I just got back from a 4-day yoga, meditation and detox retreat near Alicante in Spain where everything was about well-being, mindfulness and healthy food. It was bliss, seriously. I might be slightly exaggerating, but it felt great. You’ll understand in a moment. We were between 20 and 25 people, mostly women between 25 and 60 I’d say (and very few men). I have understood and experienced how I can make my body and mind work together to have a balanced and lifestyle, and I want to share it with you.
They only served vegan food, juices (not slow juices unfortunately) and herbal teas. For those who are wondering, vegan food means no meat, no dairy products, no eggs, no honey, nothing at all that comes from animals. They didn’t serve bread, coffee or refined sugar either; only real and whole food. Boring, you say? Not even a little bit!! The food was extraordinary, creative, full of colours, different textures and tastes; my mind was blown every day. A plant-based diet can provide you with all the nutrients and vitamins you need if it’s well-balanced. It gives energy and satisfies hunger, no one there ever felt hungry or anything.
We could decide to “juice” the entire time if we wanted the whole detox package. I generally juiced in the morning and in the evening, and would rather have the fantastic lunch buffet (quinoa burgers, chickpeas croquettes, roasted cruciferous, sweet potatoes wedges, pea dips, amazing soups too, and so on). I really admire my fellow ladies who juiced the entire time and stayed away from the food (Beth and Ariane, if you’re reading this, this is for you ladies!). I guess we were all there for different reasons.
Every day we had two yoga classes (Kundalini, Vinyasa or Hatha) and went for a long walk in the beautiful area. We also had a rebounding class – I’ll have to come back to that (OMG)!
With yoga, you connect your body and your mind, you get centred. Vinyasa yoga was – is now- my favourite kind of yoga, it’s also called flow yoga. You do flow from one asana (posture) to the other; it requires strengthening the core, focusing on your breathing, and finding your balance. I can make it a bit challenging if I want so that suits me just fine. I’ve already signed up for a class on Monday evening so I’ll be able to tell you more about it later!
I used to do Kundali yoga, a few years ago, and I had forgotten the great benefits of regular practice, or maybe I had never actually experienced it.
- It lowers stress and improves your mood
- It boosts confidence
- It reduces the risk of injury
- It helps you lose weight
- It increases flexibility
- It improves muscle tone and strength
- It improves your posture
- It benefits breathing and lowers blood pressure
The rebounding! It’s a good little workout, basically jumping on a small trampoline, doing all sorts of leg and arm movements. With the music and all the girls bouncing away, the joy I felt was flipping unbelievable! On top of that – and I had no idea before- there are many benefits to rebounding. I might as well get one at home!
- It’s the best exercise to boost your immune system as it stimulates the lymphatic system (When the lymphatic system is flushed, new white cells come rushing in – energised and ready to stand guard)
- It detoxifies your entire body
- It is the only exercise that strengthens and cleanses every cell in your body at the same time
- It strengthens all your internal organs, arteries and veins, bones and muscles
- It improves circulation and cardiovascular strength, and lowers cholesterol levels
At the retreat, we could go for a 30-minute meditation early morning, either guided or in silence, in a cosy atmosphere. It was a very kind-to-myself start of the day, I’ll keep on doing that too.
I also attended a very insightful workshop on mindfulness and had interesting chats with some of our ‘teachers’ on the topic, the way they practice it, etc. Being mindful is the opposite of being on “auto-pilot”- when the body is present but the mind is elsewhere. Commuting to work is the best example to illustrate it: every morning we go to work without really thinking about it, and we get to our desk totally unaware of how we got there, maybe we have noticed nothing or no one on the way. Some people also sometimes eat on auto-pilot, shovelling down food without really enjoying or tasting it (definitely more on eating mindfully in a further post). We might then miss some good things or good people in life, not noticing – ignoring even- important messages about our life, our relationships, and even our health.
Practicing mindfulness is a good remedy to this tendency to go on “auto-pilot”. From what I have learned and experienced so far, being mindful means living in the moment, becoming more present and more aware of what we are sensing and feeling. I now notice the birds signing when I run or cycle in the morning, and it puts a smile on my face. I hadn’t really noticed them until I payed attention. Mindfulness is also accepting the present for what it is, not thinking about the future, not thinking about the past.
So I have decided to practice mindfulness and keep on doing meditation. It seems simple, but not that easy. It does require practice, I still have to make a conscious decision to switch on mindful mode but it will get more and more natural.
So there you go. If you ever found yourself in need of disconnecting from your own reality and reconnecting with yourself, I recommend going away for a few days to take care of your body and mind by living a seriously healthy and mindful lifestyle for a few days. The benefits are great and can be long-lasting. Many of the women there were commenting that they would put in place new healthy habits like juicing or stop smoking. As far as I’m concerned, I’m going to do all of the above and will keep you updated on my findings 🙂