Kerala, the New Yoga Destination

ATTOI lauded for successfully conducting YAT2018

Yoga, the best gift India has offered to the world, aims at uplifting the physical, mental, and spiritual growth of a human being. With its tranquil natural retreats and rich heritage in Ayurveda and other wellness practices, Kerala presents itself as one of the best places to rejuvenate mind and body.  With its abundance of pristine beauty and pure air, Kerala is a perfect destination to practice yoga. Realising the potential of the destination, ATTOI (Association of Tourism Trade Organizations, India), has organized this event, in association with Ministry of AYUSH, Govt of India and Kerala Tourism.

“Kerala has been long promoted as an Ayurveda and Wellness destination. However, the possibilities of yoga remain untapped. It is this context that ATTOI proposed the Yoga Ambassador’s Tour to promote Kerala as a global destination for yoga. With Ayurveda and Wellness centres and the lush green locales, Kerala is sure to be the perfect destination for a rejuvenating trip once yoga tourism also comes into picture,” said Anish Kumar PK, President, ATTOI. 

People from across the world, who love, practice, teach yoga and yoga tour operators and yoga journalists have gathered together in Kerala to present a yoga centre to the world. The Yoga Ambassadors were selected by a team of experts based on specific criteria and experience. Around 52 delegates from 23 different countries have arrived at the Trivandrum international airport on June 13 to participate in the Yoga Ambassadors Tour 2018 (YAT 2018). The event was inaugurated by Shripad Yesso Naik, Minister for AYUSH, in the presence of Kerala Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran at the Leela Raviz hotel on June 14. The inaugural event was followed by an international conference on yoga wherein eminent speakers from South India have interacted with the delegates. YAT2018 commenced on June 14 from Thiruvananthapuram and concluded on June 21 on the International Yoga Day in Kochi.

Kovalam got a new face-lift as the yoga capital of Kerala with accolades being showered by the yoga delegates for organizing the morning yoga at the Kovalam beach. “With the sea in the back and the sunlight coming from the trees in the front, it was altogether a different experience doing yoga on the Kovalam beach,” said Sandra Barnes, Yoga Practitioner from Argentina.

“It was at a time when there was a negative propaganda being spread against the growth of growth of Kerala Tourism that ATTOI thought about conducting the tour. The aim of the tour was to give more awareness about the God’s own country and make it a Yoga Destination. We are happy that we could successfully reach the aim with the Yoga Ambassadors Tour,” said V Sreekumara Menon, Secretary, ATTOI. 

On June 15, the yoga Ambassadors had an excursion tour and an interactive session on yoga at Sivananda Ashram at Neyyar in Trivandrum. The team proceeded then to Kanyakumari and performed yoga at the Vivekananda Rock. The Yoga Ambassadors visited Amritapuri (the abode of Mata Amrithanandamayi) on June 16 and had a wonderful time at the Alappuzha backwaters, where they have performed yoga on the houseboats. The tour reached Thekkady on June 17 and had a hands-on experience in Kalaripayattu, the traditional martial artform of Kerala. After having an extensive yoga session on the banks of Periyar lake at the majestic Lake Palace hotel, which was once the summer palace of the Travancore king, the team headed to Munnar. The mist-clad mountains and the depths of dolmens, have witnessed some yoga postures and demonstrations on day 7 of the tour. The dolmens which belong to the Megalithic age were once again active with the chanting of OM by yogis from 23 different countries. The tour has reached its destination on January 20, in Kochi, the Queen of Arabian sea.

On the World Yoga Day, (June 21), the team participated in Mass Drill Yoga early morning at the Kochi Marriott in Edappally and visited the Mattancherry Dutch Palace, Jewish Synagogue and Fort Kochi. ATTOI has arranged a meeting of the yoga ambassadors with the tourism stakeholders during a networking dinner. The tour concluded following a cultural event lead by popular south cine actress and dancer Navya Nair. 

While thanking for the unforgettable experience, most of the delegates become emotional. “We have been treated like kings and queens. We have come here to get a taste of Kerala, but this was more than that,” said Sandra Barnes from Buenos Aires, Argentina. “We may have a Kerala Yoga Festival in the coming future with all the delegates,” she added.

“We have been shown a part of India we have never seen before. This was the most amazing trip of my life and I am sure that I’m not going to experience anything like this”, said Jeremy Andt from Michigan.

“It’s like my home. I love Kerala and I am going to come back,” said Anant Ankur from Singapore.

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