This is for so many reasons. Of course there is the yoga. It is a real joy practicing yoga as a group, everyone working at their own level and pace while developing stamina, flexibility, strength and a deeper understanding of themselves. Then there's the view.
None of us ever fails to be moved by the incredible landscape of the Turquoise Coast from the vantage point of the yoga deck set high on the Lycian way. The drama of the mountains tumbling into the sea, their colour changing throughout the day and building to a crescendo when the sunlight burnishes them pink and orange hues at dusk. Their vertiginous slopes, abundant with lush vegetation and green forests and beyond the hazy horizon where the sea and the sky seem to blend seamlessly into one.
Of course there is also the food. After each yoga session we dine morning and night on delicious locally sourced Turkish fare shaded under grapevines and umbrellas or at night bathed in moonlight under a canopy of stars. Afternoons are spent enjoying wonderfully healing massage sessions, visits to the local hamman and spa or simply lounging with the lizards soaking up the sun and enjoying the panoramic views from the swimming pool.
Another highlight of the week is when we charter a local boat. Our lovely crew headed by their skipper Maradona, pick the group up from our local beach to take us to secluded coves and bays, where we can swim and snorkel and enjoy a barbecue lunch onboard washed down with local chilled rose or Efes beer. A lazy afternoon is then spent, chatting and laughing, reading or snoozing on the upper sundeck.
New experiences, peace and relaxation and the camaraderie of sharing stories and learning about each other's often very different lives. It is one of the best feelings in the world to watch the smiles and laughter of our newly formed yogi family as they discuss their plans for the day where the hardest choice is whether they should do a little or less!
I also love the magical evenings on our restaurant terrace. Over 20 of us sat together at long tables beneath the vines, lit by candles twinkling in coloured glass lanterns. The sweet natured, hardworking hotel waiters always ready with a smile and countless plates of lovingly cooked food. Homemade soups, mezes of grilled aubergine, feta, crostini heaped with fresh tomatoes. Fresh fish, steaming vegetable tagines and bakes. Fragrant rice and bowls of fresh herb salads accompanied by carafes of the owner's country wine and freshly juiced pomegranates.
It is wonderful to listen in on the animated conversations of my yogi guests, now bonded and laughing together like old friends. These mixed group, all strangers to one another at the beginning of the week will return home with hearts heavy with happiness. Each group quite uniquely different from the holiday it never ceases to amaze me how the dynamics always seem to work so well. A testimony to the unifying glue that is yoga I guess. Sitting under the inky Turkish night sky I sometimes think to myself … so why do I return each year to run these yoga holidays? They're a lot of work and can be a headache to organise - especially for someone who took up teaching yoga to avoid a life in admin!!
The answer is simple. It makes me happy.