Yoga in hot temperatures

Yoga in hot temperatures: what to expect

Over the last few years, hot yoga has seen a huge increase in popularity. While traditional forms of yoga accomplish calming effects, stretching benefits and even aerobic exercise, and they are ideal to get toned, lose weight and improve mind balance, a little heat can add even extra benefits.

A couple of forms of yoga that require some heat are hot yoga and Bikram Yoga. These yoga styles take place in heated rooms (up to 40 degrees) and claim to provide added benefits to practitioners. Some say the artificial heat is supposed to mirror the heat of India, where yoga was originally born and people practise under such conditions.

However, if you’re not a big fan of an indoor room full of sweaty yogis, you can still enjoy all the added perks of a heated practise while practising outdoors in Spain! This was especially true in our last retreat in Málaga, Southern Spain, where temperatures during an intense heat wave reached almost 40 degrees during our evening practise! And the group did great, actually!

These are some of the advantages of practising yoga in hot temperatures:

  1. Detox. Sweating is the best way to remove toxins from your body, so embrace it! Plus, all blood cells are cleansed and oxygenated.
  2. Slim down. It’s quite obvious that with so much sweating, it’s easier to tone up the body and lose weight faster than with normal temperatures.
  3. Going deeper. The heat makes your blood thinner, which is pumped deeper into the muscles being stretched and hence making them stronger. It also helps in healing the joints. So you’ll feel deeper stretches and stronger muscles!
  4. High energy level. By practising a softer routine in a hotter place, your body gets the same intensity of a workout but with a low-impact exercise. Doing so under the Spanish Sun –it boosts your energy to the sky!

But one thing is true: yoga in hot temperatures is not for everybody. Extreme heat should be avoided by pregnant women and people with significant heart issues. It is also discouraged for people with epilepsy or taking anti-depressants, or being treated on anxiety or insomnia.

Prepare yourself

While your yoga practise will be highly satisfying (I promise!), please be prepared!! These are some precautions you should take:

  • Avoid eating a few hours before the class. Or if you really need to, have just a banana or a few almonds to pump up your energy.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which will only dehydrate you.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after the class to make up for all the fluids you will sweat out.
  • Take as many breaks as you need during the class.

Yoga under the heat can be a little intimidating and you might be scared your body can’t handle it because it will be more difficult. But in fact, the opposite is true. Just follow our advice, and enjoy the Sun!

Going alone on a yoga retreat

Why coming alone on a yoga retreat should not scare you

I know the feeling. You love yoga, and can’t live without it. This time, you’ve decided you’re going to jump in and invest on a yoga retreat for your holidays. You’ve pictured it all in your mind, and it looks perfect: the warm Spanish sun, amazing beaches, a beautiful villa, your morning yoga practise and some meditation, and a group of friends sharing some delicious food toasting for the good times.

Except… who are these friends again? Oh-oh. None of YOUR friends are THAT much into yoga –let alone your partner! Some have tried it, and some are going to regular classes, but they don’t feel the same way as you, and you can’t seem to convince them to go with. More often than not, if you wait for your friends to go along with you, you’ll end up going nowhere.

So do not fear! :) Consider coming alone!

I know it seems scary, but know that a yoga retreat is probably one of the best situations for you to be on your own: mentally, physically, and emotionally. When you come with your friends you are more likely to experience your yoga retreat through their eyes and expectations, or you may find that you are too distracted to experience the richness of the retreat.

However, if you come alone you are opening yourself up to the possibility of new friends, new experiences, new thoughts, and new a perspective.

For many people, going on a solo adventure travel can mean a lot of anxiety, but a yoga retreat is a safe in-between trip you can take while you get used to the idea of travelling alone. At a yoga retreat, the teacher, the organizer and the group might have your back, but you still need to learn who to trust, how to make new friends, and decide what you really want to do. This is the biggest reward of travelling solo: personal growth.

Well, isn’t that what you came here for? 😉

I will never get tired of saying this: the connections made on a yoga retreat are the best that will happen to you when you finally take the plunge. What are you waiting for?

How to plan your dream yoga holiday?

How to plan your dream yoga holiday?

I hear you -you’ve had enough of the same old rushed, overcrowded and stereotypical holiday destinations. This year is different, you need a REAL break, and you need time to work on your own well-being and inner peace. You’ve heard about yoga retreats, and you’re curious about them, but you’re not exactly sure how to pick the right combination.

Here are a few tips on how to plan your dream holiday this year! Just ask yourself a few questions, and it will be super easy to choose!

 

Define your yoga

Yoga retreats and yoga holidays come in all shapes and sizes, but one of the most important things you need to consider is how committed you are to your yoga practise. Remember there are usually two types of retreats: retreats and holidays. Yoga retreats usually dedicate a lot of time to yoga, and yoga holidays are more relaxed and will include more activities and cultural visits. Take this into account so as not to be disappointed!

Consider as well which school of yoga you follow and remember to bear that in mind!! At Surya Retreats you will frequently find flow-based yoga styles like Ashtanga or Vinyasa, but other yoga schools like Sivananda or Hatha are also common in our yoga retreats.

 

Pick a teacher

If your teacher already offers yoga retreats, you’re in the right direction. They will be able to guide you and tell you if the retreat they’re organizing is right for your level and your expectations.

But if your teacher is not planning any retreat anytime soon, make sure you get to know the teacher before attending their retreat. Learn about their biography, their experience, and if you can, connect with them directly to express your concerns, tell them about your practise and even your injuries. It will be easier to decide if you will get along with your teacher once they have explained their style of teaching and their goals on the retreat.

 

Mountain or Sea?

In terms of destinations, you want to narrow down the field of options. Perhaps you don’t want to travel too far from your country of origin, perhaps you’d like to the roots of yoga in India, or perhaps you think it’s safer to start with a Mediterranean country.

If your choice happens to be Spain, beware that you will still find very many different destination options with different atmospheres in this country too: yoga retreats can take place near the Mediterranean Sea and include plenty of water and sun-bathing time, they can happen in the Pyrenean Mountains and offer ski and snow-shoeing, or they can happen in the middle of the serene countryside in idyllic farmhouses.

 

Consider the advantages of prearranged packages

A couple of the upsides of buying a prearranged holiday package are convenience and comfort. This basically means some other person will worry beforehand about your safety, health conditions, and reliability of all the providers so you can concentrate on the joy of your yoga practise.

It is true –packages will be more expensive than if you buy an accommodation-only type of retreat, but consider all the decision-making time you are saving! Additionally, yoga retreat packages also include adventure and free-exploration to your holidays!

 

Whatever option you choose, yoga holidays are transforming experiences that will help you discover a new you. Peace and stillness, but also improved energy and strength are only a few of the gifts you will take home after attending a yoga retreat. Yoga holidays will also allow you to meet fellow yogis and other interesting travelers on the same spiritual path while having lots of fun.

Is your perfect retreat clear in your mind? It’s time to choose, then!

Different types of accommodation for your upcoming retreat in Spain

10 original places to sleep in your next yoga retreat in Spain

There are as many retreats out there as yogis in the world.

If you’ve never been on a yoga retreat before, the first thing that may come to your mind when I say “yoga retreat” might be a luxury resort with plenty of pampering options for your senses. Or perhaps you’re thinking of an eco-lodge with simpler facilities and surrounded by nature…

On the other hand, if you’ve attended a couple of yoga retreats before, you know there’s quite a variety out there, and you know what your ideal yoga retreat looks like.

Well, I’d like to surprise you today with some places you’d never imagine you’d be attending (or hosting) your next yoga retreat! We have all of these in Spain. 😉

Take a look:

1. A Gipsy caravan

Gipsy caravan for a yoga retreat in Spain

If you’re a wild soul, and you’d like to enjoy your retreat as if you were Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, there’s a hidden place on the Costa Brava where your dreams can come true. The yoga shala, made of wood and bright colours, will blow your mind!

2. A luxury villa

Luxury villa for a yoga retreat in Spain

There are plenty of exclusive destinations in Spain, but none like the Costa del Sol and the island of Ibiza. The Mediterranean breeze and the palm trees are a great inspiration for architects who create luxurious villas that combine all the glamour with a yogic atmosphere.

3. A Modernist house

Art Nouveau house for yoga retreats

In the early 20th century, Art Nouveau geniuses in Catalonia created mind-blowing mansions and apartments for the upper class. Today, you can host or attend a retreat in one of them! Cement tiles, high ornamental ceilings, cozy patios and an amazing rooftop with views of Barcelona.

4. A tent

Tent for yoga retreats

Camping has gone one step further with “glamping“. Nowadays, several retreat centers in Spain offer the possibility for you to be in touch with mother nature while enjoying all the comfort of a hotel. With our mild weather year round, you can sleep in a tent from early Spring to late Fall, and practise yoga outside too!

5. An old farmhouse

Rural house and farm for a yoga retreat

There are many traditional farmhouses throughout Spain that have been recently renovated as rural hotels or rural retreat centers. It is the case of old masías in Catalonia, or old cortijos in Andalucía. They are surrounded by peace, calm, and endless fields!

6. A kitsch hotel

Kitsch hotel for yoga retreat

Who said yoga retreats need to be all white and boring? Colour is fun! If you agree with me on this one, you will love this venue on the Costa Brava: each room is decorated with different themes, the kitchen, living room and terrace are colourful and sassy, and the outdoor meditating circle is a real treat for all yogis out there!

7. An urban hotel

Urban yoga retreat

We yogis have all probably attended a long weekend workshop in our city, but… taking a retreat in a city? Why not? With the right facilities (amazing yoga room, relaxing rooftop pool, and vegetarian restaurant!) who can say no to a few days of culture, tapas, sightseeing and yoga?

8. A tree house

Tree house yoga retreat

Maybe you’re a wild soul, but don’t feel like Esmeralda. You’re more like Tarzan! In this case, a retreat on top of a tree will definitely suit you best!! Don’t expect a full-running shower up there -but rest assured that both the views and the sounds of the forest at night will be worth it!

9. A yurt

Yurt yoga retreat

Yurts are portable tents traditionally used by nomads, especially in Turkey and Mongolia. Their large and quite solid structure makes for a very comfortable and atypical place to sleep! Oh, as a plus -in this venue in Andalucía, you will also find one of the biggest yoga shalas in Europe…!!

10. A mountain cottage

Mountain cottage yoga retreat

And for all altitude-junkies… a yoga retreat in a cottage, of course! All complete with wooden furniture, a fireplace, good food, indoor swimming pool, beautiful shala… and a lawn with impressive views towards a National Park!! Spain might be best known for its beaches, but the Pyrenees are just as awesome as the Alps!

How to overcome your post-retreat blues

How do I overcome my retreat nostalgia?

It’s been only 5 days since I said goodbye to my last group. I’m still in Andalucía, the land of the eternal Sun in Southern Spain. But even if the sunlight and warmth is trying hard to keep me in a good mood, my spirit is somewhere else –I’m overwhelmed from the past week.

This is what usually happens on the day after a retreat. You’re back to reality without previous warning: you stumble on the familiarity of your home, your pots and pans, your emails, your job, your gym and your cat. The shock of going back home collides with your struggle to bring back with you those moments of bliss and connections you felt while on retreat.

Your body might feel sore, yet you are relaxed, flying, you feel your body soar with every breath… and you wish you would feel like this forever. You start noticing the happiness that invaded you on your holiday slowly fades away…

I’m at this point right now, so I’d like to share a few tips on how to overcome your post-retreat gloom:

Keep up with your practise

One of my biggest struggles when I go back home is finding the time to practise. The schedule we usually follow on retreat is completely shattered once I get home. Morning alarms and mealtimes are a lot more relaxed on my daily basis (after all, I live in Spain!), and that’s specifically true for the first few days after a retreat. But the opposite may also be true for you: you have a family and children to care for, or a very demanding job that leaves very little room for yourself. All in all, it’s quite easy to make excuses and complain.

However, the post-retreat high should remind us that our yoga practise is non-negotiable, and no matter what is going on, we should always make time for it, just like we take time to brush our teeth and do our laundry. If you committed yourself to go on a yoga retreat in the first place, it’s because you needed some sort of push to change something in your life –so why not starting now that you’re still pumped from your last retreat?

 

Do not be too hard on yourself

Letting go of your graceful practise on retreat and finding the right time and space on your daily life will be hard. Obligations and stress will take over, and you may just not feel up to it. Forgive yourself. Everyone can have a bad day, or a bad week, or a bad month…!

Do not beat yourself up or get too disappointed for choosing to just throwing yourself on the couch in front of the TV instead of meditating for a few minutes. If that’s what you needed today, just acknowledge your needs and tell yourself tomorrow will be another day. Discipline is needed, but so is kindness and self-compassion.

 

Share the love

I will not stop saying one of the most beautiful aspects of yoga retreats are the people you will meet. People from very different walks of life come together with one same goal, which usually revolves around bettering oneself. You will undoubtedly open up, so will the others, and in no time, you will be bonding with possibly life-long friends and sharing beautiful stories you will want to tell over and over again.

Sadly, these connections will be missed back home. Make sure your yoga-friends support you and can give you the same sort of real and positive environment you experienced on your retreat. If you’re lucky, you might live in the same city with some of the participants, but if you don’t have such a community, look for one! There are plenty of meet-up groups that will help you find these like-minded people and build new and inspiring friendships!

 

Live in the present moment

The most important yogic teaching is to live in the moment, so it’s highly possible that holding on to your past experience will only make you miserable. Instead of dwelling in your travels or your retreat nostalgia, ty to cherish your current situation while being conscious of where you’re coming from. Tell your story to your friends, but don’t forget where you are now.

Sometimes I’m afraid I’ll forget these feelings and sensations I went through, and that’s why many of us hold on to the memories… so I like to keep a diary instead. Try that! Carefully write all your experiences, describe the retreat, the location, the teacher, the other participants, how you felt every morning and every evening before going to bed. This will help you release the experience while keeping it safe forever.

 

I hope your yoga retreat was SO AWESOME it was hard to go back to reality. But I also wish you a graceful transition and that you will book again soon!

Yoga retreats fun

Buy holidays, not things!

I’m working non-stop these days. I love my work, but I happen to spend pretty much all time that I’m awake, working. I work when I’m cooking lunch, when I’m taking a shower, and during my spinning class. I must admit –sometimes even when I do yoga (wroooong!!). Because when I’m not sitting in front of my computer, my mind is still wandering, thinking about all those things I could do to improve my business, or the to-do list I haven’t finished yet.

Apparently, 47% of the time, our mind is wandering. As yogis, we know this isn’t quite healthy! Happiness is only found on the present moment. When you’re anxious, it’s because you’re dreaming (or having nightmares!) about the future. And it’s true –our mind tends to wander to dark and ugly places more often than they do to bright and happy ones. But hey, if you can’t live in the moment, you’d better live in anticipation of a gratifying experience! There are studies which say that at least “waiting for experiences tends to be more positive than waiting for possessions”.

On the anticipation

What do they mean by that? Well, in a few words, that people standing in line to get the new iPhone will have higher possibilities of being angry at each other than those standing in line to get tickets for the next Imagine Dragons concert.

And why is the anticipation of buying an experience vs. buying a thing a more pleasant one? Well, I like to think of the theory of infinite possibilities. When you buy your next yoga holiday, you have no idea what it’s going to be like! You expect lots of good things, but the truth is it could turn out a whole lot of different ways. And that’s what makes the anticipation so much fun!

You will start imagining what your room will look like. Will there be lots of light? Will it be comfortable? Who will I be sharing it with? Will they be fun and smart? You will then wonder about the yoga. Will I be able to get up so early every morning? Will I be sore after a couple of days? Will I improve my twisting technique? And you will also start picturing Spain in your head… the Sun, oh, the Sun!!

On the lasting memories

If you decide to buy that new iPhone instead of the yoga retreat you’ve been thinking about for so long now –oh well, I’ve lost you 😉 Just remember that things become obsolete. When they’ve lost its first days flashiness, they become part of the background of your daily life (remember your super cool iPod? Yes, it’s sitting next to that Walkman portable CD-player!).

That trip you took to Ibiza with a couple of your friends, though, and where you saw the sunset with a bunch of happy hippies and got up every morning to practise some yoga? That memory gets sweeter and sweeter every time you recall it!

So if you want to make your yoga retreat even more long lasting, start planning well in advance! :) This will allow you to savour your future trip for days, weeks and months prior to itself, and its memories and new friends will certainly last a lifetime!

Buy a yoga retreat, instead of things -the experience will be a lot more valuable! 😉

Yoga Your Heart in Barcelona

Top 5 moments of our Yoga Your Heart retreat in Barcelona

Oh wow. It was only a couple of weeks ago, and it already seems like an eternity… This is what happens right after a retreat –you just wish it lasted forever, that that was your regular day to day, that you got to spend your days chilling, travelling, practising yoga, and spending your time with positive and fun people… but I’ll write about that some other day.

Today I want to remember the top 5 moments of our Yoga your Heart retreat in Barcelona a couple of weeks ago!

1. These yogis playing around at Barceloneta beach

Yoga your heart

Photos by ©rdvyoga.com.

Well, this is what happens when you mix Spain and yogis coming from mostly northern latitudes…! 😉

Anna, our yoga teacher, invited us to play around with some postures and flows, and the group responded just taking off their shoes and socks and jumping right in!

 

2. A visit to the biggest Modernist site in the world

Yoga Your Heart Sant Pau visit

While many who have been in Barcelona before might have visited world-renowned sites like the Sagrada Familia or Park Güell, Sant Pau Modernist Site only opened its doors a few months ago, so I was sure none of the yogis in the group had had yet the chance to see it.

They were all utterly amazed at the typically Catalan architecture, the magnificence of the site, and the history of the buildings and the old hospital.

 

3. A yogi levitating down the stairs

Yoga your heart moments

This is just how yogis like to travel, you know. 😉

 

4. Magic and food

Yoga your heart best moments

Well, this is the beauty of yoga retreats: you never know what talents the other people in your group may have. And as it turns out, they are usually very interesting and mostly entertaining! On this occasion, we had our own private magician!!! He left us all wondering and wow-ing with all his tricks!

Every time we sat down to eat some delicious croquetas and other tapas, Guillaume took out his pack of cards!

 

5. That moment when you complete a challenging sequence!

Yoga Your Heart challenging sequence

Photos by ©rdvyoga.com.

Being it Valentine’s Day weekend, the focus of the retreat was on heart-opening postures and vinyasa sequences. Anna made us practise the following sequence: downward dog – leg up – bend and flip the leg to the floor to Camatkarasana – hand to the floor to Urdhva Dhanurasana.

That last step, placing your hand on the floor to full wheel, involves a major change in the position of the body. It may only look like a small shift in posture, but you have to be willing to open your chest and your heart without fear, and you have to trust yourself enough to know your hand will support you when you will be completely upside down.

On the first and second days of practise, I could not get myself to do it. I did not think my back, my wrists, my arms, my shoulders or my chest could support me. I thought I would break. Something changed on the third day of practise –my body, and my heart, had opened. I completed the sequence.

I was free, and I was happy.

 

Namasté, Anna. And namasté, to the wonderful yogis who joined us in Barcelona.

 

Header photo by ©rdvyoga.com.

 

Yoga Retreat or Yoga holiday

Are you ready to attend a yoga retreat… or a yoga vacation?

So you’ve decided you want to follow your favourite yoga teacher on her latest retreat. Or perhaps you have seen a beautiful ad online with yoga by the Mediterranean Sea, and you can already picture yourself drinking sangria in between chaturangas.

Oh, boy, don’t fool yourself! A yoga retreat might have less of those sangrias by the ocean and more 6am-wake-up-calls-to-meditation than you can imagine! On the other hand, if you are really committed to a very enlightening and demanding yoga practise and you find yourself in the middle of a Spanish fiesta, you might think you have not made a very wise choice.

So how to tell a yoga retreat apart from a yoga vacation before it’s too late? We’ll help you out here:

What is a yoga vacation?

Usually, a yoga vacation features a fun and gentle schedule. The location is generally close to main attractions, and the focus is on having a good time. You will be offered excursions (horse-back riding, snorkeling…) and other sports to complement your yoga (kayaking, surfing…). Food costs may or may not be covered, and there will be at least one yoga (asana) session per day.

It is for you if: A yoga vacation is for you if you expect a restful week and want to indulge in some good fun while doing some yoga as well. Because this combination just feels so good!!

 

What is a yoga retreat?

A yoga retreat often requires much more discipline. Retreats take place in quite austere locations, namely ashrams, retreat centers or educational centers. Food is generally vegetarian, and daily schedule tends to begin at 6am (or earlier!), with not only asana, but also lots of meditation, chanting, and educational talks. Participants are expected to attend all elements of the retreat.

It is for you if: A yoga retreat is for you if you want real and strict immersion, and your aim is to grow personally through your yoga practise instead of enjoying a chill-out holiday.

 

What will you find at Surya Retreats?

At Surya Retreats, we usually offer yoga vacations, and only a few strictly-speaking yoga retreats. However, our yoga retreats always take place in stunning locations and there is usually enough free time to unwind and discover Spain during your trip. We want you to enjoy your yoga while you discover this beautiful country!

Do not hesitate asking us questions –it’s your money, your time, and we know how you value them!  We always provide a sample schedule for you to get an idea, but please make sure you are ok with things like what time you have to wake up in the morning, what style of yoga is taught, the sleeping and bathroom arrangements, the type of food provided and the amount of free time.

We will always tell you everything which we think you might need to know, but please, talk to us! Let us know anything you feel that might influence your experience – it can be anything from your need of free time to your being a vegetarian and wanting to stick to that during your vacation.

And once you have made your decision, book the trip and let it flow! We will make sure you enjoy every second of it, whether you have chosen a quiet and reflective retreat, or a wild, adventurous ride!