This retreat was really special to me, I guess they all are, but this is the first time I’ve shared the work that I created for my Yin & Yang of Yoga Retreat in Greece in 2016 in Australia.
Like a lot of people I first began practicing yoga because I had heard that there were some amazing benefits and the potential that it could change your life for the better. For a long time I searched for a class that ACTUALLY made me feel good, one where I felt the need to go back again, and again, and again. It’s nothing against the teachers or the studios I was going to but for some reason I kept leaving not really having felt anything, other than a bit of a workout and a good stretch. Don’t get me wrong, it definitely got me started and for about 6 years I kept going back, without really finding what it was I was expecting or perhaps looking for.
Then I found it. A teacher on the Isle of Wight who was sharing a little bit more than just the asana practice of asana, and through his teachings, and all of the reading, researching, experiencing (both on my mat and in life) I created THIS retreat.
Based around the eight limbs of yoga and incorporating them into daily life this retreat was an opportunity shared what I have learnt about the self, through a range of pathways and open ended sentences so that we can determine exactly how this works for us.
We all know that yoga can bring great benefits to the body and the mind and how positively that can impact our work, our home lives, our relationships with others and ourselves but the question always in my mind was HOW does it actually do that?
This retreat weekend was all about THE HOW. How can yoga actually impact my life in a more positive way other than simply making my body feel great?
We started our weekend with an introduction to the yamas and niyamas and some simple ground rules based around listening to your body, treating your body with compassion and kindness, knowing your limits and not trying to be or achieve something that is not for you that day, taking the time to listen to and learn from your body and your mind and everything that’s happening within it and most importantly taking the time peel back the layers and discover and accept your truest self (for all of the good and bad).
Our practice finished by candlelight, breathing deep, sinking into our bodies into the earth beneath us and feeling the release of everything in the outside world preparing us for a weekend in paradise sharing this experience together.
Over the course of the weekend through our practices and workshops I introduced a new limb of yoga: asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana and dhyana. We tested each one through different types of physical, seated, mindful and meditation practices. Combining practical tips, learnings from past experiences and considering what it is that we want to feel, we explored how each limb of yoga can impact our lives and the way in which our lives could be experienced through incorporating them in various different ways.
We were also joined by the lovely Georgia from @barreandberries, a qualified nutritionist guru who shared with us how we can listen to our bodies, treat them with respect through the food choices we make each day and how we can eat seasonally in order to be more in tune with our bodies and in turn nourishing our bodies.
Each one of us came with our own stories, our own experiences, our own wishes and hopes and dreams for the future, for what we wanted to feel in our lives and over dinner we shared these hopes and dreams, the discoveries of the self that we had in our practice and at other times we quietly contemplated what we had experienced and what we could learn from it.
Our final day opened with a practice of deep yin yoga, a slow moving, and mindful meditation to help prepare our bodies for the feeling of complete stillness. A chance to slow down.
After breakfast we took a walk to the beach, in silence we felt the sand beneath our toes and finally settled in the sun and started exploration of mindful eating, meditation in nature and finally a short meditation to close the retreat.
If you have been on a retreat, or if you have led a retreat, or even a group of people in some way where they have been sharing their energy with you, you will agree that it is the biggest privilege. Having a group of people trusting you with their bodies, their minds, their hearts for a weekend, allowing me to hold them in a space, is something very magical, and even more so when they have never, ever met me in person before. Every time I am amazed, grateful and definitely very honoured to be in their presence.
Saying goodbye get’s me a little teary but I know that we will each hold this experience in our hearts until the next one, perhaps even forever.
So thank you, to all of the beautiful souls who showed up for themselves and who went with me, trusting me, as I led them through practices they had never experienced and sometimes never even heard of.