Saturday, August 25, 2018

Yoga Retreat Diary


This post is the online diary I was keeping during my Yoga Retreat in Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic, from 15th to 25th August of 2018. In 10 days, I kept updating this post on a daily basis so if you're interested to read, please scroll down this page...

Yoga Retreat - Punta Cana - August 2018

6 a.m. - waking up
7:30 a.m. - first yoga practice (45 min)
9:00 a.m. - breakfast

10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. - beach and pool (swimming, walking)
1:30 p.m. - lunch

6:00 p.m. - second yoga practice (45 min)
8:00 p.m. -  dinner

10:00 p.m. - sleep

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Tomorrow, I am traveling to Punta Cana. I will stay there 10 nights and for 9 straight days, I will do half primary ashtanga yoga twice a day. I will stay in an all-inclusive, 5 stars, adult only resort. I am going alone and my mind is oriented towards yoga practice.

I have packed only basic stuff, t-shirts, swimming pants, short pants, laptop and of course the yoga mat.

 

The two practices a day requires lots of physical and mental efforts. Ashtanga yoga is a boring practice, so repetitive, strenuous for lower back and knees. The key to having a good practice twice a day is to be well prepared in advance. So far, I had 10 practices in August. I believe that what I did so far is enough and I am ready. On this retreat, I will do 19 practices.


Guruji Pattabhi Jois used to say: “Yoga is very difficult. Everyday practice, practice, practice.” That is exactly what I am going to do. The successful retreat lies in combining yoga with swimming, walking, and some heavy lifting in the resort's gym and of course a lot of rest with a long dreamless sleep.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

My phone alarm woke me up at 5:45 a.m. this morning. I jumped from the bed, had a coffee and called uber to drive me to the airport. I was there around 7:30 a.m.


The flight from Toronto to Punta Cana was 4 hours and 25 minutes. It was a pleasant flight. I had lots of room for my legs. I arrived at Punta Cana at 2:30 p.m., the immigration procedure was fast, took my bag and the bus was waiting to take me to the hotel.


I was the only one who has traveled to this hotel. It was a nice welcoming gesture, a bottle of champagne. I was surprised. I realized this hotel is an exclusive place, no bracelets on the hand, no dinner buffet only ala carte restaurants. I don't really like this, I had brought just one pair of jeans, in which I traveled. Oh well, will see how I am going to go around this.


The room is magnificent. A lot of space, clean and airy. I set my mat and I am about to do my first yoga practice in Punta Cana. the 1st one of 19. I am going to enjoy here.


My room has a beautiful outside look. I don't see the ocean but it is tropical surrounding with palm trees and an artificial lake. Down there is the ocean and I can smell the sea water. The better we move, the greater we become. 😊


I did my first yoga practice in Punta Cana at 6:30 p.m. Practice was good I was strong and flexible considering long traveling hours and sitting in the plane. After practice, I showered and left for dinner which was on the beach. I was too tired to take photos. I had pork on the grill and lots of avocado salads. I drunk water the whole night. No beer or alcohol on this trip. I went to bed before 10 p.m..


Thursday, August 16, 2018

I woke up a couple of times in the night, rested but I continue laying down in the bed until 6 a.m. I got up had three small cups of coffees, did banking online and I started morning yoga.


The practice was stiffness and heaviness in the beginning, until Uthita-hasta-padangustasanas, after that pose I felt less tightness and usual freedom. Something strange happened on the left side of Parsvotanasana. I put my right hand beside left knee and extended left hand forward and I lost breath. I think I pulled the stomach too much on the left side so breathing was difficult. I felt such panic attack so I had to lose up the pose. I almost pee in my shorts. It is a new experience and I will pay special attention to this feeling.


I need to relax my muscles. I started the second yoga practice at 6:30 p.m. I was on the phone with my girlfriend and we talked for a long time. I had no wish to do yoga at all so to motivate myself I put Sharath's DVD and I followed his breath count through half primary until Navasana. Then I did finishing sequence. I was feeling tired after practice, a quick shower did not shave and I went straight to dinner. I had cappeloni with shrimps. It was a pleasant dinner. I returned to the room around 9:30 p.m. and went to sleep.


Friday, August 17, 2018

Ashtanga yoga is completely unpredictable. Whenever I expect that the practice will be good it ends up to be strenuous, heavy and stiff. I had a nice 8 hours rest last night and yet I was not so eager to start yoga this morning. I started it at 9:30 a.m. 2 hours later than scheduled. 


I was so heavy, left shoulder trapezoid muscle on the back was agitated from sleep on left side and I could tell that muscles are a bit strained. I did not push in stretching too far, I am very cautious not to get injured. My plan is to do 19 practices on this vacation.

So this morning very tough practice, 50 minutes long. I did Navasana a bit longer 8-9 breaths, 5 repetitions. I want to melt my belly fat, I can see the progress but it is still early.


I am consistent and I did not have any beer on the third day now. Last night I did have a glass of red wine. All day today I was drinking just water and I had a couple of coffees...

I swam in the ocean today in the morning, had seafood for lunch and was almost all day in the pool. I feel much more alive today so I started the second practice at 5:30 pm. I could not wait for 6.

As I said, the ashtanga is unpredictable. I had a strong practice, 60 minutes long. I did 5A, 5B sun salutations, Navasana and Urdhva Dhanurasana (wheel pose) 3 times. I was avoiding full wheel for a month (instead I did bridge pose) due to pain in the left wrist but today I did it. The wrist pain is still here but it is okay, I can support myself in full wheel pose.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

This morning I missed breakfast which is available until 11 am. I had to wait for lunch that opens at the noon. This morning I was late, late to get up, late for the practice, late for breakfast... Last night I was watching the show at the hotel and then karaoke, it was so much fun. I had 4 glasses of wine and I returned to the room around midnight. 

I did not go to sleep immediately, I was texting with my niece and I went to bed around 1 am. My phone clock could not wake me up at 6. I got up around 7 am. I was feeling tired and I could not start yoga practice for a long time. After 3 coffees and some orange juice, I finally started my 16th yoga practice of the month,,, at 10 am. 

The practice was slow, heavy and uninteresting. I did the only basic postures, 3A, 3B sun salutations, all standing and modified finishing sequence. I was contemplated to quit the practice but I continued to the end. 



I started the second practice for today at 5:30 pm. I slept in the afternoon for about 2 hours and felt rested. The practice was just good, nothing special. In Trigonosanas and Parsvotanasana I have started to rotate my body more than usual and I felt how much belly fat is stored on the sides of the stomach. 

The fourth day of my yoga retreat is passed and I have succeeded to keep the schedule. 7  practices so far. 7 of 19. There are 6 days left. It is really difficult but I want to preserve. I cannot afford to go to bed after 11 pm. I need a good night sleep. 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Ashtanga yoga is not so great tool for weight loss. I mean I am practicing a lot and I cannot lose my weight. This morning 90 kg and my goal is 86 kg and that is very difficult, almost impossible to accomplish just by doing yoga.


Last night I had a bit of pasta, a small pizza for dinner and two scoops of strawberries ice cream. It was not the large meal and I don't know why I am not losing weight as it supposes to. I did not drink any alcohol, no sweet drinks either just water. I do practice twice a day for 4th day. I came with 90 kg and I still have that weight. I don't understand.

Anyway, I will proceed with the practice. It will be so nice if every practice is like this, this one what I have just done this morning. 50 minutes strong, flexible body, with deep breathing and great concentration, half primary ashtanga yoga. I did 5A, 5B sun salutations and all poses of the half primary until Navasana. I did full wheel pose regardless of the pain in the left wrist.


Due to unforeseen circumstances (read... tequila and beer) the afternoon yoga practice is canceled.  God helps us all.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Last night I did not go to dinner. I had a couple more beers from the room's fridge and then around 8 p.m. I just lay down and slept. I woke up at 4:30 a.m. so rested, got up made a coffee and sit on the balcony. It was still dark and unusually quiet. 


I sat on the balcony until the sun came, around 6:10 a.m. I was trying texting my girlfriend but she was so busy so I just sat there and observed sunrise. I decided to take a break and not to do today's morning yoga. I am tired, left knee started to hurt me, left wrist is very much agitated. I need rest, I will do afternoon practice and resume twice a day yoga tomorrow.


The breakfast is my favorite meal. I like fresh eggs, bacon, and sausage, the traditional American style breakfast. This morning I was so hungry and I had breakfast before 8. I was surprised to see so many people in the restaurant. People do get early on vacation, I was always rushing to get breakfast before 11. 


I did not do any yoga today. My left knee hurt so much. I think the pain comes from inflammation of lateral ligaments hipper extended in Uthita-hasta-padangustasana. I wanted to do afternoon practice and I was ready to start but my girlfriend called me and I had a long chat with her. I drank 2 beers with her and then continue drinking beer during the night. Went to bed around midnight...

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

I am resuming two practices a day for the next four days. I am traveling back home on Saturday. To be quite honest I don't like this resort. The hotel staff wants tips for the smallest service they offer. It is the all-inclusive resort but I have to pay for everything. I will never come here again.


I started morning practice at 9:30. I was strong, flying on the mat. I did 8 breaths in each pose and felt so much relaxed after practice. Still, I have pain around the left kneecap.

I read today an article that our personality is changing and that for the writer was a great surprise. I was laughing while I read it. Here you can see for yourself: Our personality changes beyond recognition from 14 to 77 They say that there is growing neuroscience research that supports the ancient Buddhist belief that our notion of a stable “self” is nothing more than an illusion. Really?


I wear a bandana around my head because during the practice a sweat a lot and the bandana protects me from the sweat going into my eyes. When it is colder weather and I do not sweat so much like in summer I don't wear the bandana. So it is not for some kind of being the yogi warrior or some other bullshit, the bandana is here for practical reasons.

The second practice started at 6:30 pm. I put Sharath's DVD and he led me through the half primary until Navasana and then I took over for finishing sequence. Sharath's DVD used to be very fast for me but today I was not feeling the speed. I did everything much faster than usual. Something has changed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Seven days on this yoga retreat have passed, three more days to go. Last night I did not sleep so well. I went to bed at 10:15 pm. and from 3 am. I was waking up every hour. Yesterday I had a fight with my girlfriend, I am asking her to think about her life and relationships and decide which way she wants to go. Her ex is very much active in her life and I suggested her to go back to him. What else I can do? I told her that I am fine if we do not see each other again. It does not matter that I love her, I cannot stand this anymore, I am really tired from this relationship. 


Beleive me or not I am the only single person in this resort. All around me are couples on honeymoon or some anniversary or wedding or friends with benefits came for some intimate time together or who knows what... I enjoy watching them and I have concluded that I am extremely lucky that I am alone. I see that very few of them I really happy. Being alone gives me the freedom to be who I am. Yes, there is a lack of sex, but that is the secondary, not the main thing.


This morning I started yoga practice with Max's DVD. The sun salutation is so fast and the postures are held for almost 10 breaths. It was very tiring practice 50 minutes long half primary practice. I set up my phone and make a video of today's practice but it is low quality and so dark that I cannot post it here. I selected these 2 photos as a reminder of my Punta Cana practice.


The second practice started at 5:30 pm. I have done it by my own breath count. The practice was a real joy. I did not hurry, I went slowly but steady. I have done 5A, 3B sun salutations, all standing, sitting until navasana and finishing sequence. 50 minutes.

Great news. I spoke to my agency representative and he informed me that the bus arrives at 10:50 a.m. on Saturday to take us to the airport. This is great I have time to do the last practice on this retreat on Saturday at 7:30, have a breakfast and go to the airport.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

I was at the salsa party last night. It was fun and I had a great time. I think I had about five beers. I came to the room around 11 pm. Everything here in the resort is time scheduled and when things are the best they cut it off. As a single, the only one in the resort, the female staff took a pity on me and they were dancing with me. So I had fun and it is the best night so far.


I had a problem waking up this morning but phone alarm rang at 6 so I just got up. The best part of this vacation or how I call it the yoga retreat is weather and the room. My room is a large junior suite, so spacious and ideal for yoga practice. All these days I had nothing but the sun. It is hot, but there is always a breeze so the heat is not really felt. 

The food in the resort is not so good, although I must say I did not visit all the restaurants. The breakfast is standard and nothing special. The lunch buffet is poor with lots of french fries, pasta and hard to swallow pizzas. I don't understand why people eat that stuff in this very expensive place. the best part for the lunch is sushi and sashimi and I eat them a lot.


Drinking and yoga do not go together. This morning practice was heavy and I was weak. I did practice just 40 minutes, no navasana, from standing I went straight to finishing sequence. I am very much tired and I need rest. Oh well, one more day. I really like to go home.

My left side is much weaker than the right, I have pain in the left wrist, left knee, and back shoulder on the left side. But as you know, the pain caused by yoga can be healed only by doing more yoga. So morning practice is done and that all that matters. 

Why I was on the balcony after the practice the worker in the resort gave me the fresh coconut. He cut it and I drunk it with a pleasure. This reminds me of ashtangis in Mysore. Cheers...


I had a very good lunch today, sushi as the first plate and spaghetti with meat sauce as the second. I was not having breakfast so I was really hungry. After the lunch I felt much better, tiredness disappeared and the rest of the day I spend on the beach. The water is so hot and there are a lot of seaweeds but I love swimming in the ocean. I think I can do two practices a day only because my body recovers in the sea during a day.


I did not do the afternoon practice today. I was ready to start it but my girlfriend called me around 5 pm and we had a long 2 hours of conversation. Nothing really changed in our relationship. She has a difficult period in her life and we don't share the same interests. I don't believe that will change anytime soon. So let it be like this I will see for how long. After the phone conversation, I just showered and went to dinner. 

Friday, August 24, 2018

The last full day of my yoga retreat. Tomorrow I will travel back to Toronto. Tomorrow will be my last yoga practice in Punta Cana. If all goes as planned I will have the total of 16 practices of half primary ashtanga yoga series. I think for 10 days that is a great success.


I'm going to repeat the yoga retreat next year, but not in the hot place like this. It is nice to go swimming after yoga, however, I feel I need to move more, the most of the time I just sit in the chair drinking various drinks. I need more walking and moving. So yes, next year I am planning for another yoga retreat but in a different surrounding, maybe in mountains. We will see.

The morning practice was excellent. I was strong and concentrated. 5A, 5B salutations, all standing, all sitting and finishing sequence. This is why I like ashtanga yoga. It requires complete surrender, the way of careful living and a lot of rest. It does not go well with lack of sleep, partying and drinking.


I had a wonderful lunch today, sushi, and pasta. I skipped breakfast, I was not hungry, so I had two plates for lunch. It was a hot day, over 34 C. I was at the beach. I have not been on the pool in the last 4 days. I do prefer ocean over the pool. I came from the beach around 3 pm and I had one hour nap. 


Second practice started at 6:00. I did everything that I have done this morning. A full yoga practice with full strength. I was exhausted after the 50 minutes of bending, stretching and sweating so hard. It is all good, I have no pain in my body. The left knee is okay, the left wrist is better, I did wheel pose, 3 times and there is still pain but it is controllable. Great success. Tomorrow is the last practice and it must be done exactly at 7:30 because I have to catch the bus to the airport at 10:50 am. 


I have started packing. I left only the stuff for the yoga and what I am going to wear tomorrow. I am happy going home. It was quite enough. I gain strength and consistency in the practice and that is what matters the most. One more week is left in August and I will continue doing one practice a day.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

I woke up at 5:15 am. Last night mosquitos had beaten me all over my body. It was so hot outside, no wind at all, they sprayed something against mosquitos. I was on the balcony and got the hard-hit too. I slept poorly, went to bed around midnight and was waking up during a night. I did not go for dinner last night and I was eagerly waiting to get up.


I started the last yoga practice in Punta Cana at 7 am. It was a good practice, nothing out of ordinary, 5 A, 3 B sun salutations, all standing, sitting until navasana and then full closing sequence. I showered after the practice, packed my mat and I am ready to go...

In 10 days total of 16 practices. I am more than satisfied. No injuries, everything is good, I gain strength. 26 practices in August. I will do yoga next week too, the journey continues...


I am closing my laptop, leaving the room and going for breakfast. The bus is coming around 11 and I will go to the airport. Punta Cana yoga retreat is officially over.



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