I’m a convert to off the grid holidays. Now I’ve come to realize that they are the ultimate decadence as well as a truly important way of reconnecting with yourself and others in real life.
Kelly Brooks, who created and lead the retreat gave us reflection workbooks to fill in, so we would remember our time and what we learned. Looking back at those jogged my memory and took me right back to being there, plus flicking through the images and breathtaking views you see below.
I wrote in my workbook, that even on day one, I was already relaxed, which is downright amazing for me, as I find it very very hard to just chill out. Relaxing is not something that comes naturally, I have to work hard at it, so to be feeling like this the first day was very special. I also wrote that the people were amazing and that it was collectively a fantastic group. Going on holiday for a week with a bunch of people you don’t know and sharing rooms, is not always necessarily going to work like magic, but this time Kelly had curated a fantastic bunch so we were lucky.
In fact, my sentiments on that did not change from the first day to the last. We all jelled really well and had a lot of laughs as well as some really deep moments. We were all from very different backgrounds, locations and ages. However, we were all there for a common purpose which was to get some headspace, using yoga, meditation and of course Kelly to help guide us. We all have busy lives and pressure to deal with, so much of the chat was on how we dealt with life’s ups and downs and how we could make ourselves better people. We also did talk quite a lot about Unicorns, after I told them all on the first night, that I was writing a report on that subject matter. It involved quite a few discussions that were very enlightening, and certainly not PG. To be explored another day perhaps….
One of the things that I really liked about this holiday, was the fact that there was a timetable and that it was planned. This may seem alien to some people, and not the way that you would want to holiday. However not having to make decisions on where to eat ( they created an amazing vegetarian & vegan food for us each day), or what to do next or think about other people was amazingly refreshing. We all make hundreds if not thousands of decisions each day and I for one, love being in an environment where I have as little as possible to decide. It massively enhanced my relaxation.
The yoga itself is my perfect kind of yoga. Kelly follows the Iyengar school of yoga, which focuses on precision and alignment with a lot of breath control. There’s is a lot of emphasis on practicing the poses to get the correct alignment and the breath. If you are already into yoga and you have mastered the breathing, you’ll know how life-changing it is when you get to that point. That really is the key to it all. it’s not about pushing yourself hard into pretty positions it’s about connecting you, your breath and your body. One of the reasons I rate Kelly so highly as she’s all about the real yoga, not just what you see on social media.
If you have been on a retreat you’ll know that your practice gets speeded up really quickly as you practice so much, as the teachers have time to take you through things that they don’t always in normal classes. Breathing properly especially Pranama breathing is hard, but we spent a lot of time on that as well as re-looking at things that get passed over in class like perfect sun salutations, backbends etc, and how to do the perfect headstand. Real learnings that you are able to take away with you and use in your home or class practice.
Below is Club Yoga on the last night, where we all got dressed up in our Neon and glow paints. Loads of fun! Kelly also does these in London, at various locations.
Walking through the forests and up the mountain also featured heavily, which was amazing, but hard. I had an ankle injury earlier in the year, so I was getting really worried that I was going to hurt myself again as one of the walks was pretty tough. I even got to the stage, where I thought I was going to have a panic attack as I could see myself flying off the mountain ( I’m not good with heights), but I managed to calm myself down and got past it, luckily and made it back in one piece. It really was not that dangerous, but in my head, I had convinced myself that it was and I was planning out the worst.
Getting that feeling of dread, anxiety and then dealing with it and throwing it away, all within 10 mins was incredibly empowering. It’s something I know I need to be more mindful of in daily life. It also made me realize that I am quite out of shape and needed to look at my stamina and strength to be able to do more of these hikes in 2018.
When we talk about off the grid, it really was off the grid. We had no signal, apart from an hour a day for emergencies. We were encouraged only to use this if really necessary. I abstained and felt a hundred times better for it. A whole week with no phone really is bliss for me.
Some of the guests had some unusual skills and ideas/concepts which they shared with us which we delved into together. One of the girls Rebecca is a trained Zouk dancer who travels the world teaching so we got a taste of that. It’s very beautiful to watch and very graceful. Then we had laughter yoga from Kelly, who came all the way from the USA. Kelly and I had so much fun, she’s an incredible person and has an amazing laugh. I must admit I spent a lot of time trying to make her laugh, so I could just hear that laugh!
Then my favorite two learnings came from Emily and Kate who gave us some what I would consider life-changing insight and healing.
Emily is running a message project, where she massages people in exchange for an act of kindness. The massages she gives focus on healing as well as them being a brilliant massage. It was incredibly relaxing. We set an intention and she told me she sent out healing vibes into the world for something I wanted to heal. Four months later, you will be pleased to know Emily, that your vibrations worked and things are on a much better track now. My job was to go out and do an act of kindness and write it on the blog. If you go to her blog, you will see what I wrote!
Kate invited all of us to create gratitude cards. She created little mini pouches, then every one of us was requested to write a line or two to the other person on why you were grateful to them for something that you really liked about them. I was honestly scared to read mine.
What I read in those cards (see below for a small selection), was so kind, caring and motivational, that they gave me a lot of strength and amongst other things a real boost to keep practicing my storytelling, and in fact start this blog.
I have traveled a lot and have lived a lot, so I have a hell of a lot of stories. I’ve kept a lot of them quiet for a long time, as I did not want people to think that I was bragging or showing off or doing it for shock value ( some of them are horrific), so I kept them hidden from many people, so as not to stand out. Standing out has caused me issues in the past and in the last few years, I was not really up for what happens when you stand out. It can be hard to deal with at times as you can become a target for bullies if you are not in the right headspace.
This holiday I decided to try and be more myself, the old me before the corporate bullshit took over and I had to put on many masks to deal with the daily nonsense.
This holiday with unknown people was a way for me to see if people would accept me for me, not for my job title or what I do, as that is not me, it’s just what I do. There was no alcohol or social lubrication either. We were sober. That’s why I was nervous about reading the cards, as I did not know if people would like the real me, with real stories. Turns out I’m not that bad, and after reading the cards, it makes me like myself a hell of a lot more. I would be friends with me, I’m fun, at least that’s what the gratitude and kindness cards showed! So thank you to the people that wrote them, I don’t know you who you are, but you helped me more than you know!
I know that a lot of the people that came wanted to get answers to something, most of us came with a question or an intention, and that really is what these retreats are created for. To provide a space to think, whilst doing healing activities. The fact that you have no phones, means you really connect with people, as there are no distractions or contact alerts popping up every 5 minutes.
Personally, I think the most important thing when you go on a retreat like this is to be open-minded and open to seeing what comes up. This is not the first retreat I’ve done, so I knew that it would get emotional, but that I would learn a lot. Set your intention and then take time to listen to yourself. I think you’ll be surprised with what you come away with. Taking away entertainment, social accelerators ( like alcohol) means you really need to communicate.
It does much more than give you a break from your devices, it allows you to remind yourself who you really are, what your values are and how you want to be in the world. Hence, why the title, says reconnection. It’s about reconnecting with you and who you are.
If you are interested in any of Kelly retreats or her yoga classes in London follow her on Instagram. She’s just added on Instagram that she’s set the dates for 2018. This is not a sponsored post or an advert. These are real opinions, real people and my real learnings from the trip.
Thanks to all the other guests, you were all awesome, and I was so happy to meet each and every one of you, you guys made the trip.
I’d love to hear if you have been on a retreat, where it was and what you got out of it? I will do another one next year if I have time, so I’m always keen to hear recommendations.