Here is my visual diary for last week's escape to Northern Ibiza for a yoga retreat with my friends at Stretch London. Ive written up the experience for my Fitness blog on Hunger Magazine - head over here or read below:
STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION
If you are in the throws of frantically finding a last minute Summer holiday or planning ahead for some Winter Sun – heed this. I’ve just returned from my first ever yoga retreat experience and it totally exceeded all expectation. I can’t recommend it enough and I cant wait to book another.
It’s a chance to totally escape your routine reality by literally leaving the country and secondly freeing your mind. My week away was spent with Stretch Studio instructors and ten other yogi’s signed up for Ibiza escapades. It had occurred to me that travelling with strangers could potentially turn out a bit Pete Tong but it had the complete opposite outcome. Harnessing the energy from everyone around was just as crucial as time spent honing our skills. Perhaps yoga attracts Zen souls? But we clicked, made each other crack up and became so comfortable it was the perfect support for playing around with poses. The best way to learn and improve is by fearless experimentation and having fun. After five days of loliday with like-minded folk, it’s an encouraging space to push your practise as apposed to a regular packed city class.
Each day began with a guided meditation session on the terrace overlooking the pine green valley. As the cockerels crowed, goats tinkled their bells and Mediterranean sun appeared behind the Mountain View, it was time to set the tone for a day of peaceful play. From this still and tranquil space, we gently transitioned into the morning’s session of rise and shine energising yoga. A second evening workshop completed each day’s tuition with the time inbetween free to explore the island. Brunch was served after a blissful Savasana under the open-air blue sky canopy of sails. Without wandering off into hippie hypothesis here, I think we were all in agreement that our chef was cooking with love because we could taste the pride in every multicolour morsel. Not only did she engineer something exceptional for each sitting but also decorated it exquisitely with the Finca’s exotic flora.
However, before I digress down the Ibizian hippy dream, don’t be fooled into imagining it was some British Wheel of Yoga mellow movement. This was energised, active, dynamic vinyasa flow. The benefit of five days back-to-back yoga is building up strength of body and mind for confidence to push limits perhaps not reached at your regular weekly hour. It worked such magic on me that by the end I was attempting turning a “crow” into a headstand in one fluid move. I have improved leaps and bounds from finding inversions terrifying to undertaking unassisted upside down asanas. I also finally picked up a sense of how to sequence poses to be able to undertake my own practice at home. Accumulative learning like that really layers foundations for familiarity to get to grips with it.
Getting up the last few mornings now that I’m home has been mortifying. It was such a treat to be able to roll out of bed onto a mediation matt rather than a Neanderthal hunch over a device on a London commute. Far from the adventure trails we took to Ibiza’s secret beaches for swimming in azure blue coves and sandy caves. If that doesn’t sound tempting enough to put down a deposit to their next get-aways to Portugal, Morocco or India, then you can just use that mental image of a slice of heaven on earth for your next yoga nidra.
(Thanks to Sally Graveling for the photos of me - see here in a headstand in the 1st pic)