My Yoga Evolution


As you may remember from my Summer Goals post, it was one of my ambitions this year to go on a travelling adventure all by myself! Well, today I'm here to tell you that my mission has been accomplished! If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you'll know that for the past week, I have been sunning myself in the beautiful Portuguese mountains whilst on a yoga holiday with Yoga Evolution Retreats! The retreat that I attended focused on Ashtanga Vinyasa & Yin Yoga, which was a real learning experience for me as I hadn't previously had much experience with either practice. Despite my yoga-novice status, I had an absolutely fantastic time and came home feeling incredibly grounded and relaxed, so I couldn't resist sharing my experience with you all! Keep reading to find out more about my holiday!

 

🌴 Setting 🌴

As you can probably tell from the beautiful photos, the venue for the retreat was located on a secluded mountainside, a short distance from the small town of Oleiros. The views were absolutely breathtaking! Peter and Sue, our yogis for the week, have restored the once-dilapidated farm buildings into comfortable and welcoming guest rooms. The buildings on-site were very much inkeeping with the rustic setting, including the purpose-built wooden yoga chalet where we engaged in our twice-daily practices. The 15m swimming pool, tucked away down the sloping mountain, was my hub for many of the free afternoons - it provided the perfect spot for sunbathing whilst taking in the forested landscape! One of the optional extra activities offered on the retreat is a herb-gathering walk through the surrounding countryside. I didn't take up this opportunity myself (the sun lounger was calling me!) but many of the guests who went along really enjoyed a foray into the picturesque terrain.

🌴 Accommodation 🌴

Guests at the retreat have the option of staying in the guest houses, a private stone cottage, or in a gypsy caravan or a tent for an experience closer to nature! My room was located in the main house, close to the Moroccan style guest lounge, fully stocked library, and kitchen. One bathroom, equipped with all of the expected modern features, served the four guests residing in the main house but there was never a fight over bathroom use, which is always a worry with communal facilites! You certainly couldn't complain about the cleanliness of the facilities, I couldn't find fault with anything. I really liked the fact that the accommodation felt less like a hotel and more like a guest bedroom in someone's house, which added greatly to the relaxing and homely atmosphere at the retreat.

 

🌴 Yoga 🌴

And now for the reason for my attendance at the retreat - the yoga! Our practices lasted for four hours each day, with Ashtanga yoga led by Peter from 8-10am, and Yin yoga taught by Sue from 6-8pm. At first I was rather daunted by the thought of such long practices, but they went by in such a flash and I felt so refreshed after each one! The Ashtanga practice is physical and energetic, all to do with building your inner fire! Peter guided us step by step through sun salutations and the first standing series. Each day's practice built on the last, which meant it wasn't too overwhelming for those such as myself who were unfamiliar with many of the postures. However, the more experienced yogis on the retreat still seemed to get a lot out of each practice. During our evening session of Yin, Sue took us through fewer postures which we stayed in for a longer time. These enabled us to engage with and work on the bandhas (also known as body locks) and the body's meridians including those attached to the kidneys, stomach, heart and lungs, and intestines, promoting health and wellbeing. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the Ashtanga practices, I feel that I got the most out of the Yin yoga. Sue provided so much useful information about the benefits of all of the postures and I really felt them working their magic on my body!

 
 

🌴 Food 🌴

I could wax lyrical about the retreat diet all day! Selina, a chef and nutritional therapist, looked after us for the week, providing a varied mix of vegetarian and vegan food, all of which was included in the price of the retreat. For breakfast we enjoyed porridge made with nut milk topped stewed fruit, as well as rice cakes with jam or home-made nut butter. At lunch, there was always a mix of salads with fresh, organic, and locally sourced ingredients. A particular culinary highlight for me was the vegan sushi that was served towards the end of the week, which was truly delicious! At lunch as well as between meals, fresh fruit was in plentiful supply. Dinners were again top quality, with a delicious dahl being a stand-out dish for me! The food couldn't be faulted and even those who usually ate a lot more meat in their diets found it easy to adjust to the vegetarian offering.

🌴 My Highlights 🌴

Although it is pretty hard to select just a few highlights from such a wonderful experience, there were a few things that really made this trip special for me! The first was something called morning silence. We practiced morning silence every day except two on the retreat, meaning that in the morning before practice, throughout practice, and during breakfast which was immediately afterwards, nobody spoke. As someone who isn't always a massive talker and often finds it difficult to be the lead person in a conversation, this provided me with some much needed space to breathe, be with my own thoughts, and feel ready for the day ahead. I wish morning silence could be implemented in my everyday life!

My second highlight was an excursion to a nearby river that Peter and Sue kindly organised for us on the penultimate day. A picnic was packed for us and we headed to the river (about 20 minutes away from the retreat centre) for an afternoon of swimming and sunbathing. This provided some gorgeous photo opportunities as well as another venue for relaxation and I had a wonderful time!

 
 

🌴 Was it worth it? 🌴

I paid £475 for my single room occupancy at the retreat and I can safely say that it was worth every penny. This was the best value yoga retreat that I researched online, and the glowing reviews that Peter and Sue receive on their Facebook page is testament to the amazing experience they provide! I would highly recommend that anyone interested in a yoga holiday checks out what's on offer on the Yoga Evolution website - I'd love to go back!

Have you been on holiday this year? If so, what did you make of it? If not, where is your dream holiday destination? Share with me in the comments below!

Until next time,

A x
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