Viewing entries tagged
holiday

Barcelona you have never seen

Comment

Barcelona you have never seen

Why Barcelona?

Because this wee city is a true marvel on the Mediterranean Sea.

It is quirky, cosmopolitan, cool and with great character!

Barcelona has got it all: the unearthing gothic streets and the charm of the modernist city. You simply need to come to discover what makes Barcelona one of Spain’s most livable and energetic cities and one of the most interesting cities in the whole Europe.

When I put together my Urban Yoga Adventure, many clients came back to me asking why of all the places available I have decided to go there.

In fact, apart of Scotland, Barcelona is my favourite place of all times. I love those colourful little stone streets, the beaches, the sun, the hidden roof top terraces. The flight is so quick and the airport so close to the city, it's the perfect spot for a long weekend. And if you have as good accommodation as we have for the retreat, it's close anywhere and you don't have to worry about being tired in the city. You just won't!

But seriously, why Barcelona?

After I go though the first set of 'why' questions, I normally get: 'I have been there already, what's the point of going to Barcelona again.’ 

Let’s face it, in a city as popular as Barcelona, it can be tricky finding a new hang out that not everyone has already heard about. Fortunately, there are a lot of places which aren’t on all the guide-books…yet! Read on to discover some of the coolest hidden gems in Barcelona, or just come and spend 4 days with us betwern 9-12 February 2018.

Did you know that there is a hidden bar inside already hidden bar?

Yes! And it’s called El Paradiso. This stylish speakeasy is hidden away behind the cover of a trendy Pastrami Bar in the heart of El Born. Simply give a knowing look to the person behind the counter and they’ll let you in through to the back when the time is right.

Pastrami Bar is pretty much what it sounds like. It isn't much, but it's excellent and be assured that you are getting the only and the best artisan pastrami in town. However, If you open the wooden fridge door, which takes up half a wall and gives itself away a bit thanks to its hinges, you'll be transported into El Paradiso – a speakeasy that's not just any cocktail bar. This is an elegant cave lined with wooden slats where Giacomo Gianotti was awarded best cocktail mixologist in Spain in 2014. But don't worry, their aim is to serve great signature cocktails at affordable prices.

There is more tho… just head to the loo. It’s a bit of a fiddle to find it but there is another hidden door behind the mirror! Behind it you can find the inner, inner sanctum: the Carrollian lair. Are you excited?

It’s teeny — just a single, soundproofed room — but as inviting and artfully furnished as the rest of El Paradiso, with tall stools, a gleaming copper finish and a hipster barman. This is coolest spot within the coolest spot in town.

Have I got your attention now? Good, there is more too come. Stay tunned!

Comment

Why yoga retreats are so god damn amazing

Comment

Why yoga retreats are so god damn amazing

Does this ring a bell: 'I’ve been exhausted lately’, 'I’ve been just hanging in there riding the avalanche of my to-do list, running from one place to another and feeling constantly behind in a state of near overwhelm’? 

Then you say ‘no, I can not take time off’ and finally... ‘I will be fine’. 

You probably will be fine as each of you is strong and limitless in your actions. However, sometimes you just need a little help and encouragement to move past the annoying little slumps and simply recharge.

What if I told you that you actually CAN take time off. That your job is still going to be there when you come back. That your parents can take the kids for the weekend. That you have just spent £££ on sales, even more on make up, coffees and you purchased items not experiences or real rest.

So, in a moment of deep realisation you go ahead and book yourself into a yoga retreat...

Holy healthiness, peace and serenity here you come! Doesn’t this feel amazing?

Then you arrived to Barcelona and it’s warm and bright! Actual sunshine not just permanent gayness. Then you see our beautiful accommodation - specious, bright and full of natural warmth. Suddeny, everything feels so much lighter. Your body feels lighter.

You are greeted with a big bowl of yummy amazingness followed buy a restorative yoga making all the aches and pains go away! You go to bed with a happy belly and excited for the weekend ahead.

This is just the start. The next day you wake up naturally to a bright Spanish light, the smell of coffee and yoga! Yes morning yoga is not such a bad thing. It wakes you up slowly, and gets you moving in a way you have never thought is possible. Then you eat more yumminess and go exploring the city! And you know the day is going to be amazing as there is nothing better than more food, yoga, relaxation and a fun group of like-minded people. 

Finally, when you almost don’t remember any of the stress or tiredness that was present everyday for the past million years - you realise that the best is still to come - the Ancient Thermal Baths experience!

Oh my goodness, is it even possible to feel so relaxed? Yeah it really is! At the heart of Barcelona, there is a place where time does not exist. An old warehouse built at the end of the XVII century, turned into a temple to disconnect your mind and body from the surrounding reality. This is a space full of magic in which history and water provide you with a unique total relaxation experience.  A journey through sensations, by candlelight, smell of herbs and water, that consists of a tour at your own pace through the different baths at different temperatures.

C’mon! This could not get any better! So, get ready to start an unforgettable journey.

And this is why yoga retreats are so God damn amazing!

I, personally, always feel so filled-up, loved-up and restored afterwards. It doesn’t take that much to slowly shift back into feeling whole and good again but we rarely give ourselves the time and space to do it. 

Retreats are ALL about giving back to yourself. They’re all about honoring your needs and desires and creating the space where you can achieve that. 

Our retreat runs between 9-12 February and we have one more twin room and a single room left. Join us!

Comment

summer yoga retreat - connect to your strength

Comment

summer yoga retreat - connect to your strength

Yoga retreats are truly magical and each offers unique experience. You can’t compare them to normal holidays or gateways. The first retreat I’ve ever attended was a decade ago when I thought I may as well go as the price was just the same as going for a long weekend and having to eat out every day and stay at impersonal, soulless hotels. I couldn’t have been more wrong about what a yoga retreat is about though. In my head I assumed it will be a wee bit creepy, way too much yoga (I was a complete beginner back then), I will never cope and people will make me sit in lotus and meditate for hours without food. I will feel alone, won’t know anyone and no-one will even speak to me as I can’t rock a wheel, handstand and the most mortifying: my heels don’t touch the ground in a down facing dog. Clearly, I was a little bit dramatic back then.
 
First of all, you don´t have to be a superstar yogi to go on a yoga retreat. The feeling that you´re not advanced enough, not flexible enough, not skinny enough to go on a yoga retreat is a common theme that often prevents people from signing up or even coming to a yoga class in the first place. It’s that type of negative and destructive self-talk we do every day that yoga or yoga retreats try to challenge. 
 
From the moment you step into your yoga retreat house you feel welcomed, you feel important like everyone has been waiting just for you. Even though there are 10 other participants, you know that you matter. Every day you wake up before the alarm as your mind can finally relax and slow down and waking up isn’t a major challenge. Yes, you do yoga, but this type of yoga is completely different to the one you experience at your yoga studio. You can do more, you are stronger, and you are more tuned to what feels right and what doesn’t. In fact anyone can harvest the benefits of practicing yoga everyday in the most perfect environment - you just can´t go wrong with that – nature, sunshine, delicious healthy food, being away from the stresses and strains of modern life. Of course it all seems to be easier! You finally don’t judge yourself for not being able to touch your toes. You are just happy where you’re at now.
 
The small group classes on retreats offer a personalised approach to yoga, where everyone´s individual needs can be taken into account, making it a truly holistic experience. When you lie in savasana (your final relaxation or sleep time as my students call it) you know you have done something absolutely amazing, you feel proud of all the incredible things you can do and adventurous about everything you are still to conquer. Sometimes you can feel your own heartbeat and that makes your entire nervous system shiver, it feels just amazing!
 
Through the day you eat delicious food, connect with other like-minded people who may be there for similar reasons. All of a sudden you realize that people are more connected than you think, they may carry similar baggage or experiences and the bond you create may sometimes last way beyond the retreat itself. Yoga retreats offer a unique opportunity to find that connection with yourself that everybody talks about these days. It all happens in a special way, and creeps up on you unexpected. Sometimes it's in that heart beating savansana moment or quite often after you are back at home when you realize you breathe more and you don’t get as anxious as before. You connect with other people while sharing mealtimes, adventures and creating a sense of community that may be missing in our busy city lives.  
 
Each retreat is carefully designed, from finding the most convenient location to food you are consuming. You can always expect being able to do things that nourish your mind and the body like long baths or quiet ‘me time’, or loud and cheery wine testing. These days you can travel anywhere in the world, sink into faraway lands? and swear you will never get as stresses out as before. Three months later, you can barely remember where you went. When you take a trip that involves working on you as a person, listening to your own body’s needs and routines rather than stuffing yourself with food you don’t really need, activities that don’t help you relax, abusing alcohol, you then realize what I mean when I say 'magical experience'. That’s when you see that things start to shift. You don’t come back and feel more tired than before your holiday. You come back with tools, techniques or routines that you are more likely to continue to apply at home. Those techniques preserve that shift and help you tap into that state of relaxation and strength during your life back at home. You suddenly remember every day of the yoga retreat you attended and you love it.
 
My summer yoga retreat in Poland is based at the heart of the Warmia, the most peaceful and stunning part of Poland. It reminds me a little bit of the Lake District in England but it is more sunny. We are staying at Kwaśne Jabłko (that translates as 'sour apple’:) which is a stunning farmhouse. Those who came to my Highland retreat know I really like the ‘rustic’ look where you feel at home from the moment you enter the house and you aren’t afraid to touch anything in fear of breaking it. It's got a very modern twist, which makes it feel bright and inspiring. The house is surrounded by apple trees, fields and a wee lake. You can rest under an apple tree in a hammock or set yourself for a wee adventure to discover the beauty of the local area. 
 
They even produce their own cider, which we are going to try on one of the evenings! Interestingly, in May 2015 their products were even very 'highly recommended' by the jury of the British Cider Championship.
 
It is the most perfect place to relax, let go of fear, remove blocks that you've been building through your life and connect to your strength. This connection will be the main theme of the retreat. So, don't wait.
 
You will get yoga every day (and yes, if you want to sleep in it’s fine to do so!). We will organize shared transport from and to Warsaw airport, which makes it so much easier. We will use essential oils to enhance your yoga practice, luxurious shared accommodation will also be offered. You will try fabulous, home cooked food. This includes homemade bread in the mornings! We have a Spa Day where we are going to soak our bodies and souls in warm outdoor baths. There are bikes there that you can use if you want to explore the local area. Finally, we are also going to indulge ourselves in an evening with their homemade cider.
 
Since my first yoga retreat, I have had a few ‘normal’ holidays, weather it was surfing, or volunteering or just travelling across a part of the world I have never seen. But to me nothing matches the experience that a yoga retreat can give you.

To book visit the retreat section of this website.

Comment

Lanzarote  - the volcanic beauty

Comment

Lanzarote - the volcanic beauty

Now that the fascination with Gran Canaria and Tenerife is slowly calming down, Lanzarote is turning into a rather upmarket destination. It is one of those lands that you either hate or love. It's tiny and it literally takes 45min to 1h to drive from the north to the south parts of the island, even less from east to west. Interestingly, it's also almost completely covered in volcanic rock - basalt. You can drive for miles seeing only black rock, wondering if it really was our beloved mother nature or someone just did that with a digger. The heart of the area affected by volcanic eruptions in the 1700’s is now the Lanzarote’s Timanfaya National Park and it is one of the most stunning and at the same time disturbing views I have ever seen. Looking at all the cooled lava makes your really respect the power of nature. The volcanic activity changed the face of the island completely, adding to its size and leaving whole areas of black rock known as 'badlands' where green vines sprout from black lava.

Oddly, despite it being full of volcanos, it actually is the least mountainous of all the Canary Islands. The relatively flat terrain of Lanzarote helps to make the island stand out and makes exploring particularly easy. Whereever you are you either see the volcanoes or silhouettes of three smallest islands around Lanzarote: Alegranza, Montana and Clara or the other Canarian beauty: Furtaventura. Occasionally it gets really mysterious and the landscape is blurred by the dust which literally stains everything: houses, cars, even cats. It comes from the Sahara desert and mostly brings a lot of really hot air that makes even me look for shade. 

With its beautiful beaches, year-round sunshine, parched earth and clean villages, this enchanting island attracts tourists and especially surfers from around the world. The north of the island is relatively windy so if you are thinking about a beach holiday I would probably suggest heading to the south or going to Gran Canaria. Surfing on other hand is fabulous. There are many parts of the north great for water sports, however the most famous one is called Famara Beach. Long strip of sandy beach and ever-present waves make it the surfer’s heaven. During the day it's full of surfing students however they normally opt for the smaller baby waves closer to the shore so if you are good at this you can go as wild as you want. It’s also very safe, just imagine how many life guards you have around you!

It’s definitely not a party island such as Gran Canaria, Majorca or Ibiza. You can see that the moment you step off the plane and figure out the average demography. Don't get me wrong, I bet you can party until you drop. Puerto del Carmen is definitely the naughty corner and Famara Beach is known for weed, but in general it's a very quiet place. All activity and nightlife mostly happens within the grounds of the big hotels. 

When I visited Gran Canaria a few years back I was overwhelmed by the amount of kitty cats populating the island and gathering in central locations in the evenings to supervise their dominium. It literally felt like we are the pets and they are the masters. Every evening we went out to find crowds of cats just looking at us. Some of them looked heathy, some didn’t but they still sat there observing. As the cats were mostly neglected, the hotel staff weren’t too keen to let the cats in or even feed them in fear they will keep coming back. We saw acts of cruelty and love and the whole view was just distressing. Lanzarote stroke me with it's love for animals. At our hotel staff had created a feeding space where the cats can have their meals, all of them were clean, warmed and some of them were neutered. They knew what they can and can’t do and all the non-cat lovers had to just suck it all up as the cats were part of the furniture (sometimes literally). We also discovered two non for profit organisations/simply amazing people: Freddy's Cat House and  and 9 Lives. Freddy is particularly incredible as he is just one man building little cat houses, feeding and taking care of cats around Playa de Blanca. They installed a bunch of cat feeding stations around the whole island, making sure that the animals are well fed and safe. Kept the cats healthy and controlled their reproduction. Cats seemed really happy, they were still running the island but the cruelty visible in Gran Canaria wasn’t present. 

If you want to rest and relax on your beach towel - go to the south. If you want to surf, do paddle boarding and other water sports - north is your place. If you want to be less active but have some social life go to Puerto del Carmen. Cycling is another fabulous activity perfect for warm and sunny winter days in Lanzarote. If you are really serious about active holidays or want to train towards a marathon, triathlon or other, Lanzarote offers you one of the best purpose built sport and active holiday resort in the world: Club La Santa. They have over 30 different sports and free group instruction. As for surfing, Lava Flow Surf has been the most effective school I have trained with. They helped me progress and move beyond my stuck point without putting pressure on achievements. They know when you are ready and they give you something new to work on.

Just as all Spanish food, Lanzarote’s cuisine is fantastic. They are very proud of their potatoes so maybe try them to know what they are talking about. You can literally go to the Canaries any time of year and have good weather. Sure, it gets windy and storms aren’t totally unknown, but most of the time it is sunny with an average temperature of 22C. Even when the islands are at their hottest, in July and August, the temperature is usually only in the mid-twenties. Whenever you go, it is nearly always warm enough to swim and sunbathe. With only 4.30h flight, short hotel transfer and year round sunshine, Lanzarote really is an amazing place to recharge your batteries without being overwhelmed, bored or exhausted from sightseeing. If by any chance you feel that you have had enough, from Playa Blanca take a ferry to Furtaventura and try surfing, paddle boarding or just be a tourist over there (it’s only 7 miles away). We are already plotting a surfing and yoga retreat in 2018 so stay tuned.

Comment