… at Yoga Rocks, Triopetra, Crete
Who is she? I wondered as I drove my trusty Ford Focus up to Dublin for my sixth visit, my annual pilgrimage to the sanctuary that has become my Spiritual home Yoga Rocks.
Who is she? This woman I spend every breath of every day with. This woman I used to run from (and sometimes still do). This woman I am so proud of. The one who has stopped to turn around and face herself, her fears, her shadows. The courageous, beautiful one who dares to be vulnerable. Who dares to take step after treacherous step. Often stumbling, often falling but never turning back. I wonder who she is and what she will reveal to me as I arrive at the airport. Early. Always early. Anxious. Hmmmm yes she’s still always a little anxious.
Arriving at Yoga Rocks I am welcomed by my Soul family. The people who loved me, trusted in me and saw me long before I did. And who always inspire me. Cheerleaders with just the right sprinkling of humour and naughtiness to ensure I don’t take myself too seriously.
This week Helen Reavill is the teacher. Helen is Co-Founder of Yoga Rocks with her partner Phil. Together with a team of generous and kind Karma Yogis Helen and Phil have created a slice of pure Heaven. Helen’s holistic, nurturing and authentic approach to Yoga is a delight and a joy. Her knowledge and commitment to the practice on and off the mat is impressive and inspiring.
Each morning starts at 0630 with Meditation and Pranayama followed by a long, deep and juicy Asana practice. Breakfast of freshly squeezed orange juice, homemade peanut butter, jam, muesli, yoghurt together with an abundance of fruit is enthusiastically devoured by our group of blissed out Yogis before I dissolve into ‘my’ hammock for a read and a snooze. I am woken by the gentle sound of a cow bell calling me to lunch. A fresh, colourful, delicious vegetarian feast. Afternoons are spent chatting and laughing around or in the pool, possibly exploring local beaches, maybe a massage…. usually (in my case) more snoozing before the afternoon practice. A more mellow yet equally deep affair with a Yin/ Restorative focus….. and the occasional sneaky backbend that Helen guides you into so gently and lovingly that you almost think you’re still hugging a bolster!
As I watch myself and my thoughts (Svadhyaya, the practice of self study is one of the 8 limbs of Yoga and my favourite word in the whole world) I observe I am slightly withdrawn from the group. On the periphery of the action. And I notice that that’s ok. 6 years ago I was an attention seeker and a drama queen. Desperate for external validation. Now this seems to be fading. I’m listening more to myself and to others. Taking time for rest. Taking time to reflect before responding. Able to be present and compassionate to their challenges without judgement. Happy to enjoy their successes without needing to compete. Yet at the same time somewhat detached.
And also I’m willing to be seen. To show my vulnerability and share my fears genuinely. No drama. No pity pot. No need to self deprecate or be a victim. I’m willing to lower my shield and risk showing my truth. To get naked.
And as if to demonstrate this the Universe presented me with a wonderful opportunity to witness myself towards the end of the retreat. Our morning meditation had taken the form of chanting the ancient Gayatri Mantra 108 times on the beach. Following this there was the chance to go for a swim. Most of the group headed straight for the sea in their bikinis…. but a couple of women walked slightly away and stripped off for a skinny dip. I stood and watched these women in slight awe and admiration for a while before realising that I could join them. And I did! And it was fantastic!! Liberating! Such a relief to let go albeit temporarily, albeit of a skimpy 2 piece that barely covers me anyway. Such a wonderful metaphor for the process of un-conditioning, delayering and allowing my authentic self to be seen.
So who is she?
Is she there? Is she fixed / healed / awakened? No!!! I’m right here. Right where I’m meant to be. Gloriously, messily, courageously authentically here. Sometimes it’s awesome. Sometimes it sucks. And I wouldn’t have it any other way
With love and thanks to Helen, Phil and all the Yoga Rocks team.
For details of retreats at Yoga Rocks see www.yogaholidaysgreece.com