This Summer I had gotten myself into a little bit of rut. I was working long hours on big projects and when I wasn’t working I was so pooped, all I could do was lie on the sofa, occasionally pressing the “OK” button to let Netflix know I was alive and still watching. Without the activities that I love and keep me sane (yoga, writing, drawing) I was basically feeling rubbish, both physically and mentally!
What saved me? An impromptu booking onto a yoga retreat! I was booking fairly last minute so budget was a criteria (I found some crazy options that looked incredible, but way out of my budget at approx £2,000 a week + flight costs!) I had also decided I wanted to be abroad: my first holiday on my own – both slightly daunting and exciting. An evening of research with a glass of wine later and I was lucky enough to discover the wonderful Yoga Evolution Retreat in Portugal.
Peter and Sue have created a little haven that can only be described as idyllic. We arrived in the dark after a few hours on a coach from Lisbon (separate blog post coming on how much I fell in love with Lisbon and Porto in the short time I was there!) and were settled in our individual guest room or caravan. I was therefore unprepared for the absolutely incredible beauty that was waiting for me when I opened my doors in the morning.
I spent the most glorious week with a completely varied, lovely and interesting group of people who all seemed to have their individual reasons to escape the real world for a little bit. Each morning began with two hours of Ashtanga practice, building up to an intensive practice covering the full primary series on Friday. Peter has a wonderful approach to teaching: clear instructions and demonstrations, no egos and the habit of making you laugh during an awkward balance to remind you to not take yoga too seriously. Sue’s evening yin classes challenged me in different ways. Whilst less energetic, I found holding positions for such long periods of time rather intense. I came out of each class feeling like I had nourished my body a little bit more. I definitely appreciated the balance of the classes and have taken this forward in my practice since my return.
When not practicing, there was plenty of time to relax by the gorgeous pool, hide away in the lounge with a book, hang out in the hammocks or take a wander around the gorgeous grounds. I gave up coffee for the week, which meant I napped a LOT for the first few days (it is really scary how much my body apparently relies on caffeine), but managed to fit in some essential pool and hammock time. We also spent a dreamy day by a particularly picturesque nearby river.
The week’s menu was based on a fusion of healthy whole foods, taking influence from macrobiotics, Ayurveda, vegan and raw foods. Although I have generally made efforts to reduce my meat and dairy intake, my general diet is far from vegan. I did somehow manage to complete the week without giving in to the temptation of a secret biscuit. It was lush to finish the week with some organic wine and dancing round the fire though!
I personally found Sue and Peter to be pretty inspirational. Not only have they created a space that makes you immediately breathe more calmly, their warm personalities could not make you feel more welcome. I also completely fell in love with all the animals…