Last week I had the opportunity to return to Azulfit Yoga and Pilates retreat to help them celebrate their ten-year anniversary. It was always going to be a unique and special week, but as I reflect back on the experiences I had there, I realise just how incredible it was.
Anyone that reads my blog regularly will know that I’ve been to a myriad of retreats in the past. However, Azulfit for me and the island of Fuerteventura as a whole, feels like a spiritual home, a home I will always return to with a guaranteed warm welcome.
Ten years ago, Jamie and Karissa Isaac had the vision to create a retreat that was a little different. Their love and care for their guests’ personal journeys over the years has helped Azulfit flourish and expand. There are now three retreat locations in the world and the variety of experiences offered gathers breadth and pace each year. This constant evolution keeps it fresh and interesting, but the most important thing doesn’t change; the love at Azulfits core.
I arrived at Surya retreat expecting to leave simply more relaxed and better at yoga. Perhaps I might leave with some new ideas and a few new friends but who knows? I went there with an open heart and mind which meant I left with a new outlook and an army of strong female friends that I genuinely feel came into my life for a reason. Sure, there was yoga, but connecting with some beautiful souls and reigniting my curiosity for both life and myself (one and the same perhaps) was an unrivalled high.
The island of Fuerteventura always has a dramatic effect on me. The volcanic landscape makes me feel really grounded. The beautiful beaches sparkle in the sunlight and the sand dunes offer mystical Arabian promise.
Surya is around 30 minutes from Corralejo. It’s a remote, traditional Spanish looking property consisting of a main house and cabin style bedrooms. As a guest you have the choice of staying around the peaceful courtyard or having a more private cabin overlooking the garden and pool. Rooms are basic but clean. They have everything you need for a great nights sleep after a long day. Azulfit also have a beachside retreat called Lotus in the heart of Corralejo.
The activities planned during the festival were very different to a signature (normal) week for the retreat. Azulfit already boasts some of the finest teachers all year round, but for the yoga festival everything stepped up a gear. Retreat founder and second-generation master Pilates teacher, Jamie Isaac returned along with yoga elder and all-round rock star David Sye. Along with these two ‘headliners’ we had the pleasure of Rachel Blunts’ crazy enthusiasm, Charlottes’ calm, Jigyasas’ injection of crazy humour and Kats’ insight and gentility. Having the opportunity to live with this wonderful set of teachers, spend time with them and generally get to know them on a deeper level was an incredible opportunity.
David was the teacher we spent most time with over the week. His unique blend of yoga, rhythm and wisdom had the most profound impact on me. Yoga with him was not only fun but provided a release of stagnant energy I didn’t realise I was carrying. It helped me create new curiosity for myself and the world in which I live. I’m not going to lie, at the start of the week I was uncomfortable with the partner work and thought sharing, but as time passed I opened up beyond anything I thought I was capable of. The big difference in what David offers isn’t complicated – it’s simply about focusing on and breeding love – between each other and for yourself. This encouragement to open ourselves up to both possibilities and each other definitely enriched our whole experience. The only negative? Well, yoga without music and twerking now seems pretty dull.
In addition to the Yogabeats classes, we took part in some more traditional yoga in the form of yin, flow, restorative and Nidra. We also had some kick ass Pilates classes with Jamie and Jo Dombernowsky which always leave me convinced that I was born without a core. Mixed into the classes were some fabulous traditions that few of us had experience before such as a Pooja ceremony, didgeridoo meditation and chanting. All of this opened my mind in new and exciting ways, initiating such joy and contentment.
The day of the yoga festival meant Azulfit opened its doors to the community in Fuerteventura. Community is at the essence of Azulfit so giving locals the opportunity to experience a little bit of its magic was great to see. Our day kicked off with a crazy sunrise session on the sand dunes which was magical. Both Surya and Lotus retreat came together along with all of the teachers, making for a fun and emotional class. The day itself was full of excitement and love which blasted away my slight hangover (yes, we had wine the night before as we’re human) away better than any medication could.
The food, oh man the food
All this physical and emotional work meant we were always absolutely starving and the food never disappointed. Elia and the kitchen team work tirelessly to create magic in the kitchen every day. All of the delicious food presented is generally plant based, using nothing but fresh ingredients. There is nothing better than finishing a yoga class and feasting on home-made granola, fruits, baked porridge, home-made bread, salads, banana pancakes etc. Lunches and evening meals were always incredible, consisting of an array of salads, hot nutritious bakes and delicious sugar free desserts. Every meal surpassed the one before – it was truly a pleasure to be cooked for by these guys.
Another great aspect of Azulfit is the amount of treatments on offer. There was everything from traditional beauty therapy to reiki and aura reading. I actually had a great osteopath session to realign my spine and it made me feel much more centred and readier to take on more yoga. I also had an incredibly spiritual session with David where we investigated the Tibetan Revealing Breathing methods. This enlightening session focused on deep meditation. It allowed me to address some issues buried deep inside me and think differently about the future – something I would recommend to anyone.
My week at Azulfit made me live simply and take pleasure in things I had sadly forgotten about. I left technology alone and instead had late night conversations and giggles with the GODDESSES I shared my week with. I tasted food again rather than eating a rushed meal in front of the tv. I made friends as without modern day stresses buzzing in my head I found I listened more, made conversation and felt safe, not vulnerable in doing so.
The main pleasure I found was in myself. Not only did I give myself a break for not being a certain way but I started to love myself just a little bit more. I saw how others saw me. I honoured my body for allowing me to move and stretch. I appreciated the people and powers that had made it possible for me to be at Azulfit that week. I loved how my mind and body were opening up to new fortuities. I trusted myself and the universe to make decisions and change direction. I feel great. I feel empowered. I feel important. I feel invincible and my future is going to kick the proverbial ass.
Now tell me if you felt the same way after a week in Benidorm…
Thank you Jamie and Karissa for turning your dream into a reality and bringing so much joy and promise to everyone that has the opportunity to experience Azulfit. You’ve made something truly incredible.
To join David Sye for his New Year Retreat at Azulfit, please click here for more information.