It’s been a month since my trip and I often close my eyes, transport myself back, smile and feel calm. I joined over 20 people who came from different corners of the US on a Yoga retreat in Cuba. I was nervous initially – both about the long flight on my own as well as not knowing what to expect, what type of people I’d be meeting or how my days would pass. I have to say that it has been one of the best things I’ve ever done.
I had a wonderful week starting and ending each day with gentle yoga, healthy, organic meals throughout the day, beach walks, connecting with people from different walks of life and explorations of Havana. Having gone through last year’s experiences, Cuba was a lesson in ‘letting go’. Letting go of things I can’t change or have no influence over. In Cuba this typically meant letting go of the fact that taxis were booked and never turned up, no online connection and other things that we take for granted in our normal daily lives that just aren’t a given on the island. On a more personal level, I worked on letting go of the upset and anxiety.
Not being online all day every day has been a real eye opener. Conversations with people were no longer interrupted and no longer centred on the latest news or latest posts by other people. We only ever grabbed our phones to take photos. It made me realise that I spend every day obsessively checking and communicating via my phone. Having gone through this online detox, I have vowed to connect for work but otherwise leave my phone at a distance.
It was also good to disconnect from the life that is so familiar to me. Witnessing a totally different culture, which thrives on music, dance, laughter and Love rather than material possessions. It was a unique experience to meet Eduardo Pimentel, the Godfather of Cuba and not only take part in his yoga classes but also receive a one-to-one session from him. Some of the things he pointed out to me will stay with me for life.
Havana itself seems to be a twisted dreamland of poverty and beauty stuck in a different time zone. It really is a place to get lost and immersed in. I loved every minute in that city.
Taking part in daily yoga sessions that were less focused on physical exercise but more on mindful spiritual practice allowed me to completely chill out and silence my mind. Our two Yoga teachers brought a kind, nurturing, gentle feel to each practice as well. For the first time in over a year I felt really at peace. Cancer, cancer treatments, tests, cancer scares,- all of that seemed a million miles away. I would like to be able to bring some of that feeling back from time to time.
Since returning from Cuba, I’m continuing my regular yoga practice and healthy lifestyle choices, and I feel well physically and more grounded mentally.