So, I was all excited about going to Kaliyoga in Spain when I suddenly had a bad thought. A big bad thought. You know how I am about sharing rooms with people on detox? Well, to be honest, it goes beyond a dislike into downright phobia. And it’s not just while detoxing; it’s sharing in general. It’s not that I’m anti-social per se; it's just that I really really like my own space. Okay, so I’m kinda weird about my aura.
So I checked and…aaaghhh. I was sharing. But, but, but…I spluttered. In fact I begged, I whined, I prostrated myself on the floor and kicked my heels but they said, sorry, the retreat was full, there was no choice. I nearly said I’d sleep in a field or up a tree but then remembered that Spain gets things like mosquitoes and wotnot so discretion was the better part of valor and so I just…fretted.
‘She’s a 47 year old Swiss woman,’ they said. As if that would made everything okay. When I shared this particular bit of information with my kettlebell group, they all looked a bit nonplussed.
‘What are the Swiss like?’ asked someone. We debated it (while swinging into clean and snatch and hoisting ourselves into Turkish get-ups) and swiftly realized that our knowledge of the Swiss national characteristics was meagre. Watches, skiing, banks, cuckoo clocks, mountains were suggested. Toblerone got an honourable mention. Muesli came up. Cheese waved a flag. What was the Swiss flag for pity’s sake? Who were famous Swiss?
‘Wasn’t Heidi Swiss?’ said someone else. At which point I’m ashamed to say the whole class started yodeling and waving pretend pigtails at me.
‘How am I supposed to face this poor woman now?’ I said.
‘Wave a cow bell?’ someone suggested helpfully. I despair, I really do. How we stereotype huh?
Anyhow, they got it all wrong. My room-mate was actually an American (who just happened to be living in Switzerland at that particular moment in time) and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone looking less like Heidi. She was absolutely lovely and, thank the gods of yodelling, the ideal room-mate. Within the confines of our room, we passed one another like cautious ghosts, spectacularly polite and considerate.
But, I don’t know about you but when I hear the word ‘retreat’ I suppose uppermost in my mind is going away somewhere a bit cut off, to be thoughtful, meditative, contemplative, or whatever. All the retreats I’ve done have been solo; most have been either totally or majorly silent. So, quite apart from the room-sharing thingy, how come I spent my entire week at Kaliyoga talking and laughing my head off? Have retreats gone soft? Have I gone soft?
However, as the week progressed, I gradually realized that, actually, this was probably just what I needed. I have been so isolated, so solitary (entirely of my own making, I should add) that all this interaction was probably good therapy. Listening to people and their ‘issues’ and ‘challenges’ puts your own stuff into perspective. Laughing gets the endorphins going. And, as Lelly, our yoga teacher said on the first day: ‘Sometimes your yoga won’t be vinyasas in the yoga shala. Sometimes your yoga will be resting or sunbathing.’ And my yoga was all of that with an added dose of snorting.
And yes, I was still able to slope off by myself when I needed to. Okay, so not to my room (my usual place of refuge) but to a hammock or the wild flower meadow or to a squashy sofa in the boho living room. I was often the first up and the last to bed, so found my privacy at the corners of the day. And, standing under the stars, with the orange blossom heady in the dell, my senses reeled and I found myself tumbling out into everything, and everything tumbling into me…and the entire concept of being alone and separate felt suddenly suddenly quite quite …amusing.