I will be the first to admit that I didn’t think a yoga retreat would be my cup of tea. My mind is constantly in overdrive with an inability to switch off so I just assumed that if I ever did one, my mind would only be ‘half present’. I also thought that retreats were for the true Yogis with lots of raw vegan meals and chanting around a fire in the evenings with minimal communication. BUT thats definitely not what Kaliyoga is about.. can you tell I’ve seen too many American movies?
2018 has been a mental challenge for me so far which I’ve briefly touched upon in my ‘online voice’ post. I’ve felt distant, uninspired and fairly sluggish in every aspect of life. Every morning I would wake up and fully intend to go to the gym and eat healthily, but fail miserably each time. My work balance was also up in the air and I was finding it hard to keep on top of the amount of emails, deadlines, uploads etc. I’ll be honest that this was my main issue because working from home can cause a struggle with productivity. I would plan out a full day of shoots only to end up working from the bed with 10 episodes of KUWTK. I knew something had to alter my mindset to push me to do more, which is why I couldn’t accept fast enough when an invite for Kaliyoga came through.
Kaliyoga offer one week retreats in the beautiful mountains of Spain and Italy, beginning back in 2002 and holding a great reputation. There are 8 styles of retreat to choose from including; pure juice detox, seasonal cleanse, mindful yoga relax and many more. The retreats are to help you relax, learn and focus on your body and allowing yourself to fully rejuvenate. You don’t need to be a well trained yogi or have a background in meditation.. just an open mind to try new things and experience what it means to truly revitalise and relax.
So a couple of weeks ago, myself and a few other bloggers headed over to the Alpujarra mountains for a four day retreat, focusing on cleansing our bodies and learning more about the art of yoga. I honestly had the most amazing experience so I’ve tried to be as informative as possible because whether you’re a true yogi or not – it’s so worth doing this retreat. I honestly put my experience down to the incredible teachers, calming atmosphere and inspiring girls around me!
The Retreat & Accommodation
Kaliyoga is set in the most beautiful space, overlooking the mountains with the perfect sunrise views. It’s quiet, completely relaxing and has a real sense of community. The main building has an open dining and living space with comfy sofas and fireplaces, as well as a ‘snug’ where you can go to take time out and relax alone. The outdoor space is welcoming with the pool surrounded by trees and plants as well as various hammocks and spots to sit with a book. There is also a little sauna which apparently has the best sunrise and sunset views, but I didn’t try it out! I honestly found the communal areas to be inviting and I felt comfortable wherever I went – almost as if it was home.
The yoga studio is set away from the main building and overlooks a different view (but equally as stunning). The studio is quiet, warm and relaxing with dark wood and a very peaceful lighting from the sunshine. Atmosphere definitely plays a big role in how easy it was to relax!
For the accommodation, there is a mix of rooms and cabinas with twin or double beds. My accommodation was a little dark wood cabina which was more than big enough for me and had the most comfortable bed as well as an ensuite bathroom. As an added touch we also had hot water bottles and blankets for the evenings which was perfect as it got a little chilly in mid Feb! My cabin was silent in the evenings and having such a white space meant that I was woken naturally by the morning light coming through the curtains (and the little bell that kaliyoga use to wake you up gently!).
Yoga, Workshops & Activities
Over our time at the retreat, we had various workshops to teach us about various aspects of yoga and wellbeing. My absolute favourite was the ‘Woo Woo’ Therapy which involves the therapist Kim using various bowls to tune into us and cleanse our chakras. I’ll be honest, it was quite intense and we all teared up a little but within the hour therapy, I felt like I got to know myself a little better. After the class I spoke with Kim about my self love (or lack of) and gave me a simple mantra to take away that by repeating daily, would allow me to fully explore the things I’d learnt in the session. Since that day, I’ve been actively focusing on the things we discussed. I’m already noticing a positive switch in how I view myself and how it affects my everyday life.
We also took part in daily yoga and meditation with Lelly where we tried a few techniques, it gave me an insight into how easy it can be to switch off from everyday life to relax – perfect for us tech-addicts! I also had a little stress-relieving Thai yoga massage with Arantza. The massage pulled and stretched my body into relaxation with various techniques. I always thought a Thai massage would be painful after seeing facebook videos but it was so good and left me feeling lighter and more flexible!
Other sessions included a raw chocolate workshop, lesson in fermentation and a superfoods chat with nutritionist Bex. It was actually really interesting to hear about foods that I maybe wouldn’t have tried before but that would nourish my body much better than my morning supplement stack. For example, Bex shared a recipe for a healthier hot chocolate as well as giving us some knowledge about where to get our highest proteins or vitamins from foods like bee pollen and goji berries (all of which are now on my shopping list).
And finally, another part of our trip included a hike up the mountains. We learnt about the local culture and history. I’m an avid adventurer so I couldn’t wait to get my legs moving and explore the local area after hearing so much about the Alpujarra mountains. The hike was approximately 2hrs and we finished at the Buddhist centre, peacefully undisturbed and silent in the mountains.
Food & Drinks
Now, do not fear because yoga retreats are not about a restricted diet or keeping you away from the good stuff. The meals are all vegetarian but incredibly nutritious and filling. At KaliYoga the breakfast and lunch is more of a buffet style and dinner is a sit down meal. There is no portion control so you are able to eat as much or as little as your body needs. All of the food is very nutritious and tastes amazing. I really enjoyed everything that was prepared for us and the chef Amanda is an absolute magician in the kitchen! We had chocolate granola, stir frys, soup, the most delicious homemade breads, sweet desserts and plenty of foods that you probably try at home (just a healthier version).
Since coming home I’ve been much more mindful with my diet and explored the options of making plenty of dishes at home. If you’re interested, Kaliyoga also sell a cookbook so you can try some of the recipes for yourself at home.
Throughout the retreat I tried to just be completely open and let myself experience the art and spirituality of yoga. I’ve come away wanting to meditate as often as possible and explore various styles of yoga class close to my home. I can really see why people get hooked and plan to test my body a little more within yoga from now on!
For more information about Kaliyoga Retreats, prices, availability and more, make sure you head over to the website.. and see below for the vlog of this trip and what I packed in my suitcase! Thank you so, so much to everyone at Kaliyoga for giving me such an amazing experience – I will be back!