With his latest retreat Duncan Hulin proves that one doesn’t need to go all the way to the Himalayas to experience yogic bliss.
On the first week of July, a group of twelve met up in a hot Biarritz car park on France’s Basque coast. All were enthusiastically looking forward to the next seven days filled with mountain trekking and holistic yoga practice deep in Atlantic Pyrenees.
Very quickly we got on with our new routines: kicking off bright and early with meditation, kriyas and asana classes focused on activating our thighs, enjoying delicious and nutritious breakfasts served by another dedicated yoga teacher Anna, trekking locally or in remote mountains until late afternoon with breathtaking views, and finally coming back with hearts filled with memories but empty stomachs for another nourishing vegetarian meal and reflective free time, and sometimes for a yet another, this time relieving, yoga session.
Holistic yoga was at the heart of everything that happened there – even if it wasn’t about physical postures on some days, but the mindset and shared values as our extra companions. Every day was different, yet each had a common thread – a community of open-minded yoga enthusiasts going perfectly with the flow with what Duncan Hulin, our yoga teacher, and Steve Bateman, our mountain guide, had to offer.
"Keep your feet on the ground, but let your heart soar as high as it will."
It’s not easy to tell whether glorious landscapes of both French and Spanish Pyrenees and the effort of reaching them deepened our yoga practice, or was it yoga itself that turned us into mindful hikers with meaningful experiences. But the variety of small simple moments – from witnessing dogs chasing their own echo and sound of cow bells, to the view of wild growing irises decorating the landscapes, to jumping trout, our refreshing dips in glacier lakes and cheerful laughs, to soaring birds of prey above – was inviting our wandering minds with every passing second to be present.
The sunny days and clear skies were occasionally mixed with misty views and rainfalls on a rainforest scale... it didn’t matter, as all was the experience of nature in its purest form reminding us we are nature itself.