My typical yoga practice involves driving at break-neck speeds to make it to a 45-minute class that I’ve squeezed into my already ridiculously overscheduled day. By the end of the class, I’ve probably just about undone the damage caused by the stress of just getting there. A yoga retreat seemed like the perfect solution to my, well, life really! Five days to focus and breathe. Utter luxury.
WHAT’S ON OFFER A typical day on the Algarve Yoga Holiday begins before sunrise. We gather in silence for the first class of the day in the huge dark studio overlooking the sea and cliffs; in the distance, the first signs of dawn breaking are visible as orange and pinks burst on the horizon. After yoga and relaxation with our instructor, the fantastic Sinéad Mooney (moonsyoga.com), we hit the restaurant and take in stunning sea views while gorging on fresh fruits, eggs, pastries and granola. Full disclosure: I ate 14 pastéis de nata (the divine custard tarts that are a specialty in Portugal) during my five days there. Namast-yay.
The day was ours to explore the surrounding coastline on foot or by bike, go to the beach or lounge by the pool before returning to the lawns in front of the hotel for another yoga session, this time outdoors. The evening class was looser than the morning and a great opportunity to play with poses. Sinéad often led a kind of pose clinic on positions like handstands and splits that would often not be covered in your average class. She gave brilliant guidance as we fell about on the grass laughing, and I surprised myself by doing my first shoulder stand and plough in years.
THE DIGS Home for the five days was the beautiful Hotel Memmo Baleeira. This four-star hotel is perched above the waters of the Algarve and boasts dramatic sea views from every room. The food was delicious; there was a particularly good pizza, which I may or may not have scoffed lying in bed watching terrible TV – holistic heaven.
HOW I GOT ON The immersive aspect of the retreat was a brilliant way to re-engage with something I love to do, but the course was also brilliant for beginners taking their first dive into downward dog. The yoga-to-free-time ratio was just right. Starting early each day meant there was plenty of time to wander around Sagres, which is a beautiful part of the world. The town is pure surfer vibes with a side of hipster, so the coffee was excellent; don’t miss the Laundry Lounge – a café cum laundromat with delicious smoothie bowls and ’gramable interiors.
THE DETAILS TD active Holidays’ five-night yoga escapes start from €799 per person, including flights, transfers, accommodation, meals and twice-daily yoga sessions with the award-winning MOONSyoga. Destinations for 2019 include both Portugal and Croatia, tdactiveholidays.ie.
For more restorative breaks, pick up the January/February issue of IMAGE Magazine, out now.