Being a bit of yoga junkie, I have a tendency to spend most of my holiday time and money on yoga events. Last month I was stretching and breathing with the big shots of the yoga world at the 4th annual Barcelona Yoga Conference.
To call it a conference seems a bit of a misnomer – unlike most conferences there are no PowerPoint presentations, nor does anyone wear a suit. The atmosphere is more like a festival, with live music and suitably wholesome vegetarian food. It’s a global community, with over 600 participants coming from all over the world. Whilst queuing for a crepe, I met a group of Japanese ladies who had travelled 24 hours just for the conference. “It’s very hard to get time off in Japan, so we’ve just come here for 5 days!” one of them told me, her eyes shining from either the class she’d just attended or jet-lag.
Choosing which class to go to can be mind-boggling - there 20 different yoga styles on offer, from some of the best teachers in the world. From Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Kundalini and Iyengar Yoga, to intriguingly named proposals like Shamanic Zorba, Rocket Yoga and Yoga Synergy, it’s a veritable yogi’s smorgasbord. It caters for all levels, so don’t be put off if you’re new to yoga; plus there are plenty of free events if you can’t stretch to buying a ticket for every day.
I had plenty of opportunity to indulge in my current passion AcroYoga – a combination of acrobatics and yoga. It is hugely fun and addictive; one of the workshops had about 100 people balancing each other on their feet. It’s a great way to meet your fellow delegates – you have to trust someone pretty quickly if you want to balance upside-down on them.
And when your body can’t take any more, there are several Thai massage workshops to ease your muscles. I spent a morning trying to get to grips with the beautiful healing art of Wuo Tai - a blend of osteopathy, Thai massage and dance. With my arms and legs weaved around my receiver’s limbs, I tried to follow the teacher’s instruction to “imagine the fish swimming round the bowl”. I felt more like my fish had jumped out the bowl and was flapping around on the floor – clearly I need more practise on that one.
For me, the essence of the festival was captured on my last day with an inspiring day of PranaFlow yoga with the goddess-like Shiva Rae. The experience of 6hrs of moving, breathing and chanting in sync with a room full of people dedicated to inner calm is quite unbeatable.
It’s certainly not everyone’s cup of tea - I told my sister about it and she said, “It sounds awful!” However, for anyone with even a little interest in yoga, I fully recommend giving it a go. As the conference’s tagline says: “Start doing the things you love”. Now, when is my next holiday…
Emmeline Gee is a freelance massage therapist and yoga teacher specialising in SuperYacht charters. For more information, check out www.angels-on-board.com