7/12/2017 0 Comments
WORDS: Samantha Chalker
With one hand holding my phone to my ear and the other on the steering wheel, I attempt to reverse our loaned Fiat Panda up a narrow dirt path in the dark of the night. Our petrol light is flashing, our baby is howling, and the whereabouts of our Yoga retreat is puzzle we cannot crack. On the end of the line is Diana, her calming voice getting put to the test hours before our first scheduled meditation session.
Slowly, surely, patiently, she plays life line through the airwaves as we squeal past a black cat and flick obtrusive tree branches out of our windows. Back on tarmacked terrain we find our one foolish wrong turn and slip easily into the arms of Quinta da Rosa, our nest for the next 6-nights.
A hot soup sits simmering on the stove and a mound of salad, raspberry water and vegan bliss balls are laid out on the table. The eight other retreat guests sleep soundly as we nourish up and slink through the house, purring over what might await us when the daylight pours in.
By the next night our worldly stresses and fretful travel have slipped deep under the earth, buried and forgotten. We’ve been lulled by the Portuguese air - thick, warm, and filled with the scent of wild lavender growing by the Quinta’s pool – and our first bout of Yoga and surfing.
Diana’s retreats in the sunny Algarve nod to a travel style that’s appeal is growing immensely in the wake of busy, stressful lives. The chance to slow down, unwind and reconnect to our bodies has become more tempting than a week of piña coladas, club sandwiches and French fries. Retreat holidays offer a genuine rejuvenation, something that’s often hoped for but rarely found in the worn-out boozy beach flop.
Our intimate retreat group finds indulgence in early morning sips of turmeric faux coffee and hefty serves of quinoa porridge with fresh berries. Together we span many age brackets and both genders, and though it seems there are people who have travelled together, it’s impossible to know exactly where the group lines sit and who arrived solo.
During mealtimes Diana talks earnestly about her dedication to her Yoga practise, confessing it moves in waves and took more than a few years to establish itself. In the Yoga Shala there is room to play and freedom to giggle if the situation calls for it. They are the kind of classes you feel comfortable sneaking into a few minutes late; warm, sincere and free from rigidity.
Each day feels like 3 days rolled into one, with hours on the beach interrupted only by a fresh lunch delivery from the casa’s kitchen, overflowing with nuts and grains and fresh produce. Despite the daily surf lessons and the 2 yoga classes per day, the vegetarian meals provide amble fuel, and our bodies feel more awakened than tired.
With most of us having the freedom to holiday for just a few precious weeks per, picking the right type of break has become all too critical. The Algarve Yoga retreats strike a carefully constructed balance of movement and rest, nourishment and indulgence. The satisfied smiles wiped over our faces on the final night hinted that this wouldn’t be the last time any of us take such a holiday.
Samantha Chalker is an Australian Travel Writer published by Lonely Planet and The Huffington Post. When she's not busy packing her suitcase and visiting pretty retreats she runs Monsoon Blooms - a plant dyed clothing label made of organic, Fairtrade cotton - and cares for her baby boy Cypress.