Yoga Retreats - Where to go, what happens and why it's one of the best solo holidays.
My first yoga retreat was way back in 2012 when I decided to go on holiday on my own. I had no qualms about going on my own as I had a feeling that I’d meet lovely people and have a good time. And I was right. A yoga retreat is a very special kind of holiday, mostly people go on their own for a variety of different reasons; some to deepen their yoga knowledge, others to have time out from the daily grind, some to heal, others to immerse, some to be alone, others to make new friends. Everyone has one thing in common, that is being together is a magical space, sharing and shifting energy and learning as we go.
Over the last 10 years I have been to several retreats, mainly in Spain, both as a guest and as a volunteer. I’m delighted to share my knowledge and experiences with you to help you find, explore and create the yoga retreat holiday of your dreams. I should mention at this point that prior to being a school teacher and yoga teacher I worked in travel for over 10 years so I do have a good bit of travel booking, arranging and organising under my belt.
In August 2012 I went to Azul Fit in Fuerteventura for the first time. It was an amazing experience as I had been going to yoga classes regularly at the gym and loving it so I wanted to experience what a week long holiday of yoga and activities would be like and was not disappointed. The villa was beautiful and located in the north of the island. I had a room in the villa to myself and there were other girls on the retreat, a mixture of ages and nationalities. The villa had a pool and I also enjoyed a massage while I was there. The food was incredible and the chef clearly put a lot of love and thought into the meals we ate together. Each day there was a different style of yoga or Pilates to enjoy; some days were more challenging and others were more restful. All the instructors were knowledgeable and friendly in their approach. I had such a wonderful time I booked again for the following year! The team at Azul go out of their way to make sure you feel cared for, supported and relaxed following your retreat. Highly recommended.
My first experience as a volunteer was at Ibiza Yoga in July 2014. This rural retreat is nestled up in the north of Ibiza, close to the beautiful Benirras beach. Ibiza is a very spiritual and chill island beyond the party hot spots of San Antonio and Playa d’en Bossa. Ibiza yoga has been running for many years and over the 6 weeks I was there I got to meet lots of different yoga teachers and guests. I honestly thought I knew a lot about yoga at this point, but boy was I wrong. I met my first Iyengar teacher and Rocket teacher, it was so interesting to learn from them and pick up tools for teaching I didn’t even know I needed at that point. Each day the yoga class would run from 9-12pm, 3 hours of yoga. Now at this point I was practising about 3 hours a week so it was incredible to have a daily 3 hour practice. Of course, the class was split into more than just yoga asana, there were pranayama and meditations as well as more workshop style elements to break down postures. I loved it. The accommodation for volunteers at this point was a little Casita nestled in the mountains with just some fairy lights, a mosquito net and a fan, it was lovely. The outside shower and toilet were new experiences for me but I loved it. So much so I went back the following year and took Ross with me. At this retreat there was one daily brunch served and there was the option to have a self serve breakfast before class. Everyone would sit round a big table and share the food which had been lovingly prepared. Ibiza yoga was a divisive place, people either loved it or not. I was definitely in the former. It was a magical time spent with fabulous people, the guests, the owners and the other volunteers who are still friends to this day. 2015 was another fabulous summer at Ibiza yoga supporting the guests, owners and fellow volunteers.
The following summers 2016 & 2018 I was a volunteer at The Lotus Pad in Ibiza which is another rural retreat in the east of Ibiza. It is run by Wendy and her husband Neil. Wendy offers probably the most affordable yoga in Ibiza, She has a villa with 4 rooms, plus a caravan. Each of the rooms are cute and charming and there are shared bathrooms as well as a glorious outdoor shower which is fab in the heat of the summer. The yoga is either an energising morning class or a slower more relaxing yin style class in the afternoon. Every morning after class Neil cooks up a very delicious breakfast with a beautiful tasty selection of treats for everyone. The Lotus Pad is peaceful and quiet, it’s rural location allows for time out for relaxation and rest. Wendy loves to rescue cats so there is always a furry friend to be made here.
For both retreats in Ibiza I’d highly recommend having a car to get around as there is so much amazing exploring to be done in Ibiza. I’ll write more about that in a separate blog.
Between the trips to Ibiza I also had a few days at Yoga Weeks Barcelona where I was able to enjoy the sights of Barcelona as this urban retreat is just off the famous Las Ramblas! What a location! There was a combination of yoga in the shala and outdoor yoga on the rooftop. Following the morning practices there was a healthy vegetarian brunch served. The room I had was super nice and there were lovely guests to spend time with. As the evenings were free time it was a wonderful opportunity to explore Barcelona, the rooftop bars, the beach plus shopping. Here was where I had my first Air Bnb experience with a lovely lady who had a LOT of cats! But that’s another story.
Another retreat I enjoyed was La Crisalida in Albir, near Alicante. It is a beautiful space with lots of accommodation and facilities. At this retreat you can have a full day from 8am to 8pm with walks, talks, yoga, aqua aerobics, cookery demonstrations and more. Or you can just take it easy and do whatever you like from the schedule, there is no pressure. The food is lovingly prepared and always very tasty, healthy vegetarian food and sometimes a cheeky little desert. As this is a retreat in a small town it is possible to go to the beach, walk along the promenade, or visit one of the nearby towns by bus. I have been to La Crisalida twice and I have recommended it to many many people as it is so flexible and easy to find and get around. Also there is a very good masseuse there, I can’t remember her name but I know she was from Benidorm.
I am so looking forward to hosting my first retreat in 2023, a Scottish New Year retreat will be just the best way to start 2023. I am excited to be your host and share what will be an amazing weekend of yoga and fun for you.
To concluded I was say if you are looking for a solo holiday or some time out for yourself then a retreat is just the tonic. You will meet lovely people, make friends, enjoy yoga in the sun, have time to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and slow right down. You'll find you sleep very well, eat well and your body will thank you for it. Plus you will make great memories and maybe even get a wee tan! What could be better?