Yoga in Paros-dise

When the idea for a Yoga break occurred to me, I imagined myself replenishing the reserves that were depleted in the busyness of the past year, a sort of time-out that would help me to regain some equilibrium, to overcome the feeling of extreme tiredness. Indeed, I was so tired that, if I woke up during the night, I would start fretting about getting back to sleep, which, of course, meant that I didn't get the restful, deep sleep needed to restore vitality. However, after the Yoga holiday, I felt that I had not only paid back that deficit, but also topped-up for the coming year.

In short, it was exactly what I needed.

I am convinced that this was due to the combination of the Yoga teacher, Oona Giesen, the island of Paros, the accommodation in Villa Konitopoulus and the group of strangers who met in the cool, restful Yoga studio in Aliki.

I found this holiday by chance, searching for Yoga in Greece, and found www.yoga-paros.com*. I had spent wonderful time on Paros thirty years previously, and was looking for an opportunity to pay a return visit. This was probably the deciding factor, as I didn't know anything about Yoga breaks.

Oona, a Dutch woman who considers that Yoga saved her life, (read her interview, click the button "interviews") has an amazing capacity to develop an individual connection with each Yoga student, while simultaneously, encouraging a group dynamic of support and trust. Her introductory remarks included the usual observation that Yoga is not competitive, which sometimes fails to register among some students. However, in this group, the supportive environment ensured that it remained about personal attainment, not who was the best.

Oona's methods stems from the Iyengar's model, but with a softer approach. Iyengar Yoga uses props, such as arch supports, bolsters, sand bags and cushions, as well as the more usual rugs and belts. The whole idea is for the body to be aligned and supported, for the postures to be correct and balanced.

Oona spent time demonstrating the asanas, and then helping people to perform them to their best possible ability. While I have practiced Yoga for many years, I have become stiff as the years advanced, especially my knee and hip joints. That was not an impediment, though, and I was very happy with the way I loosened and became more flexible during the week. I enjoyed the use of the back arch supports, which really opened up my shoulders and chest, countering the hours at the computer and a life-time of slouching. But my personal achievement were the head stands, (yes, plural!) which I did for the first time ever. I did these with the use of shoulder supports and blankets, which ensured no pressure on my neck, and the help and confidence of one of my fellow students. A unique triumph for me.

One of the most pleasurable aspects of Yoga is the meditation and relaxation. The Yoga studio is calm, cool and pristine, a haven in outside temperatures where even the cicadas were silenced. Oona attended to relaxation and renewal. The pace and tone was just right, soothing, mellow and harmonious. It was just like entering another world.

The studio is located in the village of Aliki, a small harbour in the south west of the island of Paros, really, almost a little of paradise. This is a wonderful, low key place, with lovely beaches and clear water.

With regards to accommodation and food, I stayed in Villa Konitopoulos**, with its beautiful rooms, delicious breakfasts and very friendly staff and owners. The nearby restaurants served wonderful evening meals, with an emphasis on fresh fish. The local wine and cheese was indeed food fit for the gods.

The final ingredient in the mix was the group, ten in all, from all over Europe. We gelled very quickly and found our fellow travellers on myriad individual journeys. The support and fun was exemplary and a model for all adult education classes.

Parosweb*** provides lots of information about Paros, travelling to and from the island, what to do, and where to go. I extended my Yoga holiday by a few extra days to take a look around the island, a really worthwhile endeavour as it truly is a lovely place.

Although many travellers in Greece uncover the magic inferred in Cavafy's Ithaca, it remains the touchstone which makes some sense of the experience of a break like this.

Pray that the road is long.
That the summer mornings are many, when,
with such pleasure, with such joy
you will enter ports seen for the first time ...



Details:

* Yoga in Paros: www.yoga-paros.com

** Accommodation: www.konitopoulos.gr

*** Paros and Antiparos: www.parosweb.gr

Everything about Aliki: www.aliki-paros-greece.com

Flights from Dublin to Athens: www.aerlingus.com

Boats from Pireas: www.openseas.gr

Internal flights to Paros: www.olympicair.com