INSPIRING INDIA: A New Year's Eve Retreat of Gratitude + Giving Back

Southern India

SY
6 reviews
Dec 28, 2018 - Jan 7, 2019
Group size: 8 - 12
INSPIRING INDIA: A New Year's Eve Retreat of Gratitude + Giving Back
Southern India

6 reviews

$3230
Deposit: $500
Dec 28, 2018 - Jan 7, 2019
Group size: 8 - 12

About this trip

India is one of those countries that you could return over and over again and have a completely different experience, as the entire landscape is as eclectic and versatile as the people who encapsulate it. Southern India, Kerala will always be a bucket list destination that still conjures up mystery and intrigue. From getting lost in the lush backwaters to waking up to chanting and soft bells in the distance, this is a place that inspires all of the senses to be illuminated. Spices and incense smoke waft through the air as decorated tuk-tuks clamor amidst the hectic, yet perfectly synchronized balance of mammal, machine, and man. The most beautiful and distinct colors can be seen in India, woven into the saris, painted on the holy cows that roam freely in the roads, to flower petals that can be seen on the ground outside of the ancient temples. India beckons for dreams to realized and realities to be dreams. Joining you is Jordan Ashely, Founder of Souljourn Yoga. Chelsea Gilson, Tour Leader of Willow & Blair and Alyce Biddle of My name is Kumar Foundaiton


THE PROJECT WE ARE SUPPORTING 

What? An engaging yearlong programme of activities for secondary school aged girls delivered to them outside of their classroom. The programme will aim to increase confidence, inspire and educate them about topics they wouldn’t learn about in school. Why? We wish to tackle some of the repeated problems we see regularly affecting girls we work with; child marriage, teenage dropouts, teenage pregnancy, lack of ambition, low self-esteem and self worth. We believe that all the girls we work with can do whatever they put their mind to in life, but they are too often limited by the barriers that society, their families and even the education system places in front of Indian girls. We would like to use the donation from Souljourn Yoga and Willow & Blair to plan and deliver a year worth of activities under this program. Girls will meet once a month outside of school time.  

Ideas for activities include: 

• Self-defense and martial arts 

• Yoga and meditation 

• Career talks and mentoring 

• Advice on higher education, travel or apprenticeships 

• Talks and demonstrations from successful Indian women 

• First aid course • Talks about sexual health, menstruation and pregnancy 

• Swimming, trekking and dancing 

If we raise enough money we would also like to fund a special weekend residential trip for girls on the program. Most of the girls on the program have never left their district, let alone the state of Tamil Nadu. We believe that taking a group of girls on a trip away from their homes will give them valuable new experiences and open their eyes to new things. 


ABOUT THE FOUNDATION – MY NAME IS KUMAR (MNIK) 

The story of how My name is Kumar got their name is the story of one child, Satish Kumar. But Satish is one of many children that make up the My name is Kumar Family. In 2012 Renee and Tim (co-founders) visited CARE Foundation for the first time. They planned on spending six months working with the charity to look after the children before they moved to London for study and careers. They loved every minute in India, fell in love with the children and their temporary home in India. Leaving was one of the hardest things they have ever had to do, but they knew they would be back one day to visit. They didn't expect that when they visited CARE Foundation again in 2013 they would be told that the education projects were at risk of closure because of a cut in funding. Something needed to be done urgently to stop them having to send all the children back to a life of begging and poverty. In response to the problem, My Name is Kumar was set up to support CARE Foundation and carry on giving and education to the children.


KUMAR’S STORY

One day, back in the early days of our charity, Renee and Tim were driving from school to

school in search of a place for two of their newest recruits, Satish and Saravanan. Now usually

Satish and Saravanan are cheery and cheeky boys, but they both knew that this day was

particularly special for them and they had to be on their best behaviour. They were heading to

meet with the school principals of all the best schools in the area in order to get a place at

school for the next year. If they played their cards right and behaved themselves they would be

joining the other children on the school bus each morning. They were very nervous.


At each school they were asked to introduce themselves to the principal. This should have been

easy, but for Satish who has a lisp, it was hard! At the first 3 schools they visited his name would

come out all wrong when he introduced himself; “My name is Ssssatttisch” he would say. Satish

got more and more frustrated, until eventually enough was enough...


At the last school they visited Satish was asked to introduce himself one last time. Satish stood up, looked the principle straight in the eye and fiercely said “My name is KUMAR!”.

They all started laughing, and the principal looked confused but impressed at this confident

young man! They decided that Satish’s confidence and resilience was what they wanted their charity to be about. 


MNIK want all the children they look after to be able to stand up and shout their name

with pride. That’s why they decided to call ourselves My name is Kumar.

Satish and Saravanan are only two children of many, but they managed to inspire everyone in a

way that they could never have imagined. 

What’s included

Backwaters Boat Tour 

Kochi Town Visit

Jewelry making

Henna design 

Visiting Auroville

Traditional dance class 

New Year’s Celebration

Daily Yoga/Meditation  

Thanjavur Temples Tour 

Tea/Spice Plantation Tour

Tradtional Dance Workshop 

Scenic Drive Across South India MNIK Community interaction/activities/visits Agasthiyar Falls Beach Day 

Ayurvedic Spa Treatment 

Transfers to/from Airport 

$300 US tax-deductible donation to My Name is Kumar Foundation

Not included

Flights 

Visas

Travel Insurance (Compulsory for anyone who travels with Willow & Blair and Souljourn Yoga)

Important Notes

VISA INFORMATION

All foreigners entering India must have a valid passport and visa. The passport must have a

validity that extends the duration of your stay by a minimum of 6 months and has at least one

blank page. To apply for a tourist visa, visit: https://www.indiavisa.org.in/apply-visa

Entry requirements can change at any time, so it’s important that you check for the latest

information. Please visit the relevant consular website fo the coutnry or countries you’re visiting

for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarize yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.


AIRPORT TRANSFERS

You will need to provide flight information at the time of booking to your tour so we can arrange

your private transfer to our first meeting point (Soma Kerala Palace)

Our drivers will be waiting for you with a sign at the designated waiting area of the arrivals

terminal, where you will be assisted with your luggage.


MEETING POINT

Soma Kerala Palace

Cochin -Kumarakom Near Murinjupuzha, Chempu

P.O. Vaikom, Cochin College Rd

Chullickal, Kochi, Kerala 686615, India

Phone: +91 4829 271 350


MEETING INSTRUCTIONS

Check in is from 2pm. If you want to arrive earlier this is absolutely fine, however please note that you may not be able to check into your room until 2pm. You are more than welcome to leave your bags in the foyer and the hotel staff can provide recommendations whilst you wait.


FITNESS LEVEL

You will need a reasonable level of fitness to enjoy this trip. All levels and fitness abilities are

welcome to the yoga classes.


TIPPING

There is no standardized tipping custom in India. However, tipping small service providers such

as restaurant and bar waiters, hotel staff, reception, cleaning personnel, bell boys, taxis and van

drivers is an appropriate practice that will be greatly appreciated. It is important to note that the majority of dining establishments servicing tourists will include a

10% upcharge for gratuity.


LOCAL DRESS

It is best practice to dress comfortably and modestly in India to avoid any unwanted attention.

Shoulders and knees should be covered for temple visits.

FINISHING POINT INSTRUCTIONS

Your tour ends at the Leela Kovalam Kerala. We ask for your flight details prior to the trip to

secure your private return transfer to Trivandrum International Airport. Should you be staying on

in India or departing for a different location; our staff can assist. Please inquire with us upon

booking.


MONEY EXCHANGE

ATMs in India are predominant in principal cities and will generally accept cards on the

Mastercard and Visa networks. Please consult with your bank before your trip to ensure your

cards will work abroad. Note that when using your credit card there is generally a fee of 5-10%

when purchasing products or services.

While larger restaurants and stores will likely accept credit cards, the majority of services and

shops will only accept cash. Carrying large amounts of cash can be a high risk anywhere that you travel. We recommend a combination of cash and cards. Bear in mind ATMs are sometimes inaccessible. US dollars, British Pounds and the Euro are all quite easy to exchange to local currency and some establishments will accept Euros in place of Dirhams. Banks and some hotels will provide an exchange service. Traveler's checks can be difficult to change in India and we do not recommend them/

What Should I Pack?

Documents:

▪ Flight info

▪ Insurance info (required) (With photocopies)

▪ Passport (required) (With photocopies)

▪ Any required visas or vaccination certificates

Essentials:

▪ Lip balm

▪ Sunscreen

▪ A mini first aid kit (bandaids, antibacterial gel, imodium, aspirin, any prescription drugs

you’re prescribed, antihistamine, mosquito repellent)

▪ Your Favorite Toiletries

▪ Comfortable Footwear, Preferably closed toe shoes

▪ Airy and Modest clothing (pants, long skirts, tshirts, long sleeve blouses)

▪ A lightweight Rain Jacket

▪ Sleepwear

▪ Sunglasses

▪ A swimsuit

▪ Beach Cover Up

▪ Shawl or scarf (for temple visits)

▪ Day pack or crossbody purse

▪ Phone and charger

▪ Cash, credit and debit cards

▪ Camera, memory card, battery and charger

▪ Locks for bags

▪ Outlet adapter

▪ Fitness Attire you feel comfortable practicing yoga in


It will be an average of 25 degrees Celsius (77 fahrenheit) in Pondicherry and 28 degrees Celsius (82 Fahrenheit) in Kerala.

Available Packages

Shared Room
$3230
Deposit: $500
Single
$3800
Deposit: $500

Itinerary

WELCOME TO INDIA
DAY 1

Meet and assist on arrival into Kerala, private transfer from Trivandrum International Airport (TRV) will be provided. Get settled, unwind, and relaxed. We will meet for an opening ceremony and evening yoga practice before dinner and a good night’s sleep as we begin our amazing journey together.

Who’s Going

Your Organizer


SY
Souljourn Yoga
6 reviews
Founder of Souljourn Yoga Foundation (souljournyoga.com, a non-profit dedicated to raising money for girls education in developing countries through global yoga retreats and local events.

Reviews

DJ
From the moment I arrived in Nicaragua I felt a sense of comfort and calm for the retreat that was before me. Stacey from My Alma Retreats coordinates a flawless series of logistics; myself and a handful of other retreat goers were pleasantly escorted to an incredibly villa on the pacific coast of Nicaragua for our first few days of retreat and recharge. Jordan and Allison led our group into several morning and evening yoga sessions that were mindfully choreographed and guided our group through the chakra system, element by element. Our days were blissful and entirely up to us how we wanted to spend them. We were spoiled by our fabulous personal chef who cooked amazing, colorful, nutrient and flavor rich meals three times a day. We headed into Granada midweek to give back to the local community through a heartfelt and fulfilling engagement with the young girls of UP Nicaragua; a philanthropic initiative to education the girls of inner city Granada on healthy and sustainable vocational options for their future. To say it was moving is an understatement; we hugged, conversed, practiced yoga, and shared empowering motivation to encourage them to continue striving for their dreams. We finished the week in the absolutely breathtaking countryside on a mineral rich, warm, inverted volcano lake, at Laguna Apoyo. Yoga sessions took place on a platform perched just above the lake, at sunrise and sunset, with the sounds of nature offering support and serenity; a truly majestic experience. Our final adventure took us into the city of Esteli, where we learned about the rich culture of farming; tobacco, Coffee and coco, that sustains the rural communities of Nicaragua. We donated books to the library bus initiative, offering mobile literacy for the rural communities of northern Nica. The experience was transformative, energizing, relaxing and majestic. I highly recommend for any adventurous spirit seeking a way to connect to culture, connect to your higher self, and give back in ways that are deeply moving. Flawlessly planned and executed by Stacy of My Alma Retreats. Flawlessly energized by Allison and Jordan.
EL
I cannot speak highly enough about this transformative experience to Nicaragua. Jordan plans the most unique trip fusing together relaxation for the mind and body with an immersive cultural experience giving back to the local communities. I feel refreshed and inspired and cannot wait to sign up for my next retreat!
CC
Dear Jordan and SoulJourn Yoga team, What an adventure. Prema Peru was an action packed and exciting journey. Most of all spending time with the girls of Sacred Valley Project was the most memorable especially shopping in the markets, learning their culture and making them smile! I wish we could have spent more time with the high school girls however because this visit was planned during the weekday they were doing their studies. I also think the flow of events would be smoother if we did not do sit downs for lunch. This took a lot of time out of the days where there were activities planned. A solution could be to grab food quickly somewhere or bag lunches. My most favorite meals were at Sacha Munay, Cola de Mono & Sunday we are at an incredible local spot in Cusco that was delicious! The activities were wonderful from ziplining to hot baths to Machu Picchu! The beginning of the trip was good paced and relaxing with plenty of time to enjoy yoga classes and gong bathes. This helped to acclimate to the elevation as well. I found that there were too many activities which made it confusing to know what was going on or what to pack in the middle of the week. Highly recommend to stress lots and lots of bug spray when in the jungle. Many people were eaten alive! We also had one man down during the mountain biking which was scary and thankful he is OK. However would be best to include travel insurance into the price based off the activity levels instead of making it an option. Overall I rate 10 out of 10! Incredible experience to give back to the girls and to experience Peru. Loved Sergio our guide, Che Che our driver, and Raoul ! They were wonderful. Maybe good idea to recommend to bring money for tipping them as well. Thank you again! Wonderful time!
Truly an epic adventure. In the Andes, every day brings ever more breathtaking landscapes, but we also had the special opportunity to meet and interact with the people of this amazing country, especially the girls of the Sacred Valley Project who are getting the education they so richly deserve.
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