“Yoga begins where there is no critical voice and no competition,” Jane Fryer reminds her Inward Bound yogis. “The theme for this week is there is nothing to achieve, because we’re already there,” she encourages. “The journey to the starting place happens over and over again. It is our senses that take us away from the moment. Let’s be subtle enough to be in ourselves, right here, right now.”

Jane welcomes arriving
Inward Bound yogis. 

Twenty two travelers (including teachers Jane and Jennifer) have flown to Jamaica from across the United States and UK. We’ve come a thousand miles or more to reach this Caribbean island retreat. Now, we sit cross-legged, having gathered together for the first time, on this Round Hill villa deck nested fifteen feet in the air below a lush canopy of very tall Almond trees. We sit with eyes closed, allowing the sound of Jane’s voice to soothe our wired systems. By concentrating on our breathing we begin settling into the quiet of our own inner spaces.

Proper alignment is
esssential to yoga.

Jane folds into a
forward-bending twist.

For the next several days we will be take part in the Inward Bound Core program of active and restorative yoga, NIA (Neuro-muscular Integrative Action) meditation and Pilates. Our time will be structured around morning and late afternoon classes, evening dinners together with mid-days open for water sports, spa treatments or hanging out on Round Hill’s private beach or around it’s new, tri-level, vanishing edge swimming pool that hovers dreamily over the Caribbean sea.

Jane’s journey becomes her life’s work.

Jane Fryer has spent most of her life engaged in social and cultural studies. Early on she became fascinated with understanding the ways in which people interact and respond to one another. She turned to yoga to begin her personal journey with the belief that a transformed individual could, in turn, help transform their world. For nearly three decades she has traveled the planet and trained with internationally recognized teachers of Kripalu, Iyengar, Ashtanga and Anusara traditions or “schools” of Hatha yoga.

Through her journeys Jane discovered the value of creating time and space away from the everyday as a way of deepening the understanding of our inner selves. The idea of traveling to exotic locations for a week of mind/body exploration, rejuvenation and fun – all set in stunning natural surroundings – took hold of her imagination. In 1992 Jane Fryer created Inward Bound which this year travels to Jamaica, Mexico, Costa Rica, Italy and France along with U.S. destinations.

The Inward Bound Core Program

It's a case where 1+1 equals more than
two. Jane & Jennifer's complimentary
skills add up for their students.

In 1996 Jane was joined by Jennifer Harvey, an equally accomplished teacher, and together they created the Inward Bound Core program. Jennifer’s training in Pilates and NIA, in addition to her yoga expertise, proved the perfect compliment to Jane’s work. Jennifer is the founder/owner of Laughing Dog Yoga in Wellesley, Massachusetts and on this trip to Jamaica several attendees are also regular students of Jennifer’s back home. Jane and Jennifer lead or assist one another in all of the classes providing students a seamless integration of information and experience.

View from the villa deck
where yoga classes convene.

At 7:00 a.m. the following morning we make the short trek from our Ralph Lauren (He’s a Round Hill shareholder) designed guest rooms in the Pineapple House to gather at the villa where most Inward Bound classes are held. The villa’s large deck has a view through an insurgence of tropical trees to the Caribbean below. Following light bites of native fruit, fresh squeezed orange, papaya and mango juice, coffee and tea we unravel our yoga mats preparing to stretch our way into the morning.

Make a start with meditation.

A quiet moment to 
greet the morning sun.

Our day begins in meditation. With eyes closed we notice the streaming of stories playing in our heads, the tumultuous thought waves, our planning and scheming. Eventually, we let go of our mind’s thinking and give way to the openness that rests just below the surface. Later in the week Jennifer will play the CD of a poem called Natural Great Peace which is set to Tibetan music and recited by meditation master Sogyal Rinpoche. Speaking about its meaning and his thoughts on the meditation process he says, “Like a glass of muddy water. If you don’t stir it, the dirt will slowly settle.”

We’re ready to stretch and be strong!

Jane and Jennifer cover the
basics of Downward Dog pose.

Next, we move slowly into yoga with Jane leading us through a routine emphasizing strength as well as flexibility. In recent years she and Jennifer have spent numerous weeks training with John Friend, creator of Anusara yoga, a practice that has grown in popularity by leaps and bounds. Anusara pays particular attention to proper alignment and enhanced breathing. For ninety minutes we flow between moderately challenging seated, standing and balancing postures or asanas interspersed with discussion of technique and philosophy. Wisely Jane and Jennifer use yoga philosophy not only to inform, but to create a sense of fun.

Breakfast is served!

Jennifer's NIA class
moves into high gear.

Breakfast is best by the sea.

By 10:30 we’ve worked up an appetite and head down the hill for a delicious, healthy breakfast. A benefit of travel with Inward Bound is the special arrangements they have with the host resort. In this case, our breakfast tables of white linen and silver are beautifully set on a private terrace overlooking the water.

A full buffet of fresh fruit, juice, homemade pastries and breads and a chef to prepare omelets of choice awaits our arrival. Every meal is enhanced by the spirited discussion within our group which represents a wide range of professions and interests.

Women outnumber men roughly two to one and ages range from 30s to 70s, but it’s a mixture that works comfortably.

NIA (Neuro-muscular integrative action)

A leisurely breakfast completed, the time is right to work off calories with one of Jennifer’s invigorating NIA classes. NIA is an incredible aerobic workout that combines yoga, dance, tai chi, and other martial arts in a way that is inspiring, fun, and integrative of mind, body, and spirit. We move to a musical beat that pulses between hip hop, rock n’ roll, Indian, Middle Eastern and more as Jennifer puts us through our paces with steps and moves that we assimilate quickly. For nearly an hour we keep up the sometimes frenzied pace before winding down through slower, meditative sounds that ultimately leave us lying on the cool marble floor, bathed in our own body’s warmth and Jamaica’s comforting climate.

Relax, mon, you’re in Jamaica!

Time to enjoy the luxe life of Round Hill.

What's better than a
Pineapple body buff?

By noon we are ready to take in some of the other action at Round Hill. We’ll have several hours of free time to enjoy the natural surroundings, strike out on adventures such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, sailing and horseback riding. Or we can choose to be alone with family or friends. Virtually everyone has arranged to slip away for one or more treatments at the resort’s spa and fitness center located in a lovingly restored 18th century plantation house. A three-minute walk along the ocean front path bordering a small rainforest leads to the newly created “tranquility” area reserved for adults. Here you can further your quest for relaxation and renewal with massage and facial therapies including everything from Elemis ocean wraps to citrus mint hand and foot treatments -- even a warm stone pedicure.

The entire Round Hill staff – from doormen, bell hops and bartenders to lifeguards, waiters and housekeepers – is superbly trained in the subtle art of pampering its clientele. To a person they are genuinely friendly and courteous, never persnickety, so the treatment translates into a cocoon of comfort for guests.

Pilates has a method to the madness

Mat Pilates begins with the 100s,
a series of controlled movements
repeated for maximum effect.

At 4:30 we return to the villa for Jennifer’s class in Pilates, the exercise program named for Joseph Pilates whose method began to take shape during World War I in England where he helped injured soldiers return to fitness. After the war Pilates emigrated to the U.S. and founded a studio in New York City. He and his wife Clara taught many performing arts and dance students such as George Balanchine and Martha Graham.

Pilates exercises focus on the core postural muscles that help keep the body balanced and provide support for the spine. It strengthens the deep torso muscles which alleviate and prevent back pain. If you only observed Jennifer’s class practicing Pilates on the mat, you might be convinced there is nothing to it. After all it looks like they’re hardly moving! But a non-stop hour of exercises will make you a believer. Pilates requires strength, discipline and dedication to a system many teachers claim is the single best adjunct to developing a strong yoga practice.

Wrap up the day (and yourself) with restorative yoga.

This tandem of yogis has a unique
view of the Caribbean sunset!

Within Jane’s teaching repertoire is a specialty called restorative yoga, an inwardly directed variety that works magic at the end of a full Caribbean day. It is done with lots of props – double mats, blankets, pillows, blocks, anything to assist getting you into the most comfortable positions yoga offers. This form of practice is meant to restore, revive and revitalize through deep relaxation. As a bonus it is nearly effortless and has major benefits for all psychophysical systems.

After 45 minutes of gently stacking and wrapping blankets, blocks and our bodies into several different positions, we conclude on our backs in “corpse” pose, gazing at a crescent moon rising in a cerulean blue sky. It is quiet but for the tropical birds singing in the surrounding trees. Our chests lift and settle at a gentle pace as we take in air infused with a sweet tropical scent.

Website for Inward Bound

Click photo above to
visit Inward Bound.

In a flash both poignant and profound we can sense each other, alone and together, each appreciative of exactly where we are in this moment on this day, companions on the journey toward peace. As evening approaches we are lying motionless sharing the serenity. Slowly, we begin to move still holding to our sense of togetherness.

We return to our rooms in the Pineapple House and dress for an elegant dinner in the style for which Round Hill is world-renowned. Tonight we will laugh, toast our friends and dance in celebration of our good fortune. For a few precious days we will stay here on this lovely hillside in Jamaica. We have traveled with Inward Bound and discovered that our world, however briefly, has been transformed into paradise.

Inward Bound trips to Round Hill Hotel and Villas are scheduled three times each year between November and March. Prices vary year to year, but include classes, daily meals, afternoon tea, fitness center, non-motorized water sports and transfers from Montego Bay. 2007 prices: US $2,584 single, US $1,892 double, US $1,472 yoga teaser (1 class per day) and US $1,052 for non-yoga roommate.

Click for Jamaica Blog

For full details of each yoga retreat visit www.inwardbound.com e-mail Sigrid@inwardbound.com or call 843-884-0602.

Feature by Jim Hollister, Jetsetters Magazine Luxury Travel Editor. Photos by Jim Hollister, Inward Bound and Round Hill.

Read about Round Hill in Jetsetters Magazine

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