A journey of self-healing and re-connection was revealed here during our March retreat on the beautiful island of Maalhos, Maldives, as Eleanor Phelan led us through daily Kundalini yoga sessions on the beach and we came together around our four guiding principles of nature, yoga, nourishment and friendship.
Forecast for the next 8 days… extreme relaxation with a high chance of renewal. Beginning with a beautiful sunrise session, today we are feeling truly blessed to be sharing Kundalini yoga with the wonderful souls on the magical Maldivian island of Maahlos – thank you Universe for bringing this all together.
Kundalini yoga is a powerful and holistic system of well-being which combines asana (posture), pranayama (breath), mantra (sound) and meditation to align, balance and uplift the mind, body and soul.
After breakfast we set out for a deserted island called Huraafaru and enjoyed relaxing on the white sands, basking in the sunshine and snorkeling in the clear turquoise waters.
It was a spectacular and romantic sight to witness Alex propose to his girlfriend, Elisabeth, and to our delight she said yes!
The day starts with sunrise Kundalini yoga, cleansing away whatever is in us that prevents us from living our lives to the fullest. As we do this we generate a sense of awareness of how and where we are restricted – in body, mind and heart – and how gradually to open and release these blocks that keep us at bay from life. As we progress through the retreat these blocks are being dissolved, our energy flow is beginning to be liberated, we are starting to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves. Our lives begin to flow, or we begin to flow more in our lives. Thank you, @eleanaow for guiding us through these Kundalini yoga sessions.
Bodies and minds were further brought back into natural rhythm as we watched the dolphins play on a sunset cruise. Dolphins are well known for their agility and playful behaviour. Scientists believe that dolphins conserve energy by swimming alongside boats, a practice known as bow riding. Today we are grateful for these beautiful animals found in abundance in the Maldivian waters. Here’s a quick snippet of the ones we saw today.
We were blessed with a beautiful, fiery sky tonight as we returned to the harbour after the dolphin cruise. Maalhos harbour is a great place to sit and soak up the magnificent sunsets while watching the local boats come and go.
Later we were also lucky enough to see lots of glowing, blue plankton along the shoreline – not so easy to capture in a photo but we have certainly captured it in our memories!
After sunrise Kundalini yoga we went out on the beautiful Indian Ocean again, this time searching for manta. To snorkel or dive with manta rays is an almost indescribable experience. They move through the water with such grace, gently soaring through the turquoise lagoons, over reefs bursting with life. It is truly a magical feeling to see these creatures fly through the water. Manta Rays are inquisitive by nature and if you can control your excitement and remain still and not splash around, the rays will swim around you with tremendous elegance. Today we were not so lucky to see them, however we did enjoy being out on the glorious Indian Ocean, with a bunch of wonderful people.
In the afternoon we got to sit in the shade of the coco palms and immerse in the local Maldivian life. Getting insights into different cultures is a wonderful gift of travel. And on a local island like Maalhos you get to see the real Maldives, meeting the people who live there and seeing them going about their daily lives. Maldivians are generally very happy and buoyant, always smiling, no rushing around. Life here seems to have a simplicity about it, away from hustle and bustle, without excess or superfluity. The locals are very friendly and warm – it is so fun to be around them as they help us discover their amazing islands!
Every island supports vegetation of some kind, with coconut palm somehow able to thrive in a small, sparse land area. Careful nurturing on islands devoted to agriculture has enabled the growing of papaya, mangoes, moringa, chillies, eggplant, watermelons, limes, breadfruit and bananas.
Under a coconut tree on the beach the local ladies break brown nutshells with a big knife. Turns out these nuts, locally called ‘kana madhu’, a native species of wild almond, grow right here on this tiny island! Cracking open the nuts requires some skill and we enjoyed this little protein boost to fuel our day!
Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP) provides us with a great core workout as well as being a wonderful way to experience the tranquility and beauty of the Maldivian waters. Almost every muscle in the body is used at some point and a large amount of balance is required. Leg muscles get a good workout as they attempt to maintain the balance. Paddling utilises the arms, back and shoulders to propel the paddle board in the water. The core back and abdominal muscles are constantly at work to maintain your balance.
This morning guests were able to try scuba diving with Maldivers Diving Centre
Today we did our Kundalini yoga session at sunset. Maalhos’ powdery white sands plus the radiant Kundalini queen Eleanor has got to be one of our favourite combinations. Thank you, beautiful world.
Beach dinner under the stars was jazzed up with Maldivian music as we set up the new sound system which arrived on the supply ferry today.
Five of the seven species of sea turtles can be found in the Maldives, with the two most common being the Hawksbill Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas), often sighted living outside the reef of Dhonfanu island. Below is the green turtle we saw.
Sea Turtles make epic journeys as they migrate between their feeding and nesting sites, some as far apart as 1,400 miles. Baby Sea Turtles hatch and scramble across the beach to the brightest light source, usually the full moon reflecting on the ocean. They swim out to deeper water where they drift in ocean currents for a few years – this stage in their life is often called “the lost years” as not much is known about the turtles and where they go during this time. They find their way to suitable feeding grounds but the amazing thing is that when it’s time to nest they find their way back to the very same stretch of beach where they themselves hatched. This inbuilt navigation ability has been researched and still baffles scientists today. One suggestion as to how the sea turtles accomplish such a journey with faultless navigation is that they can detect and use the angle and intensity of the Earth’s magnetic field.
When we snorkeled we got to see the inquisitive face of a Hawksbill Turtle (pictured above), and the sleepy face of a Green Sea Turtle. The thrill of seeing these wonderful creatures in their natural environment was truly a special moment.
Another chilled lunch with wonderful turquoise views and of course some fun with the Madi Finolhu boys. We played on the slackline, chilled on the beach, took photos and got to do some more sunset SUP.
Sunrise yoga was followed by a hearty breakfast and then we enjoyed free time to relax and immerse in the slow paced local life.
Laughter is one of the best tools we have for dealing with stress, and science backs that up. The locals radiate such warm energy that we are instantly uplifted when we are around them. Love having @GbemiGiwa with us too, sharing her radiant smile – the Universe is awesome.
Tonight we got to be part of a local cultural music and dance performance called “Bodu Beru”. Literally meaning “Big Drums” in Dhivehi – “Bodu “for Big and “Beru “for Drums, the Bodu Beru is a reminder of Maldives’ multi-ethnical influences with strong roots from East Africa. The performance begins on a slow and mellow tempo and increases until a very fast pace is acquired, while the dancers move all around an improvised stage, in a very expressive way, turning and twisting their bodies, moving their arms up, looking at each other or not, entering into a dance that some could perceive as a trance. The moves all come together in response to the beating of the drums. As the rhythm of the drums progresses the dancing and the music can quickly become hypnotic.
Bodu Beru is a pleasure to discover as it brings us a bit closer to the Maldives’ heart, that still has so much to tell us. It is an occasion where we can enjoy a piece of the Maldivian culture. It is really a special and great moment to share with the Maldivians and we certainly had a lot of fun!
Thursday 8th – International Women’s Day
Maldivers ocean-savvy snorkel guide Dhaanu gave us an orientation of the reef on our doorstep and pointed out its resident inhabitants.
After lunch we went for a stroll in the jungle and then a beach walk with some of the local girls who love to show us around their island.
In today’s Kundalini class under the moonlight we explored some of the tools and techniques Yogi Bhajan offered for women’s empowerment. It was truly beautiful sharing this group energy.
Yogi Bhajan shared a huge array of Kundalini yoga and meditation practices specifically to empower women to tap into their inner strength, grace, dignity and to connect with their innate ability to inspire, heal and elevate those around them.
“We have one last hope. If woman can change and rise to her grace, everything will be well.”
— Yogi Bhajan
He often said that the state of a nation is reflected in the face of its women, claiming that when men of the world respect women, there will be peace on the planet.
“I ask every man who would seek peace to realize that peace doesn’t come by protests and rallies. Peace comes by peaceful actions, and so long as those born of the mother will not learn to respect the woman, there shall not be any peace on this planet. The day the woman will not be exploited on this planet, there shall be peace on this Earth.”
— Yogi Bhajan
The techniques of Kundalini yoga help women to balance emotionality and drop insecurities so that they can bring forth the tremendous strength which is within and realise the power of their intuition, intelligence and grace, sharing these gifts with those around them.
We love you beautiful women. Your love, compassion, care, nurture, kindness, ambition, consistency, generosity – a celebration of life. Thank you to all the wonderful men that accept us and bring out the best in us.
Starting retreat day 8 with sunrise Kundalini yoga while appreciating another of Maldives’ natural wonders – the sandbank.
Thank you Eleanor for leading this magical class that allowed us to energise our bodies with the rising sun and deeply relax with the sounds of the ocean submersing us from all angles. What a way to reveal the true and best version of ourselves leading to a day filled with love and light. Maldives is a paradise for those who want to enjoy some peace and quiet. A wonderful place with stunning views, white sand beaches and deep azure waters. Being transported to a sandbank allows us to fully immerse in Maldives’ remoteness from the rest of the world.
Before Eleanor and her Gong departed we squeezed in a quick session for the ever so enthusiastic and naturally talented Rifa.
The gong is a sacred instrument of healing and transformation. It generates deep and powerful sound waves which dissolve physical tension and stress, cut through the mental clutter of the subconscious mind and release deep-seated emotional blockages stored in the memory of our cells. The gong bathes our whole being in its vibrations and carries us into a deep state of relaxation and healing.
Our physical body was rebooted and revitalised, our mind cleansed and clarified, our soul nourished and uplifted. As we worked through our blocks, released our stress and transformed our fears, we started to be more of who we really are, and came home to ourselves, opening up to greater peace, joy and connection.
“Make yourself so happy so that when others look at you they become happy too” ~ Yogi Bhajan
Our March Kundalini yoga retreat has come to an end but the love and light that has been shared will stay with us forever. Thank you so much Eleanor, not only looking at you brings us light but when closing our eyes your voice carries a depth that vibrates warmth inside and guides us to our true identity. It’s a blessing to be around you. Thank you and can’t wait to have you back soon.
Thank you Maalhos, this breathtaking location……
where we harmonised ourselves with nature’s rhythms and journied back to the peace and stillness within, nourished our souls, made new connections and dreamed new dreams.