A Dalmatian adventure

In just over 5 weeks I’ll be heading out to the sunny island of Vis in Croatia for a week long yoga retreat.

My love of yoga holidays began a couple of years ago in Spain and I’ve been searching for new locations to get my fix of sunshine and feel-good yoga ever since. I’ve been back to Spain a few times since to check out another yoga retreat and earlier this year I joined a two-day yoga festival on the magical island of Ibiza. This Autumn however, I wanted to try somewhere a little different…

I researched yoga and surf trips in Morocco and Italy, sailing yoga adventures in Turkey and even thought about heading back to Ibiza. But when I came across Being Urban retreats, I knew I’d found my next sanctuary.

The location is idyllic, with the beautiful stone villa nestled on a hilltop with all the amenities you could wish for including a large outdoor area, pool and yoga studio. Plus there’s three healthy vegetarian meals provided each day to keep your energy levels up.

Being UrbanBut it was the abundance of activities on offer that appealed to me most;  twice-daily yoga, art classes, meditation and island discovery adventures.

Activities

When I heard that they were looking for a yoga teacher to host the daily morning and evening classes, I decided to get in touch to see if I could offer my skills. A couple of interviews later and I was in. When Milda (who heads up the team at Dalmatia events) invited me along to teach on the retreat from 10th—17th October it felt like all my Christmases’ had come at once!

If you think it sounds like your kind of trip too, then why not join us this October? There’s still a couple of spots left if you hurry! Book now.

Flying high in Ibiza

(June 2015)

Last weekend, I packed my bags and set off after work for the sunny skies of Ibiza. Leaving work, relationship and general life stress behind, I stepped into the glorious Spanish sunshine and felt instantly uplifted. That energising feeling lasted the whole weekend as my friend Charlotte joined me and a host of other wonderful yogis for two days of yoga at the Ibiza Yoga Festival organised by Jo Youle of JoGa Beats.

Day One

The line-up for the festival was incredible. We began the first day with a Kundalini Yoga practice led by Trish Whelan. I’ve been meaning to try Kundalini for a while but hadn’t got round to it due to a hectic work, social and teaching  schedule that is typical of any Londoner, and so I was pleased to find the opportunity to try out a variety of yoga styles over the two days.

The combination of meditation, pranayama, chanting mantra and yoga asanas truly awakened the Kundalini energy within and despite a distinct lack of sleep the night before I found myself brimming with energy. I may have even injured my ankle at one point as I got a little carried away with the jumping around, taking me right back to my favourite part of my own yoga teacher training where we would jump around to upbeat music to get our energy pumping.

Once awakened, we decided to depart the yoga deck and check out the rest of the quirky venue that is Ibiza Rocks House at Pike’s hotel. An Ibiza institution, the hotel is the perfect combination of glamour and down-right weird. Think poolside lounge beds with beautiful cocktail waitresses serving (very pricey) drinks and delicious food, combined with unique décor and a clientele that ranges from young buff men posing for the girls, to rich clientele looking to splash the cash on any young girl that catches their eye. The overall atmosphere lends itself to making you feel instantly at home and despite the high price tag for the hotel rooms, there isn’t a pretentious poser in site, exactly my kind of place.

Next on the line-up was Kids Yoga, followed by Kirsty Gallagher Yoga and Arun for Prajna Yoga. Despite wanting to join in on every single class over the two days, my injury-riddled body was calling for some relaxation and so, for once, I decided to listen and instead soak up the sunshine with Charlotte and our new amigos Ellie and Mel.

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But, when it came to late afternoon, we couldn’t resist heading back over to the yoga deck to join Jo for her Joga Beats class and we were certainly glad we did. Jo has been teaching for around 8 years and recently did some additional training with Linda D’Antal which resulted in an amazing dance-like yoga class set to the sounds of an uplifting playlist which included my personal favourite, a Montmartre remix of the Bob Marley classic ‘Is this Love’.

Once we came around from Savasana, we had a good half hour to recoup and fill up on some divine Positivitea courtesy of Ellie before it was playtime on the mat with an Acro yoga class led by Yamuna Devi of Ashiyana Yoga. Now I’ve dabbled with a bit of acro yoga before, but this was on another level. Yam is what I would call the epitome of a yoga teacher; warm-hearted, open and strong, the perfect lead for anyone who’s about to bend you backwards, spin you around and turn you upside down. As with most styles of yoga, Acro isn’t necessarily about flexibility but rather surrendering to the asana and working with your partner to achieve balance in the posture. And balance we did…

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It’s safe to say we all felt high as a kite when we left the workshop and I soon started looking up how I could train in the art of acro.

Day two

The next day we woke early but rather than joining the others for the morning session, Charlotte, Ellie and I snuck off to mosey around the local Sunday market in San Joan de Labritja, close to where we were staying. We picked up a coffee and wandered from stall to stall, marvelling at the beautiful trinkets on each one; custom-made feather and leather handbags from India, uniquely designed jewellery made from silver and precious stones and paintings from local artists and travellers. If I’d had the money I would have bought it all (especially that leather/feather bag that I’m still day dreaming about, sigh).

But alas, with eyes bigger than the crystals we were coveting, it was time to depart to make it back to Pike’s in time for the second class of the day, Body Art with Nicole Gibbard. As I’d suspected the day before when I met Nicole and saw her perfectly toned body, this class was going to be no walk in the park and sure enough, she didn’t disappoint. A combination of cardio and yoga in the unique ‘body art’ style, the class served to work every muscle of the body, focusing on alignment to perfectly sculpt the muscles into sinewy perfection. Well, it may take more than one class to do that but given the amount my cheeks were burning afterwards I’ve no doubt I’d been perfectly worked out.

Thankfully the next class was a much-needed counter-balance as we were taken through a guided mindfulness meditation with Ross Stephenson. Sitting cross legged on our mats, feeling the breeze cooling our too warm faces and the sun gently creeping in through the canopied roof, you could almost be forgiven for drifting off to the beach, but the purpose was to stay present and the booming sound track coming from the poolside at Pike’s certainly made sure that we did.

By the time the meditation was over, we headed in our blissed out state over to the sun loungers by the pool, sadly missing Anusara’s Yogi and Yuni class, Warrior Women with Larah Davis and Leanna Buchannen’s Yoga Mojo Flow. I’ve been assured that they were all excellent though, of which I have no doubt, but the sunshine and sol’s were calling, it was a holiday after all.

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By the time 6:30 came around, I was ready to call it a day with the yoga and tuck into the sol’s but when Ola arrived to teach the acro yoga class, curiosity (and the inability to sit still for more than five minutes) got the better of me and I soon found myself wandering over to check out the workshop. I think we all fell a little in love with Ola that day, a true beauty, she just seemed to glow with radiance and feminine energy, we were half in awe, half in love and when she, like Yam the day before, flipped us all around into all manners of acrobatic positions we were left feeling as elated as we had the day before. I dare you to try a class and not feel like you’re walking on air afterwards!

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Post-fest, we played in the pool and all thoughts of the final ‘secret session’ were forgotten as it was clearly time to wind down and get the party started. Whilst we’d been having some wholesome fun on the yoga deck, it seemed that the rest of Pike’s had been up to their own brand of debauchery and we soon found ourselves part of a wedding party (the ‘happy couple’ had met just hours earlier in the pool of all places). Not ones to miss out on a party we got caught up in the merriment and when it came time to leave, I for one felt like Alice stumbling out of the rabbit hole…

Until next time!