Away: The Yoga Retreat

day zero project, yoga

This weekend, Partner-in-Crime and I took a short spiritual jaunt away from our daily cares and carpet dramas. We spent a day and a half at the Mangrove Yoga Ashram, about an hour and a half outside of Sydney – but it feels so remote, it may as well be double or triple that distance.

Never having done a yoga retreat or been to an ashram before, I was actually quite nervous about the whole thing, despite it having been enthusiastically my idea. What should I wear (we were instructed to dress “modestly”)? Would we be warm enough (we had to pack our own bedding)? Would everyone there be a yogic contortionist in comparison to my modest range of flexibility? Would I be judged for my IKEA bag/wearing a spot of makeup/…?

I really should not worry so much, and clearly the theme of the retreat – Yoga Relax – was something that I was in desperate need of.

Everything of course, was lovely. The ashram is in a beautiful spot in the mountains, next to a creek. A wallaby hopped by as we drove up the long dirt road to the property. The weather was the perfect early autumn cool. Our room was simple, comfortable and clean. The group was a mixture of levels, ages and reasons for being there, and no one was a tuck-your-foot-behind-your-head type. The vegetarian meals were creative and delicious. Our session leaders were both professional and kind, so happy to answer any questions and give us a good experience.

The ashram was bustling with interesting people – some residents there who have fully taken up the yogic lifestyle, some WWOOFers, some on a farm stay, our group, and some just there on a personal retreat. Our days were well structured, with a mix of classes just for our group and sessions that were for the whole ashram. There was a combination of asanas (postures), pranayama (breathing), yoga nidra (lying on the floor and getting super relaxed), and chanting. At 8:30 at night, everyone was silent until 7:30am. We started Sunday with a singing wake up call (one of the residents chanting), a morning asana class, chanting, and breakfast – all before we said a word. It was so beautiful.

Ganseh, finding a quiet moment in his little house.

In fact, I became fascinated by how well they have worked out the structure and rhythm of the day at the ashram. You rise with the sun, practice the yogic fundamentals at set times through the day, everyone does chores together in the morning, eat and have tea with the community regular intervals, and finish the day with a sing-a-long before bed, which happens not long after the sun sets. Being there for the short time we were was not enough to get our bodies adjusted to that schedule, but I love the idea of going back for maybe a week and really getting into that pace to see what that would do to my mindset.

Even our short stay was enough to clear my mind, make me feel lighter, and help me see some areas where I can quiet myself and re-prioritize. I bought a neti pot and a vegetarian cookbook, downloaded some guided meditations and affirmed to myself that I can find time for at least a couple of sun salutations every morning. It didn’t make me want to become a vegan or drop everything and run off to join the ashram forever, but it was a lovely way to find some small changes I can make to summon those feelings of calm, simplicity and clarity in my everyday life. 

2 thoughts on “Away: The Yoga Retreat

  1. Adam

    Good timing on the post! …My wife has been wanting to do a weekend yoga getaway (not with me, of course); I’ll have to pass this along to her!

  2. C. In Oz

    Adam – they mentioned that they do the Yoga Relax session that we did once a month. I thought it was a good program for an ashram first-timer! And, being so close to Sydney, it’s super convenient for a weekend trip.

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