My Year In Happy: Welcome and entertain them all!

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Hello for the last time in 2015.

IMG_0990This is just a quick note to end the year on.

2014 has been an eventful year for me, but if I had to pick one stand-out experience for me from the past 12 months it would have to be the blissful yoga break in the Spanish sun in early September.

Nicole, our yoga teacher, and kind and generous host, brought us new gifts each day.

I had heard this piece by Rumi before and it had clearly lodged itself somewhere in my sub-conscious. As Nicole read out the poem I realised I was ready to accept these words rather than merely hear them.

The Guest House

PIC_0085This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

…and so another door opens

As 2014 draws to an end, it might feel tempting to say that one door has closed, but for me it’s a comforting reminder that there are many more doors, windows and minds to be opened in 2015.

Something else to add my gratitude-inspired list of 25 reasons to be cheerful in 2015.

My Week In Happy: Sun, sea, sand and serenity

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In my previous post Colour and chakras on the Costa Blanca, I mentioned the yoga break that I was blessed to be a part of.

The holiday completely blew away my pre-conceptions about the ‘kind of people’ I thought went on yoga breaks. I had imagined that everyone would take things very seriously and have extremely ‘pure’ lifestyles.

This couldn’t have been further from the truth as our group of eleven, while keen to look after our minds and bodies, were a diverse group with warmth, humour and huge capacity for fun.

 

There were so many lovely moments in Denia and here are some of the highlights.

 Thursday

Hotel Chamarel buddhaWe were greeted at Hotel Chamarel by an effervescent Nicole (who runs Yoga Breaks in Spain with her partner Gary).

Our first session was spent stretching out after a day’s travelling in the light and airy yoga studio.

The place has a very cool and bohemian feel and our hosts David and Mila have created a relaxed vibe in a space adorned with their own artwork along with quirky artefacts.

Our fabulously fresh and tasty evening meals at the hotel were prepared by an Ayurvedic chef who created vegetarian and fish dishes that would be kind to our bodies while we practised yoga.

 

This was a very relaxed holiday with plenty of free time between morning and evening yoga sessions.

 Friday

IMG_0966I skipped the option to go on a coastal hike so that I could get into the town and take some photos.

I also tracked down a fantastic ice-cream parlour Gola E Tentazioni and ordered the Coppa Frutta which contained the best strawberry flavour that I have ever tasted.

 

The evening yoga session consisted of ‘Yoga Sensitivity Training’ – based on Godfri Devereux’s Dynamic Yoga. This emphasises the value of slow, soft movements. By being more aware of our bodies and our movement we can better judge how far we can stretch ourselves allowing us to get the most benefit from yoga.

This was followed by an introduction to the Seven Chakras, the energy centres in our bodies. As someone who loves colourful surroundings, I was interested to learn that each one has a colour. As Nicole guided us through a chakra meditation we produced the sounds for each centre until the studio resonated with a glorious ‘Om’.

Saturday

IMG_0991Guest teacher Nati helped us to prepare our bodies for inversions – yes, that means going upside down! She was very keen to tell us about the Bandhas – interior body locks which could enhance our practice.

Headstands take quite some mastery – I made it onto my head but with my legs supported by Nati, determined to crack the pose very soon.

After that excitement I went for a relaxing facial which I was surprised (and delighted) came with a foot massage thrown in.

In the evening, quite a few of us made the trip down to Denia Marina and hung out on the rooftop lounge bar before heading to a nearby restaurant. Mindful that Nati would be guiding an Ashtanga class in the morning we tried not to make it too much of a late one.

Sunday

After a brisk Ashtanga class – during which I actually managed an unsupported headstand, I visited Amanda (our guest therapist) for reflexology and a pedicure. I left utterly relaxed and sporting a pink and gold toenails.

In the evening, Gary led us in a series of meditations. We worked with the Mudras, practising a sequence of hand and finger positions and learning how each could affect our mind and body.

Dinner, hosted by Gary, was at a local restaurant Ca La Pepa Teresa where we grazed on seemingly never ending courses of bread, olives, vegetables, chick pea stew (or monkfish) and an indulgent dessert platter.

Monday

After breakfast it was off to the beach for the kayaking and standing up paddling (SUP) that some of us signed up for. I’d kayaked before so did a little bit of SUP before sunning myself on the shore.

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This also gave me the opportunity to take some great snaps of the rest of the group – yoga on a surf board anybody?!

The evening was a session of Yin yoga, also called restorative yoga. This is my favourite type of yoga as it brings very deep relaxation. It is a mainly floor-based practice which involves stretches last for around five minutes.

It was so relaxing, and after our last Ayurvedic meal of the week (stuffed aubergine), it was time for an early night.

Tuesday

Woke feeling quite (unexpectedly) emotional about leaving Hotel Chamarel, Denia and my fellow yogis. Took my last opportunity to have a Coppa Frutta at Gola i Tentazioni before heading to the airport.

  • Such lovely people.
  • So many ways to learn.
  • Feeling utterly indulged.

I was on a Pure Yoga holiday with Yoga Breaks in Spain.