Our recent Retreat in Southern Spain started as a vision back in 2017 and finding the perfect venue was like being part of a love story. I spent many days travelling around Southern Spain checking out various venues and Finca al Limon was the final desitination. A beautiful Finca located 30 minutes north of Malaga in the village of Cartama, surrounded by tranquil fields and rolling hillsides.
Finca al Limon is a special place, where you can immediately feel the love that’s gone into everything and feel a sense of calmness from the moment you arrive. Meeting the owners, Mar and Paul and hearing about how they worked hard to make their dream come true and finally opening the doors of Finca al Limon was heartwarming. We chatted about our ideas for the retreat and talked about our mutual love of Yoga. I could’ve moved in there and then! I came away and phoned my partner at Freestyle Mind and Body, the lovely Amanda Lester. Amanda couldn’t wait to fly out to visit Finca al Limon and I was delighted that we shared the same views of how energetically beautiful Finca al Limon was and still is.
We decided that the perfect time to hold the retreat would be over the Summer Solstice weekend, so we could come together to celebrate all that we’ve achieved and all that we’re about to achieve at this special time and so it was then that our retreat was booked and aptly named The Summer Solstice Retreat.
I was busy organising the Retreat from Spain and Amanda looking after things in the UK. There would be 30 of us at the Retreat in total with many of the guests travelling from the UK. I’d run retreats before but not in Spain and for no more than 12 guests, the task in hand seemed monumental. I set about sourcing information and contacts from friends and acquaintances in Spain and Mar and Paul set about transforming their wonderful Finca to comfortably accommodate all our guests. When the time arrived for our Retreat to begin, both Amanda and I experienced a feeling of jubilation and that feeling continued right until the very last day when we said our final goodbyes.
Everybody who went to the Summer Solstice Retreat was particularly complimentary about the activities on offer. You could come and do yoga, fitness and meditation and indulge in Massage and Reiki Therapies. We ate delicious healthy food. The food was so good, 3 vegan buffets a day with lots of yummy and healthy choices. Everything fresh and locally produced. The chef, Rowena, was a true artist, her food not only tasted delicious but was displayed beautifully. I also loved the little bar, where lovely teas and juice concoctions would appear along with tasty vegan and gluten free cakes and cookies.
Running the Retreat was a rewarding experience, it was all about self-service and in self-service we can gain so much. On the second day of the retreat many of our guests went on a hike to the Caminito del Rey, I’ve done this walk twice before. It’s a stunning hike set in an impressive gorge within the Sierra Rhonda and Antequere mountain ranges. The stunning cliff faces being composed of limestone and Jurassic dolomite and the beauty of the Guadalhorce river form the scenery for this stunning hike along the most narrow of pathways. The beauty of this hike not only inspired our guests on the day but over the years has provided inspiration for numerous artists, painters, poets, writers and movie directors. Some of our guests, however, choose to stay behind (this walk isn’t for everyone, it was once known as the most dangerous pathway in the world and you certainly need a good head for heights). I stayed behind too, there were jobs that needed to be done at the Finca to keep the retreat programme on track and I wanted to make sure all our remaining guests were well served. If you ever have the opportunity to serve others, grasp it, forget about other things that need doing, you can always do them later. I can do the hike later. The hike was a huge success, the feedback was very special but all of our guests (not just the hikers) had a really special day. Taking care of our guests in the best possible way is the most important thing for us at Freestyle Mind and Body and something that we will always aspire to.
On the final day at our closing circle I could feel the energetic atmosphere electrically charged from within us all and I felt a sense of profound peace and love that I’ll never forget. Up until the Malaga retreat, I’ve always kept my spiritual journey quite private. Sharing my own personal feelings about how it’s important for me to live a simple life was something I hadn’t really done before. All my life I’ve always been careful about how much I spend, I’ve worked hard and I’ve always tried not to spend money on things that are unnecessary. Living this way has paid off, now I can afford to spend less time working in so much chaos, more time with family and friends and more time sharing my passion for yoga and health and well-being.
On a daily basis I’m bombarded with emails and adverts selling yoga and fitness products, retreats and services that are disproportionately expensive. These adverts often contain extravagant promises and images predominantly of skinny women looking super fit and flexible with expensive outfits and makeovers. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for women harnessing their sexual, intellectual and economic power in anyway they choose, the models, the marketing executives as well as the service and product users and I absolutely form no judgement. Some of these images are indeed very beautiful and sales pitches inspiring but we need a little more truth. For example, the goal of Yoga for many Yoga students is learning how to master the headstand. The truth is that the goal of yoga is learning how to stand on your own two feet and the Summer Solstice retreat for many of our guests was indeed about re-establishing this concept.
It’s always tricky setting down a budget for a retreat because the process feels so prescriptive. We organised a Fire Ceremony celebration for the last evening of our Summer Solstice retreat. This ceremony was led by two great musicians, one of which has an incredible talent for making musical instruments. As a result of our successful retreat I was able to buy one of the musician’s beautiful drums as a gift to a Sangha in Southern Spain. These drums can be used as wonderful sound therapy instruments, children in particular are very receptive to them and we hope it will serve the Sangha well. I also bought one of these little drums which now takes pride of place in my new Sangha based in Dore village which I look forward to sharing with you all soon.
So as Amanda and I move forward with the planning of our next event, I’m filled with excitement and wonder. Excitement that I can continue sharing my passion for yoga and health and well-being and wonderment at where all this will lead. One thing I’m sure of, is that we will always ensure that yoga philosophy and up to date sport and medical science will remain at the core of our teachings and if we do progress along the route of marketing our services it will be with authenticity and respect for our clients. We recognise that power and beauty comes from within.
We were fortunate that we didn’t need to do any marketing for our Freestyle Mind and Body, Summer Solstice, Malaga Retreat, as the group of lovely ladies that joined us were all friends (or friends of friends) and each and every one of them, were from the outset, powerful beyond belief, being the best beautiful versions of themselves. So, if in the future marketing becomes part of the bigger picture for Freestyle Mind and Body, we hope that we will continue to treat you, our clients, our friends, with respect, no pseudo spiritual nonsense, no manipulative marketing, no tedious sales pitches and if we fall short of our promise please let us know. For more information about our 2019 Freestyle Mind and Body Retreat please contact Amanda@freestylemindandbody.com.
Peace, Joy, Love and Light.
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