Coming back home feeling even more tired than when you left for holidays. Sounds familiar? My friend Melissa (35) from Amsterdam just came back again from Ibiza, looking all fresh, more energetic and slimmer than ever! How the hell does she do that?! Time for an in-depth interview. Girl, please tell us all about your relaxing Yoga Retreat trips.
Last year you went on your first Yoga Retreat trip. How did you came up with this idea in the first place?
Most of the trips I took before, were all about traveling around, seeing as much as possible of a certain country, or sightseeing-loaded city trips. This can be wonderful, but you do not get to rest really. So it often meant that I came back home even more tired than I was before I left. As an oncology and hematology nurse practitioner in a busy hospital in Amsterdam I work with cancer patients every day, often having to tell patients they will not live much longer. A rather heavy and demanding job, which -if you do not take good care of yourself- can wear you out completely.
Finally I really needed a holiday where I could completely unwind and reload, have some much needed quality me-time. About two years ago I changed to a healthy lifestyle completely. So I started searching and found that Yoga Retreats fit the bill. I am done with the holiday where you come back 5 kilos heavier and have to drag your tired ass back to work again the next Monday, you know?
Smart girl. In the meantime you have been on three Yoga Retreat trips. How was it??
Fantastic. Magical. Inspiring. Exactly what I was looking for and needed for myself. All three Yoga Retreats were on the island of Ibiza, Spain, but every time on a different location. This year I went even twice, once in May and once in July. It’s all about taking time for yourself, to reflect, deepen and slow down.
So far you have been with two different retreat organizations, correct?
Correct. The first time last year was such an amazing experience, that I was a bit anxious that this year might disappoint. But nothing is less true. Both organizations I went with, Retreat Yourself and Morna Retreats, offer super high quality retreats. They take very good care of their guests and attract super friendly people. It was extremely pleasant again, with great food, relaxing massages, etc. What a pleasant delight.
In July I went with the same organization as last year, Morna Retreat, and a lot of the same people joined again. Due to this situation, there was a lot of deepening in the group, lots of self-development, spiritually taking a step further. Some of the girls I met at the first Yoga Retreat, became close friends who I see frequently. Others I didn’t see for a year, but it felt like we saw each other last week or something, so closely connected and immediately that warm feeling again. Trust and relationships were already built last year, and you know a lot about each other, so we went deeper quickly.
What do you actually do on a Yoga Retreat?
Not much!! Ha ha ha, just joking! There is not so much time to sleep in actually. You get up early and start with something light like a piece of fruit and then you do yoga (hatha, vinyasa and flow yoga). After the morning yoga session there is breakfast or brunch, which always looks and tastes divine. Not everywhere, but in my case the meals were vegan or vegetarian combined with raw food. With Retreat Yourself there is more spirit time, up to half a day for yourself, no lunch included. The villa is located in the middle of nowhere on a mountain, so we rented a car to go out in the afternoons. At the end of the afternoon or evening there is another yoga session (yin yoga).
Morna Retreats has a full day program, with 1 or 2 hour ‘pamper time’ breaks in between the activities. In general there are two yoga sessions a day, plus 2 or 3 meals. One massage is usually included in the package. In addition you have the option to book extra massages and/or treatments such as pedicure, manicure and reflexology. Furthermore, one evening there is an optional group activity, most likely dinner in the city. I also did SUP Yoga, a combination of yoga and supping on a surf board at sea, at sunrise or sunset. There are also meditation with candlelight, a dance work shop with yoga elements (earth, water, air, fire) and cooking workshops, so enough to do!
Looking back, what did you like most? In other words: what makes you come back?
It makes me feel ultra-relaxed, I reload new energy and I get to know a bunch of great people. Especially relevant: I learn more about myself. It is the kind of holiday with more spiritual depth. They hold up a mirror to you. You learn to look at yourself and talk about where you stand in life, where you want to go. I find the coaching sessions really helpful. Often conversations arise spontaneously between a small group of people, and in some retreats they offer a one-on-one session with the yoga teacher too. I was surprised how quickly you, with people you basically just got to know, end up in very personal and open conversations. And let’s not forget to mention the food. A girl has got to eat! The food is amazing and super healthy, I love it.
Hearing your stories, and looking at the pictures, I couldn’t help but think: I bet these Yoga Retreats are not cheap.
Indeed, Yoga Retreats are not cheap, but you get a lot of value in return. I see it as a well-deserved investment in myself, a healthy reward for a year of hard working. Money wise, you have to think in the range of 1045 to 1400 euros for 5-8 days. There are single occupation rooms, but as a result it will be more expensive (from € 2195,-). The price usually includes, depending per organization, things like airport transfer, yoga lessons and other activities, one massage, meals, etc. but excludes flights and -if needed- rental car. The location is often a private luxury villa with pool, air-conditioning and private chef.
You can chose single room occupation for an additional charge, or you share a room. Last time I shared a room with beautiful sea view with three friends I met at the retreat last year. The first time I shared a room with a woman who I never met before, but this was not an issue at all. First of all you do not spend much time in the room anyway, and second of all a connection was easily made as you have a common interest to start with.
You mentioned earlier you met a lot of great people during the Yoga Retreats. What type of people do you see at Yoga Retreats?
To my experience so far, Yoga Retreats mainly attract women. I know there are also yoga retreats on Ibiza that include hiking, which attract more men. To be honest I am not sure whether a man would enjoy joining such feminine group all day, all week. Consequently, it seems like a more ‘female thing’. On the other hand, the yoga teachers and masseurs are often male. There is a nice mix of women who join the retreat on their own, and others who come together. The groups are rather small, usually with about 10-14 people, coming from all around Europe and beyond, also from Russia for example. Ages range between mid/late 20s to early 60s.
So far, you have been three times on Yoga Retreat, all on Ibiza. What’s next?
I see myself doing this every year, as long as I can afford it. I simply need it. For sure I will join both organizations again next year. The group and organization of Morna Retreats on Ibiza has conquered a special place in my heart. It’s so delicious, luxurious, relaxing and warm, so for sure I need to go with them & there again. Another thing I plan to do next year is to join Retreat Yourself again, but then to Morocco. This country is already on my bucket list for many years, so that would be a fantastic combination for me. Probably one retreat in spring, and another in the fall. These yoga retreats are addictive!
Furthermore Bali is on my wish list as future Yoga Retreat location, as I heard so many good stories about it. But I hate long flights to be honest. Bali is quite a long journey from home, while I can get the same feeling on a 2.5 hour flight distance. And Ibiza I can always combine with a visit to some of my closest family members. Like we did together in 2015.
Of course there are many other different locations around the world where you can find some sort of Yoga Retreat; Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece… Or in the Netherlands, on the Veluwe for example. Retreat Yourself offers vegetarian food (vegan upon request) on their Yoga Retreats almost all year round. And there are Yoga Retreat Weekends at Sea in Zeeland, a province in the southwest of the Netherlands.
Healthy Yoga Retreats (with vegan food) are quite specific and less easy to find. Morna Retreats is specialized in this. They offer SUP Yoga & Health Retreats and Detox Juice Retreats, all on Ibiza, and focus on May till early July and September.
Can’t get enough? Would like to go on a Yoga Retreat yourself? Check out these videos of Retreat Yourself for an impression (warning: drool cloth recommended).
Food spots Ibiza
Not joining a Yoga Retreat (yet), but would like to get a taste while on Ibiza? Here are some of our favorite healthy lunch/dinner spots for you to enjoy on this beautiful island:
Next to the obvious Tripadvisor, Happy Cow is a good source for finding healthy restaurants.
Ibiza villas for rent
Want to have a private luxurious villa on Ibiza all to yourself? We happen to know the people who rent out THE most beautiful, relaxing luxurious villas on Ibiza… Click on the names below to check out their websites.
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Elisa a.k.a. Flitter Fever @flitterfever
Photo credits: Melissa’s private collection, Morna Retreats, Retreat Yourself, Aubergine.
This interview is meant to inform the Flitter Fever audience about this type of travel, not to promote vegan lifestyle.