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Ariadna Bakhmatova Headshot

Going Goa, Searching for Home

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A good yoga retreat to me is not about the intensity of the practice. And not about the amount of international yoga celebrities on the list of teachers. Not even do I expect the team to great me with the Namaste mudra every time they see me.

It's about the atmosphere that can help me relax and be who I am, encouraging me to go within and let go. Without feeling guilty if I've missed a class or two, yet offering enough for me to do what I need to reach that state of balance.

The inner peace doesn't necessarily have to come in a bamboo hut without a hot shower, however. The places that offer comfortable, stylish interior in a beautiful natural surroundings, yet not making you feel like to need to wear heels for dinner, create the most encouraging environment for that journey within.

My latest discovery is Ashiyana (meaning "home" in Hindi), a beautiful yoga retreat centre in North Goa offering yoga holidays, yoga retreats and teacher trainings. Not only did I not wear heels there, I have abandoned any type of footwear completely, to feel free.

The place offers just enough for you to decide what it is that you need to go back to yourself - to go back home.

Feeling like improving your practice? There are classes here twice daily. Need a relaxing massage? Top therapists are at hand. Wanting to open up your heart and lighten up? Join the kirtan session or an Osho meditation. Just need some vitamin D? Beautiful and still low key Mandrem beach is right across the wooden bridge.

The place is big enough, so I could hide in the lush greenery swinging in a hammock listening to the whisper of palm trees for the whole week, only coming out of my sanctuary for yummy meals. And that would be totally acceptable. I so should have done that to work on my skill of "doing nothing".

Still my daily schedule ended up being quite a "busy" one; wake up at 8am, go yoga, have delicious granola with fresh fruit and yogurt for breakfast; go to the beach (and get sunburnt every time!); have yummy lunch of rice and veggies; go check out the local market (and pretend I'm not Russian); hire a Royal Enflied and go for a ride to see some stunning scenery nearby, see the astonishing sunset on the beach sipping on a mocktail; have dinner of mouth-watering veggie pie and salad (and some dessert!) in the company of newly acquired friends. Organise a partner yoga workshop (why not!).

And that's what I have chosen to do to get to that natural state of total relaxation. Others might have chosen a totally different kind of schedule. A good yoga resort should allow you for that.