7 day retreat experience

atha yogānuśāsanam
“Now, the teaching of yoga.”

This first sutra pretty much sums up my experience of a yoga retreat with Polly Realf.

What more is there to be said…Polly invited us to ‘walk around in the sutras’ with her for a week in her beautiful retreat space Anam cara – a space with the potential to ‘reveal the hidden intimacies of your life’ (O’Donohue, J; 1997). A space to practice yoga.

I’ve been a student of yoga for about 30 years and teaching for half of that time. I’d travelled to this secluded spot for a second time, drawn by the container Polly creates for the week’s retreat, the nourishing food provided by Tamara, the teachings, a community of committed students to share the learning and laughter with and the warm weather following a Tassie winter.

Each day the yoga formally began with a sunrise meditation on the beach – what better metaphor than the tide endlessly rolling in and out to focus me on this thing called the ‘vrittis’, the constant thinking of the mind – one of our yoga themes for the week. 

The morning asana class then provided the opportunity to observe the vrittis through the body experience. In each asana where am I centralising, where am I decentralising. Establishing stability where can I find more space and allow the energy to move. How can I set aside old habits, a familiarity with the asana and move towards a new edge?

Polly’s teaching helped me meet the asana with a fresh approach. She demanded focus and this was satisfying. I could appreciate her own long and extensive ‘walks with the sutra’ and her ability to unpack complex teachings to something to be curious about in a practice.

Each day the break after lunch was a necessary time for digestion on many levels, as well as everyday ‘vrittis’ engagement.

The afternoon session, being more restorative asana, invited the vrittis observations with the body more still. How to let go and surrender, not hanging on to the story…further refinement in pranayama.

Polly continued to weave the threads of the retreat throughout the week. It felt an intense and rich week. I am surprised having returned home to feel an unfamiliar stability and spaciousness, a re-evaluation and renewed joy for my practice and am looking forward to sharing this with my own students.

Blessings for awakening these possibilities -to Polly and Vera and their committed community of practioners.



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