CHRISTINE MACHADO | NT BUZZ
Located in the village of St Cruz, the Pinto Villa, a sprawling 400-year-old mansion painted in cheerful hues of yellow and white, draws eyes immediately. Exuding an old world charm with its Portuguese influenced architecture, the villa also makes for an ideal tourist attraction. But the owner Joe Pinto, a psychiatrist by profession, wanted to do something more with this space and began pondering on how the house could be used for the good of society.
With both him and his wife Christabel practicing yoga for awhile now (Christabel in fact is a hatha yoga certified trainer), they began contemplating doing something centred on yoga. And thus the Yoga in Goa project began to take shape, and is all set to commence operations in September.
“We will begin with upa yoga sessions. Alongside this we will also be selling various merchandise like organic food, copper items and also revive some rare weaves of South India which are slowly dying. Apart from this we are also planning on having a cafe selling satvik food,” says Joe.
And the plan is to source the ingredients for the cafe food from their organic farm, which they started around five years ago, and which is located about a kilometre away from the house.
“We have successfully grown exotic vegetables like zucchini and supplied it to five star resorts and food chains. We have been supported by the Goa Government and Ella Farm in this respect and they help provide us with compost, seeds, etc. We also have students from the agriculture college in Savoi-Verem, Ponda coming here for internships,” says Joe.
They are also looking at getting school children to come to the farm and learn organic farming. “They can then perhaps start a small garden on their terrace or grow a few plants near their windows, given the lack of space,” says Joe.
By sourcing the cafe ingredients from this farm, customers will know where the food is coming from. “We don’t want to stock the food. What is cooked for that day should be finished that day itself. No refrigerating and keeping it for the next day. We don’t intend to have an elaborate menu either and our focus will be on raw food in terms of fruits and vegetables,” says Joe.
The idea is to make the yoga experience accessible to the common man. “There is a perception that yoga is for the rich. But we want to focus on making yoga for all. Also we are focusing on the spiritual experience and not so much on the health benefits. Those, you will get along the way as add-on benefits,” says Joe, who himself was drawn to yoga in his quest for spirituality and today he and his wife are ardent followers of Sadhguru of Isha Foundation.
Apart from this, they are also looking at adding around 16 rooms along with a pool and spa at the space where they plan to have a counselling and psychiatry centre and an alcohol and drug detox space. In the plans is also a separate yoga institute where they hope to have regular programmes for around 40 participants at a time.
And Joe believes that Goans, especially the youth can greatly benefit from this. “I have observed that the youth in particular have no direction in life, they don’t know what they want to do with their lives or how large life is. They just think about drinking and partying. They don’t look beyond this. I have found answers to my questions through yoga and this quest continues as we try to reach the ultimate stage of realisation,” he says.
“We are not planning on making any money out of this project, it is more of a social thing,” he further says, adding that maybe down the line they may take the project to Panaji.