Yandara yoga retreat day 1-3
Flying into Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
I arrived at the Yandara yoga retreat in Todo Santos Mexico after a total of 4 days travelling and limited sleep, almost out of it. It was 8pm by the time I arrived off the shuttle from the tiny airport at Todo Santos, an hour drive to the retreat.
I did yoga when I lived in Panama, I loved it, stretching, working out, building a sweat, all that jazz- but this is different. This is a hard core yoga shit, meditation, herbal teas, no meat, no wifi, no booze, no smoking, chanting, silent breakfasts, no dairy, the list goes on.
I jump down off the shuttle and am overwhelmed by the beauty of the sky, it feels like a dark heavy blanket of diamonds has been covered closely over my head, I can see the milky way for the first time in years, I can see orions belt, the plough, everything my dad taught me about as a little girl is right above my head. I lift my back pack out of the shuttle and it’s taken by a lovely Mexican man named Jesse who is going to show me to my tent, my home for the next 10 days.
I walk past the communal area and hear; ‘I didn’t find yoga, it found me,’ and see a skinny Canadian woman wrapped in hand made robes and blankets of different colours, caressing a flask of green tea or something like that. Oh shite, I think to myself.
Everyone who I pass on the way to my tent greets me with a massive silent smile and a whispering ‘welcome,’ like I am entering some kind of cult. I get to my tent which is for me, glamping, I have a bed with sheets and three heavy hand made blankets, a bed side table and a lamp. My surroundings are infinite cacti, sand, the wild pacific ocean which crashes on the coast with a massive roar, and the beautiful crystal clear sky.
There’s around 30 people here and they’re all here to do different yoga courses, teacher training, yin restorative and bakthi yoga, the slow yoga arts, none of which I know anything about. They start at 7.20am. I wake at 6am from the sound of nothing, complete silence and I peer out my window and see the silhouette of cacti and the mountains, the sky slowly taking away the stars and bringing in the glow of the morning sun, a sign that a new day has started.
I eat breakfast; nuts, papaya and banana, washed down with simple chai tea and water. Everyone is in class and I have the compound to myself with baby Luna. I am here to help with my beautiful friend Ana’s 4 and a half month old baby, while she gets her yoga on. So we start by walking along the beach. I leave the retreat down the path of tents and studios, tents gradually disappearing until I reach the beach. There is a huge house sitting on top of a large rock foundation. I have already guessed it’s the residence of some kind of drug lord. The house is isolated, has a small security lot at the bottom, a long winding concrete road leading up to the house, protected by two large gates, security dogs and surrounded by 5 SUV’s. Every time I walk down to the beach towards this house the dogs go berserk, and the first time, I was approached by the security man of the property below.
The beach is deserted, there aren’t even foot prints and the next property is about two miles down the beach. The sand is golden but hard on my bare feet, the ocean is crashing into the sloping shore like its trying to defeat it. The wind is so strong it’s blowing my hair back like its going to rip off. I walked for two hours down the beach and back and wasn’t done so walked through the desert. My mind wasn’t heavy then, it was free and relaxed and enjoying the surroundings.
That night I joined the last class of the day, the Kirtan song class, just for shits and giggles. Everyone was sitting on a robe circling some kind of a shrine, they call it a puja, it’s an alter full of things that each member of the circle cherish, they lit candles and sat in silence. We are in the company of some kind of yogi band. 5 people, all from the states, all dressed in white linen or a tie dye combo with long white hair or dark hair tied up in dreads. They are speaking a language I do not understand. Chanting, smiling and cheering, I try to join in when I think appropriate but I find comfort in sinking back from the circle and staying quiet and just watching.
We go around the circle and introduce ourselves, I simply say that I am Natasha and I am the on site Nanny. The ceremony is one hour long and by the end of it, I find myself holding hands with the circle, laughing out loud as I run in and out of song dance. That night I slept like a log.
I woke again at 6am and went to the 24 hour tea station and found a woman I recognised from the evening ceremony. Her name is Di and I would guess she is around 68-70. She looks and speaks like something out of a children’s animal based animation cartoon. A small mouse or shrew. She wears a turquoise long shirt which swings above her ankles, a white linen sleeveless top revealing her slim wrinkly brown arms. She has overly magnified circular glasses on with a brown waring frame, a bright red scrunchy on the top of her head holding together the lasting strands of her thick grey hair.
‘You’re….the…you’re the….the NANNY!’ she squeals, as I punch out the last of the hot water from the canister into my mug.
‘Yea, that’s me, the one non yogi wandering around all day with a 4 month old kid strapped to my stomach!’ I reply with a smile.
‘Oh, you’re…you’re Irish?’
‘Sure am! Wicklow, small town called Greystones.’
Di and I talk for a while, she has a wonderful aura of a caring grandmother to her, she instantly loves me, purely for the fact I am Irish and looking after a child. I ask her how she is finding her time here and she answers with a paused and thorough; ‘it’s been interesting, I am very tired and grateful,’
She’s already done a 16 day course and is now on day 1 of a 10 day course. Jaysus, I thought again. Di and I have a familiar comforting connecting, she leaves to go to class and I leave to be alone again.
My second day was hard. I really felt the sense of isolation, the inability to be distracted on demand by other things. By sunset I was crying down on the beach. It felt like word vomit by emotion. It had been building up and I had been ignoring it and putting it off to when I thought appropriate and when I say appropriate I mean, surrounded by distraction again and forgotten. It felt good. Maybe this is why the yogis come here.
This next morning was magical, I woke before my alarm and while there was still the noise of the desert surrounding my tent. All the little creatures busy at work and finishing the last of their nightly duties. I went for a walk around the desert before the sun was too hot, thinking constantly.
While I was having my breakfast alone, a man I had grown familiar to by voice came over, Simon. He showed interest in the baby strapped to my chest and asked if he could kiss her. I had seen this man on Skype to someone earlier in the week so I asked how and who he was talking to. He told me he had paid the extra $20 to have wifi, he was talking to his sons, one of them is 8 and the other 5. He said they were going through a hard time and without me pressing he told me everything.
Simon is 56 and up until last christmas, had a happy 18 year marriage with two boys. Two days after christmas just passed his wife confessed she wanted a divorce, she didn’t want anything to do with Simon or their marriage, 6 days later Simons mother died after 10 years of him and his father nursing her dementia. He continued to tell me how he was raped at the age of 8 and how that hadn’t come up until three years ago and he believes that is the reason for his failed marriage.
‘Everything was fine, we had an amazing christmas, the two boys were so happy with their presents, we had just finished renovations on the house and everything was done, I loved my wife, I was happy, I thought everything was ok,’ he told me as tears filled in my eyes.
Simon kissed baby Luna on the head while she was strapped to my stomach and I was bobbing up and down and said ‘I love you,’ and he really meant it.
These people aren’t so different to me, they are just doing something I am not familiar with. I think I am going to learn a lot here, wether I want it or not, it’s being presented to me in a manner that I cannot deny and I think, soon, I will be willing to accept.