Ashtanga Yoga in Crete

Yoga holidays. To be honest they are not something I usually do. As if I go away to do Yoga its generally fairly intense and not really a holiday. Like a good month of practice at least, and last time I was in Mysore I was lucky enough to be able to stay for four months. I like to feel that its a part of my life and my reality rather a holiday. And as I have worked in sales in the past, and have worked in the luxury detox industry too I can be a little cynical. I’m not comfortable with Yoga being a luxury accessory. Thats why I love working in gyms where people don’t pay any extra for Yoga classes, sure its not as profitable but its good to have a class full of people whose circumstances don’t always permit them to splurge on specialist classes outside the gym. I like to keep the Counter Culture Tantric roots of Yoga alive and kicking. And lack of money should never stop someone from practice. And if someone’s genuinely skint and theres a space in my class- well they can come anyway. And I am open to bartering too 🙂 Energy exchanges shouldn’t be limited to money.

Anyway, this year has been super-busy and so I have not had a whole month to spend on my practice, I barely managed to scrape 2 weeks together. And on the recommendation of many people I booked a place to chill out and practice for 2 weeks in Crete. In Yoga Plus in Agios Pavlos with Radha and Pierre. And what a great decision that was. A reasonable sum for 3 great meals a day, adjusted Mysore practice 6 days a week, afternoon sessions of Pilates, and Pranayama/Yoga Nidra and clean comfortable accomodation in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.

The very first morning I woke up at 6am to practice reminded me of my first trip to India nearly 6 years ago. Heading out under a dark starlit sky in the very early morning into the cocoon of a shala, the air warm with body heat and scented with incense. Radha adjusting people, and she is a beautiful woman, with a soft voice, the posture of a dancer and crystal blue eyes. It was so wonderful to be adjusted again after 15 months of self practice. Pierre moved me out of my comfort zone in the nicest possible way and I got back into some of the Intermediate Series for the first time in a long while. The practice felt soft and I got swept away being in a room of dedicated practitioners. Not once did it feel like a chore but it felt as it should feel- like a prayer. Radha spoke to us about our practice in some of the afternoon sessions and some of the things she said really stayed with me. She sat there with her glowing skin and eyes and said that the privilege for her as a teacher is getting to observe people, in all their beauty and all their rawness as they focus on their practice. And other observations- that Yoga is a tool- it is not a crutch- because a crutch is something to lean on and eventually it will let you down. That in Yoga there is no recrimination, just bringing the attention back to the moment and trying again.

I had some good rest for the first time this year. I slept a lot. Often in my post practice Savasana I would see myself putting things down like bags, things that have got on my wick recently, people trying to impose their own agendas on me, and dealing with the anger that brought up. I wrote in my diary one day “Put it all down- your thoughts, your beliefs, your guilt, and hitch a ride to Samadhi after you’ve thrown all the baggage out. Stop thinking Yoga is a system to get what you want and start trusting it to know what you need- trust that it will deliver what you need and hold on for dear life and KEEP GOING..” The practice of Yoga keeps jolting you awake until what was normality to you before is now intolerable and what made you happy before, well its just a sweet detail but it doesn’t fill the hole..

I had a magical trip out to the hillside village of Spili on the back of a scooter and sped past pomegranate trees, olive and fig trees, through villages and past chapels and bought jasmine oil and olives. I ate the most incredible food, tree ripened fruit is a taste sensation. And aubergine salad made the Cretan way is extraordinary as is Greek coffee. I swam naked in the crystal clear turquoise waters of the Libyan sea a great deal and I read a lot of books. Re-read The Siva Sutras and they were even better the second time round.

I shared my room with two of the most amazing women I have met in a long time and one of them, an Earth Angel from Islington, held a mirror up to my soul in a way very few people ever have. And we laughed a lot.

Yoga Plus… I recommend it 🙂

One Response to Ashtanga Yoga in Crete

  1. debbie October 14, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

    Love your writing and thoughts about yoga plus xx

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