This year saw a return trip to Australia, after ten years living and working in the UK. Part of my trip that I have been very much looking forward to was a stay at the beautiful Emu Park yoga retreat in Queensland with Linda. I had previously studied with Linda back in 2005 at the Dulwich Hill yoga school, which led me to my first steps on the yoga path. Since leaving Sydney we have stayed in touch, and I also built and worked on the yoga nook website. After many months of looking at photos of the Emu Park retreat, it was finally time to visit … for real.
After a week in Sydney catching up with friends and visiting old stomping grounds, I stepped on the plane once again, to Brisbane this time, and a short hop later was in Rockhampton saying a smiling hello to Linda at Rockhampton airport. Ten years quickly melted away as we drove out into the soft marshmallow light of a Yeppoon sunset, and headed to the Emu Park retreat.
Arriving at the retreat I immediately got a sense of what a special week this was going to be. The building itself was open and light, with a lovely sense of calm. Our rooms were really beautiful, with fresh linen sheets, floor boards, super clean and zen like, but for me the coup to grace was as I opened the blinds a little, I realised the whole weekend would be accompanied by the soft sounds of the ocean, just perfect.
Settled in and unpacked, I wandered outside to explore a little more, and was greeted by the panorama of ocean that surrounds the retreat, an endless horizon and a soft balmy breeze. Before our classes had even begun it felt like this was a place to breathe in and enjoy every moment.
Feeling excited about the coming week, if a little travel weary, I headed across to the restaurant to share a meal with the other intrepid yogis who had arrived a day earlier. There I was happy to meet a couple of familiar faces from Dulwich Hill yoga classes, and some new friends from Sydney, Melbourne and Rockhampton. The company was matched by the amazing vegetarian food. All fresh and carefully prepared, a beautiful mango sorbet as a pre-dinner cocktail, pumpkin soup with pesto and parmesan, tofu kebabs, vegetarian curry, spiced lentil and pepper pies, chocolate mouse … need I say more.
I slept so well in my peaceful room, and despite worrying that I would sleep through my alarm, was up at 8 am ready for the first morning yoga class. I have always enjoyed Linda’s teaching, and the calm and focused way she leads a class, and it was wonderful to settle back into one of her classes. The yoga room was light and airy, with a view directly out to the ocean, with the windows open to let in a breeze and the sounds of the waves, it was a very special place indeed to practice yoga.
Morning class began with a ten minute preparation ( Supta Virasana ) moving onto standing poses and ending with 15 minutes of relaxation ( Supta Baddha Konasana). The afternoon classes sometimes challenged me with inversions, but with the help of props and support was able to experience them all. Although 5 hours of yoga sounds a significant amount in a day, it still left plenty of time to rest, relax and absorb.
In my opinion the retreat was the perfect balance of great teaching, relaxed ambiance, good company and peaceful and reflective time to myself. Its hard to express everything of this unique experience in a blog, but I certainly hope this will be one of many visits to Emu Park. It left me feeling open, energised and re-connected with my practice.
Some highlights for me ( other than the classes ) included …Walking along the vast beautiful beach, swimming in the lagoon surrounded by huge basalt rocks, listening to the sounds of the birds and the ocean, watching the sunrise with Venus over the ocean, going to Yeppoon early morning organic markets and meeting so many new and interesting people.
Thank you Linda, Liza, Tiffany, Paula,Veronica, Tess, Kathryn, Deborah, Monica, Muriel, Jess, Donna and Steve for marking this a unique and wonderful retreat. I am plotting already how to come back next year …
More images can be found on the Queensland Retreat page.