From Â July 9-16, the AkÂBol Yoga Retreat and Eco-Resort center held their first ÂlocalÂ Yoga & Wellness Festival.Â AkÂBol opened their resort to the public about five years ago.Â Since then many yoga instructors have held retreats at AkÂBolÂs center.Â But this was the first time that Kirsten Miglio, one of the owners, designed and managed an expanded yoga and wellness program.Â Her goal was to attract both tourists and residents of Ambergris Caye to participateÂ And she succeeded.
AkÂBol is located on a pristine sugar sand beach, peppered with coconut palms, about two miles north of the bridge.Â Kirsten and husband Milio have created an oasis of tranquility and beauty that blends perfectly with the natural environment. There is nothing pretentious about AkÂBol. Â ItÂs an ideal setting for relaxation and renewal. Â The AkÂBol settings and facilities allow visitors to become one with both nature and selfÂ
The Evolution of Yoga on Ambergris Caye
When Mike and I opened the San Pedro Fitness Club in 2003, there were no resorts or studios offering regular yoga classes on the island.Â So we hired a yoga instructor.Â She taught classes either on the Club roof top, or around the pool...Â As the interest in yoga increased, we held several yoga retreats at the San Pedro Club.
Fortunately, there are now many more options for healthy athletic activities, and classes.Â And the island now has a regular supply of fresh organic produce and other healthy food options.Â ThereÂs a community of devoted yoga practitioners who regularly practice on the island.Â (Some practice regularly in our ClubÂs womenÂs studioÂ ) Each year more yoga, tai chi and Pilates instructors appear on the island.
Unfortunately, I had to miss this Ak'Bol retreat.Â I regularly work out at the San Pedro Club.Â But on Sundays I like to drive up north and join the Restorative Yoga class at AkÂBol.Â I really look forward to dropping in at the retreat center.Â Kirsten is a nurturing teacher.Â She has an eclectic practice inspired by many Masters and styles of yoga.Â But her style accommodates beginners through advanced... Each class focuses on breathing & visualization techniques, asana (postures) and guided relaxation/meditation.
In addition to the yoga class itself, the setting is spectacular.Â Weather allowing, classes are held on the beautiful palapa, built over the Caribbean Sea.Â There is something cathartic about practicing a rejuvenating exercise, such as yoga, while surrounded by the sparkling seaÂ I find it much easier to release all the brain clutter in this environment... And a cool, cleansing breeze blows across the palapa while the group practices their asanas.Â The class ends with a peaceful guided meditationÂ
More About the Yoga & Wellness Festival
After attending the Sunday yoga class last weekend, I caught up with Kirsten.Â She explained that the festival options included yoga, breathing, cleansing, and nutrition classes, and more. They offered a variety of classes during the week, to expose all attendees to the many different dimensions of yoga. Â So the classes were both diverse and complementary.
The festival was open to all levels of students, including beginners. Kirsten told me that they had a good mix of expat residents and tourists in attendance.Â I chatted with one expat in her late 70s who attended the entire week and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Most novices arenÂt ready to commit to an entire week of focused yoga practice.Â So Kirsten allowed residents to drop in for a day, several days, or just individual classes.Â Because of this flexible approach about half of the attendees were local residents. Some stayed for the entire week.Â Others only stayed for a day, or an individual class.
The program included yoga classes, guided meditations, chanting, Ayurvedic lectures and ayurvedic/ health food cooking classes. Â I was disappointed to miss the cooking classes and family style shared meals. IÂm always looking for new ways to prepare healthy meals with the local food available on the island.Â The attendees raved about the foodÂ
Kirsten is already thinking about holding another Yoga and Wellness Festival in early 2012.Â If you would like to read the San Pedro SunÂs detailed article about the recent Yoga & Wellness Festival, just click hereÂ
Combine a Chill Weekend and an AkÂBol RetreatÂ
Several past Chill Weekend attendees have attended an AkÂBol retreat before or after a Grand Baymen Chill Weekend.Â So if youÂre interested in yoga and wellness, why not consider coming for both a Chill Weekend and a special yoga retreat?Â Click here for information about Grand Baymen Chill WeekendsÂ
AkÂBol offers both Âisland chicÂ beach casitas and dorm style accommodations. The food at the Bean CafÃ© is delicious and well priced.Â But, never fear, you can still grab a mojito, or other tropical drink, at their on-site bar, the Shade Bar.Â To find out more about AkbolÂs yoga retreats, click hereÂ