Finding Vitality at Carlisle Bay
by Becca Hensley
In Maya Fiennes' Kundalini yoga class the air is so thick with joy I can taste it. Now, even as we leap over and over into the air in a mad, frenetic sort of personal pattern, born, I guess, from whatever we need to release, I feel my worldly anger and stress abating.
We stop with the music, endorphins dulling any pain we came to class with, and grin at one another. Just then, Fiennes tells us, â€œNow, we are going to do something really funny.â€ Following her, we bend over, grab our ankles, and walk like elephants in a circle, around the room. Like children participating in a parlor game, we laugh and giggle with glee. And Fiennes, who surely has done this exercise thousands of times before, guffaws with the best of us. When we stop, surprisingly exhausted, Fiennes demystifies the moment. â€œThis [exercise] awakens everything within you,â€ she says. â€œIt's a great detoxifier.â€
Beneath the pointed roof of an outdoor pavilion, with the sound of the sea as our soundtrack, we practice yoga twice daily with this star from the London yoga scene. We've come to Antigua's stylish, luxury hotel, Carlisle Bay, to participate in its first ever Vitality Weekâ€”a program that will continue monthly throughout 2009. A four- or seven-day exercise regime, the week is meant to infuse well-being and boost health. The program features such activities as hiking in the rainforest, daily yoga and Pilates, tennis clinics, bay swims, beach circuit training, and early morning runs, as well as spa therapies to unravel those well-used muscles. In addition to the summer campâ€“like itinerary, Chef Grimley prepares more healthfulâ€”yet wholly optionalâ€”dishes to enhance the program. A personal trainer aids in defining goals. Some weeks have more of a tennis focus, and some revolve around yoga with Fiennes in residence.
Happily, since my forehand doesn't existâ€”and my backhand isn't much betterâ€”I've come for the yoga intensive. The day begins at dawn with a classâ€”and ends with another. As we approach the pavilion, a seductive song wafts from within and bids us to enter. Fiennes, a classically trained pianist and vocalist, uses her own music for her renowned classes. It sets the scene, suggesting a timeless place, ancient and modern, mysterious and magical. Profound, the sounds enter every cell of your body, relaxing and energizing simultaneously. Fiennes, known for her clean teaching style, the contemporary ambiance of her classes, and her open interpretation of Kundalini, the mother of all yoga, welcomes each of us. Still rubbing sleep from our eyes, we stumble to the mats.
But in a matter of minutes, we awaken. This is unlike any yoga class I have ever attended. Not about stretching, sweating, or balancing, Kundaliniâ€”especially Fiennes brand of itâ€”unleashes the life force. It combines movement, breath, chants, vibration, and mantras to transform and revitalize. It brings a giddy sort of happiness. With each class, we go a bit deeper. Somehow, what we learn helps us swim across the bay and sprint down the beach. It helps us set goals for the future. It even eases our transition to utter relaxation when we stop between activities to melt into lounge chairs and ponder the perfection of the cobalt sea.
For more information visit www.carlisle-bay.com/vitalityprogrammes