Travel Talk

Feeling at a crossroads and need some time for yourself? Maybe you’re looking for a holiday that’s more than just a vacation? Even if you’ve never done anything like this before, it could be what you need is not another beach destination or a city break. Perhaps what you need is a retreat.

Kaliyoga RetreatsOn a retreat, you go on a very different kind of journey – one inside yourself. And, if you go with Kaliyoga, you’re likely to stretch yourself quite a bit physically, too, because while Tashi, their funny, wise yoga teacher, will nurture you, she’ll also be teaching you for up to four hours a day.

Never done yoga before? No problem. No one to go with? Almost everyone on my course was a single traveller. Need to get away to get a different perspective and time to think? Now you’re talking. One woman on my course had just retired and was taking a whole month at Kaliyoga to decide just how her new life was going to pan out.

My course was in Italy in Puglia (there’s another Kaliyoga in Spain) in a lovely Masseria (farmhouse) that also sprouted several trulli, the iconic conical-roofed houses you find only in this region. My spacious, airy room looked out over rolling countryside (and an awful lot of trulli) towards the nearby hilltop town of Martina Franca. There’s a pool, lovely gardens, lavender and olive trees with hammocks slung between them. Then there are the animals – a couple of donkeys, two (very bouncy) dogs to take for walks and lots of cats and kittens. So you’ll be getting the picture this is not in any way like going to a hotel. Kaliyoga RetreatsYou become instantly part of a community, all eating together round a very relaxed communal table. The people here are multi-talented, too. You may well find the person who serves you breakfast gives you a seriously wonderful massage later that afternoon.

To get back to the table, though – it was a big part of my week because I was doing a retreat that centred not just on yoga but also on raw food. Other weeks, the food is vegetarian, but this week is special. The very open kitchen is run by Alessandra who explains the principles and the techniques of raw food (you can have a class with her too). She produced plenty of surprises: “lasagne” with courgettes as the pasta; cheeses made of nuts; cheesecakes made of dates and cashew nuts. All of them were delicious and I didn’t feel hungry once. The effect is remarkable, making your body more alkaline and delivering a painless, gentle detox. You are cleansed from the inside out.

Kaliyoga RetreatsWhich is also true of the yoga. This is not the kind of yoga you’re going to find down at the local gym. It’s not about your levels of fitness or flexibility or strength (though all of these will improve over the course of the week). As Tashi keeps telling us, it’s about self-discovery: “We humans are problem solvers,” she says, “but we ourselves are not a problem to be solved. We’re fine just the way we are. Yoga doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the simpler it is, the better.”

Kaliyoga RetreatsThat isn’t to say there aren’t challenges. And for everyone, they were different. We were a group of 12, different backgrounds and ages (20s to 70s) and, while Brits made up half the number, there were another five nationalities. It says something for the Kaliyoga environment that such a mixed group gelled so easily, some making friends for life.

And the week isn’t only about yoga. There are some great treatments available – massages of all kinds – trips to the seaside, bike rides, walks (with or without the dogs).  And, of course, you can simply lie by the pool or, my favourite, in a hammock, surrounded by the scent of lavender and the humming of bees.

So, if you’re looking to recharge your batteries, take some time for yourself – or even, just to learn yoga – look no further. This week could give you a whole new outlook and it’s guaranteed to deliver a surge of energy.

More information

For a raw food and yoga week, prices start at £945, including all meals, accommodation, yoga and meditation classes, talks, food workshops and a beach trip. Other options include weeks with yoga plus hill walking, cycling, and juicing (only in Spain).

For more information call 020 8123 6946 or visit www.kaliyoga.com

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Anna Selby

Travel writer & author

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