On the last day, over calamares and sea bream,
Kristina tells me about her discovery of yoga 12 years ago and how it
led her to meet her late husband, Derek Ireland. He died two years ago,
but in his lifetime was a keen sportsman, who took up yoga after bad injuries.
He went on to become the man most responsible for bringing astanga vinyasa
to Britain and is remembered by many as an athlete, and by some as a god.
From him, we have inherited Kristina, who tells us to breathe 200 times
in a two-hour class, pushes us beyond our limits, and tells us when we
are doing something "bazaar". She is a tough teacher, but not
beyond the occasional joke, and her own suppleness and stature are encouragement
enough, though I sometimes wonder if she really took up astanga to stop
her back giving way beneath the weight of her very womanly breasts.
Yoga, of course, is full of factions, and not all of them agree. Even
on our Hellenic sojourn, a radical hatha teacher manages to sneak her
way in and picks us off one by one to dissuade us from continuing with
astanga: she says that it is too dogmatic and too hard on the body. It
creates a minor and rather amusing scandal of sorts though not half as
exciting as last year's where a single roving male got seduced one night
in the darkened yoga room by a lonely lady who liked a drink. But that,
I'm afraid, is another story.
Way to go
Getting there: Olympic Airways (0870 6060460, (olympicairways.co.uk)
flies from London and Manchester to Athens from £135pp inc taxes.
Yoga Practice can arrange taxis from Athens airport to the Mani (approx
€150 for four people).
Courses: Yoga Practice (020-7928 7527, (yogapractice.net)
holds its next astanga yoga retreats in the Mani from September 5-12 and
12-19. £450pp (two sharing) for one week, £800 for two weeks,
including full-board at Limani Village hotel and morning classes. Single
supplement £130 pw.
Further information: The Greek National Tourism Organization
(020-7495 9300, (gnto.gr).
Country code: 0030.
Flight time: Heathrow-Athens 3hrs. Taxi Athens-Mani 5hrs.
Time difference: GMT +2hrs. £1 = 1.35 euros.