I knew, that as soon as I told people I was going /went on a Yoga retreat for 3 days on my own, the first reaction would be…Why?! Lol
So, here are some of the most frequent questions, with all the answers…
What was the name of the retreat?
It was hosted by GuruRamDas Yoga Studio. They are one of the older Yoga studio’s in Cape Town, and specialise in Kundalini Yoga.
I heard about their studio via a work colleague, but had never practiced with them. I didn’t even know what Kundalini was before I arrived at the retreat, lol!
But, I’d been following their Facebook page for a while, and was notified about the retreat via thier events section on thier Facebook page.
So, what is Kundalini Yoga, exactly?
It’s a “school” of yoga practice that means the Yoga of Awareness. It is said to be one of the most highly spiritual and transformative practice types, involving: chanting as well as gong and chime practices and deep meditations over and above the physical practice.
The physical practice focuses on breath, bandhas (or physical “poses”/ “locks”) and chants. Each session is about 90mins long, starting with breathing, then a series of bandhas and a short meditation, which usually involves a chant. The chants are meant to draw us into a sacred mood and harmonizes brain chemistry – Literally, balancing the pituitary and hypothalamus glands, by stimulating the upper palate of the mouth with sounds.
Because Kundalini focuses on the nervous system and glands, and these organs are closely linked to our emotional centre, this yoga practice can be a very emotional experience. It is great for self-healing, as well as helping resolve stress & feeling more connected to one’s spirituality.
Where was the Retreat?
The venue was so beautiful & totally tranquil. Hidden in Franschhoek, at a boutique hotel called Angala.
It’s tucked behind Vrede en Lust farm, just off Simondium road. And because it’s a good 5kms into the mountains, it’s quiet and almost completely secluded.
The amenties include a sauna and spa, an eco pool, a warm ozonated pool and jacuzzi, beautiful walking/ running trails up the mountain and 11 personal, lovely luxurious suites.
Because they often host retreats like this one for GuruRamDas, their kitchen is able to accommodate vegetarian and vegan diet needs.
So, it was ALL vegan? What did you eat?
The retreat was vegetarian, but vegan-friendly. So we were eating mainly vegetable based dishes, with dairy and eggs, on request, if you wanted some. Angala also reached out ahead of the weekend, to clarify any specific dietary requirements, which I thought was just such a nice touch.
Main meals were a variation of a warm vegetable broth, loaded with veggies, or vegetable cottage pie. Served with sides – a warm steamed greens & a salad, with plenty of good, wholesome plant fats, i.e. nuts, avo, olive oil etc. And a selection of breads, including gluten-free options.
Dessert and snacks was generally a fruit, cheese and cracker platter.
And breakfast was our own choice of toast, with egg variations and/ mushrooms, tomatoes and avo.
There was detox water available through-out the weekend, in the common areas and a pot of Yogi tea on tap whenever we wanted some.
I had my usual almond americano in the morning, with a omelette and kept rehydrating through-out the day with detox water & tea. And had some cheese in the evenings, after supper.
But, overall, it was a great detox weekend, and because the practice demanded so much from me, it was a relief to have really light food over the weekend.
What was the schedule like?
There were 4 yoga sessions over the weekend – early mornings before breakfast on Saturday & Sunday, as well as before supper on Friday & Saturday
Then there were 3 chime/ gong + meditation sessions on top of these – One before bed on Friday & Saturday and one midday on Saturday & Sunday
These were spread out every 2 and half hours or so, so that left a good window of time to take advantage of the hotel amenities – steamroon, sauna, mountain walk, swim, whatever…
Really the perfect recipe for relaxation.
I took full advantage 😉
What did you take with you?
Communication ahead of time was great, and gave me a good idea on what to bring – yoga mat, a light blanket, comfortable workout clothing and a bathing suit etc.
I spent the weekend in cotton workout tights, warm socks & sneakers – taking them off before entering the studio ahead of each practice – and a t-shirt. I also took a warm top to wear over my yoga clothes. And my running shoes for the mountain.
I left my hair dryer at home, which I always feel so insecure about, but in hindsight was best. My hair was up all weekend, sweaty from a run or a class, or wet from the pool/ steam room.
I washed it in the evenings and then just let it dry over night, tying it up every morning.
I do regret, however, not taking slippers with me – the nights were pretty cold, and I could have used a pair of comfy slippers for potting round my suite in.
The ultimate why – Why did you decided to go away on a weekend like this, on your own?
I’ve always wanted to do a Yoga retreat. And I was trying to get back into a regular yoga practice, after not doing much of anything for a long while.
I also really needed a bit of a breakaway – work and life tends to run at a mile a minute, and I was becoming increasingly tense, tired and frustrated – really just wanting to be in the quiet, by myself, for a while.
My birthday was also coming up…and I wanted to do something nice for myself. #treatyoself and all that…
So, when I saw the GuruRamDas event pop up on my feed, I kind of took it as a sign – hit the “Going” button & paid my deposit.
And… do you feel better or different? And will you do it again?
Leaving the retreat on the Sunday, I had never felt so happy in my life for no reason, ever!
I smiled the entire 20min drive home.
I think the combination of a clean diet, low toxin intake, the meditations, the physical practice, the steamroom sweat sessions, the quiet and a few good nights sleep all contributed to, literally opening me up. Clearing out cobwebs and doing a bit of an internal spring clean, physically, mentally & spiritually.
I was able to make space for so much good stuff, so much positivity & warmth. And, I was able to let go of a lot too. A lot of physical tension, and mental fog and frustration.
Will I do it again – 100%!
Possibly, not this exact retreat, but I’ve committed to an annual retreat or solo trip of some kind.
It really was the best gift I’ve ever given myself 🙂
More on the lessons from the weekend, here