I've just returned from a one-week holiday in Portugal - staying in a beautiful house in the mountains in Malveira da Serra, near Sintra, and heading to the beach everyday at Cascais. I'd gotten to the point where I was near a burnout - taking on project after project at work, and also heading to nutrition school in London every other weekend (while living in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands). Between getting school assignments done in the midst of shoots and post-production for work, I could barely keep my head above water (and what social life?!) I needed to get away from everything and REST. But if you know me, you'll know I have a bit of an "itchy backside" and can't sit still for too long. The perfect getaway for me would involve daily yoga classes, and some kind of physical activity, alongside some time during the day for chillaxing. I wanted to keep it fun, and not go on another serious study retreat for yet another yoga teacher training. ;)
That's when I came across the Karma Surf Retreat guys. They organize a whole host of retreats with activities that include daily yoga classes. Packages include surfing and yoga, SUP (stand-up paddle boarding) and yoga, hiking and yoga or mountain biking and yoga. If you're not that into other kinds of sports, you can just take the yoga retreat on its own.
This place was exactly what I needed - this area of Portugal is blessed with having the mountains next to the ocean, so all manner of being close to nature is covered. Every morning starts with a yoga class, followed by breakfast. Then we head to the beach - the surfers to the surfing beach at Guincho, and the SUP'ers to Cascais where the bay provides more calm waters for paddle boarding. After lunch, we'd chill in the afternoon and then have another restorative yoga class in the evening. It was perfect!
The yoga classes were in either the Iyengar or Hatha/ Vinyasa styles. They were taught by an Iyengar-certified teacher Annett Mottlau, and a Hatha teacher, Silvia Stojanovic. Both of whom are avid surfers and SUP'ers too, so the poses we practiced would help the surf and SUP. As a through-and-through Ashtangi (someone who follows the Ashtanga yoga style), it was totally refreshing having daily yoga classes in the Iyengar tradition. For the frame of mind I was in, these yoga classes offered the nurturing support I needed, and the quality of teaching is excellent. All classes were also taught on a beautiful outdoor deck, overlooking the town and beyond, into the ocean.
Breakfasts and lunches on most days are provided for by the retreat - quality vegetarian options, but also with fish and meat options on some days. Dinners are self-catering, and we either all cooked together as a group, went out to town for a treat, or just had something light on our own.
The house in Malveira da Serra can house up to 16 people, but while I was there, there were only about 9 of us - plenty of space to hide or socialise whenever you wanted to. The grounds are big enough where you can always find a hammock to read in various parts of the garden, or by the pool.
I had an amazing time with the Karma Surf guys - Timo and his team run a tight ship. This was just what I needed... A big, fat TIME-OUT!
While on holiday, I got to thinking about how else I can get my work-school-life into better balance... And will now try to put some of these thoughts into action. I know today's post wasn't about food - but I think health and well-being go way beyond just food. It's important to give yourself that time to step away from everything and everyone once in a while, so you can hit the "reset" button and come back refreshed.
And that's just how I feel right now. :)