This is not a holiday (it’s better than that)

A blog about overcoming anxiety, ignoring the signs the Universe is sending out, saying ‘sod it’ and going on a well-deserved yoga retreat, the best self-care break you can give yourself.

What a difference a day makes

This is me, the day before I was due to travel to Portugal for a yoga retreat. I was beyond worried. I was convinced the universe wanted me to stay at home.

A blog about overcoming anxiety, saying 'sod it' and going on a well-deserved yoga retreat, the best self-care break you can give yourself. 

For months I had been looking forward to this break. I was desperate for sunshine and self-care. I had planned all the little details – from buying little cosmetic pots for my hand luggage, to making meals for the family to eat in my absence.

Men are from Mars

When Mr Maven goes away on his own, as he’s done several times for both work and pleasure, he packs a bag and leaves. He doesn’t look back. I’m lucky to get a text message telling me he’s landed safely.

Women are from Venus

I write handover notes.

For this trip, I scheduled everything: the washing, grocery shopping, dog walking, kids’ activities, even when to water the plants.

And then when the day came to pack my case, it felt like going away was not such a good idea after all. Anxiety settled in. What if the kids went to school without the right kit, or forgot their keys? What if, god forbid, I got stranded in Portugal because of Coronavirus.

Ever get the feeling someone’s trying to tell you something?

The universe was sending me clear signs too. The morning before my flight, I took Coco the poodle to my parents’ house for her holiday. En route, travelling at 50 mph (legally, I might add), I had a near-death experience. The white van in front of me liberated its load across three lanes of traffic. Two garden fence panels flew towards me, forcing me to weave across the road. One of them bounced off my roof. It all happened in a split second. Thankfully I have quick reflexes and the road was empty.

Later that day I had an email from the Teen’s school advising that, due to a boiler breakdown, the school would be closed for the next two days. Great timing! He is fine on his own, being nearly 14, but it wasn’t ideal.

And then the snow came.

Sod it, I’m going

I’m a stubborn old goat, so I went on my yoga retreat regardless.

I didn’t know what to expect. Jane – friend, project manager, careers adviser and yoga teacher – had invited me. I only had two questions in advance of sending Jane my money: how advanced would the yoga be, and would there be wine?

I was travelling alone, but have known Jane and her husband (our onsite chef) for three decades and was excited to see her. The other ‘students’ were regulars at Jane’s yoga lessons in Nottingham.

This was Jane’s first retreat, so we were her guinea pigs. There were many different levels of ability in the group of seven and we were all up for a mix of exercise, relaxation and good laughs.

Yoga, free time and lots of food

Jane had found an incredible villa, with a hot tub and heated pool, up in the hills overlooking the sea near Burgau in southern Portugal. The accommodation was spacious and private. There was no one around, it being off-season, so we could yoga (is that a verb?) on the patio without being overlooked.

A blog about overcoming anxiety, saying 'sod it' and going on a well-deserved yoga retreat, the best self-care break you can give yourself. 

Mornings began with a cup of tea and my morning pages (I write three pages in my journal every day as soon as I wake up) on the veranda. Yoga began at 9 am for an hour, including sun salutations and a range of progressively challenging poses.

Rich had made a massive breakfast ready for us to tuck into after our morning session.

A blog about overcoming anxiety, saying 'sod it' and going on a well-deserved yoga retreat, the best self-care break you can give yourself. 

For the rest of each day, we were free to do whatever we chose. I spent one day lazing by the pool, reading my book. The next day I joined a small group on a trip to the beach in the rain – I just wanted to see the sea. We sat undercover outside a restaurant and sipped wine while watching the waves.

There was a hugely difficult jigsaw puzzle on the go, and lots of general lounging around and chatting. #EverydayYoga was a theme, where we incorporated poses into our daily routine.

A blog about overcoming anxiety, saying 'sod it' and going on a well-deserved yoga retreat, the best self-care break you can give yourself. 

After a very late lunch and a couple of hours to digest it, our afternoon yoga session took place indoors on cooler days, outside watching the sunset on warmer days.

Jane gave us several options, from beginner’s to advanced level, and over three days, we all improved our balance, alignment and strength.

A blog about overcoming anxiety, saying 'sod it' and going on a well-deserved yoga retreat, the best self-care break you can give yourself. 

More food was being prepared while we yoged (which I assume is the past participle of to yoga?). Rich made delicious, hearty dinners. Wine was allowed, nay encouraged.

I kept in touch with Mr Maven and all was well at home. My main concern each day was if I’d be hungry enough to eat the next massive meal. And also this horrible reaction to a mosquito bite on my eye (which didn’t hurt, but the reaction it drew gave me great pleasure).

I was bitten by a mosquito bite on the eye, which I seem to be allergic to

Not all yoga retreats are equal

This was my first yoga retreat and one of only a handful of occasions I’ve been away without the kids. I imagine there are more hardcore retreats you could choose. If you enjoy detoxing and knitting your own yoghurt, this one probably isn’t for you – too much alcohol and salty snacks. It was perfect for me.

The best self-care break

Here are a few reasons why a yoga retreat is the best self-care break you can give yourself:

  • It’s a self-catering holiday, but with your own chef.
  • Loads of food, without the weight gain.
  • Hot tub, heated pool.
  • Meet new people, make new friends.
  • Leave your parenting responsibilities behind.
  • Return home mentally and physically stronger.

A blog about overcoming anxiety, saying 'sod it' and going on a well-deserved yoga retreat, the best self-care break you can give yourself. 

Jane has already booked this accommodation in Portugal at the same time next year. So if you’re interested in coming along, follow her Facebook page and get notifications here.

Much love, Vx

[Disclosure: nothing to disclose. I paid for my retreat. I wholeheartedly support Jane’s retreat because she’s a very talented teacher, and one of my most favourite people.]