Of Mother Ganga, riding camels
Another eventful six months have passed since my last post….
I spent a joyful few weeks in Rishikesh in December teaching an advanced training with one of my dearest friends Jennilee Toner. Rishikesh never fails to stun me with her otherworldly beauty and the force and energy of the sacred Goddess Ganga rushing through the town in her luminous green gown.
After the retreat in Rishikesh, I went traveling through Rajhastan, with my lovely niece Mary and our dear friend Kate. This is a trip I have always wanted to do and it didn’t disappoint. We visited the very busy cities of Jaipur and Jodhpur with their massive and mind-boggling fortresses. We also went to Jaiselmer, which we loved the most, being more remote, with less traffic and pollution. We loved the hotel we stayed at inside the fort with it’s stunning views over the town and fortress. Whilst there I discovered that the hotel was owned by an old friend of mine, Luca Borelli, and we were able to get back in touch, thanks to six degrees, or less, of separation and the inconceivable God of technology.
We spent one very disappointing and ironic night in the desert, which fell far short of my whimsical imaginings, but was the cause of a lot of laughter(mostly afterwards)! We went camel riding, which theoretically could have been quite romantic, had there not been two thousand Indians on holiday riding camels alongside us, in what seemed like an Indian version of a disney theme park! After much effort, we mananged to get our camels led off a bit further so we could take a photo with no other camels in the background. This took a bit of bribery, but in the end we got the photo we wanted as a Christmas card, so all was not lost.
Back at Suryalila I went straight into a Yoga Teachers Training with a virulent dose of flu and it took me several weeks to purge the pollution of Indian cities from my lungs. The training was quickly followed by a Vedanta Seminar, masterfully taught by my dear teacher James Swartz. The centre was completely full and overflowing and everyone had a truly wonderful and enlightening time. After the retreat James stayed on at Suryalila for three weeks and there was a period of 10 days during which we had a private satsang every night with around 10 of us, mostly staff, in my house. This was an undreamed of blessing for us and I feel so much enduring gratitude to existence for gracing us with such a precious gift.
And then another 200 hour YTT happened and then another of my Vedanta teachers came. His name is Arlindo and he is a student of James also. Arlindo was teaching the Bhagavad Gita, which ended up being very fortunate for me, as I was also teaching the Gita on an Advanced training Module the week right after. Amazing synchronicity.
Suryalila has a busy late Spring and Summer ahead with Tiffany Cruikshank and Donna Farhi among other great teachers, due to come in May.
Whilst I was away in the winter, we completed a renovation of Casa Ananda, the tower house. I think this was a very good move as we were able to create a large luxurious suite at the front of the building, and a really lovely double room with en suite bathroom at the back. We also built a mezzanine up in the tower, with a hang-out area for relaxing and enjoying the beautiful view. The pool was also refurbished nicely, with some lovely Moroccan tiles.
In the near future we plan to complete the living roofs on the eco casas and also on the Moon Shala and to also build some wooden massage cabinas on the land.
There have been quite a few changes of personel this year, with Alice, our dear Bookings Manager leaving to go traveling, and Harry, Mirella and Leela, who have been an essential part of Suryalila from the beginning, leaving to move back to Holland, so Leela can attend a good school. This was sad but unavoidable, as we were unable to find the right type of school for Leela locally. Mirella and Leela have settled in a small town just outside of Utrecht and so far they are really enjoying the big move. Meanwhile Harry is busy training our old friend Mario in the role of Guest Services Manager, in his place. Whilst I am super sad to lose Harry, and will miss him a lot, I am excited to welcome Mario on board. Mario is very personable and I think he is the perfect person to fill Harry’s shoes.
We replaced Alice with Erin in February. Erin lives locally and is marrying a local in August. She is settling in well and doing a great job in her new role. One of our favorite chefs, Caroline, returned from a six month sabbatical, with new energy and ideas.
Since we got back from India, Kate Finn has been living and working at Suryalila, as our new onsite Yoga teacher. She is also offering private Yoga sessions to our guests, which is a new and important offering.
We have added a couple of sheep to our small zoo of alpacas, goats, donkeys, cats, dogs and chickens. Along with our new chicken lawn-mower, they are being put to work by Danyadara to mow the fields.
The month of March was unusually and thankfully very wet. It pretty much rained every single day! We had serious puddles everywhere and the landscape flourished. Add a lot of warmth and sunshine in April and the meadows are awash with flowers and as verdant as Ireland. Springtime at Suryalila is truly heaven on Earth. I am so grateful and blessed to be here and look forward to the rest of Spring and early summer as things begin to slowly and surely heat up.
I did a few online interviews recently with Kat Farrants of Movement for Modern Life, the first about Living a Yogic Lifestyle, and the second one was about what we can do personally to save the planet.
You can find those interviews here:
My dear friend Lisa has finished the filming for a feature length film about Suryalila, shot over four years. Here is an excerpt of me practicing in the Dome taken from the film footage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYzjs-NOdS0
Danyadara has exciting plans afoot, with our very own permaculture courses about to start, led by our very own intrepid Jacob Evans, our farm manager. The first four month course will begin in September with 6 participants. All participants will work with Jacob for four months and end up with a PDC (Permaculture Design Course Certificate). Jon, our communications Manager, and Jacob, have been liasing with a private school in Sotogrande to start working on permaculture projects with them. The Sotogrande school is starting a bee project with Danyadara. We look forward to having our own honey soon!
We have received a few grants for the project recently and our food forest is thriving thanks to the perfect tree-growing weather of a wet spring. In December Jacob and team planted 5000 trees in the 7 hectare field, which is part of our property, and the Danyadara tree forest is well and truly taking root. I am so happy with the way Danyadara is unfolding and so grateful to Jacob and Jon for their tireless work to make it succeed and also Andrea, who has been an important part of the team for the last six months, helping us apply for grants, and sprucing up our copy on the website, as well as writing articles about the project. Rock on Danyadara!
Right now I am heading to Salamanca for an 8 day intensive Spanish course. Really looking forward to taking a leap in my fluency.
June 9-16 we will be holding a boutique FLY Yoga Festival at Suryalila and I look forward to seeing many old friends there. Join us at this love-fest for some wonderful all day Yoga classes and some truly wonderful music! Hopefully see you there!