I have always wanted to go on a weekend yoga retreat. I love the idea of taking a weekend time-out and dedicating it solely to working on the body, mind and spirit. Plus, yoga just naturally goes with veganism, right? I think I read that somewhere.
So when I came across a special deal for a weekend yoga detox retreat during my first month as a vegan – which incidentally included all vegan meals for the weekend (YUM!) – I took it as a sign and jumped at the chance!
There was just one problem. I didn’t know how to yoga.
Yoga is one of those things that I’ve meant to get around to for years. Like surfing. Or watching Star Trek… (I’m kidding. As if it could ever rival Star Wars).
I guess sometimes you just need to book a retreat to motivate you to get your yoga on. As it draws closer (only 5 weeks left to go, eeeekk!), so The Force grows stronger, and I can proudly say that I now have three whole lessons of experience!
My gorgeous friend Shar raved about the Fremantle Yoga Centre, and so in the name of research (and not looking like a complete numpty at the retreat), I ventured forth into three different classes there:
Saturdays 10am: ‘Beginners’ class instructed by James McIntyre
I kicked my yoga journey off with this class and it really is a great class for beginners. James is very calming and soothing and explains the poses well. I thought I was doing fabulously until the lovely elderly lady to my left whispered: “First time? Don’t worry – you’ll get the hang of it.” Hmph. So much for being a natural.
Luckily there are four assistant instructors who continuously monitor the class and gently guide you into the correct poses if you’re getting it wrong (which apparently, I was, for most of the time). They are completely lovely, though, so it is an atmosphere of acceptance and inclusion.
Fridays 10am: ‘Open’ class instructed by Mary Swan
WOW, this lady may have many birthdays under her belt, but her agility is inspirational! She put my flexibility and strength to shame.
I enjoyed this class the most, because although it was the most challenging physically (boy, was it ever!), I loved how Mary talked so much about the mind, body and spirit alignment as she talked us through the poses. There was one assisting instructor in this class, and both her and Mary constantly monitored the participants and provided gentle guidance.
This class felt a lot more personal, as Mary also pointed out little things she could tell about each of our bodies. In me, she could tell that I tend to sit forward in chairs and slouch back (I’ve stopped now, promise!) and that I tend to rush my breathing (mental note: slow down, in manner of Darth Vadar).
Sundays 10am: ‘Stretch-Relax-Renew’ class instructed by Kate Porotto
This class had by far the most participants and although it wasn’t the most challenging physically, they all seemed to be seasoned pro’s. Some of them even hung upside down from ropes and bars at one point! Woah! With no assistant instructors, I felt a little out of my depth in this class, so will venture back when I am a little more experienced.
So far, so good! I am learning that in yoga, as in life, it is very much mind over matter. If you think you can’t stretch any further, you can’t. If you take a deep breath and push forward, you’ll find that you can. So this is me, announcing that I can yoga!
Indeed, in the wise words of our great Yoda: “Do, or do not. There is no try.”
No ewoks were harmed in the making of this post.