Spending Five Weeks at a Luxury Retreat in Mykonos, Greece
When I first think back to the reasons why I wanted to become a yoga teacher, this was definitely one of them. Unlimited opportunities to travel, spending time in beautiful places and meeting like minded people (who are also drawn to the inner quest of self-discovery and fulfillment). Not to mention of course, spending most of your time teaching the very thing you love to do: Yoga. It was really a win-win situation. I mean sure it's not always guaranteed that you will get paid everytime, but working in exchange for experience, food and accommodation, is definitely always something I will be open to. Besides, I could never see myself sat working in an office 9-5 (until most likely the age of 70+). And I'm not slamming office workers here, I just know that deep down, that path is not for me.
Perhaps that path is not for me as it seems that I shy away from stability. I prefer the possibilities of the unknown, rather the safe security of a comfort zone. Perhaps it's because I had little stability in my life growing up as a child. My parents were in and out of each other's lives as quickly as the news headlines would change, and my mum and I moved houses several times throughout these periods. Always changing and moving on. I guess this is why I find it so hard to stay in one place for too long. I knew that as soon as my Psychology degree was over, I was going to wizz off without too many plans to return home too soon (which explains my 21 month period away from home, resulting in me returning back for a few weeks before moving to Germany to live with Henrik-my boyfriend).
From country to country, place to place, from friend to friend, I find it too easy to adapt to new surroundings and situations. All it takes is a bed and some hot herbal tea, and I could feel at home anywhere in the world. So I guess I have my (typically sad but in my case beneficial) upbringing to blame. So the point is, I love the idea of the unknown. Not knowing where I will be living, where I will be working, what I will be doing, which language I will be speaking, which friends I will be making. All of this mystery and adventure is far too appealing to me, which is why the life of an office worker, a 9-5 and a stable paycheck, will never be able to satisfy the unlimited possibilities that await when you follow your bliss (sorry dad, if you're reading this, I know you won't like to hear that-but this is who I am and these are my beliefs).
I came across this opportunity to teach in Mykonos, on a website called Yoga Trade (a network for yoga teachers to find work all around the world). I actually applied straight after I finished my yoga teacher training in India, in December 2017 (read about my experiences here). It had been months before I had heard anything back, and despite deeply desiring to have this position, I came to terms with letting go of being so attached to the outcome. Eventually the role I had once replied for slipped out of my mind and deep into the abyss. It wasn't until about four months later when I was boarding a plane from Melbourne to Vietnam, that I noticed a little red notification in my gmail app. Half expecting it to be nothing too meaningful, I clicked into the app and to my surprise, I finally had a response from my application for teaching in Mykonos. The lady wanted to arrange a skype call (practically a modern day interview these days), to which we would share and exchange questions and answers with one another.
I was beyond excited yet, half nervous to tell my boyfriend that I would potentially be, yet again, jetting off on another one of my yoga adventures (with the first one resulting in me travelling to India alone for 7 weeks, whilst Henrik slaved away picking fruit on the Australian farms-read about our farm work life here). Luckily though after India, I managed to include Henrik in my yoga adventures, as I arranged for the two of us to both have the opportunity to do a work trade at a holistic addiction retreat center in New South Wales (where we essentially spent Christmas and New Year's in a rehab-click here to find out more).
So anyway, despite the dreaded conversation before we took off, I could see in his eyes that he didn't want me to go off again, but he knew in his heart that if I wanted to be a great yoga teacher, then I needed to take all of the experience that I could get (even if that meant another huge chunk apart from each other). I say a huge chunk apart as since the day that we met, we were living together in a working hostel on the Sunshine Coast in Auz, and have been inseparable ever since. The moment he stepped through the doors of the hostel, and into the reception, I wanted him to be mine. He must have had the same idea as despite the initial language barriers, we hit it off straight away-Tarzan and Jane style (I'm kidding, his English wasn't THAT bad, but it wasn't exactly at the brilliant level it is today).
So anyway, it all worked out that I would get the position in Mykonos, alongside another yoga teacher, Clémence, from France. Despite usually not having two yoga teachers on at once, the owner of the retreat agreed that it would be great experience for me as a new teacher to have a mentor figure, and it would be great for the retreat members who would be able to experience two different styles of teaching. Despite only having just moved to Germany, three weeks later I was due to set off and begin my adventures in Greece.
To me there is something so magical about travelling alone. You get to do everything in your own pace and rhythm. Not having to wait around for anyone, or worrying about being a nuisance when you want to spend a good 30 minutes checking out all of the books in the store (even with no intention to purchase any-when you're on the road long-term a kindle is a must). I love the freedom of being in my own space, not having to talk and just doing what I really want to do in the exact moment that I want to (reading, listening to music, podcasts or writing). Not that I can't do this when with Henrik, as we love to take time out to read (often in separate rooms) and take time out to be individually productive (such as me learning basic German words and Henrik learning more complex English words). But this is different, this is just me having that feeling of entering the unknown, ready to intentionally create new learning experiences and memories.
Initially I nervous about going to teach at the retreat, as my old self-defeating thoughts kicked back into routine. "Will I be good enough?" "What if forget what to do during class? "Do I have the capability to teach with all of the correct instructions and safe adjustments?". After repeating these thoughts to my mum on the phone one evening, she thankfully put my mind at ease (as she manages to do every single time). She reminded me that this was an experience that I needed to embrace, to grow and develop further-which is exactly what has happened so far.
As I arrived at the retreat (after just a grueling 2 hours sleep), I was greeted with friendly, fresh faces and a complimentary breakfast (most of which I couldn't unfortunately eat, due to being vegan and intolerant to gluten-for top tips for going vegan read here). I did however have a nice juicy fresh orange and joined in with a conversation with a bunch of women (born within the same decade as I). I was shown to my room (which was initially a bed in the yoga hall, but luckily turned into me sharing a room with Clémence).
Clémence and I hit it off right away, as you can imagine two yoga teachers would. Most of our days (so far) have unraveled into beach days, partner yoga work and teaching each other classes. (The other night I taught a private 30 minute class, followed by a 30 minute Reiki healing session; and last night Clémence taught me a private 30 minute class, followed some adjustment tips and a tarot reading). We have cooked every meal together (luckily she is vegetarian but more on the vegan side) and have spent good time in each other's company.
The hotel and retreat itself is very quiet at the moment (due to the season not having started yet), which basically means (in the owners words) that for the next couple of weeks, it’s practically a holiday for us, only having to teach for one hour a day. (But we’re still practicing yoga 2-3 times a day and my body is aching in places I didn’t even know existed). So the rest of the days are spent enjoying ourselves, with the biggest decision of the day being whether we should go down to the beach, or relax by the pool-what a life! Of course this level of chill won’t remain for our whole time here, but for how I’m going to kick back and make the most of it!
Due to the retreat being quiet, the number of people in the yoga classes have been minimal. I feel that this is perfect for me right now though, as I begin to get comfortable teaching again (I haven't consistently taught since my time volunteering at the holistic addiction retreat). So far the teaching has been really great and none of those self-defeating thoughts seemed to be actually true (as always is the case). This just highlights how the mind can create problems that don’t even exist, and most of the time we unfortunately succumb to them. (If I had let my thoughts win then I probably never would have been here in Mykonos).
One lady I met yesterday in my morning class, was certainly one who did not allow any dis-empowering thoughts to creepily crawl into her mind. With a fully shaven head and a big bright smile, she laughed her way through the morning. I had some pre-knowledge of this lady (as she was good friends with the owner), and that was that she had cancer and that she did not give a damn. She talked about going to her chemo treatments being as though she had just nipped out to pick something up at the grocery store. She is an amazing woman.
After class, it was breakfast time and luckily I managed to get into a conversation with this lady. She had told me about her cancer, and how she did not let her brain accept this to be true. In her own words, she did not believe she was sick, as she understood the healing power of her mind. I honestly believed that she believed this too (and wasn't just preaching without practicing). I had never met someone radiating such positive and powerful energy until that morning. I would never have guessed in a million years that she had only recently completed her last chemo treatment, she looked great and constantly had a smile on her face. What a woman!
I’ve also met a few other amazing women in the five days that I’ve already spent here. Some ladies who speak several languages fluently, including one lady from Iran who left her husband (completely unheard of there), and came to Greece to start a new life. She was a doctor in Iran, and when she came to Greece, not only did she have to learn the entire Greek language (despite knowing five others already), she also had to retake all of her medical exams: in Greek! Simply amazing. And this lady despite not even knowing me, invited me along to dinner at her house, along with a few of the other girls here at the retreat. Showing kindness to a complete stranger and welcoming me into her own (not to mention cooking seperate food for me and Clémence as we don’t eat meat), without even knowing me. Faith in humanity restored.
I've only been here for four nights (and five days) and it already feels like forever. I’ve bonded extremely well with all six of the (super fat) cats that they have here at the retreat. And I already have a favourite, Max, who absolutely loves cuddles (and food). Whilst I’m here and away from reality (although travelling and having a great time has been my reality for a pretty long time now), I want to utilise this time to get the ball rolling on a few ideas that I have brewing inside me. With my qualifications (Psychology, Yoga, Reiki, Massage & Nutrition), I feel like it’s the perfect combo to potentially set up some holistic health/lifestyle coaching to anyone who would be interested. Who knows what will happen, but the tarot cards that I chose last night, we’re definitely on my side in terms of following my creativity and intuition in beginning new projects.
Anyway that is enough babbling on for now! I hope you have enjoyed my updates of my first experiences in Mykonos, as much as I have enjoyed sharing them with you. For those who like to read, I couldn’t recommend enough a book called “The Year of Less” by Cait Flanders (who actually also has her own blog too). It was a random pop up in 'recommended for you' on my kindle, it was only £1.99 so you can’t argue with that, and I literally read the whole thing in less than 2 days it was so good. So if you want to start making space in your life for less things and more room for meaning, then I would highly recommend reading it!
Maddie holds a strong place in her heart for holistic health and well-being. She is a psychology graduate, yoga instructor, reiki practitioner, nutrition adviser and world traveller. Maddie loves reading, writing and exploring new places, meeting new and interesting people and enjoying the wonders of everyday life.
If enjoy reading my work and would like to help support this blog (which helps me to cover the monthly website costs and compensates my writing time), any donations are always really greatly appreciated (but of course not essential).
To keep up with my journey, check out my Insta account below: @TheVeganYogiTraveller
If you have any comments or questions feel free to comment below and I will get back to you when I can!
Do you travel much? Book your next trip with Booking.com and earn yourself £15 with your stay. All you have to do is book using the link in the button below: