I have always wondered what happens on a Yoga retreat. When Emily, our Thursday morning instructor, asked if I wanted to go on her retreat in the Andalusian mountains, I didn’t hesitate to say yes. At the ‘tender’ age of 46, I had never been on a retreat before and had no idea what to expect. She handed me the leaflet. It said ‘Yoga & Cava Retreat’…..now I was definitely interested. I asked my sister-in-law, Rachel, if she wanted to join me, and we booked. Simple as that. So now I’m going to share my experience with you.
As a Health & Fitness coach, I think it’s my responsibility to teach women, especially as they get older, to look after themselves and put themselves first every once in a while. I saw this trip as doing just that. Plus, it was a bit of market research in case I want to organise my own retreat one day. We landed in Malaga and met some of the other participants. Rachel, my sister in law, is 39. I looked at her and said “you will probably be the youngest person here”. She smiled. As we were making our way towards our transfer vehicle, two young girls from Cheshire skipped alongside us and joined us for our drive to the villa. Maybe not, I smiled at Rachel.
The latter part of the drive was windy and hilly, not great for the travel sick people (me included!). But once we arrived at Finca Avedin, the place was STUNNING! Amazing views over the mountains, infinity pool to die for, traditional Spanish village of Gaucin just a 15 minute walk away, amazing rooms and rooftop terraces. Perfect.
The plan for each day looked like this:
8am – 9am Tea & Coffee
9.00am Yoga (on the rooftop)
11am – 1pm Hike (or free time)
2.30pm – 5.30pm Pool time/free time
7.30pm Pre dinner Cava
This is probably my perfect holiday plan, except I’d swap the morning Yoga for something more high intensity (because that’s just the way I am!). On the first evening the Cava flowed, then the wine and it was fascinating to meet and learn from people of different walks of life and why they were there. The age range of the guests was 27 to (about!) 65. I love that it doesn’t matter how old you are, how fit or flexible you are or what is going on in your life at the moment – all of those people had their own personal reasons for being there.
The place was peaceful, tranquil and perfect for a retreat weekend. I joked that whist we were having breakfast, a little ‘fairy’ would come in to our room and make the beds. Just the little things made such a difference from what my life is like. I didn’t need to think about the menu, or to cook, or clean up, or make my bed. I could just ‘be’.
As the weekend progressed, we got to know each others circumstances really well. We hiked and talked, ate and talked, swam and talked, drank and talked. (I’m quite good at talking!). And it was so humbling to hear other people’s stories and their reasons behind going on the retreat. What really pulled at my heart strings was hearing from two members of the group who were hoping for an ‘epiphany’ about their lives. Such big and heart wrenching decisions they have to make……
On the last morning of rooftop Yoga during the ‘savasana’, I got emotional and felt tears coming down my face. I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular – it was just an ‘inner’ spiritual thing. At breakfast, I admitted to the others what I had just experienced and to my surprise, three of the others said they had experienced the same. “But I wouldn’t have said anything until you said it first”, they all said. Wow!
So in conclusion, my Yoga retreat wasn’t just about Yoga. It was about building relationships, learning from others, sharing experiences, bonding, getting a bit ’emosh’ and leaving the weekend with a little bit of magic tucked away inside because of the things I experienced and shared with a bunch of “strangers”. I believe every single person should go on a retreat at least once in their lives. After all, what is there to lose?
Move. Live. Be. x