My mum and I are 30 years apart in age. Over the years we have both developed a love of yoga, so when we reached the milestone ages of 60 and 30 we decided to celebrate by spending a weekend together at a yoga retreat. We had a wonderful time and this quickly became an annual event. It’s now 4 years later and we have just returned from a blissful week-long yoga holiday on the Greek island of Paros with inspiring teacher Oona Giesen.
I did the same holiday by myself 8 years ago and had been trying to persuade my mum to come ever since because I knew she would love Oona’s teaching and the Greek island life. 2016 was the year to do it, as logistical barriers gave way and life events meant we could both do with some rest and relaxation. We had a fabulous week, slowing down to match the Greek pace of life and enjoying the yoga, massages, great food, sunshine, and turquoise seas. We also learnt a lot, had a digital detox away from the time-sucking temptations of social media, read some good books, and embraced the opportunity to get to know new people and spend some quality time together.
It feels like a good time to reflect on what I love about our annual yoga retreats. So here are a few of my favourite things about this mother-daughter yoga time:
Nurturing a common interest
My mum was the one who first introduced me to yoga, taking me along to classes when I was a child growing up in West Wales in the 80s and 90s. Over the years we have each experienced ebbs and flows in our yoga practice but it’s something we keep coming back to, and yoga is now an important way for us both to take care of ourselves. I love having this in common, and getting away together to deepen and reinvigorate our practice is a great way to keep this connection as we grow and learn about what works for us at these different stages of our lives.
The time I spend with my mum is usually filled with other people and tends to be in one of our homes. Being away from the people and places we know, and having the opportunity to slow down and practice yoga together helps us step out of our habitual ways of being. It gives us space and time to do something we both love, and a chance to talk in more depth about the things going on in our lives. Oh and we learn new things about each other too, like how partial my mum is to a glass of Ouzo!
Supporting each other to do the things that scare us
Yoga retreats are a great way to try new things and move out of your comfort zone. My mum is a real water-baby while I’m a bit anxious about swimming in the sea, but she persuaded me to take a dip in the deep crystal clear waters nonetheless. Meanwhile, I’m more confident to try challenging yoga poses these days, but mum is sometimes doubtful she can do them, so I encouraged her to try some of the supported inversions that Oona teaches using special props. It’s so nice to be able to give each other mutual support in these different ways.
Inspiring other people
Every time we go on a yoga retreat, other people comment on what a lovely thing it is to do as mother and daughter. They reflect on whether they could do the same, or something similar, with their own mothers or daughters. And even if they decide it wouldn’t work for them, our being there together seems to inspire them to think of what might work instead. That’s a lovely side-effect of our yoga retreats!
The mother-daughter relationship is a special one I think, and I love that we spend a little time each year investing in ours, especially since we live quite far apart from each other.
Are there any relationships in your own life that could do with a bit more investment? Do you have something in common that you can draw on?
Here’s a list of our yoga retreats to date (I’d recommend each one of them!):
- 2012: Weekend retreat with Tabitha Dean and Colin Raizon in the Cotswolds
- 2013: Weekend retreat with John Chesterton and Channie Yong in Devon
- 2015: Weekend retreat with Catherine Annis in West Sussex
- 2016: Week-long yoga holiday with Oona Giesen in Paros, Greece