Well I continue to surprise myself. Here I am in Spanish speaking Mallorca in the middle of a yoga and creative writing retreat. Attending, in addition to me and Jolanda, are Sylvia from Switzerland, Louise and Sophie from the UK plus our instructors Stella and Chris. Vinyasa-flow yoga for an hour and half each morning followed by brunch. Another yoga session, kundalini or restorative in the afternoon. And then, on alternate days, a class of creative writing before dinner. Finally followed by mantra chanting with hand actions. Hand actions! Well this shy, insecure Kiwi man has come a long way . . . 

I have to say I am finding the chanting after dinner the most challenging. I am of course completely out of my comfort zone but, aside from that, mantra participation requires singing along in Sanskrit while at the same time performing quite complex movements. Last night I was defeated by one particular piece. I had to give up on the words and concentrated on following the actions which were surprisingly energetic. At one stage you are required to cleave the air vigorously downwards with clenched fists, as though you are chopping wood. Then follows some quick breast-stroke action before making some hand signs in the air. I was giving it my all when I realised my efforts were becoming the focus of some hilarity from Sophie and Louise. I have to admit playing up a little to my audience while at the same time being aware of some stern glances from Stella. It was a tricky situation . . .

Mantra chanting can be good for you with benefits such as lowering stress levels. I have to say I did find myself enjoying things and felt pretty chilled. I guess you just have to give it a go to experience what it’s all about . . .

 

We have had two sessions of creative writing so far and I have been transfixed. We are required to “free write” each day – just to write continuously and without stopping. Stella says: “You can’t find the right dance if you aren’t on the dance floor” which is another way of saying writing is a discipline. No discipline – no creativity.  We have learned about structuring a story, building characters and about how to make a story gripping. For our homework we had to write a poem. Well that was the first poem I have written in about . . . ever. Thankfully you will be spared the end result in this blog. Suffice to say it involved a boat called  Rusty.

Our retreat is based at Finca son Artigues in Mallorca’s south – between the towns of Porreres and Felanitx. The owners have created a wildlife refuge here with donkeys, rabbits, frogs and one quite bouncy three-legged dog. For the guests there are various amenities – two self-contained residential houses with a total of seven rooms, a kitchen block and yoga shala. The grounds are beautiful – two swimming pools, outdoor patio areas - we are quite spoilt really.

To add to our indulgent lifestyle for seven days, all our meals are cooked and served to us around a large communal dining table. All vegetarian, beautifully prepared and presented by Adrienn, a delightful Hungarian girl. Check out her Instagram account “tastemosaics”.

As I sit writing this on our last day, the others are participating in some Somatic dancing – a sort of free dance technique with the focus on exploring the internal experience of the dancer as opposed to dancing for how it looks. Now that is completely out of my comfort zone. I guess one thing I am learning is while it's liberating to say yes to more things, there is also something to say for having the courage to say no. It’s all about getting the balance right.

So how do I feel at the end of this week? Well I’m pretty sore, particularly in my shoulder. But I am definitely stronger, I feel more flexible and definitely have a quieter and calmer mind. I have hugely enjoyed the tuition and guidance from Chris and Stella – two extremely talented, kind and compassionate people. 


And I have loved the companionship – laughing and talking about things that matter with some seriously cool people."

Richard Norris, New Zealand

Mallorca Retreat 2019