Monday, June 21, 2010

Try a Yoga Retreat to Prepare for your Wedding




In the shadow of the mountains, Mary O'Brien for The Sydney Morning Herald discovers the gentle art of bend and stretch during a two-day yoga retreat.

Mount Sturgeon sparkles in the pale winter sun and the gardens are painted white after a surprise early frost. My breath dances in the chilly air. It's only 8am and the yoga group moves purposefully towards the studio, shivering, partly from the cold and partly from the anticipation of what's to come – three hours of intensive yoga.

We're staying at Griffins Hill Yoga Retreat in Dunkeld for the weekend. Some have come from Melbourne, some are locals who attend weekly classes and a couple are yoga teachers. We've come to seek instruction from senior Iyengar teacher Frank Jesse.

At first, three hours seem to stretch out infinitely – 180 minutes of detailed instruction and painful stretching. But once we're warmed up, we're all too busy to worry about the time. All my energy and concentration is focused on Jesse, listening to his instructions, trying to bend my awkward body into the right shapes, terrified that I'll be caught out as an impostor – an enthusiastic, but irregular, yoga attendee.

As the first session finishes, delicious smells drift out to the studio. Jesse's partner, Jane Gibb, has been busy in the kitchen. The long table is beautifully decked out with freshly squeezed orange juice, oatmeal pancakes, preserves, fruit and home-made baked beans. The class is united – we've bonded over yoga poses and now it's time for some good food and conversation.

We have a light meal of home-made dips and lentil soup with Turkish flat bread the first night and an Indian banquet the second. It's Jesse's responsibility to bake the bread and he does a mean bread roll, chapatti and Turkish bread.

We've got a few free hours on Saturday afternoon and, despite the temptation to flop, a group decides to walk up Mount Piccaninny, a relatively easy trail. It's idyllic as the day warms up and we meet a pair of tame wallabies and a wakeful owl on the gentle climb to the top.

Yoga retreats are held every month at Griffins Hill. The one and two-night programs are suitable for beginners but you need at least one year's experience for the three or five-day sessions.

On this two-day retreat, we practise yoga for 4 hours the first day and three hours on the second. Jesse is a dedicated teacher who constantly checks that everyone is doing the postures properly. The studio is open for extra practice but my aching muscles have had more stretching than they bargained for.

Mary O'Brien travelled courtesy of Tourism Victoria and Griffins Hill Yoga Retreat.

To read the full article visit The Sydney Morning Herald

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