My Yoga Experience with Sarah Tucker at A to Zen of Yoga
It should be said that I have never done any Yoga before and it was with some apprehension that I booked myself on a three day retreat to the beautiful Aveyron department of France to learn Yoga from someone I hardly knew. I have, like many of us been burning rather too much of the candle lately; and between work and having three kids the stresses of life tend to build up. I figured that three days was enough to dip my toes in but Sarah, who runs the courses generously suggested that I could arrive the day before the course to settle in.
I will split my view into three areas, the setting, the Yoga and the overall experience and outcome.
The setting is simply stunning, remote but not isolated, homely but sophisticated and the accommodation is of very high quality in the Gite where I stayed. The main house is a wonderful space also and a great reelection of the owners taste. The property has amazing grounds and a pool and plenty of places to sit, reflect and enjoy the incredible feeling the place has. It really does have a relaxing and calming air to it.
Car-hire and access from Toulouse or Rodez are easy. I drove from Toulouse and avoided the tolls and thoroughly enjoyed the drive through classic french, tree lined avenues and uber-pretty medieval villages. The local towns and villages also make for an excellent interlude into great food and wonderful markets and in our case some inspirational walks. The scenery and landscape are totally awe inspiring. Najac, the local town is a delight in itself and provides incredible views and the architecture is jaw dropping.
Beyond but local are the beautiful Lagupie, Albi, Cordes, and Gaillac which all have significant charm, beauty and interest for the gastronome in you.
The Yoga was a revelation and Sarah is an excellent instructor. The focus that she puts on a holistic approach really works as she brings together breathing, moving and alignment in a clear challenging but always flowing fashion. Sarah also takes time to notice and understand your emotional, mindset and spiritual attitudes to really provide something truly tailored to your needs. She also integrated meditation and visualisation techniques seamlessly into the sessions and this also really helped prepare me properly for each set of movements.
Over the three days I saw a significant improvement in my flexibility, strength and also my state of mind, emotion and general wellbeing. It was also a real eye opener for me as I felt a real release in each area of my body. The level of challenge was well maintained through the three days and Sarah also focused effort on great aromatherapy massage and reflexology as part of my retreat. This really added to the experience as a welcome and indulgent way to end each challenging Yoga session. Throughout the Yoga, Sarah maintains a great attitude and a wonderful sense of humour.
In terms of the overall experience and outcome I cannot recommend A to Zen, and Sarah, highly enough. She is a caring and attentive host and loves preparing excellent local produce into healthy, tasty and satisfying meals. She will also, if encouraged correctly, have a wine on occasion and her conversation is always relevant, interesting and delivered with a wonderful playfulness. She is a person of significant achievement and experience and this also helps a great deal.
If you are looking for a really unique experience of personalised, challenging and thoroughly rewarding Yoga and wellbeing then go to A to Zen. It is one of the best experiences I have had full stop. I came away feeling relaxed, refreshed and totally intent on making Yoga a part of my daily routine. Simply brilliant!