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I’ve just spent the most amazing 4 days on retreat in Spain. Set amongst the green mountains (I didn’t know Spain could be so green) near Malaga.

So why did I go on retreat?

Going on retreat is my idea of heaven. After being at home with the kids for the past 3 years I promised myself a retreat this year. I researched a lot of retreats but after my yoga teacher recommended Olive Retreat I knew it was the one for me.

I’m not going to lie, as it got nearer I was anxious about leaving the kids. And it felt scary travelling on my own, I haven’t travelled on my own in such a long time. That Mummy guilt crept up on me too!  But after we’d said our goodbyes at the airport (and after a few tears) I was excited about my little adventure all by myself.

I learnt so much whilst I was away and what’s interesting is that since I’ve been back there’s still stuff coming up that I can take from my time away.

Yoga
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A bit about Ayurveda

I’m always intrigued by different food philosophies and Ayurveda had come up for me a couple of times this year so I was intrigued to learn a bit more. Ayurveda is a natural healing system from India and it means science of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). I learnt that there are 5 bodies in Ayurveda; the physical body, the energy body, the mental body, the emotional body, the spiritual body and your soul. It’s peaked my interest and I’ll definitely be looking into ancient food philosophies a bit more.

That food philosophies are different

Using Ayurveda I felt thoroughly detoxed but it was definitely different to what I would call a traditional detox, perhaps like a juice cleanse. We had chocolate mousse, bread and even chocolate truffles. All healthy and homemade of course but I was surprised that the detox included sugar, albeit natural. And that’s the thing, depending on what research you look at, what philosophy you follow, each has its differences. Which leads me into …

Chocolate mousse
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Listen to your body

All this reinforced for me that you can only listen to your body. You know your body better than anyone. I can tell you what you should or shouldn’t eat based on the latest research but it’s about finding your own way. It’s about finding out what healthy means to you. If you’re not dependent on sugar that could include some natural sugar in your diet but if weight loss is your goal it may be good to take it out of your diet for a while for example. We’re all different.

Could I be a vegan?

The food on retreat was amazing. Probably some of the best healthy food I’ve ever eaten and it was all vegan. I didn’t choose the retreat for this reason, I chose it to learn a bit about Ayurveda, for the detox and the yoga. But the food was definitely one of the highlights for me. All the food was prepared based on Ayurvedic principles. My favourite was the Mexican feast we had one lunch time. Cristina (the lady behind Olive and who has an enormous wealth of food, nutrition and health knowledge) is so passionate about veganism, it’s hard for it not to be contagious! It’s definitely got me thinking about how I eat. One of the important things for me is how it all fits into my lifestyle but particularly with my family and I think for that reason I will eat some meat but I think it will be greatly reduced along with dairy.

Mexican feast
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Mediation

One of my other motivations for the retreat was to learn a bit more about meditation. Ray was the resident mediation guru and he took us on journeys I can’t even describe here!  I learnt a lot about practicing and some new techniques.

Me time

Doing something I love just for me felt good. I think it’s so important to do things for yourself. Having time to be just you, not Mummy, wife or work colleague, just you. I’m pretty good at looking after myself and I do have time to myself regularly but there was something about being away for a period of time that was not only good for me but for my family too. I’ve come home appreciating them all the more. I’m enjoying every moment with the kids. But better than that I’ve come home feeling appreciated. It was good for all of us.

Experiment!

I literally got through the door from the airport and straight in the kitchen! Literally! I was so inspired by all the food. What was nice though was that none of the meals were planned. Cristina and the gang got into the kitchen and just decided what to make. And not only that they made things they’d never made before. They worked together to throw things together and it never failed. It’s taught me to just experiment in the kitchen and see what happens.

Be kind and love yourself

On the last day we had a wonderful session with Cristina about what it feels like to be loved. Cristina believes that self-love is the key to good health. I’ve never looked at it like this before but I have to say I agree. You have to love who you are and become really comfortable in your own skin.

On my last night I was reflecting on what I’d learnt. I felt so calm, relaxed and happy (although a little sad to be leaving) I’d actually forgotten where I was at at the beginning of the retreat. In my journal on the first day I’d written that I wanted to calm my busy mind. With so much going on as a working Mum it’s so easy for the mind to get overrun with to-do lists and everything else that has to be done. And I feel grateful that, for now, the busyness has gone.

The retreat was so full of information and inspiration it’s hard to capture it all here. But I can’t go without saying thank you to Cristina, Ray, Daniel and Natasha for making my 4 days truly wonderful.  And the ladies who shared my experience with me.  Thank you.

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