My typical short breaks go a bit like this: furious packing on a Thursday night, braving the Friday morning rush hour with luggage, straight to the airport after a day at the office and then: wahooo embrace the jaegerbombs we’re on holiday!! The relaxing only begins when I get back home, or not, as Monday reliably returns with the keen crack of a whip. The result is, even with these short breaks and holidays, we rarely give our bodies and minds a chance to wind down.
What the Cala Retreat detox gave me was an opportunity to consciously recharge, to reflect, to shake off the stuff that I don’t want or need in my life and embrace things that I do. To acknowledge my toxins, in all their forms, and let them go.
Previous to this retreat I had been using the word “detox” liberally, sprinkling here and there to express fairly tepid intentions. “I’m detoxing this week” means I’m not drinking alcohol for five/four (/maybe three) days. A cup of “detox” tea to address the guilt of a McDonalds, etc. In this week with Cala I learned what detox really means, and the astonishing benefits it had for my body and mind.
The website describes this six-day break as “a deeply relaxing and invigorating retreat that focuses on yoga, a diet of raw living foods, life coaching and bodywork therapy to enhance energy and refocus the mind.” I know now that this description doesn’t do justice to the experience, it’s impossible to put into words the profound effect the retreat can have, if you are willing. Going into it, my expectations were for a week of yoga, healthy diet and sun. It was so much more:
1. They’re not messing around when they say detox. Juicing/juice cleansing means only drinking juice or broth: no food. No food at all, all day. I chose to do an extra day of juicing (three out of the six days), but I felt remarkably good on those days. Essentially, your body is usually spending 50-60% of it’s energy just dealing with and digesting the food that you put into it. So if you cut food out (whilst making sure that you get the necessary nutrients through juice and supplements) then your body has all this extra energy to redirect to other worthy causes, to repair, cleanse and flush away toxins. On the days that we weren’t juicing, we were eating beautifully prepared, organic and locally sourced raw food, and the raw food cookery workshop taught me a completely new way to think about food.
2. Knowledge. When asked to describe my first day with one word, it was ‘enlightening’. The first night felt as if a secret door had been opened. I’d been walking past this door all my life, not knowing about it and not bothering to look for it. There was so much about my health, nutrition and wellbeing that I just didn’t know. Ranging from the basics: the importance of hydration, water quality, eating organic, probiotics, to things that I had never really thought about before: how my diet manifests in how I’m feeling and thinking, the physiology of stress, maintaining optimal pH in our bodies, and personalised nutrition advice (did you know that being on the contraceptive pill/implant reduces the effectiveness of vitamin C in the body?). Having and applying this knowledge can be the difference between waking up feeling groggy/stressed/low in energy/not able to sleep well, and waking up full of energy, embracing every day. The difference between existing and living.
3. Yoga. This was why I was initially drawn to the retreat. I love yoga and I wanted to practise it for a whole week. This yoga was nothing like the rushed classes I’ve been doing at the gym. The mornings were invigorating and pretty hard work, the evenings were calming and meditative, and there was always a focus on mindfulness within the body. Aerial yoga was a completely new experience for me, it was so much fun, and the shavasana feels like floating in outer space. I’ll definitely be finding somewhere to do it in London.
4. Self reflection. This one took me by surprise. My London lifestyle is quite selfish and unaccommodating towards emotional/spiritual wellbeing. Taking the time to (and knowing how to) reflect is not something I’ve done before. We know that we live in a world that is constantly switched on (laptop, TV, smart phone, Facebook, Instagram, work, play, sleep, repeat). But we are usually switched off from ourselves. We rarely take the time to sit still, breathe deep, feel our feelings and acknowledge what we are; instead there’s always a screen that needs to be stared at or a cocktail in hand. There are a number of treatments at the retreat to help individuals reflect, including rebirthing and life coaching. This inward reflection is the hardest for me to articulate, but it had the biggest impact on me. By understanding better what I’ve been thinking about, emotions that I’ve put aside and forgotten, I feel a whole lot lighter and freer.
Any one of these things on their own would be good for you, but together they are even more than the sum of their parts. I can’t describe how fresh and happy I feel. If someone had told me a few weeks ago to stop eating for three days and meditate I would have scoffed (my pork pie). But I’ve been taken by surprise. I’m feeling full of energy and my intentions are clear and bright. I’ve eliminated all the toxic nasties that have been accumulating (physical, mental, emotional) and it’s a sensation of deep and complete clean and calm. The hardest part about this experience is returning home and wishing that everyone I care about could have gone through it too.