With Christmas here and New Year round the corner, it might not be long before we’re thinking of giving ourselves something of a spring clean!

I know I probably will and it’s this that has reminded me about recently being tempted to join a friend on a Yoga Weekend in Italy.

A trip to Italy

I will be really honest with you here, it wasn’t really the yoga aspect that reeled me in at all. I was lured by the thought of seeing a good pal, sharing walks, talks and maybe a sneaky cake or two and perhaps a shop visit too…

Unfortunately, most of those plans were scuppered on arrival. 

We found ourselves high on a hill in a remote house with no access to civilization other than through kilometres of prickly, bristly Mediterranean vegetation.

First impressions

In some respects the trek through dense and untrammelled undergrowth was tempting and a throwback to my Adventure Athletics days and charging through dense jungles. But that temptation was soon negated by the regular gunshots that would ring out over what was serious Italian hunting territory.

I don’t mind setting myself exciting mental and physical challenges but I’d really rather not be shot whilst undertaking them!

The first class

The first yoga class started before breakfast and I threw myself into it… at least for as long as my mind and body could stay focused and engaged – which wasn’t long enough as it turned out.

time for a change_2Regular readers will know I’m a stickler for optimising time when exercising and obtaining the maximum benefits from the most reasonable of time investments.

As wholehearted as I’d been, I began to get agitated as our pre-breakfast yoga session passed through the 90-minute mark and the only ‘inner self’ I could focus on was a grumbling tummy!

But sustenance was not yet on the agenda as we ploughed on for a further hour. People run full marathons, have a wash and eat a slap up meal in less time than that!

‘Get me outta here’

By the end of the 150 minute class my mind had wandered sufficiently enough to concoct an elaborate escape plan. I sent a ‘Get me outta here’ text to a friend who deals with extractions.

Annoyingly he was busy in Somalia dealing with someone else in proper trouble.

Oh well, it was worth a try…

So I stuck it out and comfort ate my way through Italian cuisine and skipping further Yoga classes where I could.

The Yoga world

Yoga is increasingly popular and there are so many branches and hybrids that the word Yoga itself is more of a general catch-all term than a definitive description; in the same way that literature, music or painting are single words that sit atop a mountain of  possibilities and varieties that stretch out below.

There are some styles of yoga that teachers can learn in weeks, while others demand five years of study and application.

There are certainly some loyal Yogis (or Yoginis as the female is known) out there and, rather like Pilates, it is excellent for the zoning in on your body, inner self and breathing.

Finding your ‘inner self’

It is very much about yourself, focusing on you, internalising and being about you for the betterment of you, in a similar way to meditation processes. And I think this is where it fell apart for me.

Without wishing to sound too sickeningly altruistic I am generally a little more outward looking and time fixated on myself results in a rapidly wandering mind.

In Part 2 tomorrow Joey continues to recount her yoga retreat experience, explored aspects of the culture around it and also describes how it informed her own health and fitness retreat…

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