Flow Surf Yoga Samba La Union Weekend Retreat Year 4!

How do you feel about taking a retreat? Not just your ordinary retreat to Tagaytay or Batangas, but a weekend retreat of adventure with new found friends? I welcomed this with a definite YES, and before I knew it, I was on my merry way to San Juan La Union on the Flow Coaster with the Flow Team.

I was lucky to be invited (or rather, recommended) by Ross of Wazzup Pilipinas to take photos for him during the Flow Surf Yoga Samba event in San Juan Surf Resort, La Union last November 1-3, 2013. I think it was an opportunity too impossible to decline. I was in need of some quality R&R, and what better way to do that than to be miles away from my stressors here in Manila? Haha!

Flow Loot Bags

I stayed in a room with three other participants, namely Jing from Turista Magazine of Inquirer, Jo from Yes!, and Zoe from Australia. It was a three-day, two-night retreat, with an itinerary packed with so much fun activities. And guess what, it’s not just their itinerary that was packed. Their loot bags were overflowing with gifts from their sponsors and partners, too! I’m pretty sure all the participants loved receiving their loot bags. A pair of Havainas flip flops, A Bubble Drinking bottle, A Lagu beach blanket, gift vouchers to Beyond Yoga, the Brow House, Yamamay, and many more filled the bag, stuff which would become useful to the participants for the duration of the retreat.

Our first agenda when we were finally able to settle down was to introduce ourselves to the group. It was a diverse group from a lot of different backgrounds, but everyone was able to fit in. The afternoon culminated with a Samba session led by Denise, Toni and Bogey of Imperatriz Filipinense. Percussion instruments were made available for everyone in the group, and even though it was probably htier first time to play together, just listening to the beat and following the rhythm produced a tune  that sounded like it has been practice for weeks! And these are people who just met hours ago!

 

On Day 2, we got up at seven and had a Yin Yoga session led by Monica. I could tell that being in San Juan, with the beautiful vision of the sea and the sound of the waves and the warmth of the early morning sun, was just the perfect place to be for yoga.

The Yoga Session was followed by a Green Smoothie and Live Foods Workshop. Denise, Noelle, and Monica taught the participants how to prepare healthy smoothies and snacks, and the value of having them over our usual unhealthy choice of fast and convenient meals. I learned about malunggay and how it is the healthiest and most nutrient-packed greens. I also learned that almonds do not taste icky when made into a smoothie, haha! And have you heard about cacao? You can snack on it instead of chocolate, because it’s healthier but it tastes alike.

There wasn’t a lot of time for rest after breakfast. We had a few minutes to grab our stuff and change into our swimwear, and we’re off to our first surfing tutorial!

I joined the first batch of surfers who signed up for the 10 AM slot. We had to go on a fifteen-minute jeepney ride to Bacnotan, where the waves were manageable for newbie surfers like us.

The San Juan Surf School Instructors

In case you’re wondering, that’s zinc on their face, which they use as sunblock. My instructor told me that by applying very little, it already gives them better protection from the harmful UV rays and sunburns. While it doesn’t make them look Instagram-ready, if it means not getting sunburned after spending hours under the sun, then that’s all fine with them.

I didn’t think I’d have the chance to try out surfing, until Jing got tired, and her instructor volunteered to teach me how to surf. I just jumped right in, and was so excited to take on the waves. It did look manageable from the shore, but when you’re there on the water, it’s not as easy as these instructors make it seem :)) I was able to stand for a couple of times, but I slipped more often than I was able to stand. It was a relief that my surf board was softer than the regular ones, because my chest kept slamming on the surf board every time I slipped. And my eyes were sore from the seawater. I do wish I had photos of me showing my successful attempts to stand on the surfboard, but nevertheless, I’m glad there were no humiliating photos of me hugging the surfboard for my dear life.

My surfing instructor was extra patient with me, so I didn’t feel bad about not being so pro on my first time to surf. Instead, I think I’d love to try surfing another time with friends. For the life of me, I can’t remember his name! but here’s a photo of us. Note to self: Tankinis are not the best choice of swimwear for surfing. Try a rash guard the next time you go surfing.

In the afternoon, we all participated in a Sunset Samba, with the beautiful colors of the sunset as our backdrop while we danced and jived to the rhythm of the percussion.

Day 2: Sunset Samba

For dinner, the whole group went to a Greek restaurant next door, called Gefseis. Everyone loved the food, and Jing and Jo enjoyed their lychee and chocolate cocktails. Before dinner ended, the Flow team brought out some birthday cupcakes to celebrate Flow’s fourth year!

Bailey-infused Cupcakesfor Flow’s 4th Birthday!

After dinner, we decided to have fun and go check out an acoustic concert by the beach. We had a fun time over a couple of bottles of beer, especially listening to our friend, Tristan, singing the night away.

I stayed awake way past the recommended bed time, so it was unfortunate that when I woke up late the next day and missed the participants in action during the Partner Yoga. During the free time, some of the participants went swimming, surfing, or just sunbathing on the beach. I chose to spend some time with River, the Surfing Dog, instead.

Meet my new friend, River! He can surf better than me! :)

In the afternoon, before we said our goodbyes and made our way back to Manila, the organizers held a short culminating activity for the participants. Certificates were awarded to the participants for their participation in the weekend retreat. They also raffled off a lot of amazing prizes, and awarded the best surfer / yogi / dancer.

Overall, I met a lot of amazing friends, got on a surfboard and surfed, tried samba and had one hell of a weekend. It was a much-needed retreat, but I got so much more than I bartered for. My only regret was that I don’t have enough photos of me :)) I’m looking forward to my next Flow retreat!

The Flow Family

Thank you to the Flow team for having me! You guys are inspiring. I’ve always had the notion that being a mother and having a family will make it difficult to pursue your passion. You guys are the amazing examples that motherhood doesn’t stop you from doing whatever you can dream of, and that motherhood makes you better.

The Flow team: Monica, Noelle, and Denise

Until the next Flow retreat! -HANA

 

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