The idea was first presented to me by my friend Sofia who lives with her daughter Maira and her mother Stella on the beautiful Island of Poros in Greece. I have been enjoying holidays in Poros for over 20 years and my love for the island continues to grow. One evening at dinner in August 2016 Sofia suggested I teach Yoga and Pilates in Poros. I said I would love to and the idea of the retreat began. Dates were set for September 2017, information sent out to my clients and within 24 hours the first retreat was fully booked! I could not have imagined such a fantastic response. As enquiries kept coming in, a second, earlier date for May 2017 was offered. Bookings for May again came in quickly and my plans for the retreat began to formulate.
I wanted to offer a complete learning experience for everyone who came on the retreat. I needed to cater for complete beginners and at the same time more experienced clients. One of the joys of Yoga and Pilates is that even when you go back to basics, there is a deeper understanding, feelings, movements and challenges for everyone. The basics, allow you to slow down, work deeper, and really connect with the fundamentals of each movement or pose you are practicing. As part of the learning experience I wanted to capture and record the focus points for each class. I wanted those attending to be able to evaluate how the lessons went and their thoughts about their practice. To do this I started writing a retreat journal, outlining every lesson, what we were learning and working on during that lesson. The journal had details about the moves and poses to continue their practice when they return home. It also had pages to add notes, messages from friends, postcards and photographs. I wanted to have a goody bag for everyone, something to keep the journal in and perhaps some other gifts. After some research, I found just what I was looking for, personalised beach bags, perfect for a beach holiday and yoga and Pilates retreat. Bags ordered and more ideas formulating for gifts to add to the bag, a chakra bracelet, pen, postcard . . . .
I will now fast forward to May 2017 and the night before we leave. It’s about 10pm and I have just arrived home from teaching. As I drive onto the front my husband notices the cars rear lights are not working! As we will be driving to the airport at 4am this needed fixing. Thank goodness, we have call out cover for the car. Problem solved.
I then receive a message from Sofia to say that the ferries in Greece are all on strike. Another problem not anticipated. I was worried, however knew that the universe would provide a solution, I just needed to trust things would work out.
With the car fixed we left for the airport, checked in and proceeded through security. I contacted Sofia again to check on the situation with ferries. It was confirmed, they were on strike and there were no boats to Poros. After contacting another friend, a mini bus was organised to collect 6 of us from Athens airport and drive us to Poros. I could not have wished for a smoother journey. Our driver was waiting as we walked through the arrivals gate and the mini bus directly outside. Feeling blessed we continued our journey.
Arriving in Poros is always one of my favourite moments, it’s like coming home. Familiar sights, sounds, smells. All my senses are dancing with joy as I’m reunited with this special place. I have so many happy memories . . . our wedding on the small Island Daskalio Poros, pregnancy, babies, birthdays and so many more.
As we arrive I am feeling so excited to share and introduce Poros to our guests. A small group of us arrived a day early, this gave me a chance to prepare and organise any last-minute details.
We enjoyed a relaxing evening at Petros Taverna with Sophia and her family. It couldn’t be a more perfect evening, delicious food, great company and the anticipation of the days to come.
The guests arrived on Saturday evening to share an evening meal with us. Goody bags were presented to sounds of delight, traditional home cooked Greek food was enjoyed and introductions began. What I hadn’t anticipated was that so few people knew each other. This was a group of people from different parts of the world coming together for the first time. Within a few hours, friendships were forming, jokes and banter began and I could feel this would work. I breathed a sigh of relief.
The first class started at 8am Sunday morning. I arrive early to set up, roll out mats and get the register ready. Guests start coming down stairs to take their place. The temperature is pleasantly warm and our outdoor space overlooks a perfectly calm sea. After a brief introduction, I invite the class to lie on their back (Savasana) to relax. The next hour almost floats away, it goes so quickly and yet is slow and relaxed, I am closing before I have begun! The atmosphere is one of peace and tranquility it was as if we were in utopia. Taking a few moments to reconnect with the present, we roll up the mats and set up a table to enjoy a delicious breakfast of freshly squeezed orange juice (literally just squeezed) Greek yogurt, fruit, muesli, bread, jams, local honey, eggs and coffee.
Everyone now has free time to enjoy the beach, sightseeing, walking or anything they want to do. This part of the island is so quiet we are the only people on the beach. A few of us swim, sunbathe and chat the day away.
The Pilates class started at 6pm, I felt a tangible anticipation as everyone arrived. The atmosphere is slightly different, although Pilates is mindful and requires concentration, there is more interaction and camaraderie. It feels friendly and relaxed. Another hour passes in a blink, mats are being rolled up and we nip upstairs to change for our evening meal.
At the end of the first day, the tone is set, I feel everyone has settled in and is feeling at home. There were a few ‘plus ones’ on the retreat who didn’t intend to join in with the classes. I was fine with this, as time spent with a partner is so important in the busy lives we lead. They decided to give the classes a go and come along to one and see what they think. I am overjoyed to say that they stayed and completed every session. Those living afar are now looking for a local Yoga or Pilates class to attend. I could not have asked for a better endorsement of the empowerment of Yoga and Pilates.
Days then pass like breaths, they merge into a delightful collage of beautiful moments. Swimming and chatting with friends, boat trips, walking, cycling, nights out on the town, eating delicious home cooked Greek food, a birthday celebration, massages, Yoga and Pilates.
It’s Friday and the week is coming to an end; we enjoy our final Yoga class at 8am and the last Pilates class at 6pm. Both classes are a celebration.
Our final evening is spent at Petros Taverna, it feels like a party with your best friends. There is such a strong connection between everyone, I could not have wished for more. I had planned the logistics but hadn’t anticipate the warmth, friendship and love after one short week. We have all made new friends and have memories to treasure forever. I feel truly blessed to have experienced this week and to have shared it with such wonderful people. I look forward with absolute delight to welcome and introduce many more guests to Poros in September and again next year. Photographs from May and dates and details for 2018 are now available on my website: Poros Retreats
Here’s what a few guests said about Poros and the retreat:
“Ah, where to begin! Waking up every day to walk onto your balcony to see views of clear blue waters and rolling hills is the best way to start a day.” Chris
“Having never been to Greece we did not know what to expect. We couldn’t have been more delighted. Poros the island is small but perfect. The town/ harbour area is beautiful. We loved the quietness of the bay where we stayed, looking out from our balcony every morning was such a joy. The swimming was glorious and the water was very clear, clam and clean. The location and venue for the classes, overlooking the beach was idyllic.” Hazel
"Back to reality after a wonderful week in Poros on a yoga and pilates retreat. I had the most amazing time. It was an active but relaxing holiday. I took a risk by going on holiday by myself but I never once felt lonely thanks to all the lovely people I met and made friends with. Thank you, Pauline, for organising such a brilliant retreat. It was such a joy to be taking your classes again! I loved them! Thank you, Sofia, for everything! You took good care of us and I felt at home". Doriane
`'Just wanted to thank you for an absolutely lovely holiday, the yoga and Pilates classes were great! I felt really chilled and made some friends as well. I really couldn't say what the best part of the holiday was as the whole experience was great.
Sofia was wonderful she made us all feel very welcome, she is such a lovely lady. I would love to go back to the island sometime." Wendy
"Thomas Carlyle said, "He who has health, has hope; and he who has hope, has everything." Thank you, Pauline, for "everything", I came with Hazel on your retreat with no plan to join in the contortional activities, but having done so under your expert guidance, you have started me down a road of a healthier life and provided hope for even the most rigid and out of shape human." Harris - feeling thankful.
If you would like to join me on a future holiday/retreat in Poros, get in touch.
If you were on the May retreat and are reaching this, please add your comments to the blog, I would love to hear from you again.
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