By Alix Norman
We all know what yoga is, but how many of us are aware of what the word itself actually means? Or even what language it stems from? An age-old practice, believed to have been around for well over 2,000 years, yoga is a physical, mental and spiritual discipline that focuses on the attainment of permanent peace of mind to experience one’s true self. Originating in ancient India, the term itself derives from the Sanskrit ‘to yoke’ and ‘to concentrate’, the whole meaning being more neatly encompassed by the modern definition ‘union’. And this is why, Emma Michael explains, this week’s gathering is known as the ‘Unity Yoga Retreat’.
A qualified teacher of yoga – and a practitioner of the ancient art of shiatsu – Emma is one of the six instructors who will be leading the upcoming Unity Yoga Retreat at Paradisos Hills. She’s clearly passionate about her vocation as well as being inspirational in her teaching methods. “Yoga is flourishing in Cyprus at the moment,” she says. “There’s yoga festivals, yoga on the beach, yoga in the park and centres springing up all over the island. But this is the first Unity Yoga Retreat, a five-day gathering focusing completely on the union of mind, body and spirit that come through yoga.
“Yoga is not just physical,” she clarifies. “It’s also mental and emotional and energetic – a union of all aspects of oneself, a process of living in harmony with the world both outside and in.” And what’s different about this retreat, she explains, is the assemblage of six highly professional yoga instructors whose fields of expertise cover a vast number of different practices; a real mix of people from across the island who have spent years training under some of the best yogis in the world.
There’s Anna Zorzou (a registered Yoga Alliance teacher and the leading YogaWorks teacher trainer for Greece and Cyprus) whose teaching is influenced by Integrative Yoga Therapy and the Birthlight Schools. Then there’s Andria Kyriacou (a certified Advanced Yoga Teacher) who has studied Sivananda yoga in India under a well-respected guru, and Vanessa Morton (a practitioner of the Power Vinyasa and Ashtanga styles) whose passion for yoga has flourished under master teachers such as Baron Baptiste and Shiva Rea. Paris Georgiou – also a follower of the Ashtanga path – is the founder of the Vinyasa Yoga Studio in Limassol, and boasts over 14 years of experience in yoga, while Andry Sophocleous has been an avid yoga practitioner for over 11 years, having received her Certification in the subject from the Aura Wellness Centre in America.
And lastly – but certainly not least – there’s Emma herself who, since taking her first yoga class just before the turn of the millennium, has never looked back. Having experimented with a broad range of styles, in recent years her practice has gravitated towards the spiritual dynamism of Jivamukti, the deep flowing awareness of scaravelli and most recently the alignment and open heartedness of Anusara. Currently in the process of completing her second course of teacher training (the first being at the Sivananda Institute in India) in the Anusara discipline at Triyoga in London, Emma bases her teaching approach on her background in shiatsu and bio-mechanics, as well as her wealth of yoga experience and practice.
And she’s extremely enthusiastic about the chance to share her knowledge and expertise at the upcoming Retreat, especially as it takes place in one of the most stunning regions of the island: “The Paradisos Hills is in the most beautiful setting, near a forest and close to the sea,” she says, explaining that the surroundings permit guests to take part in a wide variety of activities over the five days, such as hiking, cooking, scuba diving, horse riding or “even just chilling out by the pool or down by the sea”.
It’s a perfect getaway for everyone, she adds, whether you’re very experienced or a total beginner: “There’s such a variety of different styles, it’s a great opportunity to come along and see which of the disciplines you’re attracted to. Even if you just drive up for the day, rather than staying for a number of nights, there’s plenty on offer.” An amazing setting, wonderful teachers and the chance to truly relax – and unify – one’s mind, body and spirit: this seems like a whole lot more than a mere retreat. It sounds like a real treat.
The Unity Yoga Retreat
Organised by the company Provisionforsports runs from June 19 to 23 at the Paradisos Hills Hotel and Retreat in the Paphos District. Accommodation is available though booking is required in advance. The cost of classes is: Per Class – €20, Daily Fee / 2 Classes – €30, Two Days Pass / 4 Classes – €55, Three Days Pass / 6 Classes – €80, Full Pass / 8 Classes – €100. For further information, booking and full details of the schedule, visit www.unity-yoga-retreat.com or call 26 101020 or Freephone 77776100. For details of Emma’s yoga classes, held at Serenity House in Nicosia, contact [email protected]