Christa D'Souza is not accustomed to camping, or yoga retreats for that matter - but a week in Turkey has opened her eyes

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If I seem like the person who goes on yoga retreats, let me just say… I’m not. A week of detox is fine if it’s hardcore luxury, I don’t have to talk to anyone, and have a guarantee of being 5lbs less at the end of it.

But a yoga retreat? Sleeping in a yurt? With shared toilet facilities? And yet here I am in the hills of Dalaman, Turkey, in place called Hudur Vadisi on my sixth day having done exactly that. Why? Because the retreat was led by my good friend and super duper, super beautiful yoga teacher Nadia Narain, and because, even though it’s hard, sometimes you need to be out of your comfort zone in order to recharge the batteries.

Well. What a terribly good thing I wasn’t quite aware of the setup before I came, that I didn’t know about the unbelievably large grasshoppers, the earwigs, the mosquitos (and, yes, even a scorpion). Indeed, the first three days were so reminiscent of boarding school I almost ran away. If you’re someone who needs your “props” as much as I do, you’ll understand the feeling.

But then, come the third afternoon everything clicked, and I sort of saw the light. By the fifth it was a case of: how come I haven’t been doing one of these every year, and can it really be almost time to go home? Firstly there’s the actual geography — a totally remote, yurt-sprinkled compound nestled atop a pine forest and filled with trees bearing figs, oranges and lemons; no noise except the call to prayer, the birdies tweeting and the clinking of sheep bells.

Then there is the spectacular home-cooked Turkish vegetarian cooking (e.g. “Wedding” soup with sour sauce, carrot yoghurt salad with tahini and walnuts, and something called “Imam Bayildi”,  or “the priest fainted with pleasure” which involves aubergine stuffed with tomatoes and peppers).

Then there were the top notch treatments, administered by Primrose Hill facialist Charlotte Colwell and masseuse Katia Philips (Nadia’s sister). Oh, goodness me, I almost forgot, then there’s the yoga, three and a half hours of it a day, all conducted in the property’s open air shala,  which in the end will turn even the most sullen, resistant of types (i.e. me) into nice, pliant people.

The point is, you could, if you wanted, do three and a half hours of yoga a day, eat healthily, not drink, not do drugs, not drink coffee, at say, a Four Seasons or Mandarin Oriental Spa or even in the comfort of your own home with laundered sheets and the like. But there’s something about not having your own loo and the dreaded camping experience (even though there are beds in the yurts) which makes it a more intense, authentic and ultimately more rewarding experience, even though it may not feel that way at the actual time.

Honestly. If you hate camping and pooing anywhere other than in your own loo; if you love yoga but have rather forgotten the point of it; if you are becoming a bit of a spoilt ninny; I urge you to try this. You’ll be so very pleased with yourself when you get back.

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