Jade Lizzie

Sharing the yoga love

Month: March 2015

Facing my fears at Suryalila Retreat Centre

TSuryalilahey say you should do something every day that scares you. I feel like I’ve been living by that mantra both on and off my yoga mat in my first week as a Workaway volunteer at Suryalila Retreat Centre.

When I arrived here last week, I was assigned the task of looking after the resident chickens. In the sunshine, as I was shown how to feed the chickens and collect their eggs, this seemed lovely. The next day, when it was freezing, and the rain had turned the field into a mud bath, it was less delightful. Fighting my way past hissing geese, I made it to the chicken coop, where most of the chickens were huddled out of the rain. I glanced to the side and saw one chicken on top of another. Oh look, I thought, 2 chickens having sex, how cute. Then I realised that the one on the bottom was dead. Horrified, I forgot all about collecting the eggs, and ran straight back to the centre, where my host told me that this was no big deal – lots of the chickens are very old and may well die soon. He calmly explained the “chicken disposal process” (essentially bag it, and bin it).

The walk back to the chicken coop, bin bag in hand, tears rolling down my face, was not a pleasant one. I tried to tell myself that this was nothing – it’s perfectly natural for old chickens to die, and really not a big deal to get rid of a chicken corpse. This didn’t help. I’m still not sure what I found so terrifying about getting a dead chicken into a bag, but I suppose fears aren’t always rational. It took a very long time to get the body bagged for removal. It was such a relief when I was finally able to leave the coop and know I didn’t have to return for another 24 hours. Surely I would not be unlucky enough for this to happen again anytime soon.

Unfortunately, luck was not on my side. The next day brought another dead chicken. I don’t know statistically how improbable 2 deaths in 2 days is for a relatively small brood of chickens, but this did not seem like very fair odds to me. At least this time I was slightly more prepared. I had bin bags with me, and although disposing of the body still left me retching, at least I didn’t cry this time. Which I am considering huge progress.

I have also been making considerable progress in my yoga practice at Suryalila. The daily vinyasa yoga classes here are brilliant. Except on my teacher training, I have never practised yoga so intensively, and I am loving it. The yoga teachers have been great at helping me to overcome some of my non-chicken-related fears. For the first time this week I have managed to kick up into a handstand properly, rather than jumping into it, and I have finally moved away from the wall and attempted a headstand in the middle of the room, under the watchful eye of my lovely teacher. Admittedly when I tried this again on my own, I fell over, but as she pointed out, once you’ve fallen, the fear isn’t so bad. And she’s right.

So I’m really excited and slightly terrified about the other challenges Suryalila has in store for me over the next three weeks. I feel like I’m learning a lot and being pushed out of my comfort zone, which was the whole point of this trip in a lot of ways. As long as there are no more dead chickens, I think I’ll be fine…

Gloss paint, mouldy fridges and burnt brownies

View from my windowThe title of this blog doesn’t sound particularly yogic, which is because there isn’t going to be a lot of yoga in this one I’m afraid. In fact, my first ten days in Spain have been so bizarre and unexpected, I wasn’t even sure I should write about them on my blog. But, in the words of Swami Kripalu “To perform every action artfully is yoga.” I’ll leave you to judge just how “artfully” I’ve been performing my actions this week…

I’m currently using Workaway to allow me travel and do yoga while volunteering in exchange for accommodation and food. Great, in theory. For my first placement I stayed with a writer in Andalucia. He told me he wanted help with managing his social media and looking after his villas. Great, I thought. The place looks beautiful (I wasn’t wrong there!), I love social media, and maybe I can learn a bit about writing from him too. The reality was somewhat different.

After a few days to settle in, I was put to work painting the bathroom, while my host went on a trip. This didn’t sound too bad, except the bathroom in question was dark red, and my host wanted it painting ivory. With gloss paint. This was possibly the worst idea in the history of decorating. Three coats of gloss later and the dark red was still showing through. My best attempts to protect the floor tiles from the interminable drips of ivory paint had failed, and everything I touched became a painty, tacky mess. As for me, after three days of being stuck on my own in the tiny bathroom, I was high on paint fumes, covered in gloss paint that no amount of showering with turps was removing, and going borderline crazy.

Things did not improve on my host’s return. Clearly (and rightly) judging me unfit to decorate any other rooms, I was given less responsible tasks, such as bleaching a mouldy fridge, and scrubbing a rusty barbeque. The fridge I did a decent job of, the barbeque less so. Have you ever tried cleaning a barbeque with a wire brush? It didn’t go well for me. I cut my hand on the brush, and covered myself in soot. Coupled with the paint spatters, it was an attractive look. Eventually, sick of trying to swill said barbeque in a tiny bucket of water, I gave up, and rinsed it in the swimming pool. Not good, I know, but determined to stick to my yogic principles of truthfulness, I confessed immediately afterwards. I don’t think my host was actually listening, but at least I tried, right?!

Just as I thought I had done as much damage as it was possible to do, my host invited a large group of friends for lunch. He asked me what cake I would bake for dessert. I tried to tell him that baking isn’t really my thing, but this fell on deaf ears. So after googling a recipe that promised “best ever brownies” I got stuck in. The recipe told me to check the brownies after 25 minutes. What the recipe did not take into account was the volcanic heat of the ancient gas oven in the villa. After 16 minutes I caught unmistakeable whiffs of burnt cake. I rescued the brownies before they were entirely inedible, but the edges and bottom were undeniably blackened. It’s fine, I thought, hopefully by the time they’re served everyone will have had so much wine that they won’t notice. As my host watched me hack off the worst of the burnt bits, he informed me that his guests included a former chef of Mick Jagger and Michelin-starred restaurant owner. Brilliant.

Thankfully, everyone – chef included – was very gracious about my overdone offering. And all in all it wasn’t a bad week – the place was absolutely stunning (see picture!), the weather was beautiful, and I was able to do yoga every day by the pool, which let’s face it I wouldn’t have been doing back in the UK. But I have learnt that I need to select my Workaway placements carefully and perhaps stick to those with a clearer focus on yoga. And no, I still haven’t got all the gloss paint off myself!

Planning, preparation and borderline panic

SuitcaseReflections on my last week in the UK…

One of the reasons I started yoga was for the feeling of calm it left me with. And since I began practising every day, I have been noticeably more relaxed. Except last week. Last week there were more relaxed chickens in slaughterhouses.

It didn’t help that I left all planning and preparation to the last minute. I had a house to move out of, a car to sell, all my worldy goods to store, vaccinations to arrange, flights to book and that was all before I even thought about packing. I needed to do lists to keep track of my to do lists. Given that I am not the most naturally well-organised person in the world, this sent me slightly mad.

I found myself frantically multitasking, and doing it badly. At any one time I would be emailing a Workaway host, checking travel insurance details, dividing clothes into “take”, “leave” and “maybe” piles, and trying to get a last minute appointment at the travel clinic.  All this really meant is that completing these jobs took ten times longer than it should have.

Unfortunately during this time when I probably needed yoga more than ever, it became just another task to tick off the list. Determined not to let my daily practice slide, I made sure I did it, but in retrospect this may not have been the best decision. I found myself in forward bends, with my mobile between my feet, texting people about selling my car. It wasn’t until I cut my ankle falling out of a headstand because I was trying to grab my sunglasses case from under the table that I knew I’d taken multitasking too far. Quite aside from the mental benefits of being mindful during yoga practice, it turns out it’s downright dangerous not to be…

It was a huge relief to find myself on the plane at last, knowing that although I still wasn’t Montecorto bedroom100% organised, I was on my way anyway. And doing my yoga practice this morning in a beautiful room that looks out over the Andalucian countryside was a very different experience. I even managed to turn my phone off, which I consider real progress!

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

Bitnami