Emerging from the Depths: A Reflective Journey Through A Yoga Retreat Oasis

Returning from a combined holiday and yoga retreat week away in Morocco, I find myself still processing the profound shifts that occurred during this immersive experience. Joined by a close friend, also a therapist with a passion for yoga and self-discovery, we embarked on a journey led by Nikki Cassap of YogaVida, exploring the depths of yoga practice amidst the stunning backdrop of Fawakay Villas near Marrakesh.

Our adventure began three days before the retreat officially commenced, allowing us to settle into the serene surroundings and soak in the beauty of Moroccan landscapes. From the breathtaking yoga sunrise on the rooftop terrace to indulging in healthy and delicious Moroccan cuisine, each moment was deeply nourishing. 

One unexpected highlight of our trip was the friendship we forged before the retreat part of the week, with a friend of the Fawakay owners, Tom, who graciously offered to walk with us most mornings, to show us the hinterland beyond the villas. As we embarked on early morning walks, he shared insights into Moroccan traditions, religion, and the vibrant expat community. Against the backdrop of the dusty landscape dotted with remnants of local life - scattered skulls and skeletons, our conversations delved into the complexities of life and culture in Morocco; the light and the dark aspects of that. We were privileged to spend some time most evenings with the owner Francis and with Tom where we enjoyed truly engaging conversation. 

I took along the book The Chalice and the Blade to read. I didn't finish it as there did not seem to be much time to focus on a book. The subject mater was appropriate to the process that unfolded. The book blurb states "The Chalice and the Blade tells a new story of our cultural origins. It shows that warfare and the war of the sexes are neither divinely nor biologically ordained. It provides verification that a better future is possible--and is in fact firmly rooted in the haunting dramas of what happened in our past." This is most pertinent as the retreat began on April 9th which coincides with the first day of Navratri, in Hinduism, a major festival held in honour of the divine feminine.

The yoga retreat itself was both profound and challenging, pushing us to confront our innermost selves with honesty and vulnerability. While the practice offered moments of physical challenge, meditative relaxation and bliss, it also invited resistance, discomfort, and even confrontation. Much like the blend of darkness and light, life and death, that we encountered during our walks, the yoga practice served, for us, as a mirror for the complexities of human experience.

As I reflect on my time in Morocco, I am reminded that growth often emerges from moments of discomfort and uncertainty. The retreat was a reminder that true transformation requires us to lean into the discomfort, embracing the journey with open hearts and minds. And just as the desert landscape undergoes cycles of renewal and rebirth, so too do we have the opportunity to shed old layers and emerge renewed and revitalised. I think that's what's going on for me anyway...

Last night I spoke to my therapist about the retreat. She said that my description of the environment and the profound processes, brought to mind a folk song by a British woman called Frankie Armstrong who is considered to be the Grandmother of Natural Voice singing. My therapist sang the haunting verses of Out of the Darkness, the lyrics of which I share below:

Out of the darkness comes the fear of what's to come

Out of the darkness comes the dread of what's undone

Out of the darkness comes the hope that we can run

And out of the darkness comes the knowledge of the sun.

Out of the darkness comes the fear of the unknown,

Out of the darkness comes the dread of bleaching bone

Out of the darkness comes the hope we're not alone,

And out of the darkness grows the seeds that we have sown.

Out of the darkness comes the fear, revenge and hate

Out of the darkness comes the dread of indifferent fate.

Out of the darkness comes the hope we're not too late

And out of the darkness come the songs that we create.

Darkness is the place of life, darkness is the womb,

Darkness is the place of death, darkness is the tomb.

Death belongs to life, half af day is night,

The end won't come in darkness

But a blinding flash of light.

I would encourage you to listen to the song on the link above. It really is something else in terms of impact.

In the end, the journey was not just about physical exercise or relaxation—it was a journey of self-discovery and inner exploration, leaving an indelible impression. As I integrate the lessons learned into my daily life, I carry with me the wisdom gained from the dusty desert, the calm oasis of Fawakay, the connections made, and the sacred practice of yoga. 

With thanks to my dear friend, and also to our angel Nikki Cassap for her immersive yoga teachings, to Francis and Tom for their warmth, kindness and humour. Also to our fellow yogis on the retreat. A special mention to Francis's wife, Dawn, co-owner of Fawakay Villas. Sadly we did not meet her as she was out of the country but her presence was very much enjoyed by way of her metal-work art scattered around Fawakay and the stunning creative vision she brought to the place. 

We plan to return to Fawakay again one day.