Swimming among the waterlillies in warm, mineral-rich water is a unique and relaxing experience. In October I enjoyed the outdoor water temperature of 27 degrees celcius, before relaxing in the warmer water inside at 32 degrees celcius. While here, I joined a short queue in the pool where underwater jets gently massaged various parts of the body from calf muscles to shoulders. Lake Heviz covers 4.4 hectares and is the largest biologically active, natural peat-mud thermal lake of volcanic origin in the world.
Great priced eco campsite only 1.5 hrs south of Barcelona. Only 20 pounds per night. It's run by a friendly family. Yoga is taught each morning in the flower filled courtyard. Beaches only 12 miles away. A 'get away from it all' holiday with a lot of activities to keep the non-yoga enthusiasts happy too. Castles to explore, beaches to sunbathe on, giant catfish to catch in the river Ebro, hiking in stunning mountains straight out of the front door. The camping facilities are clean and modern in a converted stable. It's only £20 a day too.
It's a Mediterranean mountain ecoretreat only 12 miles from the unspoilt beaches of the Costa Daurada, which has been missed by mass tourism. They run yoga classes each day in the olive groves with stunning mountain scenery.
Camping facilities are in a beautiful converted stable. You can pitch your tent in complete privacy (wild camping) and hiking possibilities are unlimited in the surrounding designated natural park (Serra de Cardo mountains).
The fishing villages are picturesque, the river fishing and kayaking are fun, the beaches and coves are golden and uncrowded, and it's only 20 euros a night. What's not to love?
I reached Nagarjuna Ayurvedic Centre (Kalady, Kochi, Kerala) in a sad state. After working on one of my books and writing several articles for a well known journal, I was physically exhausted and mentally stressed. I had heard and read of the excellent Nagarjuna Ayurvedic Centre and placed myself in their hands.
I was not disappointed. The ambience and the atmosphere were superb. The centre is situated in a beautiful environment at a river bank and very close to nature. The weather was also magnificent.
The ayurvedic team, led by Dr. K. Krishnan Namboodiri, were professionals to the core, warm and caring. They immediately diagnosed my condition and prescribed suitable treatment for my battered body and tired mind. I had several enjoyable sessions and every part of my body received expert attention –my head, legs, shoulders, tummy, etc were oiled and massaged among other things - I felt totally rejuvenated.
I left as a new man – physically and mentally. I resolved to return a year later for more of the same. In comparison to some over-priced Ayurvedic places, the Nagarjuna Ayurvedic Centre in Kalady is eminently affordable. The food is good, hygiene is of very high standard, services very friendly and as for the Ayurvedic treatment, it is in a class of its own. I unhesitatingly recommend Nagarjuna Ayurvedic Centre.
Nagarjuna Ayurvedic Centre LTD.
Okkal Post, Kalady, Kerala, India 683550
Yoga at the level of your choice: one, two or three times a day; stunning natural surroundings; delicious imaginative vegetarian/vegan food; a swimming pool; a nearby river to swim in/canoe down; traditional markets in medieval hilltop villages? Yes, please! La Roane near Toulouse has all this and then some (a treehouse, sauna, massage). Nigel Shamash (your host) is a wonderfully warm and open-hearted man, with much experience of life, and a mad sense of humour. He is a clown and a musician, but like many artists has a quiet reflective side as well.
La Roane is set in 20 acres of peaceful meadow and woodland, away from roads and neighbours. It’s peaceful and secluded with wonderful woodland walks to explore, a paradise for nature lovers. It is Nigel Shamash’s home, and when you stay there it feels as though you are staying with a friend. People (a maximum of eighteen at any time) go there to enjoy the activities of the week’s course, and to spend time in a relaxing environment where there are few rules. If you want, your greatest responsibility is to decide whether or not to eat another peach. Bring your books, your diary, and your computer, or your swimsuit and your running shoes, or none of them. It’s up to you.
La Roane offers one-week yoga retreats/holidays (as well as other holistic-themed weeks) during the summer months. There are three houses, a hundred metres or so from each other, set in a huge meadow and surrounded by woodland, all Nigel’s property. In the grounds are also a tree house, a swimming pool, a sauna, a huge swing in the forest, ping-pong tables, croquet and badminton facilities, and bicycles to borrow. The nearby medieval town of St Antonin has a thriving community, with a lively market on Sundays. The town nestles on the Aveyron river, surrounded by both the spectacular sheer cliffs of the Aveyron gorge and rolling hills of lush green countryside. It is exceptionally charming, and peaceful too. In the heart of the village is the oldest civic building in France, which dates from the 12th century. You can wander through the maze of alleyways and enjoy the patchwork houses which bear witness to centuries of life. Coffee and croissants are never far away.
Each yoga course is run by a carefully-chosen and experienced teacher. There’s usually an early-morning session, another before lunch, and one before supper. There’s plenty of equipment – mats, blocks, belts, bolsters etc. The sessions are held in the converted barn; it’s cool and airy with a smooth wood floor and doors on three sides lead to the garden. Your teacher helps you to work at your own level, beginner or expert.
The place is full of flowers, both cultivated and wild. The local wildlife list is long and as well as deer includes jay, hoopoe, nightingale, buzzard, honey buzzard, glow-worm, edible dormouse, rabbit, hare, badger and fox. There are frogs and fish in the pond, and an occasional harmless snake. There are literally hundreds of species of butterfly and moth and zillions of insects, but no mosquitoes!
The pool, always clean, is set in the meadow and surrounded by flower and bushes that attract butterflies. A modern system has done away with the need to add chlorine. There are plenty of sun loungers and you can move them into the shade if you want.
All the bedrooms are comfortable, with rustic décor, not luxurious. But there are enough hangers for your clothes, and towels are provided. There’s a washing machine in each house and washing lines for drying.
Some afternoons, members of the local community arrive to give excellent shiatsu and aromatherapy massages. On Sunday morning you can visit the market in St Antonin, and twice in the week Nigel offers an optional excursion at no extra cost. On these trips you might go for a walk in the local countryside, picnic by and swim in the river, visit a local town for tea or a beer or an ice cream, or a group might go canoeing down the river.
Nigel’s philosophy is that you are on holiday, and if you don’t want to do an activity then you don’t have to do it. But going off to get drunk at a different bar each evening and turning up late for meals every day is not considered acceptable.
The food is exceptionally good! Breakfast (at 09.00h) is a help-yourself affair of seasonal fresh fruit, fresh bread, local cheeses, jams, cereals, yogurts, with an endless supply of tisanes, fresh coffee, tea, rooibush etc. If what you want isn’t there, Nigel will try to get it, or you can bring your own. You eat breakfast wherever you want: in a sunny spot in the garden, or a shady spot if it’s very hot, or inside if it’s raining; with or without others, as you wish.
Lunch and supper are taken on the terrace of the manor house, weather permitting. If it’s wet you eat in the big room of the big house. These two meals are prepared by Enzo, an Italian chef who has lived in the village for 20 years. He describes himself as an artist whose medium is food. All vegetarian, every meal begins with a smooth vegetable soup: turnip, beetroot, a broth with dulse, leek, nettle, courgette... whatever was in the market that morning. The main course will include a grain (rice, couscous, quinoa, barley etc) cooked in an interesting way; a protein (a pulse or two, local cheese, soya, eggs) and plenty of fresh local vegetables exquisitely cooked with herbs from the garden (a courgette/tomato/potato/rosemary bake, or grated carrot with anise) or a vegetable curry. His crepes don’t last long! Pudding at lunch-time is fresh fruit if you want it. In the evening, Enzo makes a desert: tarte aux pommes, chocolate mousse to die for, banana-and-coffee cream, fruit pancakes… You can help yourself to tea, coffee, fruit juice and biscuits throughout the day. Good local wine is served in the evenings.
If you have special dietary requirements Enzo will happily accommodate you: no wheat, no sugar, no dairy, no eggs, no problem!
There’s always enough to eat but you never leave the table feeling too full. Enzo studied food phytology and combines his ingredients with knowledge and intelligence. And what’s more, your plate always looks divine, decorated with herbs and flowers from the garden and blazing with colour. Enzo frequently gets a round of applause at the end of a meal!
The courses are held only in the summer months. Like all of northern Europe, the weather can be unreliable. If you’re lucky, you’ll get long hot summer days and long warm evenings; if not you might get a terrific electric storm or a few cool rainy days. In the summer it’s never cold.
I keep returning to La Roane. Fresh air and nature, peace and quiet, solitude, company, riotous laughter – all these are easy to find. The surrounding countryside is as beautiful as anywhere in the world. Nigel takes great care of his guests. His community is warm and welcoming and in the course of running La Roane he provides many local people with work. There is also always a wonderful new friend to be found and each group has a different flavour, depending on the personalities who come. La Roane is like the best box of chocolates!
phone: 0033 563 68 23 67
nearest town: St Antonin Noble Val
nearest airports: Toulouse, Rodez
nearest station: Caussade
This delightful and reasonably-priced course is a weekend of Lyengar yoga sessions and therapeutic massage tuition, with very experienced teachers.
The atmosphere is one of relaxation and enjoyment, with small group sizes and very friendly hosts. All food is provided, from the delicious healthy vegetarian meals, to the yummy home-baked snacks brought out in the tea and coffee breaks between sessions. Most meals include some home grown produce from the farm's extensive organic vegetable garden!
Accommodation is in simple but comfortable shared rooms (single or double/twin rooms available on request). Book early, as this course is often very popular!
Lower Shaw Farm is a small farm on the outskirts of Swindon - once you arrive at the farm, you'd have no idea you were in Swindon - the surrounding trees make you feel like you could easily be in the middle of nowhere! The farm has been established as a venue for courses and workshops for over 20 years.
I attended the November 08 and March 09 weekends, and the course is repeated again on 3rd-5th July 2009, and 2nd-4th October. It is priced at £120, which includes two nights accommodation, all food, and all yoga and massage sessions.
Lower Shaw Farm, Old Shaw Lane, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN5 5PJ
The nearest train station is Swindon - and it's only 1 hour from London Paddington, and easily reachable for other parts of the country too.
I went to Quinta Mimosa last year and I'll be going again. It really surpassed all my expectations. Its a beautiful part of the country and I could totally unwind. The yoga classes were excellent and there was the added bonus of Pilates classes, which was a first for me. Lovely pool, great food and top tuition. What's not to like?
Fantastic loch-side location for yoga retreats at affordable prices.
Set in the beautiful Trossachs, I've spent many a week in a warm and friendly atmosphere learning yoga, eating delicious vegan food, walking in the Trossachs without having to go through customs!
Prices are suggested as voluntary donations and start at £165 unwaged.
Future dates for yoga are 22 May, 19 June and 17 July for a week.
I have been many times and am still not a Buddhist much to my surprise!
Cant recommend it highly enough. You can also do meditation, photography and hill-walking retreats there amongst others.
Go green-by train to Edinburgh then Stirling. Onward by bus to Balquidder and the least leg- round the loch by minibus-stunning!
Quinta Mimosa, Portugal, 20 min from Faro. A stunning yoga holiday in the beautiful Algarve, Quinta Mimosa is rural Portugal at its best! We would wake up to yoga classes with Bea, then wander down to the orange groves to pick fresh oranges to squeeze before heading off to brunch, where everybody gathered mid morning as the weather hotted up. Then we could swim in one of the two pools; head off to the sea or visit the local market in the lovely town of Loule. This July will be the third time I am visiting this retreat. I loved sitting quietly for meditation by the pool. The yoga sessions are inside a well-equipped studio, which is cool and tranquil; I could only hear the buzzing of the bees as we relaxed at the end of an enjoyable session. Returning from one of the afternoon excursions, there is an expert Pilates class before dinner! This retreat is well thought out, there is time to practice and time to play, it is very reasonable with great food and tuition. Shared accommodation from £430 to single acc £580.
For a real Ashram experience head to the Sivananda Ashram in Kerala. Set in the foothills of the Western Ghats this is a beautiful setting. A Yoga Vacation is about £8 (ish) a day staying in dormitory accommodation, two classical yoga classes a day and two veggie meals. You may get woken up in the night though by the roar of the local lions from across the lake. Some say there are crocodiles in the lake. And you'll have to do a bit of karma yoga - toilet cleaning anyone?
Fly to Trivanadrum airport and then pre-pay for a fab taxi ride to the ashram, hold on to your seat it's a bumpy ride, not a good idea in a rickshaw.
For Ashtanga Yoga devotees you can have a week with John and Lucy Scott (senior Ashtanga Yoga teachers - he has taught Madonna and Sting) as your teachers at their beautiful retreat centre near Nelson for a non-celebrity price of £355 a week, accommodation included. Find a deal on a flight and this is almost affordable.
Nearest airport is Nelson and their retreat is only a 40 min drive through some great scenery.
A yoga retreat on a cocoa plantation, next to a small chocolate factory. Run by a Californian Venezuelan, you can practice yoga and meditation, have a massage, wander through the plantation, swim in the splash pool, and relax watching the humming birds.
Food is excellent and imaginative, while chocolate is not obligatory, but recommended. Outings can be arranged to palm-shaded sandy coves or hot springs.
Just four self contained rooms at a very reasonable all-in price, especially if you make sure to take dollar or euro cash, rather than credit or debit cards to Venezuela.
Formerly known as Hacienda Bukare, PariaShakti is five miles from Rio Caribe, a pretty fishing village you can reach in half an hour by communal taxi or bus from Carupano on the north east coast.
or write to Greta Sanchez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tel: 0058 0426 8196035
or 0058 0294 4163678
Tiny resort on the western coast of the Sinai peninsula, about halfway between Sharm and Cairo (you can fly to either, and then it's a fairly long drive though they will send someone to pick you up).
It is mainly a windsurfing place but they also run yoga courses which are really good, and also cheap - about £400 for a week half-board, including the yoga but excluding flights and drinks. It's a three star place but clean and with nice airy chalets dotted around the grounds, and a beach-front bar. Food is good and plentiful.
The yoga sessions (when I went a few years ago) are held for 1.5 hours every morning and evening in a shady room just off the beach. Mats and other cushions are provided and you can hear the sea as you practise.
The teachers change every couple of weeks so aim to go at a time when a teacher who interests you is going. The one just before I arrived was very meditation/breathing focused apparently (which wouldn't have suited me) but my teacher was fantastic - very position-focused and good at explaining what you were trying to achieve, so you're actively in the pose and not just standing there with your arms out. So make sure you check out which teacher will be there when you want to attend.
I was travelling alone and really enjoyed the social aspect. The yoga class was very small when I stayed (off-peak) and we always went into breakfast or dinner together after class, and met in the bar later. When I was there they let you bring your own booze for the week and store it in the windsurfing bar so you could drink more cheaply too!
I also did their trip up Mount Sinai to watch dawn at the top, and that was a very spiritual experience which fitted in brilliantly with the yoga ethos. It was about £35. They also had a lady doing massages a couple of days.
The windsurfing/yoga resort is part of a larger place which Egyptians use at weekends, so it got much busier and less 'Western' then, which was an interesting thing to be a part of - we got chatting to some young people from Cairo and played cards with them, which was a great night.
Bring lots of books as there isn't a huge amount to do between yoga sessions. You can snorkel (they lend you equipment) or try windsurfing, but it is often quite windy (there's a reason why it's wind-surfing centre) so I mostly read on sun-lounger behind a wind-break.
Fly to Cairo or Sharm-el-sheikh
Forget fashionable yoga retreats, the Surya Thejus Advaitha Yoga Centre is both affordable and authentic, with not a chakra-aligning celebrity in sight.
Tucked away in a serene green corner of Kerala, with forests and the peaceful river Poorna to inspire your inner guru, the centre is in Kalady, a shrine to Adi Sankara, one of India’s foremost philosophers.
The secluded setting feels refreshingly ‘real’ rather than a boutique bolt-hole, with only 3 rooms, each clean and comfortable, and Yoga classes taught by expert teachers.
It was a great place to de-stress and unwind - the teachers were kind and helpful to wobbly beginners, and even my skeptical partner was chanting by the end.
We left feeling several stone lighter, thanks to healthy (but delicious) food served up in the Kerala Vegetarian Canteen, and at around £24 a night, you don’t pay through the teeth for Zen-like calm.
Two of us took a two week tour of the country with a special emphasis on the Buddhist culture. Amazing insights of the religion, met beautiful people and really good hotels. Very good all round. I am hoping to go back to take one of the Ayurveda tours.
I booked as a single lady and was made to feel extremely welcome. The rooms were lovely and the walks a nice gentle pace. The yoga in the mornings was fun and even as a complete beginner I did not feel at all left out.
We were able to pre-book our yoga classes with the excellent Mr. Narayana Kaimal who I would highly recommend. It was done through our agent, Prana Holidays who arranged everything.
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com