I have to say that I was really nervous about travelling to another country alone. We drive to Europe usually and I had only been on a plane once before in my adult life – for a hen weekend. Mark Warner reassured me, telling me that I was on a chartered flight with everyone on board going to San Lucianu Resort. Once we landed there was a Mark Warner representative there to greet us and ensure we had a smooth transfer. Even before I arrived at the resort I felt very comfortable and met some of the other guests – who were all really lovely, friendly and helpful. Mealtimes for the Yoga group were organised to eat with the solo travellers (of course this was optional) – making it very sociable.
The Yoga Schedule
The Mark Warner Yoga Retreat offered so much more than you may find in a local class – hoping to show that it is about more than just flexibility and strength; about the spiritual and restorative, as well as the physical; and about the inner and the outer. It was suitable for a beginner – giving a taste of many different strands of Yoga, but also for the more experienced Yogi – who may not have considered trying something – as well as helping deepen their practice. The variety also made it more inclusive for all – old or young, no matter what size or fitness level – with many options during the classes so that each Yogi could tailor them to their own needs. We were given a visual timetable of the week, plus there were reminders around the camp. Each day had a mixture of 3 or 4 classes spread throughout the morning, afternoon, evening and night. As well as the full retreat there was the option to dip in and out of these classes as required. Great thought had been put into the schedule to ensure that it was exclusive to as many people as possible – fitting in with childcare and trying not to clash with other entertainment provided by Mark Warner. During the week there was also some flexibility into changing the schedule (with agreement being sort first) to adapt to the wants and needs of those on the course. Private Sessions were also available.
Day 1 – Arrival Day: Taster Session and YOGA WEEK Welcome Circle
After lunch there was a free taster session – which covered small aspects of the many areas covered throughout the week – for people who had not already signed up (those who had were also welcome to attend). We were introduced to the two instructors Polly and Ela, we filled in paperwork and did an ice breaking exercise which involved talking and listening. Each pair had to take it in turns to talk or listen for 2 minutes – with the listener being unable to talk. I was surprised to discover that I found it easier to listen than to talk. Afterwards we had to introduce the other person to the group based on what they had talked about. This exercise not only helped us to develop relationships (which would help us to trust one another) but also showed other people were just like us – and we all make mistakes; with our own strengths and insecurities. There was also an introduction to the importance of the breath, posture, movements and partnership work.
What I learnt in my very first yoga session was how much learning to focus on breathing can help – it relieved my headache and tiredness, but not only the ability to breath better (by allowing oxygen around the body more freely) but it also encouraged me to really take in the smells around me. That I need to listen to my body to stretch it when it still needs more push and to stop when it has had enough (for example if I start swaying). I could see from this first day how Yoga can be so important in everyday life – for example just standing and sitting correctly – so as to not put too much pressure on different parts of the body – which could then result in aching shoulders, back, hip and knee pains).
I was very much looking forward to Day 2.
Disclosure: This was a press trip. All words and opinions are honest and my own.