Re-energize your body and mind on a yoga and detox retreat

Have you ever thought about going away solo on a Yoga and Detox Retreat, but are afraid you might hate it? Here is an insight to my experience, so you can make up your mind if 2022 is the year you give it a try!

After a week of Yoga and Detox, my body was more flexible, my mind clearer and my energy levels amazing!

In my experience, the fourth decade in a woman’s life is a time for questioning relationships, life, and career! 

You are either married with kids and starting to see your children move away from home and questioning the void left behind, maybe your relationship has lost its sparkle or even worse you have discovered you can’t stand your partner anymore as he/she goes through a mid-life crisis, your career seems to be going nowhere or you are single, and wondering is this it, and maybe thinking, last chance saloon as the body clock is ticking away!

It is the decade when some women approach Menopause or Perimenopause and those hormone changes and night sweats are not helping with your usual balance and clear perspective on life’s challenges.

In my forties, I broke up a long-term relationship, took voluntary redundancy from my twenty-year job with no idea what I would do next, left my home, moved countries, hit early menopause, experienced my first ever health scares and strangely enough discovered Yoga for the first time!

It is not a surprise that when life challenges us, we look for solutions anywhere we can. 

I think I discovered Yoga while googling “Can someone please sort my life out!?”

My first Yoga Holiday experience was in a Fortified Medieval village, just north of Rome, as I was living in Italy at the time and had just left my long-term job and relationship! 

I had absolutely no expectation, as I had never done a yoga class in my life or had any idea what meditation was and so signing up for 6 days of yoga twice a day was going to be an enlightening experience, at the very least.

The group was mostly single and mostly women and the teacher was an American lady. We practiced in an old stable twice a day but also had time to wander around the cobbled streets and discover the amazing historic town and surrounding countryside. In the evening, we socialized with our fellow yoga students in the quaint cafes and restaurants dotted around the medieval village, sampled the local food and wine, and soaked in the Italian atmosphere.

As my first experience of a Yoga holiday, it was just what I needed. An in-depth introduction into yoga and meditation, but at the same time still a holiday.

I continued to experience different types of Yoga holidays over the next couple of years. Staying in simple huts on a beach in Mexico, or luxurious villas in Spain, in an open Yurt in the Turkish mountains, under camel rugs in an Eco camp in Egypt and in simple family-run hotels in India. I soon discovered many different types of retreats to choose from, ranging from basic to luxury accommodation and from simplistic physical Yoga exercise classes to in-depth spiritual exposure.

I was in India, where I travelled to my first Yoga and Detox Retreat, and that was an experience I will never forget!

It was in a simplistic hotel near the beach and sea in Goa. The group was a real mixture of men and women of all ages and from different backgrounds. One woman was there to help her recover from an over-the-counter drug addiction, another woman was recovering from cancer and wanting to clear out the excess drugs in her system, another was there as she was having difficulties getting pregnant and some were there just to lose weight. Everyone really just wanted to improve their health. The retreat organizer was a yoga teacher and nutritionist. 

On the first day, she explained the week ahead. Our daily intake of food would be a very diluted juice mid-morning, half a coconut water in the afternoon and a clear consommé soup at night. In addition, we could drink as much herbal tea as we liked, which was mainly from fresh herbs like mint or sage. We also took some Psyllium Husk and herbal tablets to help with the detoxification process.

The main aim of the detox was to clear the colon, so when she demonstrated what we needed to do with what looked like a colostomy bag and long tube with a tap at the end, I started thinking about where the nearest 5-star All-inclusive luxury hotel was!

Yes, it was what you are thinking! Self-administered colonic irrigation!

We were instructed this needed to be done twice a day. In the morning, we needed to fill the colostomy bag with warm water and a small amount of organic coffee and warm water and lemon in the evening. We then had to attach the bag to a hook or handle, lie on the bathroom floor, allow the contents of the bag to slowly flow through the anus into the colon, gently massage your stomach, hold the water in as long as we could and then await the eruption! Obviously, we would need to be close to the toilet for this exercise!

What a challenge! It was hilarious as the topic of conversation most of the day was how long you could hold for, did you use music or read a book to relax while doing it, what emerged and then how long you had to stay on the toilet during the eruption! I never thought I would discuss this with complete strangers, but I did! 

This subject kept my friends in my local pub amused for weeks after I returned from my “holiday” when I shared the details, with, of course, the usual comments questioning my sanity and asking if I had actually paid for this experience!

The day also included two yoga classes, various opportunities for holistic massage and reflexology and a lunchtime lesson on nutrition!

 Well, it was not as if we were eating, so we had to do something!

It was, however, really interesting learning about all types of food and how they affected our bodies. I never knew that a steak could stay in your colon for years while it slowly decomposes inside your body or about the “dirty dozen,” which is a list of the fruit and vegetables most sprayed with pesticides and how they can damage your health, or the amount of mercury found in farmed salmon and the impact that has on the brain

In between all this excitement, I did my usual holiday swimming, walking on the beach, reading, and relaxing, but to be honest, it was a full schedule!

There was, of course, a mixed reaction from the group. Most embraced everything that was on offer; however, those addicted to caffeine or cigarettes did struggle. Personally, I hit a low on day three, which made me question if I could continue or not, but it was just a small blip. After that, I sailed through the rest of the week with increased enthusiasm each day as I started to realize how different and healthier I was feeling towards the end of the week.

My body was so much more flexible in the yoga classes than ever before, and by the end of the week, I felt so energized and alive. Part of me wanted to continue into another week of this strict regime!

The week ended with a final celebration meal with flowers on the table, where we could choose which one fruit or vegetable we wanted to eat! Everyone dressed up. We meditated, sang, and danced! There was a real sense of achievement, and everyone discussed how great they felt.

We had to take some simple vegetables or fruit in a packed lunch for the flight home and clear instructions on how to break the fast when we got home slowly! The return to normal food needed to be done slowly and carefully.

I must admit I was desperate to start eating tasty food again. I visualized my first piece of toast with jam on the flight home! However, the whole experience made me really appreciate food so much more. It made me not want to throw the usual rubbish into my body. My body did feel like a temple that I did not want to violate with poor quality food and drink. It taught me how to hold back, strengthening my willpower and resolve. It made me realize for the first time how food really is the fuel we need to live and not just something that tastes great and gives us pleasure.

To be honest, once the daily grind of life kicks back in, the winter nights draw in, and the stresses of work and family overwhelm, it is often hard to live a healthy, well-being life, even after this enlightening experience.  

However, I learned a lot from that retreat and enjoyed it so much that I try to make detox an intermittent part of my life, and I have experienced a variety of other detox retreats since. I generally find that the first new experience is always the best, especially when you overcome a challenge or fear and come out the other end feeling stronger and wiser!

Why don’t you give it a try in 2022!

This detox retreat was with www.jivahealing.com

Pamela O'Donnell
Professional Certified Leadership and Wellbeing Coach
Pamela is English, however she has been extremely fortunate to have lived and worked around the globe during her career in the Travel Industry. This included working and living in Italy, France, Switzerland, Greece, Russia, North Africa, the Far East, North America, the Caribbean, and the Indian Ocean. Her wide travel experience has allowed her to develop a global awareness of different cultures and perspectives. She can speak Italian, French and German to various levels and is learning Spanish! She spends her time living both in the UK and on the beautiful Island of Menorca in Spain.

Pamela has worked as a Global Leader, with 30+ years’ experience of managing teams around the world. Her last position was as Director, Global Customer Resolution, leading a large team, based in 15 countries in North America, Europe, and Asia.

She decided to step out of Leadership and into Professional Leadership and Wellbeing Coaching after being made redundant, and as Covid-19 hit the world devastating the Travel Industry.

It was time to share her knowledge and experience by helping others to develop. She is interested in using her extensive leadership experience and combine it with her passion for Wellbeing to help others to maximize their potential.

Pamela is also a Yoga teacher, is passionate about learning and development, and has a particularly keen interest in Human Behavioural Psychology. This led her to study Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Psychology, which helps in her coaching practice.

She loves to swim most days even in the winter, enjoying the wonderful health benefits this brings to the mind and the body. She enjoys walking in nature, cycles, and teaches and practices yoga by the sea when she can. She is passionate about the positive effects movement and nature has on mental wellbeing.

Pamela does, however, admit to having a weakness for red wine and chocolate!
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