I found it really ironic that one of Surf Maroc's properties was called Villa Mandala. A lot of my time in Bali was based around the spiral, connecting to this circle of existence we all share a part of and we all come back to. How I can live and teach the sacred Mandala of ritual, but also the greater Mandala of daily practice. How I can be and feel the wholeness.
So it was quite ideal that I was able to live for a part of my time at Villa Mandala, this beautiful home kitted out in Moroccan decor and flair, rich with stories, personality and feeling. Not to mention that during June it was re-done with a new swimming pool and a sweet Yoga Shala on the roof overlooking the sea. Yep, I was a happy camper to move my backpack from my apartment in Taghazout (which I also loved, despite the goats that wail like bloody murder through the night) to the peaceful abode of Mandala.
I was honored to be able to bless and christen the new Yoga Shala with positive energy and gratitude that filled my heart every day when practicing or teaching there. I led a few weeks of Yoga Surf Retreats in this amazing space and I'm so thankful for each and every one of the special beings that shared their innate goodness with me and Mandala. A lot of love, sweat (Morocco in August...hot hot hot!) and a full spectrum of Creative Flow Yoga seeped into this space and there it will live and nourish future yogis and yoginis.
My days were filled with so many joys:
--When I wasn't teaching, I had my morning yoga practice where I would play, play and play. Sometimes I liked having what I called 'yoga dance party' in the afternoon when I would cue up the beats in the Yoga Shala and enter the matless universe. When yoga retreats weren't happening I offered drop-in classes and I reveled in having 'yoga virgins' come to me where I could love them up with all the sweetness yoga brings.
--Surfing! Swell, swell and more swell!
This was where I was able to reconnect with drive and determination to improve at something; I don't have that with my yoga practice because I accept and flow where I am with it each day. But with surfing, I was passionate and fired up to ride the waves and evolve. My evolving with yoga is a different sense, a different feeling. Sure, it took a lot of yogi patience (and core strength!) but it felt good to be hungry. So much love goes out to Youness, Red, Rachid, Embarak and Moncef--the fantastic crew of Surf Maroc guides that taught me and encouraged me the whole way. I don't know if I've ever felt more at one with a greater force than when I've surfed; well, actually I think I have, but this was pretty huge. There is something so magnetic and complete about it, something so pure and smooth. I felt so strong as I paddled, so empowered (and can you believe brunette me managed to get blond highlights from all the sun??!!) I surfed alone, I surfed with others; I liked it best with others because it felt good to see someone smile so bright when they caught a wave.
--There were moments when I would be floating on my board, or having a sunset swim...I would look around me at the raw Moroccan coast, the hills, the simple fishing village of Taghazout, Moroccan families playing on the beach, a camel strolling by...and I would think, "Wow, this is my life. Here I am and I'm so lucky. Thank you for all of this." One evening I was driving back from the beach and the full moon was a gigantic yellow ball hanging over the sea; it was one of the most beautiful sites I've ever seen and I laughed and cried at the same time because it was just so awe-inspiring. This life, this time, this gift.
--Friends. 3 months at Surf Maroc granted me the chance to meet and connect with such a groovy mix of people. I met friends who inspired me with thought, language, laughter, passion and kindness. I fell in love with the Moroccans that worked with me, their warm hospitality and hearts. And becasue Surf Maroc is owned by a few cool Brits (love to Ollie, Vicki and Ben) I pretty much lived and breathed in an English colony planted in Morocco which I rather fancied. Besides learning to surf, I made it my intention to learn as many British sayings (with the accent) as possible, much to the amusement of the rest of the crew.
Guests who came to Surf Maroc came from all over, but mostly the UK. All walks of life with different professions, dreams and lifestyles. But they all shared the same thing: they all knew how important it was to go on holiday, to take time to restore and have fun. They all seemed like they were trying to find ways to work less so they could play more. Meeting so many different people reminded me of the Mandala again--at our core, we're all wanting to live in that place, that spot where joy lives and shines. Where we can be who we really are in this spiral of life.
Overall I didn't find the weather to be that hot on the coast, but we had one spell of about a week where it was unbearable. This is something I wrote in my journal:
"It's August now and the winds from the Sahara have come. They don't ask permission to enter, this wave of heat riding over me, my body feels pressed against a blowing hair-dryer. As I drive from Tamri beach back to Taghazout with the untouched coastline to my right and the barren cliffs at the base of the Atlas mountains to my left, I feel as if an oven door is wide open, blasting HOT into the window, smothering me. I laugh wildly at this new sensation, as if I were in a very large sauna that I couldn't step out of. The dry air sucking moisture from my skin, my breath. This heat makes me feel a very primal energy, raw. I am in Africa. Roar."
I was sad to say goodbye to my life on the coast, but I had wonderful solo adventures on the road traveling in Morocco for 10 days when I left. I craved the mountains and cooler weather, so I hit the High Atlas mountains for some spectacular trekking. Climbed Jebel Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa, which was a real gem.
Marrakesh was a vibrant pace after small town life and I really enjoyed wandering the souks and Djemma el-Fna, making friends with locals while sharing tea and scrubbing away the old me at the hammam. I didn't realize how much of a true taste of Moroccan culture and life I had when I was working with Surf Maroc, but I did even in the small town of Taghazout. The food, the people, the culture...it was all there for me immerse in. Yet it was good to experience it in a new way on the road, and to appreciate all I was given!
On August 20th I left magical Morocco for London, to visit with my dear friend Kim and her lovely husband, Nick. I also got to reunite with some Surf Maroc pals which made London even sweeter. It felt rather appropriate that I visit London again after living in the English Colony of Surf Maroc, but this was all the more reason it was hard to leave when it was time to go. I got to see another special friend in Oxford, Briony, my trekking sister from Nepal over 10 years ago. Warm fuzzies for good times.
Next stop: India, October 5th...come November I'll be teaching yoga at Lotus Yoga Retreat Center in south Goa. I also have a workshop I'm teaching on Yoga and the Chakras
at Brahmani Yoga. www.lotus-yoga-retreat.com http://www.brahmaniyoga.com/workshops/09/12dec/yogaandchakras.shtml
Dance in the Mandala, this wholeness of life!
Love love and more love, (Inshallah)