As the pandemic is gradually taking hold of the whole word I am sitting in my apartment in Berlin, wondering whether I should reschedule the retreat that I just cancelled or let it go. My mind tells me to let this tumultuous year pass and that it is too risky given the circumstances. But my heart says let’s go.
I find myself on the stunning island of Serifos, together with a group of adventurous people ready to explore the magic Greece has to offer. The retreat is finally happening!
I’m sitting on my porch in the country side in Greece, reminiscing moments, smiles, faces. Nostalgic of the past, excited about the future, I am trying to put into words what made that retreat so special;
A group of people from different parts of the world, carrying different stories, united by the love for yoga, travel and a deep need to connect, exchange, grow. We practice together, laugh together, talk together, share food and thoughts, stories, aspirations. Most of them will develop a personal practice that will accompany them throughout another challenging year, maybe longer, maybe for life. We will stay connected through online classes, will meet again at the studio or our favorite outdoor Shala in Serifos, to learn more.
Wild, majestic, unreal, the beauty of Serifos doesn’t leave anyone untouched. We start each day by moving and breathing in the first morning light, paying our respects to the Sun. Later in the day, we roam the island in quest for pristine waters, isolated beaches, hidden hiking paths. Every now and then we lift our head and try to seize the blue of the sky, its immensity and we feel blessed and humbled. We close the day in the Shala, the rays of the setting sun and the dark red light of the dusk offering the perfect background to our teachings and practices. At the end of our stay, before we part ways, we make a promise; to come back.
We start every morning with Mysore practice, the traditional way of learning Ashtanga. The group is small and students get a lot of attention. Silence is interrupted only by the sound of our breathing, which sets the tone for a deeply meditative practice. In the afternoon we talk about yoga philosophy, we chant and have thematic workshops focusing on key aspects of the Ashtanga method. At Led class we learn the Sanskrit counting and let it be our guide, adding precision and clarity to what we know already. My goal is for the students to acquire solid foundations so they can practice on their own, to build a practice that suits their needs and that they can take everywhere, a practice that makes them healthier, more focused and happier.
Staying at Hotel Rizes reminds me of what Greek hospitality is all about. The staff is like a big family, winning our hearts with their generosity and genuine care. The hotel, with its large apartments, outdoor pool and restaurant area overlooking the harbor and Chora, the main village, makes it difficult for us to leave. The Shala, its gem, built on a rock, protected by the wind but allowing the sun to caress our eyes and skin, offers us unforgettable moments of practice, connection, devotion, peace.