How Varkala became my home?

I am sitting at my home in Varkala, wondering where to start this writing. Which things led me here today, and why Varkala? What made me leave my life in Finland behind and come to India. In order to be able to answer that question, I have to go back in time, for almost three years.

It was the end of February 2016 when it became official. I was going to spend my summer holiday in May in Rishikesh, India, completing my 200 hours yoga teacher training course. At that time, I wasn’t that excited about India. It was going to be my second time in India, and I figured since I had already been in Goa, that I have actually seen enough and above all everything that India is about. How wrong was I?

Sunset at Parmarth Niketan Ashram Rishikesh

In short, May in Rishikesh made me fell in love with India. And long after I was back home again, I found myself missing India. Later the same year I found out my yoga teachers had opened yoga school in Varkala, and I started to plan my visit into their new place. My plan was to attend a yoga retreat the next year.

In March 2017 I came to Varkala for the very first time. Even though Varkala didn’t feel as special as Rishikesh, it still somehow managed to steal my heart. Maybe it was the ocean that was drawing me into Varkala. During my first visit to Varkala, I was practicing a lot of yoga. By yoga, I mean asana, pranayama, meditation, and philosophy. I was staying at the ashram of my yoga teachers, living healthy yogi life, eating healthy sattvic food. I sneaked into a hotel called Soul & Surf, which was just next door, to have my morning coffee and yummy desserts. Already then I knew that if I was ever to come back to Varkala, I would stay at Soul & Surf.

The View from the cliff at Soul & Surf

Almost exactly one year later, one day after my yoga practice, I came out of my Savasana with only one thought on my mind. That thought was: ”I need to go to India”. And a week later, I had booked my flights and accommodation in Varkala, at Soul & Surf, of course. The tone of my trip was crystal clear to me, I was going to practice yoga as much as I possibly could, and finish my Ayurveda studies while there.

It was the very last days of April that I again found myself in Varkala. As it was planned, I focused on my yoga practices and Ayurveda studies and enjoyed the magical garden of Soul & Surf. So much in fact, that there were days, that I didn’t even leave the hotel premises. It was all so perfect. There was one giant shadow over my perfect holiday. I wasn’t happy with my life back home. I had a decent job, but it made me miserable. It became clear during my holiday, that I was going to quit my job. And that was actually all I knew at that point. I was also determined to come back to India later that year.

During the summer pieces of the puzzle started to fall into their places. I got an amazing job from Indonesia, from a small island called Gili Air, near Bali. And my plan was to work there for the next 8 months, until March 2019. Mother nature disagreed with this plan, and the earthquake at the beginning of August changed my plans and I returned back home to Finland. At home, my life was in the turning point and somehow I just didn’t feel connected to Finland anymore. Then India came onto my mind. “Maybe I should be in India.” I booked flights and accommodation almost right away after that though. And my destination was clear right from the beginning, I was going to go to Varkala, of course.

A few days later it occurred to me, that maybe I should have some sort of plan also. And again maybe a week later it was settled that I would volunteer at one yoga school at least until the end of the year. At the beginning of October I flew to Varkala and even though life has been kind of unstable here in a way the whole time, still, I am here 5 months later. And to be honest, I can’t think of myself being in anywhere else.

Let this brief story be an introduction to this moment, and if you are eager to know more, stay tuned.

Sunset is still my favorite color, and rainbow is second.
-Mattie Stepanek

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