The Zest Life

About 6 weeks ago my swimming mojo went on sabbatical along with my health. The highs of racing with Team Melanie C were a long way away.

Suddenly all the things I said I would someday do more of; might change in my life at some point; became imperatives.

Along with regular physio, acupuncture and bowen massage, the little bit of yoga I was doing became a committed daily morning routine. And, having always been more veggie than not, I finally committed to a plant based diet (no dairy) and a life beyond saturated fat.

I was also in desperate need of a holiday.

To my delight I discovered The Zest Life and headed off to the Welsh mountains, lakes and sea for their ‘Dive Into Yoga’ retreat: A long weekend of yoga, wild swimming, vegan food, massages and other good stuff.

The Zest Life! Post swim fruit tea and vegan cake at Llyn Llandwyn
The Zest Life! Post swim fruit tea and vegan cake at Llyn Llandwyn

Whilst we can all get thrown some pretty nasty curveballs, the universe also has a habit of bringing wonderful things into your life; and often, exactly when you need them the most.

This weekend was one such wonderful thing.

Yoga

Laura’s yoga sessions were beautifully multifaceted, combining traditional philosophies and a superb breadth of knowledge of her art, with a contemporary wit and sensitivity that was completely in tune with the pace, progression and personalities of the weekend.

From peaceful meditation and breathing exercises, entwined with inspiring poetry and music, through to crescendos of physical movement, where I discovered strength and power I never knew I had.

On the Sunday evening we even got outside in the beautiful gardens of Plas Cadnant and had lots of fun doing yoga in pairs…

6 weeks ago I couldn't move my head from left to right and my arms were going numb - EXACTLY!
6 weeks ago I couldn’t move my head from left to right and my arms were going numb – EXACTLY!

It was a revelation to be doing something so physical, strong and active, that was also restorative and bringing energy and peace to my body and mind – A complete antidote to the training pattern I have been at risk of falling into: Pushing myself to the limit in an unhealthy cycle of exhaustion and recovery.

Having paid lip service to the virtues of yoga and nodded intently when friends sung its praises, I am now, finally, an official convert.

Thank you Laura.

Swimming

What a variety!

After the hot, physical morning yoga sessions (and before breakfast), we jumped in the waterfall at the bottom of the beautiful gardens at Plas Cadnant.

It was bloomin’ freezing, but utterly delicious!

Waterfalls!
Waterfalls!

Then it was over to the lovely Dan and Gabs at Gone Swimming for our daily swimming adventure.

What it says on the swim hat ;)
What it says on the swim hat 🙂

Our swimming adventures were not about distances or times etc. In fact temperature readings were guided on a “brrr” to “brrrrrrrrrrrr” gage.

It was joyful; and on the Saturday I found myself swimming with a seal at Yyns Lladwyn, and on the Sunday, in the beautifully cold and invigorating Llyn Idwal.

Post sea swim smiles!
Post sea swim smiles!
We've just been swimming with a seal! :)
We’ve just been swimming with a seal! 🙂
The Good Stuff!
The Good Stuff!
Llyn Idwal Pod YMCA - Gone Swimming  It's a serious business!
Llyn Idwal Pod YMCA – Gone Swimming – It’s a serious business!
Dan swimming miracle
Dan’s swimming miracle
Big Swim Smiles
Big Swim Smiles

Whilst Dan and Gabs kept a close eye on us all when in the water, it was also pretty wonderful to be greeted with hot fruit tea and vegan cakes on our exit.

Post Swim - Two Down Jackets - And you know you've proper got the shakes when Dan and Gabs refuse to fill your cup of hot tea more than half way!
Post Swim – Two Down Jackets – And you know you’ve proper got the shakes when Dan and Gabs refuse to fill your cup of hot tea more than half way!

As well as all that, and perhaps most importantly, Dan and Gabs really know their swimming stuff and Dan kindly took the time to talk to me about other swimming spots in the local area: There is so much to explore – and thank you for helping me rediscover my swimming mojo!

Hello Swimming Mojo!
Hello Swimming Mojo!

Wonderful food

I didn’t take any pictures of the food as I was too busy stuffing my face. It was delicious.

Fruit salad, muesli mixes, soya yoghurts, salads, homemade soups (thanks Laura’s mum!), avocado ‘cheescake’ (awesome), vegan chocolate mousse (ditto), sesame and something I can’t remember how to pronounce – sweet and savoury – all-at-the-same-time-things – which were just delicious.

Having changed my diet, it can sometimes feel isolating, especially when you are eating out with friends or at a mate’s house. You feel like you have to explain yourself. But here there were no such worries – it was lovely!

Positive kind-hearted people

Some of us were drawn to the weekend primarily for the yoga; for some of us it was the swimming.

I am new to yoga and other people were new to open water, but we all dived in!

Thank you ladies.

芙蓉出水, ‘Fu Rong Chu Shui’, Out of the water a lotus rises –  And we did.

Out of the Water a Lotus Rises
Out of the Water a Lotus Rises

Get in touch:

At A Lotus Rises we’re celebrating  women in open water, from your first splash, through to wild swims and even swimming marathons.

You can get involved via the BlogFacebookTwitter and alotusrises@gmail.com. We want to share your stories, so we can support you and inspire others!

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