Yoga retreat at the Bakti Kutir in Goa, with Lara Bauman
"I was one of the participants of Laras Goa retreat over Christmas and new year. Before I even begin to describe the schedule or the nature of the Yoga practice, I have to mention my delight and gratitude at how refreshed I feel consequently and how that is very different from other Januarys, that just feel full of long, dark evenings and tax bills!
The venue, Bhakti Kutir, is a lovingly curated Paradise. Natural beauty gently supported by a dedicated team of workers. Everywhere your eye rests is aesthetically pleasing, which brings a relaxation all its own. Its' atmosphere really supported the gentleness and the mutual quest to par down the pace of ones thoughts. The Yoga space was open, smooth-floored and sheltered by trees.
Lara had just completed a teacher training programme and these teachers were partially involved with our retreat, so we were in the luxurious position of having primed, enthusiastic support from many pairs of hands.
The day started with an hours meditation and pranayama, between 7-8, (so by the 3rd breathing technique, the sun had started to warm and brighten in the sky to our left). An hours break for a masala chai, fruit salad.. and then the main Yoga session for the day between 9-11. A huge vegetarian brunch was served for us all and then the next Yoga session between 4.30-5.30.
The morning session worked through Laras Quantum Yoga series, which comprises of 3 sequences of a general level and one more advanced. Lara has a vast, impassioned knowledge of Yoga and related philosophies and arts. Her teaching is consequently impassioned, invigorating and challenging. I was glad of my already established practice that helped me best appreciate the pace and level of the sequences.
My practice has had such a massive energy shift since the retreat! Lara's creation and subsequent communication of her development of the Quantum Yoga Series is entirely inspiring... and liberating, as it encourages the practitioner to be creative with their practice, to be proactive and inquisitive with the asanas, not just push to 'achieve' them. Having said that, in the greenhouse environment of a warm climate, plenty of informed support and such focused practice, one can't help but improve strength, balance and in confidence!
The afternoon session was lead by one of the newly qualified teachers and had workshop element to it that was utterly helpful. We would either reiterate what had been more complex in the morning session, or prepare for the next days sequence. There was a chance to work through, in detail, particular questions and challenge certain fears. A lovely by-product of these sessions also was the friendliness between everyone. The group I was in was led by Steve Agyei, who set up at the beach. He took us through joyous, flowing sequences stretching finger tips to horizons, faced our headstands toward the setting sun and chased us into the sea to finish! Glorious.
There were some lovely trips to secluded beaches that Lara organised, as well as plenty of time to make ones own arrangements. Infact, we all got so friendly that Lara reminded us to feel less socially responsible and take meditative time alone, if that's what we had come for or needed.
In conclusion, the most thoroughly refreshing break I've ever taken... in every sense of all of those words!!!!"