I am still full of energy from my vacations which included a yoga and detox retreat. It was an adventure with a lot of delicious ingredients: hardly planned, a lot of spontaneous decisions, a new environment. This combination stirred up a lot in me and caused some inner chaos. Now things are calming down again and I am excited to see which picture I will get when all the pieces fall into place.

I called my last few weeks in Asia “The journey with the inner child”. That means I listened in a particularly mindful way to what I really wanted, what makes me feel alive and what feels too tight and forced. Further, I tried to avoid judging as often as possible and let my inner child have the last word.

Therefore, the first thing I did while waiting for my flight at Airport of Dubai, was to eliminate the word ‘should’ from my vocabulary. And that is how, with the seriousness of a child at play, I discovered the overwhelming bustle of Bangkok, including a last minute ride on a motorcycle taxi to the train station (without helmet, with a large backpack on my back and through narrow and crowded streets during rush hour – thank God my mother does not know everything!). In the north of Thailand, I got to meet up with my Aya Bros Jeff & Pete, whom I got to know about five years ago during an Ayahuasca retreat in the rainforest of Peru. Five days full of culinary discoveries, more motorcycle adventures, temples, jungle, massages and elephants… my inner child had a blast!

elephant yoga

Image source: © Elephant Dream Valley 

And then the next decision: which island to go to and what to do?

I remembered a place that a few people from Vienna and also some in the US had recommended - The Sanctuary Thailand on Koh Phangan. A small bay, accessible only by boat, lots of yoga, delicious vegetarian and vegan food, spa, fasting and detox… “What?! Fasting during vacation? You are crazy!” said my inner child (IC) in a conversation that continued something like this:

Me: “You are right, but something is telling me that it would be good for my body to take a break!”.

IC: “Don’t count me in! I want to enjoy and play!”.

Me: “Alright. Then let’s see what else we can do on that island, ok?”.

IC: "Okay...... Aaaaalright. Let’s do the fasting and detox thing”.

Me: “What? Didn’t you just tell me you wanted to enjoy?!”.

IC: “Yes, but fasting sounds interesting too”.

Me: “Are you sure? Completely sure?”.

IC: “Yep. Come on! I am curious!”.

This wasn’t the first time this happened. Once I give my inner child the freedom to do what it wants, it happily agrees to what seemed to be an obstacle to its wishes earlier. I have to be really honest about this freedom, though, and completely let go. Only then, this can happen.

In this case, the result was the “go ahead” for 10 days at the Sanctuary, 5.5 of them fasting. Under the humorous lead of Mr. Moon and his team, with 16 years of fasting experience under their belt. In a pleasantly warm and humid climate, where you tend to be less hungry anyway. With wonderful spa treatments, regular steam baths, yoga to support the detox process and to strengthen the body, as well as meditation sessions in the evening included in the package. Those days were a combination of moving out of my comfort zone, delight, self-reflection and conversations with other retreat participants that were only possible in this environment: “Did you have a bowel movement this morning? What did it look like?” “I was swimming in the sea this morning. Gosh, the salt water was the highlight of the day”. “During the colonic cleanse with wheatgrass this morning, the liquid felt hot when it was flowing out of me. Did anybody else have this experience?” etc.

My fasting buddies from all over the world were between 18 and 73 years old. For many of them, it was the first time, others had done it before, up to four times and more. Some decided to fast because of their health, for others it was a measure of prevention. For some, the main goal was to lose weight, for others, it was detoxification. Some wanted to overcome the mental barrier of not eating anything for several days and for a few, regular fasting was something like the annual spring-cleaning.

yoga pose

Image source: Andrea Blakesberg photography

For me, it was a big experiment. During those 10 days I was not only fasting, but I got at the same time several abdominal massages. My belly had felt hard during the past months, and sometimes as if it didn’t really belong to me. During the massages, which at times were rather painful, a lot of tension and knots could be released and my chi could flow again more freely into regions that had been under-supplied energetically. Thus, my belly could let go and detox on several levels at the same time. I can still feel the resulting sensitivity, so I am more conscious about what I eat and what I expect my body to endure.

After 5.5 days of Psyllium/Clay shakes, herbal capsules, colonic irrigations, lots of water and tea... the first meal –a bowl of papaya! Oh, what a special treat! Then the next day the first light soup, steamed vegetables; on the third day, the first carbohydrates and on day four the first protein… slowly and delicious! Every meal a culinary delight! When I had my first bite of warm butter naan (thin Indian pitta bread) a week later in Kuala Lumpur I almost cried with pleasure! A downright taste buds orgasm! Aside from all the other benefits fasting may have, the experience of how good food can taste, makes it already absolutely worth it!

After the Sanctuary experience, I continued my trip lighter (in more than one way), clearer and full of energy. I looked for a yoga studio in every place I went to, not only because of the yoga classes but also as a point of reference. You get the best tips for vegetarian and vegan restaurants, sustainably and locally produced products, accommodations with good vibes, etc. from other yogis. In busy Thong Sala, I found the Siam Healing Center, participated in one of the most challenging Vinyasa classes with Marta Metrass from Portugal and got the best healthy kitchen tip in town. I survived my first Bikram class ever in True Fitness Kenanga in Kuala Lumpur and, afterward, got a  recommendation for an amazing  place to visit outside of town. The ‘Yin Transforms Yoga‘ class with Lek Kittikunadul in Wild Rose Yoga in Chiang Mai left me wishing for more. And as it turns out, Lek is coming to Europe at the end of this year to host a training course!

yoga retreat

Image source: YogaJu 

By the way, yoga was also part of the deal with my inner child. I have been teaching yoga full-time for more than 6 years now, Therefore, I let my inner child decide if it wanted to do yoga (asana practice) while on vacation. To my surprise, it took only a few-days-break, and after that explored all kinds of different yoga classes at the Sanctuary and in many other places. As a result, I took home a lot of fresh input and inspiration.    

If and how this inspiration will influence my work is part of the newly composed picture that is just being created. I want to give my inner child considerably more say in that than I did before. When I listen to it, I feel a surge of vitality and move much more easily with the flow (although my mind finds it sometimes hard to get its "head" around it.).

A vacation is obviously the perfect opportunity to (further) develop and implement one's mindfulness towards the inner child. For my everyday life, I picked up a little exercise in my hammock at the Sanctuary: I reserve half an hour daily for my inner child (best to put it on my calendar, so the space really remains free). During this time, my inner child is the boss and calls the shots; it could have me dancing like crazy to my favorite music, drawing a picture, singing (loud, out of tune and enthusiastically), dressing up or wear something I would normally never ever put on, buying a new stuffed animal to cuddle with, going to the zoo, reading a fairytale, watching the Barbapapas on YouTube etc. Half an hour (at least, but you can also take more time of course) without judgment and without censorship.

With time, a lot of playful energy is set free through this seemingly childish behavior, which can lead to creative and – just like children's – unprejudiced actions and solutions, new ideas and out-of-the-box-thinking.  Our inner child is a precious treasure – and always good for a surprise! 

Hence, to a creative autumn! The harvest will certainly be colorful!

Get to know Julia’s travel experiences on her blog. Her varied interests, spontaneity and openness are reflected in her work at yogaju.at and looklive.at

Want to go on a yoga retreat and experience Julia’s feeling first hand? Visit BookYogaRetreats.com and book among the largest compilation of yoga holidays online!