You know how sometimes you have one of those days where it’s all rush-rush-rush, busy-busy-busy. Or maybe a whole week like that. Meetings to dash to, emails to remember to send, stuff to pick up or drop off, people to call and to-do list that seems to fill up as quickly as you tick things off. And you just wish you could click your fingers and make it all vanish; that you could magic yourself to somewhere where you could relax, forget all the hustle and bustle and noise, and just get back to being you, being calm and taking a long, deep breath. If I could click my fingers right now, I’d be magicking myself back to Kaliyoga in Spain.
Set amidst olive and fig trees among the spectacular mountains of the Sierra Nevada, Kaliyoga’s breathtaking scenery and secluded location has a traquility and sense of peace that calms and relaxes long before you get anywhere near a yoga mat. Founded in 2002 by husband-and-wife team Jonji and Rosie Miles, Kaliyoga’s retreats are all about relaxing, leaving stress behind and focusing on your wellbeing; physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
Guests can choose to stay in a tipi or casita (small wooden house) in Kaliyoga’s gardens – it’s all part of the experience watching the sun rise over the distant moutains or looking up to see a sky studded with bright stars. I haven’t camped since my teenage years, but I actually loved ‘glamping’ at Kaliyoga and staying in the great outdoors. In the main building, there are two single bedrooms and two double rooms, all with en-suite facilities. Accommodation is simple yet comfortable and cosy – it’s not five-star luxury, but that’s not what you’re here for. Decorated with brightly-coloured soft furnishings and fresh flowers, there’s a cheerfully sunny Spanish feel to the rooms and tipis.
Although Kaliyoga is a yoga retreat, it really is about so much more than just yoga. I was expecting to be staying with a group of die-hard yoga fans all equipped with the latest Lululemon gear, ready to pop into a perfectly poised handstand at any moment. The reality? Aged from 20-ish to 40-ish (and almost all women), it was probably one of the nicest groups of people I’ve had the chance of staying with, and some I’m sure I’ll keep in touch with. Groups are deliberately kept small (a maximum of 15 guests), giving people a chance to get to know each other and have time to chat.
Anyway, back to that yoga. Kaliyoga’s twice-daily dynamic yoga classes are designed to help guests reconnect body and mind, so don’t anticipate strenuous workshops or switching poses every 30 seconds. Experience levels vary widely too, with classes remaining flexible to cater to everyone from complete beginners to devoted yoginis. Morning classes feature free-flowing, Hatha-inspired poses to awaken the body and really stretch things out, while the evening is devoted to more calming Yin yoga, with deep meditative relaxation and a focus on breathing. The yoga shala itself is a light, airy space, with full-length windows overlooking the nearby hills.
So what on earth are you supposed to do when you’re not in downward-facing dog? Absolutely nothing. There’s a swimming pool, so most of us spent our time lounging around chatting or reading. Or lazing the hammock doing nothing more than thinking. There’s no pressure, no rushing about and definitely no to-do lists. The retreat also has a variety of holistic therapists on hand, offering health-focused healing treatments including everything from foot readings (hugely popular, really…) and reflexology to massage and acupuncture.
And while we’re on the subject of health… Two things you won’t find at Kaliyoga: alcohol and caffeine. As someone who knows her local barista by name and equates a chilled glass of rosé with the start of any holiday, I was a little anxious before arriving at the retreat. Yes, I am well aware that I should be able to be more relaxed about a week sans booze and espresso, but I’m busy Londoner who enjoys socialising!
While the retreat is in sunny Espana, you can forget about jamon, tapas or manchego. The menu features Mediterranean-inspired vegetarian (and often) vegan cuisine, all made with organic, locally-sourced produce. And it’s a revelation. I anticipated lots of lettuce leaves and grated carrot, but there’s next to none of that. The food at Kaliyoga actually inspired me to get more creative with my cooking and think about ingredients more carefully. It’s full of flavour and super fresh – from rich roasted vegetables and Middle-Eastern-inspired stews to scented curries and colourful salads. The retreat also offers themed weeks focusing on raw food or detoxing.
Something you should definitely add to your to-do list? Visiting Kaliyoga Spain.
Kaliyoga Spain yoga holidays start from £845/per person inclusive of accommodation, yoga twice daily; all meals; hiking and any other extra activities that may be organised during your stay. Flights / group airport transfers are extra. To book and for more info see the Kaliyoga website. Monarch, the scheduled leisure airline, operates flights to Malaga from Birmingham, East Midlands, London Gatwick, London Luton and Manchester airports with fares, including taxes, starting from £54.99 one way (£133.94 return).