Posts Tagged ‘Virginia Frances Schwartz’

Yoga? Sure. But where’s my coffee?

July 25, 2008

“Where they Went” by Diane Daniel
(Published June 22, 2008, in the Boston Globe)

From Di’s Eyes: I’m with you, Janet. Pass the coffee and don’t expect me to show up at for 6 a.m. chanting. I’d love the yoga and writing parts, though!

WHO: Janet Spurr, 52, of Marblehead, Mass.

WHERE: Bahamas.

WHEN: One week in January.

WHY: “I had had a death in my family, and I really wanted to get away on a retreat, something with yoga and writing, on the water. I’d done writing retreats and yoga, but never together.”

Janet Spurr (left) and workshop teacher Virginia Frances Schwartz (Click to ENLARGE)

Janet Spurr (left) and workshop teacher Virginia Frances Schwartz (Click to ENLARGE)

BACK TO BASICS: Online, Spurr found Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat on Paradise Island, Nassau, which included yoga, meditation, and a writing workshop with young-adult novelist Virginia Frances Schwartz. Based on other writing retreats she had attended, Spurr expected cushy accommodations. “I guess I didn’t do enough research,” she said. “It was very minimal. There was no coffee, but I brought my own, which people joked about.”

DON’T DO MORNINGS: The rooms were simple, with bunk beds and bookcases, though she was able to reserve a single room. Bathrooms were dormitory style. “The bells started ringing at 5:30 a.m., and then at 6 there was chanting and meditation. You were expected to go, but I only went once. I did go to the evening meditation four nights out of six,” she noted. “The food was all vegetarian, and it was good. But for dinner there was only tea and you had to bring your own water.”

A NEW PLACE: The two daily yoga classes took Spurr’s practice “to a whole new level. I’ve been doing yoga on and off for two years, and this was very challenging and really excellent. You do quite a bit of stretching and a lot of relaxation, and they really concentrate on positions. This one monk brought me to a higher level of understanding yoga and helped heal my heart after the death of my aunt. It was like physical therapy for my heart. The best part was it was outside on platforms at the beach.”

Janet (left) and Virginia hugging

Janet (left) and Virginia hugging

SOME MIND BENDING: The three-hour daily workshop, called “Writing from the Spirit: Yoga and the Art of Creative Writing,” combined writing and yoga moves. “We learned to do basic yoga poses to open your creative energies more to writing. It definitely opened me up, and was the best writing workshop I’ve taken,” said Spurr, who recently self-published a collection of essays called “Beach Chair Diaries.”



BURGER IN PARADISE: Spurr likened the week to “college at the beach without alcohol. I met some great people. There were no computers, no phone, no cellphone service, no TV.” Still, there was one thing she didn’t want to give up. “I needed a hamburger,” she said. So she walked 20 minutes down the beach to Atlantis, a huge resort and casino where people were drinking, smoking, and gambling. “It was so strange to see that,” she said. “I ordered a bacon cheeseburger, because one meat wasn’t enough.”