Puglia Total Rebalance Immersion: 26th May – 2nd June 2018

My aim was to combine elements from my successful rebalance programmes into a week-long immersion with the added benefit of stepping off the “merry-go-round” of everyday life!  Leaving behind the pressures of work and home life can make it much easier to assess what lifestyle adjustments are needed in order to rebalance. Plus, this kind of “time out” offers a chance to, turn inwards and observe our inner landscape with the clarity that distance from daily routine can bring.  It can also be a chance to reaffirm commitments to self-care, let go of anything that no longer serves us, and reclaim centre stage of our own life!

Without knowing who might join me, I designed a programme suitable for all levels.  I’d envisaged a small group of students but, in the end, seventeen students joined me at La Rosa dei 4 Venti, a lovingly restored “masseria”, or farm house, nestled amongst olive trees, vineyards and herb gardens.

Most of us had flown out of the UK before dawn, so an afternoon ambling around the historic white town of Ostuni, and lunching on octopus salad, was a suitably gentle way to ease into retreat mode.  Later in the afternoon we checked-in, before an evening yoga session, designed to “iron out” any stiffness from travelling.  The yoga shala was a stone crypt; the cool and calm interior just perfect for yoga immersion.  After yoga, dinner was served; we lingered over our meal on the warm terrace until loud chatter slowly gave way to yawns and people dispersed to their rooms.

I was up early the next morning so I had time to sit in the gardens where worker bees were already busy, lured by rosemary flowers and lavender!  Morning practise began at 7am and we practised for up to two and half hours.  But the first morning I led a shorter practise aimed at easing everyone into the retreat rhythm and taking time to develop mind/body connections that arise naturally when we are guided by our breath.

Our evening practise was always a slower paced flow, allowing time for inner listening and observation.  Each session had a specific focus and sometimes I supported this with a talk, or a mini-workshop.  Between yoga sessions there was time to chill-out or read by the pool, walk, run or head off exploring to nearby beaches or towns.  The retreat massage therapist was also kept busy!  I loved the meditation walk through a small woodland and made time for this each day; only the crunch of holly-oak leaves and acorns underfoot disturbed the complete hush.

All meals were buffet style; breakfasts included fruits, granola, seed butters, nuts, local goat’s yoghurts and cheeses, home-made breads and nut milks as well as freshly-pressed orange juice and a super-cleansing, ginger and lemon infusion.  The lunch buffet included a mixture of raw salads and some cooked grain and vegetable dishes whilst dinner was always a selection of cooked dishes, following Ayurvedic principles that raw foods should be eaten earlier in the day when our digestive fire is at its strongest!  We followed a mainly plant-based diet although eggs, as well as a small amount of dairy and fish, were offered.

Twice daily yoga sessions are a great way to let conscious movement ground us mindfully in the present and allow us to feel more embodied.  I could see these changes starting to happen right in front of me, with students inspired to delve more deeply into their practise and demonstrating more innate body awareness and wisdom.  Plus, embracing a pure diet offers the perfect chance to embed healthier eating patterns so it was good to see everyone loving the healthy food and I was happy to share some of my food philosophies and nutritional knowledge with those keen to learn more.

As ever, the week went by so quickly, but watch this space as I’ve already started planning my next one ….