I was invited to teach yoga on a Mediterranean sailing voyage recently. This trip covered a length of coast known as the Turkish Riviera, an area of breath-taking scenery, impossibly blue seas, spectacular sunsets and unspoilt landscapes.
I lived on board a hand-built yacht and led yoga classes for the guests as we sailed over seven days from Fethiye in the East to Bodrum in the West. Along the way, we hiked up mountains, met nomadic families and visited markets, villages and ancient ruins. As the sun set on each day, I reflected on what yoga can add to a holiday experience.
Connection: at its heart, yoga is about realising our connection with others, with nature, with everything that is. Practising yoga outdoors, surrounded by sea, mountains and sky, brings this sense very close. Sharing an ancient practice with strangers (who end up as friends) cements the reality that yoga is more than just exercise. It can be a powerful unifier.
Body awareness: Being buffeted by winds and ocean spray, maintaining balance on a gently rocking boat, surrendering to heat while moving through postures; these ‘beyond studio’ conditions add challenge to a familiar yoga class. This concentrated awareness of the felt sense of the body is a big part of yoga and is key to mindfulness.
Inner resources: One of the great joys of yoga is that it can be done without special equipment or props. If you can sit and breath, you can do yoga. When you take yoga on a holiday or retreat, you realise this principle much more powerfully. So whether it’s being done for physical fitness, a detox programme or stress management, yoga when travelling builds your inner resources, your self-care toolkit, in very many ways.
Cindy, who runs the trip, said: “For dedicated yogis, the thrill is practicing on a boat in the sea air to the music of lapping waves. For newbies, stretching muscles after challenging hikes is a juicy reward. And for everyone, being able to centre ourselves with yoga, absorbing all the day’s new sights and sounds adds hugely to the voyage”.
My Turkish trip was organised by sunfunyou.com/#sun-fun-you and it is one of several awe-inspiring voyages that they offer around the Med. If you are hankering for a different kind of wellness holiday, this could be just the ticket.