Everyone sat in a large circle in silent repose, legs crossed like tangled barbed wire and eyes gently closed. As I struggled to contort my concrete legs a pain shot through my knee and I swore I heard a twang in my back. Whilst everyone else was peacefully observing their breath, I was squinting through one eye and fidgeting like a 3-year-old child who’s been asked to sit still. After a few "Oms" and "Shantis" the chanting began. I picked up my sheet of mantras and attempted to sing the strange words before me that were made up, it seems, of every letter of the alphabet. I wondered if someone had stolen my tongue.
It’s hard to believe how only a few days later I was able to sit in silence, peacefully observing my breath and able to sing the mile long words out loud without a song sheet in sight…but then again Anahata IS a magical place.
Set atop a hill in Golden Bay surrounded by lush Abel Tasman forest and with stunning ocean views that stretch for miles, this place is mini paradise. From the minute I arrived, I was immersed into a full yogic lifestyle that incorporateed the philosophies of Satyananda Yoga – a sensible, sustainable practice that can transform your life in a wonderful way, forever!
My first session was a deep relaxation class called Yoga Nidra (dreaming yoga). As I struggled to fight off forty winks, the only thing that kept me awake was the snores from other students who’d succumbed to sleep. I tried to imagine how this week could possibly get much better.
Hatha yoga began at 6am when the stars were still glistening in the stunningly clear skies. A crackling fire warmed us in the corner of a room as we gently stretched our bodies awake. The rest of the week was filled with chanting, singing, cooking, working in the gardens, tree prayers and getting to know the full-time residents who had visited for a few days and were still there months or years later!
By the last day, I felt a whole new energy coursing through my body and the world looked tantalizingly rosy. With a new zest for living, I reluctantly left the retreat teary eyed and already making mental plans to return. My advice is to go there with an open heart and mind and I promise it will change your life for good.
Prices: I did a 6 day “Explore your Self” course which was $425 shared accommodation and up to $725 for private accommodation in a luxury yurt with food included.
Visit: www.anahata-retreat.org.nz for more retreat options.