What went right? By the one that stayed

For one of our guests a week’s holiday turned into a few months and Fuerteventura has since become her home. In this blog Cat talks about a few of the things that got her hooked on retreat life at Azul…

Aaah so this is yoga

From the very first gentle stretch on the Azul deck I felt myself relax. My mind stilled and focused on the present moment. The air felt warm on my bare arms. The sun was being filtered through the soft gauze overhead. I could smell the wood of the yoga deck and hear birds calling to each other. I felt immensely happy to be exactly where I was, doing exactly what I was doing.

On a retreat you experience this quieting of the mind, and especially when practising yoga. Moving and breathing in unison, you are united as a group. Yet with eyes closed and focus inwards, you inhabit your own space and listen to your own body.  The atmosphere becomes suffused with calm and at the end of the practice you feel like you are coming back from another world.

This is not just food. This is Jo Dombernowsky food.

Jo sells her food to you without even trying. At some point between clocking her enviable figure and her bright eyes, you think to yourself, I want some of what she’s having. And it turns out that what she’s having is some of the most delicious healthy food you will ever taste.

Healthy eating is hard because we make it boring. Not so in Jo’s kitchen. Colour, smell, texture, variety and flavour are all key to her cooking. Using natural taste-boosters including lots of fresh herbs and freshly ground spices, she has the entire table ooohing and aaahing and exclaiming, ‘Have you tried this one?! It’s amazing!’

This is the Canaries?!

Expectations have a lot to answer for. I have to admit, as an exotic-travel addict, my expectations of Fuerteventura were a bit low. But that’s ok because I had a jaw-droppingly nice surprise when I tore myself away from the retreat for a look.

In the Corralejo Dunes National Park, white dunes roll across the landscape and into the sea, creating a scene worthy of the big screen. The coastline of Fuerteventura is ever changing. You can find crashing waves followed by quiet bays, inlets and even lagoons. There are places to surf, places to swim, and places to stand, look and be mesmerised.

Inland it is barren but there is a spaciousness and peace that comes with that. The sunrise over the volcanoes is spectacular and any road trip takes on an epic quality despite the island’s small size. Add to this the knockout combo of Spanish culture and African climate and you have a place that completely hooks you in.

We’re talking the same language

Like most people going on retreat for the first time I was slightly concerned what the fellow guests might be like.

I had nothing to worry about. The group was fantastic, and the groups continue to be fantastic week on week. Each week people say, ‘We’ve been really lucky to have such a good group’. The truth is, each week is like that because the retreat attracts friendly, open-minded people who spend the week relaxing, enjoying themselves and benefiting from a healthy holiday. It’s no wonder that people get on.

I especially love all the little chats – on the yoga deck, around the dinner table, over cups of herbal tea, while lazing around the pool, during post-class ‘how great was that?!’ chats, on walks and during post-meditation sofa bliss. With different nationalities, cultures and personalities there’s always interesting conversation to be had – sometimes serious, sometimes joking, often thought-provoking.

A smile-inducing schedule

The word ‘schedule’ does not normally fill me with delight. It makes me think of meetings, deadlines, appointments and other things that we could all do with less of in our lives.

An Azul schedule is the antidote to this. The weekly timetable is made up of yoga, Pilates, tai chi and meditation, with plenty of free time for exploring, pampering or just doing nothing. And the best thing is that the whole lot is optional anyway.

No obligations, no squeeze, no difficult decisions just lovely classes and an entire week of being nice to your body. It makes for a smile-inducing schedule that may just make it difficult to leave…

About the author

Cat Easterbrook came on holiday to Azul Yoga & Pilates Retreat and never left, finding a home on this beautiful island and working alongside the wonderful, spirited, talented, nurturing people at Azul (her, rather biased, words). She is currently travelling in India and Nepal, studying yoga and meditation, and learning to keep her yoga calm amongst the honking horns, holy cows and cheeky monkeys.

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