Going on my first yoga retreat was a major turning point in my life.
Last summer I decided to take the plunge and sign-up for a serious and much-needed yoga retreat. My body and mind were mush and I desperately needed help. Months later, I’m still practicing yoga and feeling the effects of a lifestyle devoted to the mind, body, and soul. I took a long-time to post this because I wanted to make sure the retreat was beneficial it and indeed it was.
Le Château du Montgoger
There’s no other glorious place I can think of to practice yoga than in a historical French Chateau. The Loire Valles is home to more than 300 châteaux where nobility lived and vacationed. As I entered the sprawling grounds of Le Château du Montgoger, I put on my princess demeanor and opened up to be transformed.
I recently returned to yoga after a long absence and prepped my body as best I could by practicing at home. Of course, there’s nothing like a good yoga teacher to provide the best adjustments as well feedback on your performance and our yoga teacher Emily did just that. I won’t kid you, it was tough practicing yoga fours hours a day, but you need to set your intention and do the best you can (or hang out in Child’s Pose). LOL
Aside from prepping the body for daily yoga practices, a good yoga retreat packing list helps since I didn’t have time or the means to travel into town to purchase forgotten items leaving time to relax and reflect.
Le Detox/Le Food
Frankly, I was terrified about the detox and the effects it would have on my body as well as the taste of the food. The word detox alone conjured up grotesque images and made me turn up my nose, but boy was I wrong.
The team at Le Château du Montgoger poured so much love into the amazing, healthy, and delicious sattvic meals. Eliminating dairy, meat, fish, salt, and sugar was actually quite easy. Most of the fruits and vegetables were harvested from the organic garden in back of the chateau so they were as fresh as could be.
During our daily brunch and evening meals, one-by-one, the vegan dishes were presented accompanied with an explanation of the health benefits. For those with allergies or dislikes, alternative dishes were made and during the week-long retreat I did not once go hungry. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality and taste of the food and kept saying “Ce repas est delicieux!” (The food is delicious!).
The health benefits of mediation are numerous. Whether you wish to help reduce stress, sleep better, feel happier, or be more at peace, a regular devoted practice is necessary. I started meditating more often at home, but am still thrown off by sounds. Whether it be a neighbor mowing lawns, a bus passing by, or a dog barking, I haven’t been able properly enjoy meditating.
During the retreat not only were we guided on how to meditate, but given the tools in the comfort of a peaceful surrounding. Now that I’m over the first hurdle, I find it a little easier to meditate and be more present. Just like yoga, it’s a practice that keeps getting better with time.
The chateau is located about one hour outside of Tours, France and entering the grounds you are immersed in a tranquil, serene setting. Even at a retreat you need a little downtime and after two yoga sessions daily, I was able to catch up on my much-needed sleep.
The daily meditation and walks through the forest certainly helped me to relax and so did the walks among the hectares of luscious green forests. There were bikes available for rides into the nearby villages and hammocks to relax under a large oak tree awaiting the next Yogi nor far from where Joan of Arc slept.
The only sound was the occasional bark from the dog, a few pigeons, and the sound of lat summer leaves gently blowing in the breeze. To break up the routine, we also had some play dates at a nearby river and a visit to an organic cheese farm. It’s not sattvic but I couldn’t insult the cheese maker as she place a sample fromage in my hand.
Without getting into the details, before the retreat I was in a bad place and in much need of a sleep and TLC. So, how was my first yoga retreat experience? All I can is, “Ahh, pure bliss”. I can’t believe it’s already been seven months since the retreat and I’m still feeling fantastic.
I’ve returned home to a familiar place with a renewed spirit. And guess what? I decided to continue eliminating meat and fish from my cuisine but cheat a little and eat cheese every so often. I’m a cheese head from Wisconsin, so don’t comment. 🙂