Baa Maalhos, Maldives – July 2018
Lots of fun was had throughout July as we had the pleasure of Eleanors company for the whole month. Here goes the highlights of our 8 days Kundalini Yoga Retreat led by Eleanor Phelan.
Arrival day is always so exciting, the rooms get their final check, coconuts are cut and placed in the fridge, little welcome surprises are being prepared, the daily meditation has been chosen – we are ready!
Ketlin is looking after Thirsty, Eleanor is collecting flowers and Kate is organizing last min transfer updates as the first guest to arrive has had a mishap with her taxi driver. Friday is always a special day on our island of Baa Maalhos, kids are off school and its a day of prayer, rest and family. We got little fingers to help us in our preparations – stitching little welcome gifts, thank you Riffa.
It’s our first sunrise yoga session and Ketlin shows off her headstand skills. We quickly learn who has a Fit Core – well this would make sense since she is a fit core exercise teacher!
It didn’t take long, and we have already organised a FitKit core taster class for the afternoon. After breakfast we went for a tour around the island, into the jungle, out to bikini beach, back into the jungle and due to some unforeseen rain we went for cover in the Dive Centre.
After the rain cleared it was time for a quick swim before lunch to refresh and energize for our active afternoon. Ketlin made us bring Sally up and bring Sally down far too many times in her FitKit core class and Eleanor came to the rescue by giving us a ‘toned down’ afternoon yoga session. We did our first mediation and we were off – the beginning of shedding old stresses and making way for new light.
While we practice Kundalini yoga the eyes should be closed. At some point somebody who was peeping saw Dolphins. What shoud they do, give it away that they were peeping? Any day that you see Dolphins instantly becomes a good day – in the middle of the session it was announced “look Dolphins!”. That is what you call awesome group energy, attracting Dolphins within 50 meters, to join us for our first afternoon yoga session.
Back to the eyes being closed – as soon as the eyes close and are focused on a fixed point, you will begin to feel a shift in your thought patterns. To test it out, find a beautiful mantra that you enjoy listening to, such has Har Har Mukanday by Singh Kaur. First, sit and concentrate on the music, letting the eyes stay open. Then, after a couple minutes, close the eyes and see if your relationship to the mantra begins to change. You may find that your hearing becomes more acute. Resist the temptation to open the eyes and look around, even if you hear movement around you.
Morning sunrise Kundalini yoga starts with a dancing session to the uplifting Ma (Krishna Remix) and beautifully captured by @Camilladellion. Camilla is the first female drone pilot we have met, she is an icon of girl power, soaring high. Can’t wait to meet her again somewhere in Maldives as her and her drone adventures continue.
After lunch we stepped into the house reef for some snorkeling followed by our sunset yoga and meditation. It was amazing to see Dilkushi overcome her fear of swimming as she tried out a snorkel mask for the first time, needless to say she loved it and quickly grew the confidence to go on a snorkeling boat trip for the following day. Using a snorkel set can be tricky to get the hang off, but the underwater world is not to be missed and snorkeling provides us with hours of calm and peace. We spotted an octopus who showed us how amazing nature is as he gave us camouflaging show. We are learning new things and having lots of fun in the process.
This mornings sunrise was magnificent and after our Kundalini yoga session we all picked up an empty sack to fill with rubbish before our morning swims. As we did this we discussed the practice of karma yoga—selflessly serving others. Getting outside of ourselves by offering help to others is a guaranteed way to feel happy. Making others happy makes us happy, too. It’s a most beautiful win-win situation.
When we sat down to breakfast we were served with fresh coconut water the perfect fuel us for our snorkeling adventure. It was quite impressive how the coconuts the Diving Centre boys hand collected for us (an act of gratitude for our help with cleaning up the beach) seemed to be fizzy and popped like champagne – a celebration of friendship, peace and happiness.
Out in the beautiful blue of Baa Atoll we couldn’t have asked for more… Turtles at Dhonfanu and on the way back Mantas at the cleaning station. We counted 6 or more of the Mantas, coming, going, circulating. A magical visit from a pod of Dolphins gave us quite a surprise. Half way through the retreat and our vibrations are attracting lots of delights. It was a beautiful day, thank you Maldives, thank you wonderful ocean, may you always stay this magical.
To end our day we watched ‘Our Blue Planet’ the last episode of the Blue Planet II series – an unflinching look at the impact of human activity on marine life. Dilkushi who had her first snorkeling experience with us today noted she didn’t even realise the coral was bleached, despite there being very good fish activity and marine life in the Maldives.
David Attenborough delivers a powerful rallying call to do more to protect the environment. “The future of all life now depends on us,” the BBC naturalist said in his closing speech.
Another great Attenborough quote that we love;
“People must feel that the natural world is important and valuable and beautiful and wonderful and an amazement and a pleasure.”
When snorkeling in Maldives and encountering such majestic marine life as we did today we start to get a perspective how wonderful the ocean is, how precious our natural environment is and how being connected to it – connects us to greater things. We all made a pledge to be more mindful, to minimise our consumption of single use plastic, to re-use what we can and re-cyle too – the future depends on us.
Today is the day for magical sunrise sandbank yoga. Sandbanks are spectacular to experience raw nature at its best. Wherever you look is beautiful with no man-made obstructions. As the Indian Ocean surrounds us 360 degrees so Eleanor finally gets a sea view as she guides us in our class. It was so much fun jumping in the water after, we didn’t want to leave.
Since we had a France supporter in our group we all stayed up to watch the match in our island stadium. It was another first for Dilkushi and was worth staying up for; France 1 – 0 Belgium. In the World Cup, people of many nations come together for a fierce competition and it is beautiful to be part of this vibe watching the big screen together, if you get there early on the comfort of a jolli (local Maldivian seat), and if you’re busy via the roars that ripple across the island. We learn that no individual can win the World Cup on his own, it’s teams that win the World Cup.
After spending 5 days with the locals, it was time to pay the luxurious Dusit Thani resort a visit. Famous worldwide for their over-water bungalows, different from island life, resorts are a formal hospitality affair where the focus is always on having the finer creature comforts and something we love about our local island is we learn to get by without them. Great contrast to experience both and a great and fun group activity, we loved riding around on the bikes.
Tonight we had a mini boduberu performance from the locals while at dinner. The Maldives offers so much more than sand, sun and sea as the islands are blessed with a rich culture and heritage. As the retreat progresses we gain an insight into this unique country, by imersing in the island community, tasting local cuisine, and watching cultural performances.
Another late night and this time the England supporters let go of the dream of bringing it home as it ended Croatia 2 – 1 England (after extra time).
After our sunrise yoga and breakfast we had some free time to rest, relax and reflect. In place of sunset yoga, for our afternoon activity we went out on a local dhoni in search for Dolphins. Cruising into the Indian Ocean and it wasn’t long before we got a show from the Risso’s dolphins. Risso’s dolphins do not generally bow ride, but we enjoyed watching them travelling in the wake of our Dhoni. At up to 4 meters long this species is the biggest of the cetaceans we call dolphins, though it is actually more closely related to pilot and false killer whales than to its namesakes. It is a rare sighting and like other dolphins and marine animals, there have been documentations of these dolphins getting caught in nets across the globe. Pollution has also affected a large number of individuals who have ingested plastic. With the right conservation we hope to see more of these unique animals in the future. Just as we turned to head home we spotted Spinners dancing on the horizon. Maldives is one of the top five spots in the world to encounter whales and dolphins. Like a daily chore, dolphin pods visit the atolls every morning and return back to the deep ocean in the evening, thus making these two periods in the day perfect to watch them. If lucky, some affable ones (spinners which are abundant in Maldives) might put up a small diving show for the onlooker’s fascination. The air was full of magic which continued back on Maalhos after dinner with closing circle chats, shooting stars along with wishes. As the retreat comes to a close, our hearts are open.
As always it is sad when our retreat comes to an end but we can feel happiness in the thoughts that the journey of self-healing and re-connection has just begun.
To Eleanor Phelan who guided us THANK YOU.
We will not forget our daily meditation the Mangala Charn Mantra which is chanted for protection.
AD GURAY NAMEH,
JUGAD GURAY NAMEH,
SAT GURAY NAMEH,
SIRI GURU DEVAY NAMEH
It surrounds the magnetic field with protective light, and means I bow to the primal Guru (guiding consciousness who takes us to God-Realization), I bow to wisdom through the ages, I bow to True Wisdom, I bow to the great, unseen wisdom.
To the magical island of Maalhos, Maldives Thank you.
To our new found friends ~ it wouldn’t have been the same without you and we will see you soon!
As the magic rippled through the rest of the month on Friday 27th we witnessed the longest celestial event of the 21st century. The so-called blood moon became visible at when the sun, Earth and moon lined up perfectly, casting Earth’s shadow on the moon. Here it is…..
In celebration this evening we did a full moon group meditation and gong bath. As we sat in the on the moon lit beach we discussed the superstitions behind it. It was a blessing to be in Maldives for this event as we really got a clear and magical view.