Yoga on Crete – Hatha with Federica (Hora Sfakion, Week Two)

Yesterday 13 people arrived for this weeks retreat.  What a lovely mix – Swedish, Norwegian, Londoners, Scottish, German, Netherlands, Irish and American, and from them came some real characters.  Steven who was animated and adored my wardrobe, Ryo who was ‘out there’, stress-free, and a lover of all women, Claire with her Yorkshire accent and variable facial expressions, and who could forget Anette with her face that lit up a room wherever she went.

We started with an interesting body movement workshop where we found out how we felt about space between people as we walked around getting faster and closer.  The mornings were for yoga and the evenings for various body movement, even including the ‘carwash’ which is usually done in kindergarten!  It involves two lines of people on their knees facing each other, then each person goes through the ‘tunnel’ in turn getting massaged by all along the way.  Such fun!

Our Sweetwater beach excursion was very liberating this week as many of us headed off to the nudie section.  This group has such a different fun vibe to last week and I really think we would have tried almost anything!  So having said that most of us headed off for a gorge hike, to Aradena Gorge which is quite a challenging 3hr walk because it has steep slippery down-slopes and lots of climbing over rocks.  It leaves from an abandoned village and finishes at the most gorgeous beach you have ever seen (Mamara).  A handsome young guide took us through the majestic cliffs and in the midpoint I left some letters for my parents (who passed away recently) under a rock as part of releasing my grief, and it felt very good to do this.  After a week of  yoga and a couple of deep massages everything came bubbling up to the surface, and luckily I had beautiful Monique and Federica helping me with this.

At Mamara beach you can sit in the shade at the a taverna which is perched on top of the hill overlooking the turquoise water, or lie on one of the many loungers on the beach.  We stayed here for four divine hours before catching a water taxi back to Hora Sfakion.  It was a low boat, and as there was quite a bit of swell the skipper got me saturated with saltwater spray!  Other afternoons were spent down at the local village eating cheese pies or swimming.  As we were such a talkative group we got treated to a ‘silent’ day which was very interesting and you really must try it with your other half or family!  At breakfast we were all sitting there very silently and all you could see was various facial expressions that more or less said ‘do we really have to do this?’  Then in the evening we had to share our experiences and it soon turned out that half of us stayed silent and the other half went off to the beach and chatted!

On our last full day we went for a mindful silent slow walk to Iglios beach out of town.  There we did a closing ceremony and each made a piece of art with pebbles to represent this time in our lives.  A lovely play in the water with my yoga gear on (because I didn’t know we were going in the water) made the walk back nice and cool.  In the evening we were treated to a visit from live sound musicians, who used healing sound using gongs and other instruments while we lay down in the ‘corpse’ yoga pose.  It felt really amazing actually and most of us were like zombies at our final dinner afterwards.  We were told that in 3 days we would have lots of energy and who would say no to that.