With the upcoming launch of the first-ever Piano-Yoga® retreat in London, GéNIA reflects on her own personal retreats into the world of classical cruise-lining

I love going on retreats – there is something very decadent about them.  You forget about all the harsh realities and problems of life and concentrate purely on the subject that you love.  24/7.  On top of that, you also work on your well-being and everything is taken care of for you.  For a short period you get to feel like you don’t have a care in the world…

In the piano community it is more common to go on summer schools and masterclasses, where all the attention is focused on learning and meeting like-minded people, encouraging healthy competition and hours of practice…  And yet, I have found that in order to learn more, it is far better to create a holistic environment where you feel relaxed, safe and nurtured. You can be as competitive as you like, but it is not encouraged in this context.  Your ability to learn is therefore heightened and your creativity strives forward.

In my own case, I have found that appearing as a concert pianist on a cruise liner makes for the most wonderful sort of personal retreat.  While I’m there it gives me the chance to travel the world (which I love), eat healthily, go to the gym and spa as many times as I want, as well as keep up with my yoga and piano practice.  The only thing I need to deliver is up to 12 concerts with 6 different programmes, usually within the period of 14 days.  I don’t need to think about any practical issues, like grocery shopping or public transport, and with limited access to the internet my contact with the outside world is very much diminished.  I can choose how much I want to socialise, but with the status of the concert pianist on-board, no-one really expects to rely on your time.  This is my little heaven.   I usually do it 4 times a year – mainly in winter to escape the cold London climate (!)  – and I always travel to hot countries, as I like it hot!  Going on stage 12 times keeps me very grounded and prevents me from becoming too engrossed in what has to be one of the most hedonistic experiences in the world.

Photograph from my last cruise around the Caribbean

This is really where the inspiration for creating Piano-Yoga® retreats came from, with the hope of giving other like-minded pianists the possibility of experiencing the same blissful mix of creativity, nurturing and learning, all in one place.  The retreats have been a long time in the making, so we are now very excited that in 2011 they will finally become a reality, with two one-day retreats in London at Kings Place and Steinway Hall and one retreat in Cyprus at the Arte Academy (one-week retreat). The retreats will cover many areas related to piano playing through lectures and masterclasses, whilst working with the participants on their mind and body through yoga sessions specially designed for pianists. During the one-week retreat in Cyprus participants will be also be able to visit beautiful parts of Cyprus (excursions included) and stay in a beautiful hotel, with all meals provided.  The two one-day Piano-Yoga® retreats in London will give participants a chance to get a taster of the bigger retreat, while unwinding, relaxing and learning more about piano technique.

And after all, retreats are really what Piano-Yoga® is all about!  Because apart from the obvious benefits to your piano technique, what retreats offer is a slice of the whole lifestyle and philosophy for those who love playing the piano in a holistic way.

We are currently talking to a number of other venues in Europe and the USA about hosting Piano-Yoga® retreats for 2012 and beyond, so if you would like to have one in your area, please drop us a line.

Time for my yoga practice..!

Namaste,

GéNIA

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