One step at a time never made more sense than last week, which I spent at The Ashram hiking hiking and hiking again. A transformative detox journey of almost 100km in the beautiful mountains of Mallorca.
In the ten years that I lived in the US, I always heard of this Ashram place somewhere in the hills of Santa Monica, opened since the 70’s, as the ultimate detox destination for overworked urbanites. It got me curious and craving to try it one day. The original California Ashram has an outpost on the beautiful island of Mallorca two months of the year. Breastfeeding over, 40 years old clock ticking, tummy all flabby after three c-sections, and with big circles under my eyes, there could not have been a better time to embark on a me, myself & I weeklong than this year.
The program at The Ashram is intense, but extremely complete for both the body & soul. That’s what makes it so unique. I cried, I sweated, I got hungry, I missed my family, and yet I am back home now, hoping to make it a yearly pilgrimage ’til my legs can no longer carry me. That’s how much I loved it.
What’s all the fuss about
Wake up call at 5am in the form of a gentle knock knock at the door. Everyone gathers by the fireplace before starting the day with one hour yoga class as the sun rises. Then a small but nutritious breakfast, different every day. And off to the hike, on average 15km long (10miles). That’s about 5 hours a day of fast-paced hiking in the mountains, often on steep hills, going up to an elevation of 1,000m (3,000 feet). Using a camelback and poles, the real deal. Back home in the early afternoon for a filling yet healthy lunch, and then a very rewarding deep tissue massage. You’d think the day is over but no. There’s another core class such as pilates mat or TRX, finishing the day with another yoga class right before dinner. And early bedtime. And again, and again, and again. 6 days in a row. Non stop. One step at a time.
What makes it so special
The staff is incredibly caring, dedicated and passionate about what they do. The coordinators, the guides, the massage therapists, the yoga teachers. From the moment you step in (and the front gate locks behind you!), you instantly become part of this big happy family full of energy and willing to share advices. It still amazes me how, that day when we were going up 2,000 steps (TWO THOUSAND STEPS!!) through a gorge, I looked up and saw the peak of the mountain, where we were heading. And I froze. Tears rolling on my red sweaty cheeks. I turned back to the guide closing the hike (gracias Mateo!!), I must have looked at him with the most desperate eyes, and I asked “what will we do if I can’t do this. Because I don’t think I can“. With motivating words and a calm tone, he reassured me that the force WAS (and always IS) within me, that taking it one baby step at a time, there is an end to every uphill. And I never looked up again during that hike, neither looked back.
I carried on. And I made it. And so did everyone in the group. Step by step. Day by day.
Who is this for?
Everyone and anyone seriously motivated to disconnect from the every day living, to focus on doing one thing well (hiking, yoga, sleeping, eating), to regain strength and fitness in the body (and yes, to shed kilos / pounds along the way!), to push the limits of what we can do with ourselves. It’s hard, there’s no denying and even the fittest in the group find it hard at times. But it is so rewarding to push the boundaries and listen to our body, to reconnect with our self.
The body detox is inevitable as you have no choice but to stick to a strict vegetarian / no sugar / no coffee / no alcohol diet (and small portions). CHEW is the new mantra, expect headaches on the first days. But the cleansing is also in the mind as you progress naturally from one activity to another and it’s all pre-organized for you. A whole week without having to make any decisions!!
The cherry on the cake, (although this is completely a metaphor because cake there will NOT be), you inevitably bond with the other participants (15 during my week), motivating each others, sharing recipes, bedrooms and bathrooms…The idea that we’re all in the same boat is of huge comfort. I don’t know if I was lucky that week, but each participant was incredibly inspiring in his/her own way. When taken to extremes, this was a reminder of the good that there is in every human being.
Now that I am back, I am convinced that it was not a selfish experience as the benefits should reach my entire family. I came home not only fitter (and lighter!), but smarter about healthy living and more importantly… serene, convinced that the force is always within.