Istria was and still is one of the most popular locations for spiritual gatherings and novadays for yoga retreats. Perhaps it is because of the form of the peninsula; for me, it looks like little India.
In one of the most beautiful places of Croatia, Rovinj, we meet Martin Vayu and Natali, the cofounders of the Five Elements Yoga Retreat.
You are offering an unique combination of yoga and adventures retreats. Can you tell us a little bit more about it? Why exactly this combination?
– The idea of yoga and adventure retreats started long time ago when I discovered the philosophy of the five elements. From that moment on, my purpose was to teach that knowledge through books, lectures and retreats. The program of Yoga and Adventure Retreats is designed to connect us with the nature through adventure activities and to discover our own nature which is made from five elements through yoga, lectures and meditations. The program was ready ten years ago, but I was not ready. It took me seven years to balance myself enough to lead this retreats. When I was finally ready, Natali came into my life and the retreats immediately started very successfully.
What is yoga of the five elements?
– Yoga of the five elements is a variation of hatha yoga in which all the elements are stimulated equally. Yoga in general is actually designed to work on all five elements and to bring them into balance. It is mostly known that humans are made from body, mind and spirit, but actually that is not the complete truth, because two elements are missing. In yoga we say that humans are made out of five layers or levels. Physical, emotional, intellectual, energetic and spiritual level. This levels are rapresenting the five elements and yoga should be a tool to work on all this levels. At least that is how we are using yoga in our retreats, and therefore we call it Yoga for 5 Elements.
How much does it differ from other styles of yoga?
– There are many styles of yoga and some styles are stimulating one element more than others. Unfortunately, in many modern yoga styles some elements are completely missing. So when we do a retreat program, we are using five different styles, each day one style for one element. On the last day we combine all the styles in one class which would be the best style to balance all the five elements. Actually it is a variation of hatha yoga, because hatha yoga is the most balanced style according to the elements. Of course we add some unique MOVEMENTS that are specially dedicated to the five elements.
Are your retreats suitable more for younger people or at least, fit people – becaus of the adventures like kayaking, hiking etc. or is it suitable for all – even beginners?
– Our adventure activities are mostly easy if the weather conditions are good (if the wind is not too strong). Beginers are welcome, but still an average physical strength and condition are necessary. We normally except participants from 18 up to 60 years age.
Not only yoga, the accommodation of your retreat centre has for example fire apartment, water room and other elements. That´s really a nice idea. Does it mean for example, if somebody miss the earth element, should be placed in the earth apartment? Does the accommodations have an energetic influence aswell?
– Hahaha that’s a nice question. Our rooms are very different, but we don’t consider the elements when we offer accommodation to our guests, but sometimes it is interesting to observe how those details come out in the end.
Water appartment in Five elements Retreat
Your 5 adventures programme include biking – kayaking – sup – windsurfing – hiking….do you lead it yourself or do you have trainers?
– Before opening the yoga center I was working as the adventure guide and windsurfing instructor. I’m leading advendture tours mostly alone, but sometimes I really need help!
You are rapresenting Five elements retreat in Rovinj as a couple. Natali gives yoga classes and massages and you lectures and meditation classes besides sport adventures. Who is cooking?
– We always have a professional vegan chef and someone who helps with food. Food is very important to us, so we try to buy most of the ingredients from local and organic farm. When we are looking for a new chef, we make sure that the meals are of the best quality and delicious.
Marin, you wrote several books about five elements philosophy. Can you tell us something more about it?
– Yes, I’m writing books about the knowledge that I received ten years ago. I’m writing about how the concept of the five elements was one of the first and the most beautiful spiritual concepts in ancient times, and how it influenced all the esoteric teachings in the world, including yoga. Basically all the spiritual teachings are based on the concept of the five elements. In the book Original Five Elements, I presented many missing links which are connecting all those teachings with one source. I also give some explanations and instructions how one can use the knowledge of the five elements to improve quality of their life, but much more about the practical use I teach in our retreats. I also created a Five week Balancing Program that one can do at home. It is a great program to practically discover your own elements and realize what do you need to improve the quality of your life.
What kind of massage is possible in the centre?
– I’m proud to say that Natali is one of the best physiotherapists in our region. She is offering a unique massage treatment that is a combination of classical medical, traditional chinese & thai massage. The session is 75 up to 90 minutes long, depending on a person and it is really exclusive, because she is doing only one massage per day so she can always give her best.
What do you like the most about Istria or Croatia?
– Well, Croatia is very green country and has an amazing coast with more than tousand islands and cristal clear blue sea. I like the most our region Istria, not only because it is the most beautiful region in Croatia, but because people here are more open minded. Istria in Croatia is something like California in the US, ha ha. So, what is really special about Istria region, are many small medieval towns on the top of the hills, and many small islands that are close to each other forming an archipelago. That makes our kayaking tour more beautiful.
What do you don´t like?
– Hm, generally the services in Croatia are not yet in line with beauty of our country, but we, as a yoga retreat centre, are working very hard to give people even more than what they expect. So what we don’t like, we try to change by changing ourselves 🙂
Do you think yoga can bring transformation on a global scale?
– Of course, yoga is already changing the world, because it is growing rapidly, especially in the last ten years. I am in the world of yoga for almost 20 years and was in India many times. From that what I saw in the West, with modern approach, yoga is changing very fast and adapting to modern world, which have a good and a bad outcome. The only challenge for yoga is not to lose it’s spiritual element. The practice of yoga is used as a tool to connect with all the existence in this universe, to become more peaceful and healthier, and those things humanity needs more than ever. On the other hand, yoga is related to hinduism and that’s why it is still not good enough to change the whole world. Not because religions are bad, but because many people don’t like it or many already follow an another religion. However, I believe that yoga will transcend the religions very soon because the purpose of yoga is to discover our own nature which is, of course, made from five elements.
Five elements Retreat sends nice vibrations, that´s for sure!