As a yoga lover who struggles to find time for practice outside the retreats we host here at Lake Skadar (young kids, busy business!), I suddenly found myself with all the time in the world when I was put into two weeks’ solitary quarantine in Podgorica last month!
As the Coronavirus pandemic spread across Europe, Montenegro suddenly closed its borders while I was visiting the UK. Knowing yoga would help me maintain a strong mind and body through a mandatory 14 day confinement for returnees, I dashed out to buy a yoga mat before boarding a repatriation flight. Never was five quid better spent!
Each day that followed, I rolled out my mat and set about a long restorative Hatha practice – at least an hour – guided by the brilliant Down Dog yoga app and always ending in a healing Savasana. As I progressed, I found myself mastering poses I had failed at before – Crow pose (Bakasana) & Hand to Big Toe Pose (Tadasana) – or hadn’t managed since childhood (the wheel in my 40s!). It’s true what they say about daily practice being the key to success. I also finally grasped the power of my breath. In just two weeks I felt stronger, fitter and more flexible than I had in ages.
On the yoga holidays we run, workshops take place outside, early morning, on Villa Miela‘s tree-fringed yoga deck. It’s when the birds sing their loudest and before the sun shines hot. Inside my four walls of quarantine, I saved my practice for late afternoons; something to look forward to and taking advantage of being able to watch the late winter sun lowering over the mountains beyond the city from my window. I like to do the same thing back at Villa Miela, but with no apartment blocks in sight to spoil that glorious view of lake, valley and mountains.
I’ve always been inspired by nature and the outdoors; it’s what led me to quit London to set up active holidays in Montenegro’s stunning national parks with my husband. Running our first ever yoga holiday from our Lake Skadar base in 2014 was a dream come true. It’s a dream we’ve repeated every year since then, working with brilliant yoga teachers like Helena Markovic-Buck of Tramshed Studio in Cardiff and Newcastle-based Marnie Sullivan.
Mixing morning workshops with adventures out ‘silent hiking’ to waterfalls and kayaking over Lake Skadar’s tranquil waters offers a perfect escape in nature for our yoga guests, so we’re waiting impatiently to be able to do one again. As for me, now I’m back to bustling family life, my yoga challenge is keeping up with daily practice (not so hard with that gorgeous hillside shala!) while dreaming of the retreats we’ll be able to hold once this crisis ends. I’ve got a feeling we’re going to need them!