A Sayalonga Retreat: My Great Experience with Yoga Sutra Shala
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I was at the Sayalonga Yoga Sutra Shala Retreat at the beginning of October, well prepared, as Namit and Maru answered all of my many questions patiently and detailed by email. The retreat is situated on a mountain, approximately 10 minutes by car from Sayalonga Village, Spain.
Sayalonga itself is a small village with the next airport being Malaga which is about 45 km from Sayalonga. Buses go in both directions twice a day. Should the timetable of the buses not be suitable, you can call or write to Jose from Sayalonga local taxi as I did.
Prior to my trip, Jose answered my emails immediately and confirmed collecting me from the airport. He speaks excellent English and even German. Ramiro, one of his drivers, collected me from the Malaga Airport on time. He is an experienced driver, meeting the challenges of the sometimes demanding and uncomfortable drive to the retreat, as the way goes up the mountain and there is no real road, all mud and stones.
If you now think the journey is a bit tiresome—yes, it is—but it is a thousand times worthwhile! Even on your way to the retreat you are rewarded with a most stunning view of the mountains and a landscape harboring lots of trees of every kind, from olive to orange and lemons, apples and palm trees, and huge cactuses.
On arrival, the view from the retreat is breathtaking. You immediately feel relaxed and at peace. Namit welcomed me warmly as soon as the taxi arrived, and showed me around. Each room is individually furnished, all very tastefully decorated and with a great deal of attention to detail. I arrived at about 4.30 p.m., and as dinner is only at 8 p.m., Maru treated me with a delicious plate of mixed vegan tidbits.
I had a very warm reception and feeling of hospitality. The temperature was about 26 degrees, thus I hurried to get rid of my long trousers and warm jacket which I donned for the trip from cold Germany, and slipped into feel-good clothes. The view is marvelous at any time of the day, and on my first evening (and all the following) I enjoyed watching the sun go down behind the mountains, letting them appear in a variety of colors.
Breathtaking views of the mountains and the sun from the retreat
The garden is partly laid out in terraces, offering many typical varieties of trees of the kind mentioned above, so that you always can indulge yourself into the abundance of delicious fruit. I loved fixing myself a refreshing drink made of cool water, freshly squeezed lemons which I picked myself from one of the many trees, and fresh mint, picked from the assortment of herbs growing in large pots in the garden.
Almost every action takes place outside, from yoga classes to meditation, breathing exercises to meals, sunbathing, swimming in the beautiful pool, reading or chatting with other guests. The food served is abundant, various, tasty, healthy, organic and absolutely delicious! Maru and Namit are experts in the field of nutrition and are always keen on explaining the ingredients and their positive physical effects on the body. They go to great lengths to provide their guests with the best food in every respect, driving sometimes to five different villages a day in order to get the healthiest vegetables, grains, herbs, fruits, and other products for a wholesome meal.
Meals during the retreat are always wholesome and healthy
In the morning, Maru prepares a big platter of all sorts of fruit, partly from their own garden, partly from local organic dealers, from mango to Sharon fruit, bananas, oranges, pomegranate seeds, melons and others, everything nicely arranged, so that it is a feast for your eyes, too, like every meal she prepares. The meals are timed thoughtfully, so that the body gets the optimal rest between the meals and practice, and is able to digest and use everything to its optimum.
Mornings start at about 9 o’clock—very relaxed—with the light fruit breakfast, then there is a chanting lesson for about 15 minutes which gets you tuned for the day ahead. At approximately 10.15 a.m., the Ashtanga class takes place, with Maru teaching it to perfection. With a view to efficiency and in order to make classes even more vivid, Namit demonstrates physically the correct realization of the positions. Maru directed me with extensive knowledge and loving empathy. I always felt very safe and learned so many valuable and essential skills for enhancing my Ashtanga practice.
Though I have practiced yoga for a few years already, beginners will be provided at the same level. Maru leads through classes with a view to raising everyone’s individual ability, regardless of their degree of mastery. In order to maximize this effect (and not only this but also every other aspect of your stay), everyone is invited to fill in a health form prior to their stay, so that the teachers can approach individually to every guest’s condition and demands.
After Ashtanga—which is of course is and should be, exhausting—I could relax at the pool, read, or go exploring the surrounding, peacefully enjoying the view and air, and at one of my walks, I even saw the sea. What a feeling!
A delightful lunch was served on the terrace at 2 p.m., after which I rested again, pondering about my experience so far, enjoying my squeezed lemon drink or chai tea (most delicious with oat milk!), reading in one of the many informative books the teachers invite their guests to use or listening to spiritual music from CDs, also offered by Maru and Namit. Between meals, you are always invited to serve yourself with fresh fruit from the garden or the store in the kitchen.
At 5 p.m., Namit is giving a workshop, depending on the topic announced for the retreat (e.g. "Yoga and Relaxation", or "Yoga and Vinyasa" or one of the many others on offer), or any other spontaneous idea, depending on your wishes and needs. In my case, I wanted to learn as much as I could about Vinyasa Flow, as I am training as a Vinyasa teacher. He provided me with plenty of very useful and valuable tips and advice and taught the Vinyasa Flow in the dynamic and powerful way you would wish for. Just like Maru, he led me through the classes in a gentle, yet determined way.
Practicing yoga in the beautiful outdoors
In meditation, after the workshop, Namit takes you on a journey through your mind which leads you to the depth of your core, most revealing and helpful for mastering the challenges of everyday life, just the way he approaches the breathing exercises. As mentioned, I have been doing yoga classes for some years now, but Namit showed me some very effective exercises, unknown to me so far, surprising me with new experiences. Closing the day with a most welcome and as always, delicious dinner made my day perfect and let me slide into a peaceful sleep with anticipation of the next day.
All in all, I experienced a most lovely and wonderful time at the retreat, emerging from my stay strengthened and vital and ready to face "the real life" again with new energy, a peaceful mind, and valuable memories.
If you think it all sounds perfect, well, it was to me. Many thanks to Namit and Maru again for making my stay unforgettable! All I can say and recommend is: try it and enjoy! As far as I am concerned, I am looking very much forward to my next stay at Sayalonga Yoga Sutra Shala Retreat.
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