I have just returned from a life changing week at Yoga Dharma Bulgaria and I feel wonderful. A week of yoga pants, unwashed hair (by choice! you are allowed to wash your hair!), no makeup and bare feet. Up in a mountain, with both glorious sunshine and epic thunder storms, the sound of crickets, giant toads on the garden path, fireflies, the tree of knowledge that we couldnt find (make of that what you will!) the most amazing sky at night with the brightest stars and an experience I’ll be grateful for, forever.
As part of my 200 hour teacher training course, I had the chance to do 95 of those hours over an intensive week out at Martin & Fran’s house and studio in Bulgaria, and naturally, I jumped at the chance.
We landed at Sofia airport and took a 4 hour taxi ride out to the middle of nowhere, got stuck on a dirt track even but eventually we came accross a secluded little patch of houses way up in the mountains. Scenes were stunning, it’s an idyllic place with panoramic mountain views, blue skies and fields in every direction. There was fresh home grown fruit and walnuts and it was rustic and homely.
My friend Abi and I shared the smallest room with bunk beds (there were 9 of us there in total) and that was to be our home for a week. On the first night Martin took us down to the nearby spa for dinner in his battered old royal mail mini bus, and we all ate dinner food and chatted and got to know one another a little better.
Each morning throughout the week we would rise at 6am for 4 hours of cleansing practice (jala neti), pranayama, asana and meditation before heading down to the spa for breakfast at 10am. After that we would hike back up the mountain (past a herd of goats on many occasion) and back to the studio for teaching practice and philosophy. At 6pm we would head back down to the spa for dinner and then settle in back at the house with our coursework or presentation preparation for the following day. (I gave a presentation on Pawamuktasana and Pranayama).
One day we went up further into the mountain to do our philosophy outside, which just added to the serenity and the experience. We had a presentation on Bhakti Yoga and the setting was perfect for it. My friend Kelly made me a daisy chain for my hair too!
After a week of this I felt renewed, it was difficult at first but I settled into the routine and came to enjoy it even. It was that week that I gave up meat and I havent eaten it since I returned from Bulgaria.
The dynamic of the group had changed by the end of the week and we’d all gotten to know each other as different people to those that had arrived on the previous Monday. We’d all grown together in one way or another and learned so much about ourselves, each other and our toga teaching journey.
On our last night, after dinner, we settled in the living room to watch a film together, enjoying not having any preparation for the next day other than to pack our bags and battle with the thought of heading back home to reality.
I’ve been left with an urge to travel with yoga as much as possible, I want to immerse myself in this lifestyle wherever I can, it’s easier when you’re away from the distractions of modern life and leaves you feeling completely renewed. I recommend it wholeheartedly.