East meets West in a trip around the Algarve for Yogi balance.
Slightly off the beaten track is where you would expect to find a yoga retreat, but they are a lot closer than you might think.
After a good six months that most of us would like to forget, I thought this would be the perfect time to go in search of some peace and balance. Domestic travel is the only option that we can count on right now, so I jumped in my car to check out a few well-reviewed destinations here in the Algarve.
Starting in the West, I stayed at what is probably the oldest retreat around, Moinhos Velhos, just below the Barragem da Bravura near Odiáxere.
Founded by a Norwegian couple Frank Jensen and Anne-Karine Moss around 20 years ago, it is currently under the stewardship of Frank’s widow Janni Jensen.
I signed up for a one-week Juice Fasting Detox and Yoga Retreat. This is one of Moinhos Velhos’ most popular retreats and what they are best known for internationally.
The accommodation is very comfortable, light and airy and comes with organic toiletries, a Clysmatic colon cleansing system and Neti pot in the bathroom, and a welcome booklet to explain everything that I would be taking during my stay.
Every morning at 8am, Yoga takes place in the Temple with one of the full-time retreat facilitators. Fully stretched and feeling good after the Yoga, we headed up to the main building for our first juice. What lay before us was more than just fresh orange juice. There was a mason jar with Bentonite Clay and water in it, a shot of Psyllium Husks, a little pot with a concoction of supplements such as Pancreatin, Niacin, Spirulina and their founders’ own Co-tons (a colon cleansing tablet). Three juices (made freshly from organic produce, often from the land or green-house) and an evening broth were more than enough.
There was plenty of free time to enjoy the saltwater pool, for naps, reading or for one of the holistic and massage treatments available.
Onsite Yoga Teachers, an Acupuncturist, Nutritionist and Juicing experts make up the altogether lovely team.
The accommodation was charming, spotlessly clean and I slept like a baby. Moinhos Velhos run retreats all year, so check their site for the full programme.
Heading to central Algarve, I visited the lovely Alamos Retreat near Guia. This adult-only relaxation haven is available on a daily basis for Yoga, and organic and local healthy food is always on the menu.
They also host a variety of retreat options such as the upcoming “Burnout Prevention and Stress Management Programme by Conceição Espada” that will take place between September 24 and 27.
Conceição Espada is very well known in Portugal and will deliver a retreat with Chi Kung, Meditation and Conscious Breathing. A menu that encourages the release of toxins, along with show-cooking and examining the relationship between stress and food; Recorded relaxation; Creative meditation; Walking / Walking Meditation; Conscious Breathing and Tibetan Bowls Sound Session.
Guests are always welcome to book a Half Board Yoga Retreat for any number of days. Multiple instructors, including antigravity Yoga and Vinyasa Flow, a Healthy Breakfast, Vegetarian Dinner, two Yoga Classes per day and one Ayurvedic Massage.
Next on my little trip across the Algarve is Wild View Retreat in the eastern mountain village of Corgas Bravas, north of São Brás de Alportel.
Defined by its spectacular uninterrupted 360° views of the Serra do Caldeirão mountains, offering total tranquillity and a range of accommodation options from double or triple rooms to Yurts and Safari Tents. They run weekly retreats from March until October, focusing on Nutrition and Juicing or Yoga and Vegetarian Food.
The Yoga and Vegetarian Food retreat includes seven nights’ accommodation, three delicious vegetarian meals a day, nutrition talks with nutritional therapists, two yoga classes a day, guided walks, light fitness classes and plenty of time for relaxation. The next available week here is on October 3.
Depending on your specific requirement, each of these retreats offers a great range of options, from a full, deep detox to a relaxing head-clearing break. All of the accommodations are adult-only and comfortable, although Alamos is more luxurious and easier to reach.
I went alone, but some of the participants came along with family members or friends. Either way, you’re bound to feel lighter both physically and mentally after a short break away from the daily grind.
Moinhos Velhos has kindly offered our readers a 15% discount until the end of 2020 – quote “MoinhosVelhos15” to get the deal and feel like a new, improved you.
By Sarah Young