I talk about self care all the time in The Midlife Movement. Before Christmas it was becoming increasingly clear to me that I need to practice what I preach more consistently.
I had fallen into bad sleeping habits and was constantly tired. Working on growing The Midlife Movement was consuming me. It was always at the forefront of my mind, to the detriment of my other business and my relationships.
So when my friend, Sue, (pictured above) whose course "Self Care Space" is one of the most popular in the Midlife Movement Membership, told me she was going on a yoga retreat in India and that there was one place remaining, I didn't think - I just said "count me in!"
I've travelled alone quite a bit, but I'd never been to India, so this well organised trip seemed like an ideal way to dip my toe in the water! Satsanga Retreat in Northern Goa is a safe, comfortable space close to the coast and the warm Arabian Sea. Built and run by an expat couple from Norway and London, it is staffed by friendly locals for whom nothing was too much trouble.
The delicious and nutritious vegetarian food was freshly prepared from scratch everyday and served in two meals - mid morning breakfast and dinner in the late afternoon.
After a week of 4 hours of yoga a day, daily Ayurvedic massage and a cool, clear pool to swim in, I began to let go and feel a space opening up somewhere in the region of my heart. My shoulders relinquished their position around my ears, my stomach softened and my jaw unclenched for the first time in what seemed like ages.
After a few days, Sue and I ventured out with a driver to visit the beaches of Anjuna, Mandrem and Vagator where we frolicked in the waves like teenagers and laughed until we cried. That is, until we got caught in a rip tide, but that's another story!
The downside of being on the beach was the persistence of the hawkers. We couldn't stay still for 5 minutes without being surrounded. Top tip - if holidaying in India, be sure. to paint your toenails if you don't want constant offers of a pedicure!
Our driver, Romeo, also drove us inland to visit a spice plantation, which gave us a taste of what 33 degree heat felt like without the gentle sea breeze. At the end of the tour, we were "treated" to a trickle of cool lavender water being poured down our backs.
There were 13 other women in our group, plus two yoga instructors: the lovely Ali Dyer and Katie James. Apart from Sue, they were all strangers to me when I arrived. Ranging in age from 38 to 80, the openness and sharing that marked the week. meant that I left with the feeling I had found 15 new friends. Sue and I were friends, but not frequently together before we left. Coming back, I feel that I have gained another sister, and that will last long after the holiday is a distant memory.
They say a change is as good as a rest. I was privileged to experience both and now that I am home under familiar grey skies I am trying to hang on to inner peace in the midst of chaos.
My lasting impressions of my short glimpse of India include warmth, sunshine, litter, noise, poverty, the honking of car horns and crazy driving, kindness, colour, flowers everywhere, happy hippies, friendship, rest and relaxation. It would be crazy to judge an entire country by one small glimpse so I will be back, hopefully travelling a little more adventurously and father afield.
If you get the chance to visit India, don't hesitate. If you are able to experience it with other women, jump in with both feet. Leave your hairdryer and make up at home and let yourself be. It's the perfect environment to come back to yourself.
Disclaimer: This isn't me!