A day in the life… on yoga retreat in Ibiza

Woken up after sunrise, the soft Ibiza rays gently light up the room.  I sleep soundly, awaking feeling refreshed and full of the joie de vivre. How blessed I am!  If I remember my dreams, I go downstairs to journal them, leaving my sleeping-beauty roommate in slumber. 

A morning cup of chai, a sweet cool glass of smoothie and a handful of nuts and seeds (if I feel the urge) is shared in an informal breakfast as everyone starts their day.

Wandering down to the yoga deck, some days with my second cup of chai in tow.  Crunch crunch of the gravel, past the trickling fountain and into the sound of nature, the click of the frogs and cicadas creating an orchestra of enlightment.  The universe is made of sounds according to the yogic tradition, the vibration tones of all our cells, invisible to the naked ear, moving to their own rhythmical dance.   Add to that the wisdom delivered through the voice of Col our teacher and this is the universal sound of heaven, of relaxation, of the yogic sanctuary created here on this retreat. 

 Om Gan Ganapataye Namah

We chant the root mantra for Ganesha 108 times, he has his own sound that he is created from.  Ganesha is the remover of obstacles, he is invoked first to pave the way for the intention and the rest of the practice.  We move in syncronisty, Colette is our conductor, she leads us and we join, becoming one voice, each of us unique, playing our own voice as our instruments. After the chanting we are in stillness. I drop into deep meditation, in a state of bliss.  I have my eyes closed and I feel the beauty of the surroundings, my awareness is on nothing and everything at the same time.  With my awareness resting simply on the truth of the moment, I can see clearly what is.  I see my own true nature, the love I have inside me, the gold sparkly energy that is me and that everything is made of too.  I rest in this truth.  I can come back here anytime I like – because I am always here.  I always have been and always will be.  Time does not matter, age does not matter, wealth does not matter.  These things are made of ‘stuff’ they are not our essence.  These things belong to the physical dimensions of the universe, where our souls reside does not abide by these rules.

 We also meet Durga, Shakti, we chant the gods and goddesses and let their energy into ours.  Each has their own chant, their own sound, their own vibration. 

 Yoga.  Physical asana practice.  We move, breathe, create and flow to music.  My body responds.  I was born to playfully dance.  It feels so natural to me.  

 Time to rest in Yoga Nidra.  The time for complete relaxation.  For the body and mind to sleep whilst remaining awake.  It sounds like a contradiction.  Our brains don’t ‘switch off’ when we sleep.  The involuntary functions that our brains do still take place – we digest food, we breath, our blood is pumped around the body, our hair still grows.  So keeping the awareness part of the brain awake whilst sleeping isn’t much to ask.  This is Yoga Nidra ‘wakeful sleep.’

 The end of the morning practice.  I feel relaxed.  I feel so relaxed I don’t want to move.  The aroma’s of Pete’s creations may be wafting down to the deck.  I slowly move my body, come to seated and bow deeply my love and gratitude for Collette, for the practice she has given us, for the practice itself and to my fellow retreat-ees, including myself.   

 The creak of the wooden deck with feet moving, walking the same path in reverse, goodbye to the frogs and hoppers, who may be quieter in the heat of the morning, crunch crunch of the gravel and trickle of waterfall all the way to the open air table set ready for a feast.  Feast we do, the eyes are fed with the colours and the presentation of the food, the nose is fed with the scents and the taste buds are treated to sensational banquets of my wildest dreams.  Plates are passed, dishes are dished out,  as we settle to eat.  The food is nutritious and vegetarian – yet it tastes so good! Any one who has a myth about healthy food being boring – well – they clearly have not been fed by Pete! Time passes, we talk, we eat some more, sating ourselves, eating drinking, fueling our bodies so they become strong and healthy.  This isn’t a retreat about ‘losing weight’ this is a week about feeding your soul with good food, mindful movement and the beauty of the magical Ibizan island.  At some point the sun comes high in the sky and it is time leave the communal table to cool down in the shade or by the pool.

 I choose the shade by the pool.  I feel like a queen in the raised and curtained pagoda at the end of the pool.  Or I lay on the padded comfortable lounger shaded by the swaying branches of pines trees and a parasol overhead.  The pool is cool, the water is a relief to my sun-kissed skin.  I swim a few leisurely lengths.  I play in the pool.  I play the games I enjoyed as a child – jumping in, swimming underwater, doing handstands and a whole load more games just because they make me smile.  I have remembered my youthful wild abandon.  I have remembered all the best parts of myself and I bring them out to show the world.  No need to hide here, I am safe cocooned in the warm embrace of the villa, of the space, of my yoga-family on retreat.

 The homework is to draw our intention for retreat.  I haven’t drawn in years.  Not since I was told my drawing (that I spent ages on) was ‘rubbish’ by my art teacher.  I choose a piece of paper.  Blank paper.  If this was a game of ‘stone, paper, scissors,’ I would be the stone.  The paper has beaten me.  I am literally frozen like a stone staring at the paper!  Luckily there are artists close to me, they pick up a pastel and start drawing.  They trust their instincts.  They know that they have beauty inside them that will manifest onto the page if they let it flow through them.  Art is yoga in action.  Just as the poses flow through me, the art flows through me.   I overcome my hesitation and start to draw.  Then I choose another colour and add that too, growing in confidence.  Perhaps the bold colour is making me bold.  The colour is my teacher.  My picture is complete.  I feel such joy at what I created.  I sign my name proud of what I have made.  I am an artist.  I always have been, she just got lost and buried when someone told her she was ‘rubbish.’  How many sides of myself have laid in wait, hidden, because a thoughtless off-the-cuff remark was made that I carried in my subconconscious for years, for decades even? What a waste! How many sides are hidden still, waiting for the courage to be reborn.  Waiting to show the world all sides of me. 

 I know the time has come to stop waiting.  I know I have the choice to let go of the things that hold me back – I am perfectly unique.  I have strengths I have weaknesses.  All of them me.  Perfectly imperfect.  My own creatrix of my Self.

 The afternoon of leisurely repose is punctuated by a yoga session.  Back on the mat for some more musical movement, play and soul searching.

 Then for the evening meal. More of Pete’s mouthwatering delights to tempt us.  More sintilating conversation with eclectic individuals who complement each other perfectly.  Laughter.  Deep belly laughter.  I laughed everyday more than I laugh a whole week at home. One of us laughed until they choked, taking a mis-timed sip of fruit tea.  I  need more laughter in my life.  At home I can take life to seriously.  There is no need.  Lighten up Becky! 

 Night falls.  Time for stargazing.  Shooting stars flew across the sky.  They flew too fast for my eyes but many others saw a handful.  I would gaze at them but they would elude me.  Perhaps because I wanted to see them so badly.  The concept of ‘grasping’ an unhealthy concept in the yogic world.  To grasp is to hold steadfastly onto a certain viewpoint which means that you have blinkers on unable to see the bigger picture.   I tried to ‘grasp’ the stars. 

 Time for bed.  I want to be well rested to enjoy another day in Ibiza heaven.

Perhaps you don’t have time to go on retreat for 5 days.  Do what you can.  Go to a yoga class.  Come to one of my yoga classes. Make yourself some nourishing food.  Create some art.  Journal. Laugh with friends.  Play with friends. Love a little more, give a f**k a little less.  

Retreat by Col Yoga. Food by Petes Food Blog. Photos by Josh. 

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