Driving from the train station up to In Sabina the scenery looked a bit drab and I wondered if I had left the stunning views of rolling hills behind me in Tuscany, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. In Sabina is a beautiful property, with some quirky, but mostly lovely interior design, beautiful little touches around the property, such as a hammock hidden in the trees, solar fairy lights, and little succulents and other wee plants scattered around. The property itself, however, is nothing in comparison to the views – the setting sun sliding down the sky, painting it orange as you eat dinner, the deep greens of the trees and pastures that sneak into your vision when your eyes pop open between asanas.
As the weak has gone on, as with any retreat, the group has warmed up to each other and gotten to know each other. Healthy vegetarian meals have extended into long chatting sessions whilst clasping on to a hot mug as the April winds blow. A group of old and young, bendy and not so bendy, dedicated to practicing sun salutations together every morning and evening.
The weather started out sunny and glorious. Mornings and afternoon between yoga practice and meals could be spent lazing in the sun with the lizards, or taking a countryside stroll. However, as the week has gone on we have retreated inside, away from the beautiful views, as the cold seems to be seeping into our bones and getting stuck there. It is a shame as the sun brought with it a sense of energy and vibrancy, it provided opportunity to go out and explore. Whereas the cold has sent everyone to their beds for long (and likely well deserved) naps.
My first retreat on my travels has brought a bit of meaning to my journey around the world. Sightseeing is great, but joining a group, in which each person offers something that you can learn from – unashamed confidence, worldly experiences, business knowledge, a calm composure – is so much more valuable.
The yoga feels great. I wasn’t practicing in the last week or so before leaving the UK as I had so much going on, so my limbs were a bit stiff and achey at the beginning. As the days have gone by, my body has gone from suffering from the muscle fatigue that is inevitable from twice a day yoga, to recovering and rejoicing in the challenge and fun of regular practice. The yoga teacher, Amelia of Pure Yoga Bristol, teaches hatha yoga in the most balanced of ways. There is a constant challenge to push oneself that little bit further and try something new, whilst always feeling comfortable to listen to the body and do what is right for you. Practice is relaxed and thoughtful whilst also being fun.
In the evening Amelia has offered an additional off-schedule meditation practice, which has helped calm my busy mind. The focused meditation has helped me enjoy my yoga practice more, as I have been able to be more mindful. Despite not having worked for two weeks before the retreat, my mind was still all over the place, like a child’s eye in a candy store. I wasn’t stressed, they were happy thoughts, nonetheless I wasn’t benefiting from any moments of inner quiet.
Another participant on the retreat, Ali, is a mindfulness coach. Despite being on holiday, Ali offered to lead us in a mindful self-compassion practice. It was lovely and really touching, but opened up some of those sore spots that hurt when you are introspective in that way. Mindfulness self-compassion is definitely something I want to explore further in the future, but I will leave those feelings where they are for now.
I can’t believe I have gotten through this whole post without mentioning the yoga platform. If you have only ever practiced in a studio or at home, you need to get outside. Admittedly not every location is as scenic as this one, but it’s worth a try. The rustling of the wind in your hair as you inhale and exhale, the sun on your face as you lie in savasana and the stunning scenery when your eyelids flutter open is by far the most special thing about In Sabina.