actually mother and daughter. I always thought that Yoga was a lot about the teacher. I was not disappointed at Tallala. Beside being two beautiful women, they were also wonderful teacher, filled with passion, patience and precision. I can honestly say that I made a lot of progress because we had the opportunity to go through all Asana with depth, while working both our mind and body.
Another amazing part of the retreat was the focus on emotions and feelings. According to Martine and Saffron, some of our session may awaken some deep feelings. At the beginning of the retreat, we were all given an empty coconut and some pieces of paper. Everytime we had a hard feeling, bad memory or negative emotion, we should write it on one piece of paper, then put it in our coconut.
On the last day of the retreat and after a beautiful sun salutation session during the sun rise, we all gather with our coconut, prayed and then throw it away in the sea. Letting go.
I absolutely love this concept and idea, and it was the highlight of my trip because this is exactly was I was looking for : letting go of things that were holding me back from true happiness.
Galle is one of the greatest southern spot in Sri Lanka. I won't go into details about the History because we've had an incredible guide which would explain it better and that I highly recommend if you ever visit Galle. His name was Sanjei and his tour was absolutely great because he tells a real story with fun facts and passion without being boring like a school book.
After a tour of the city (and meeting a very strange animal on our way) we had lunch at Poonies, a beautiful restaurant. Lunch was delicious and full of taste and savor.
We spend the rest of the day wandering around in the beautiful streets of Galle and of course shopping. I got some coconut oil (of course), cinnamon (best in the world), tea (black and white), some turmeric and a silk scarf. I also got a gorgeous vintage poster from Stick No Bills, a must-visit shop.
The city is a beautiful combination of European architecture, South Asian traditions and Tropical setting. The Old town and its fortifications is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, so it is really a must-see!
Quick Tour of Doha, Qatar
I flew to Sri Lanka with Qatar Airways. Unfortunately, I had a 9-hour layover in Doha and wasn't particularly of being stuck in a airport for almost half a day. After some researches, I discovered that Qatar Airways was offering a complimentary tour of Doha, so I thought that was perfect. As soon as I landed, I signed up for the tour.
Doha is very nice, that mix of West and extra-modern architecture in a Eastern-Arabic environnement. What I loved the most was the Souk (open-air market). It was so beautiful, full of mysteries and traditions. It reminded me of the Souk in Marrakech (Morocco), where I could wander around for hours and pleasantly get lost...
I didn't have time to do that but I will definitely go back someday to get some fancy traditional jewelry and nuts :)
I also would like to say that I met amazing people during my tour. Traveling alone can be a bit terrifying and scary but I realized that if you keep an open-mind (and a smile) you can meet some incredible people on your way. Being alone is also an amazing setting for your mind because it allows you to face your demons and go through your thoughts and emotions.
I had the chance to make friends during my tour of Qatar, which came very spontaneously and unexpectedly. I would like to thank them for all the laughing we had, but also the beautiful people who attended the retreat in Sri Lanka.
We may be miles apart now, but I will forever remember you because of this wonderful experience that we all shared together.