Inspired Pilates -- Travels in Spain and Portugal with Rael Isacowitz
I was out kiteboarding early October, catching the last winds of the season. As I passed another kiteboarder approaching me in the opposite direction he started shouting and gesturing. I could not understand what he was saying. I checked my gear and everything seemed intact. Every time I passed him he continued shouting and gesturing. After an hour or so I saw him get out, by now feeling a little irritated, I approached him on the beach and asked what he was freaking out about. He said, “did you see the shark behind you”. “No way”, I exclaimed! “Yes way”, he replied. He explained that as I was riding toward him a shark jumped out the water right behind me. I knew then and there that October was going to be an exciting month!
Soon after that I headed for Portugal to do a retreat. I have not conducted a retreat since the very early 1990’s. I loved the experience at that time, so much so that for the next 20 years I dreamed of setting up a permanent retreat center for BASI. It was with this in mind that I moved with my family to Oregon in 2016. It never happened, but I have always believed in the profundity of the retreat experience. I was nervous and skeptical about recapturing a feeling that I had last felt close to 30 years ago. I invited my dear friend, Kung Fu Master and Shaolin Monk, Wang Bo, to come along with me. I wanted to give people the essence of both Pilates and martial arts and explore the power in blending these two disciplines.
Nothing could have adequately prepared me for this amazing experience. It was impeccably organized by Mareile Paley of Pilates Retreat Asia The retreat was up in the hills at a place called Monte Velho. It overlooked miles of rolling hills all the way to the ocean. We happened to be there during the harvest moon. Watching the sun rise, the sun set, the moon rise, the moon set – the cycle of life unfolding before our eyes – was a gift in itself. The food was incredible – all vegan, fresh and delectable. But it was the people, ah yes, the amazing people that made this event unforgettable.
I could go on forever talking about the retreat, describing in great detail each day from the moment I awoke, having freshly brewed herb tea, meditating to the chanting of Shaolin monks, the high-energy classes, the informative workshops, sipping wine as the sun set. Profound, fun, delightful, enriching, spiritual, invigorating, are all adjectives that come to mind. (By the way, stay tuned for our next retreat, Pilates in Action, June 2018, Newport Beach, CA.) Yes, after this experience I decided to merge the very rigorous and highly sought after Mentor Program together with a 4 night, 3-day retreat that will follow. The Mentor is always such an expansive experience, I felt that adding a retreat will be the perfect way to allow the work from the Mentor to be absorbed and assimilated.]
On the last afternoon, my dear friends Debora and Guadalupe arrived from Spain (BASI Pilates Spain) to take part in the final workshop, spend the evening with us, do a mat class the next morning and then take me back to Marbella where they had organized a BASI Day with me and well over 100 participants. To be honest, I was ambivalent about going from the serene setting of Monte Velho, Portugal, to the buzz and high-energy of a big event.
These two incredible ladies, together with their team, organized what can only be described as an extravaganza! BASI at its best. It was a very full day that started with a mat class attended by around 80 people. This was followed by two 2.5 hour workshops each very well attended with approximately 60 students in each anxious to learn.
That evening we had a dinner for 50 people at a wonderful restaurant close to the beach. The sound of the sea and the smell of the water complimented the elegant ambiance. Of course, everyone looked stunning, the food was tasty, the drink flowed and laughter filled the air. I asked each person to get up to say a few words. It was these short stories that was the highlight of the day for me. The impact of each person telling of their journey to reach this point in time touched me deeply.
I returned to my room after 18 hours on the move. I was staying at the Marbella Club Resort, a stupendous location with my room close enough to the sea to feel engulfed in its enchanting embrace. I felt humbled to my core as I sat on my balcony gazing at the night sky and shed tears of joy, appreciation and gratitude. The next morning, I was asked to do a Q & A at the resort’s spa for distinguished guests and some professionals. As with absolutely everything at the resort, not one detail was overlooked. From the freshly squeezed juices, to the snacks. From the calming spa-setting to the friendly staff, people that went beyond the call of duty at every turn.
I want to extend a special “thank you” to Lourdes, who participated in my classes, and her husband Julian, the General Manger of the Marbella Club Resort and Spa, for being such gracious and kind hosts. I cannot speak highly enough about their hospitality and the grandeur of the location itself. I look back on this trip as yet more affirmation that we have created an awesome global community, one that brings (much needed) light to this planet each and every day. For this I am most grateful and proud.
Now, for the experience from another point of view, here is a wonderful report from Debora Taddei and Guadalupe Ruíz-Giménez
Rael's trip in europe (Spain and Portugal) during the month of october has been and unforgettable experience and a great oportunity to continue growing at a personal and professional level and together with 2 great teachers (Rael Isacowitz and Wang Bo) full of humanity, wisdom and humbleness ....values that characterize the great masters. The combination of Montevelho and Marbella was magical: the retreat at MonteVelho (Portugal) in which we had the privilege to participated a couple of days, even though if was just a few hours, the intense feelings and deep emotions we had are very difficult to forget because they are in these moments when you travel inside to connect with your pure essence and feel the inner light and peace that lives within. Rael was able to enjoy a week of this energetic, physical and spiritual depth and we could see that. When we brought him to Marbella for the BASI DAY he was shinning like a sun and this light embraced us, the 100 Pilates professionals and students that attended this event and the Darte and BASI PIlates Team that with exquisite professionalism and dedication gave it all so the day was wonderful and unforgettable. And thats how it was, Rael gave it all and more as he always does, but this time we would say that he gave even a bit more. That radiance that embraced everybody pushed us all to continue trying to improve each day to become better Pilates professionals with the BASI quality stamp that he truly embodies.
We are motivated, grateful, to continue promoting and expanding BASI in Spain and a special thanks to the sponsors BASI Systems and Marbella Club Hotel.
Debora Taddei and Guadalupe Ruíz-Giménez
BASI PIlates Licenensee for Spain.
I hope you enjoy this photo gallery which captures for you, I hope, a bit of the feeling of my trip. Photo Credit: Rael Isacowitz, Matthieu Paley