I’ve spent hours dreaming about the yoga holidays organised by Balearic Retreats, especially since Pilar, heart and soul of this company based in Mallorca sent me the video realised during the first retreat of the year.
I have been thrilled with the idea of visiting the island, say goodbye to the hectic summer season and regenerate before the beginning of autumn for weeks but what I didn’t consider was how life could be unpredictable. And so, the day I had to pack my backpack and yoga mat and head to the airport that excitement looked more like a moderate kind of joy mixed with a hint of sadness. Not that I changed my mind about the retreat, I only unexpectedly fell in love a few weeks before and didn’t want to leave the Uk and him, not even for ten days.
It probably sounds ridiculous because as I said it was just for ten days but if you have been crazy in love you know that the idea of being apart from that one person can severely condition your happiness. Furthermore, if you are an independent woman like I am the fact of having this reaction will make you feel silly like a teenager but enthusiastic at the same time.
Luckily it didn’t take long until I started to feel pleased about this experience and as soon as I saw the shape of the island coming closer from the plane’s window I was back on the excitement track.
I landed in Palma on a sunny and warm Sunday evening at the beginning of September, finally ready to enjoy some me time and reconnect with the yoga practice I left behind during the busy summer. Waiting for me at the airport was Angie, a guest yoga teacher on this last retreat of the season but most importantly a sweet, energetic and funny girl who squeezed me in what it turned out to be the first of a long series of hugs.
Half an hour later our little car was rapidly climbing the Tramontana Mountains, the UNESCO World Heritage mountain range located on the west side of the island and stunning set of this yoga holiday. And so it started, with a beautiful and cosy dinner held on the patio of a charming rustic but luxurious Spanish villa where the four staff member and seven participants timidly introduced themselves. What happened during the next six days is that a group of 11 women with different age, country of origin and background opened its heart and created an emotional and intense yoga holiday that I won’t forget.
S’Era Vella, the stunning house where I was accommodated is composed by 1 apartment and 7 rooms all with private bathrooms. Each room has been decorated in warm tones with Mediterranean furniture and a cozy touch while the outside area is characterized by extensive luxurious gardens along with a refreshing swimming pool.
The presence of three yoga teachers has clearly been one of the positive sides of this retreat. Their different personalities, approaches and styles made every single class unique and enjoyable. The first yoga session we had on a Monday morning after our arrival took place in the beautiful shala overlooking the garden where Pilar offered us the only Ashtanga class of the week. After a brief talk about the origin of the practice, we began with the primary series and Pilar didn’t hesitate to give adjustments and challenging variations when needed. After all, since she discovered and fell in love with Ashtanga in 2013, she travels every year to Mysore to practice with her guru R. Sharath Jois and her passion for the practice is evident. To me, she is the pure incarnation of an Ashtanga teacher, and I couldn’t have expected to begin this retreat any other way.
The following days we played and danced with some flowing Vinyasa classes held by Pilar or Angie, who turned out to be not only the energetic New Zealand girl I met at the airport but also an exceptionally gifted teacher that speaks and teaches from the heart. I’m not afraid to say I rarely felt as emotional and connected to my feelings as during and after Angie’s Vinyasa and Yin classes. I keep in my dearest memories the heart opening class Angie held on a Wednesday morning when she focused her talk on vulnerability and showed me one more time the profound hidden world that lies behind every single asana we practice on the mat.
Finally, I had the chance to experiment the benefits of yoga Nidra with lovely Nina. Her calm and relaxing voice allowed me to experience a refreshing state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, the pure feeling of relief I’d been dreaming on for so long.
To enrich the spiritual part of this holiday, every morning Pilar guided us through a few pranayama exercises, showing us how to integrate the breathing practice into our daily life. With the same objective in the late afternoons, we sat down on the terrace surrounded by the quietness of the mountains and explored different meditation techniques.
Another impressive aspect of this week has been the food. It has not been one of those retreats where I spent the nights dreaming about the meals I couldn’t have during the day. What I imagined was to take the chef Lily and her culinary touch back home with me. And together with her all the delicious local ingredients I had the opportunity to taste on the island. Lily spoiled us with vegan, colorful and yummy dishes like the traditional Salmorejo soup that opened the first dinner, the green smoothies, the salads and the most creamy and tasty porridge I’ve ever had the pleasure to taste.
Because this retreat has been all about spontaneity rather than a fixed schedule we let our bodies and souls decide how to spend the free afternoons. We balanced on a paddle board; snorkeled in pristine clear water, explored a few stunning beaches and towns on the island and simply spent the afternoon by the pool talking about love and life.
And so this yoga holiday turned out to be like an extended therapy group session for me, and that’s the reason I enjoyed every single minute of it.
I loved the way we all connected to each other.
I loved the hugs we shared every morning, before going to bed and simply every time we needed to thank each other for the time spent together.
I loved how we felt free to be ourselves in the most natural way I can think of, showing every single aspect of our personalities without feeling embarrassed or ashamed when emotions took over and tears streamed down our cheeks.
It didn’t matter in which phase of our lives we were; if we were dealing with a painful breakup, missing our families or enjoying the excitement that a new relationship inevitably involves. What it did matter was the support we gave each other during the week and the authentic, relaxing atmosphere we sensed from the very first moment we stepped into that beautiful villa.
I left Mallorca incredibly grateful to these women who gave me time and space for some self-reflection but also for friendly chit chats in front of a chai latte. I will be back on the island, ready to enjoy the other retreats Pilar has planned for next year and looking forward to experiencing one more time that sense of joy, balance and harmony I felt for the whole week of the retreat.
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