I agreed to go on the Yoga Kula retreat to India for two reasons:

1. Obligation—my wife Deb has supported me all over Europe doing my hobby, racing Ironman Triathlon, and she’s always wanted to go to India, so it only seemed fair that I supported her this time.

2. The Himalayas—as soon as Deb mentioned ‘the Himalayas’ when reading out the ad for the trip, I was going! I wasn’t going to miss out on that.
You may have noticed that Yoga didn’t feature in making my decision. I’d tried it before, once as a taster session in the 80’s when training to be a fitness instructor and again a couple of years ago with the Triathlon club. It didn’t suit me. I’m an endurance athlete, stiff by nature, and like any good endurance athlete, when asked ‘how often do you stretch?’ the answer is always ‘not as often as I should’—which is short for never unless a muscle gets a bit too tight.
‘There’ll be other men going’ Deb said. I think she knew it would be all women and she was worried for me. 
Sure enough, the Facebook group was formed and it’s all women and then we have a social get together, so that everyone can meet before the trip, and yes 13 women and me, plus Angela and Claire from Kula. We all introduced ourselves then they all sat there nattering for two hours and I thought ‘It’s a good job I like my own company or this two weeks in the remote mountains could feel like an eternity.’ Now I realize it’s just another form of yoga–nattering that is.

The Trip.
How much luggage can one person possibly need? Half the coach to the airport was full of suitcases. Although it later transpired half of each person’s bags were full of Imodium, just like ours (thankfully never needed)! I think there’s a mountain of Imodium somewhere near the airport in Delhi, all discarded by British tourists before returning home.
 The flights were long but the excitement kept everyone going. We arrived in Delhi, and immediately it was hot and humid. Claire, the master of organisation, had transfers to the hotel waiting for us, while the rest of Delhi seemed a mass of chaos.
In the evening we had a trip to a craft market, and another discipline of yoga was revealed to me ‘Yogic Shopping’—this is where you must buy as many shiny things as you can in two hours, regardless of having to transport it to the Himalayas and back, and finally another 4000 miles to Leeds. 
Some of our groups dedication to this practice was astounding, they put the locals to shame, and this dedication was maintained throughout the trip by a select few.

The People.

Seeing rural India and how people lived—from the planes to the foothills was inspiring and seeing the snowcapped Himalayas was magnificent. 
But the real beauty of the trip for me, and I think I can speak for the whole group here, was the relationships we made throughout our journey. 
We all bonded as a group from the start, we shared and cared for each other and had some real laughs along the way. 
The people we met, are the real memories I’ll treasure, from our hosts and the staff at the retreat to other travelers and pilgrims we met along the way.
The Yoga.
Yoga wasn’t a part of the trip I was particularly looking forward to, but I was prepared to give it a go. Now, less than a month after our first session, yoga isn’t what I thought it was. 
I now do my own practice most mornings and miss it if I don’t and that’s all thanks to the quality of teaching we received from Angela and Claire.
I think, if anyone tries yoga and comes away saying ‘it’s not for me’, just as I did years ago, they probably didn’t have the right teacher, so it’s well worth persevering and finding someone who communicates to you.
I still can’t say what yoga is, my definition of it changes and grows each day. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m excited about yoga! 
Yoga’s a journey, it’s challenging, it’s physical, it’s spiritual, it’s being present and mindful. It’s every kind of self-development rolled into one, yet it’s a caring community at the same time.

Coming Home.
I’ll continue practicing yoga all my life now, it’s become a part of me, like riding my bike and running is. But what we’ll all bring home from this trip is the friendships formed and the experiences shared. I’m looking forward to meeting up with everyone again soon, to share stories and have a laugh.

Andy Scott.