Estará disponible del 19 al 26 de noviembre 2009 en Kioskos.
Omming in Alhaurin
Anthony Vent issues his verdict after reluctantly agreeing to accompany his partner for a weekend of yoga and relaxation
I HAVE A pet hate when it comes to newspaper articles. It's the type of piece where the writer, who for example is a selfdeclared Francophobe, goes off on a day trip to Calais and returns gleefully clutching the deeds to a gîte in the Dordogne. You get the picture? Total turn around. So please bear with me on this one, just in case you feel the same.
It's a Friday evening and the facts are slowly sinking in. I can't remember when but I agreed to accompany my partner for a weekend of yoga and relaxation in the wilds beyond Alhaurin El Grande. Relaxation? Great. But yoga? Well, it's too late now so I pack two bottles of red and a hefty thriller and get in the car.
By the time we get to Hotel Kadampa it's night. Here in the countryside it is colder, the sky is blacker, the stars brighter. The accommodation is a series of co-joined bungalows. Ours is spacious, spartan and decidedly spotless - so don't think Butlins or Bates Motel. But I'm thinking of my cosy flat and comfy sofa. I am a less than happy bunny, a feeling not helped when it comes to suppertime and a meal of cauliflower soup and salad in the en-site Café de la Paz eaten with the rest of the group. For me, Friday night means tasty tapas in the bars of the capital.
The leader is Joaquín, a genial former secondary school teacher from Málaga who has been practising yoga since the age of 17. This is the second year for such courses at the Hotel Kadampa led by Joaquín who gives classes at his own centre, Yoga Sala, in the heart of Málaga. Even though I have only come along as a non-participant, and not paid for any of them, he invites me to join in all the activities.
The first is after supper; an introduction to meditation. We sit, cross-legged, straightbacked, with blankets under our legs for those who cannot place both knees on the ground simultaneously. This is not how I normally spend my Friday evenings and I really can't believe it when I find myself joining in when the group takes Joaquín's lead and begins to ommm in harmony.
The following morning the group is up promptly for a 7.30am start and a double session of meditation and pranayama,which is is often translated as a type of "breath control". I decide to meditate under the duvet but my conscience gets the better of me and I go for a pre-breakfast stroll in stead.
Outside the sun is already strong and the world is waking to the sounds of the campo dog chorus. The hotel is unusual in that it is one of three non-smoking, alcohol-free "World Peace Hotels". While basically a normal hotel it does have a Buddist shrine room and is also a meditation centre. Set in the Guadalhorce valley and surrounded by 25 hectares of grounds with a wide variety of fruit trees, it is a decidedly peaceful place to be. Even better, the fruit is organic and mighty tempting to those who want a fresh caqui (persimmon) before breakfast.
After a leisurely buffet-style breakfast the group begins the first of two of the day's sessions of yogasana or yoga positions. As Joaquín later explains, the weekend is very unusual in that it combines a mixture of both yoga, breathing techniques and meditation. As a complete novice I decide not to intrude so while the group practise backbending exercises beside the swimming pool I slope off to a sunny roof terrace for a read.
The weekend is full board and I join the group for a wholesome pasta and salad lunch. While the food, which is 100% vegetarian and organic wherever possible, is deceptively simple I have to say it is also decidedly tasty.
By bedtime the group has done a further yoga class, this time a series of forward bending exercises, and I have participated in a further two meditation sessions. While I do notice an improvement, both my knees rest on the floor without any support, my ommm is really not up to standard. More effort required. I do have to add, without a trace of my usual irony, that a session is a really relaxing way to end the day…
At 7.30am the next morning there is a final two-hour yoga session. However, due to a general fatigue, Joaquín leads a more relaxed class than planned.
After breakfast there is a change to the timetable. Daniel, a French chiropractor, gives an impromptu introductory class in Chikung, which in its simplest form is a set of Chinese breathing and movement exercises. The lesson involves slow graceful movements and controlled breathing techniques, something which my colleagues slip into easily enough. In true Churchillian fashion, this is not my finest hour, but who cares? In this class we're all beginners and it is fun doing an open-air session in the sun.
The final part of the programme, before we break for lunch and say our goodbyes, is a workshop in basic massage led by Rafael, a local alternative therapist. He begins with a demonstration of self-massage techniques; simple exercises to relieve stress and stimulate the body. He concludes with la sonrisa interior; a meditation on the parts of the body, and their purpose, organ by bloody organ, thanking each one in turn. For me this is rather too close to tree-hugging territory and a little too gruesome so close to lunch. Still, the final part of the session works on every level for me.
Daniel, assisted by his wife, returns to show us a very basic massage technique; very much a simple laying on of hands and use of body weight. We then take it in turns to practise on each other, with the finale being the whole group giving a massage to one person in turn. While the thought of six pairs of hands on one torso might be associated with the type of movie one sees on local TV at four in the morning this really is very different; a really intense, but not altogether serious, experience.
So who goes on this type of break? Well, on this weekend most of the group were south of 40 and from a variety of backgrounds including teachers, computing engineers and a professional photographer. Children are welcome too. And would I go again? Yes, I would. There really is something for everyone and the beautiful location means there is ample scope for relaxation without attending a class, if one simply wants to accompany their partner.
The weekends are held four times a year, twice in the spring and twice in the autumn. The next yoga and massage day workshop, led by Joaquín and Rafael, will be held in Málaga on Saturday 28 November, full details from the links below.
For more information (in English, Spanish or German)contact: Yoga Sala Málaga. C/ Moreno Monroy 5. 3ª Tel. 658 19 09 15. Email: yogamalaga @t sign) yahoo.es Website: http://yogasala.blogspot.com
Yoga Sala Málaga. C/ Moreno Monroy 5. 3ª. Centro de Málaga. (Ver Mapa, clic aquí) Energía y Relajación. Whatsapp y Tlf.626 08 80 86 Para informarse directamente en la YogaSala, por favor, antes o después del horario de actividades. Escribe a:yogamalaga(singno@rroba)yahoo.es