The yoga retreat this March was one of the easiest that I’ve organised.
The weather in the Sahara was warm even at night, there was no wind and the group that came were so easy-going and gentle that the whole week was like sitting by a river and just watching it flow by contentedly.
For the first on the Sahara retreat there were more women than men – normally it’s about 50-50 – and I was curious to see how that might affect the group dynamics. It was hard to tell what effect it ultimately had but perhaps there was less showing off, and less tension overall as a soft, gentle vibe prevailed.
In the first retreats I ran I used to worry a little about entertaining everyone at night and would try to make sure there was the right balance of music, storytelling and play. This year I hardly had to think about it as the retreats just flowed along like a bamboo raft on a river, needing just a gentle bit of guidance to stay on course.
Everyone engaged with the voice workshops and the games and exercises loosened everyone up, leaving us free to find new forms of expression and presence. On the last workshop on the Saturday morning we had a dance workshop and ended it with free movement and singing and I could hardly recognise the group that had arrived 6 days before.
What I love about the Sahara Desert as a location for these yoga and meditation retreats is that the emptiness and the silence do half the work in helping people tune into who they really are. Everyone arrives with their usual masks and social strategies that serve them in their everyday lives but in the retreat, in the the desert, they just don’t work. The desert has its own magic that lets the masks slide off and people begin to express themselves on a much more authentic level than before, softening up and daring to share what they feel with these new friends who were strangers just a few days before.
Many of the people who came intend to come to the festival in the summer and I’ll be delighted to see any of them again.