Bunny Goes Zen – Kaliyoga Yoga Retreat in Spain
Bunny had not done a yoga retreat before. She is not a retreat-kind-of Bunny in the first place. Somehow retreats have always sounded a bit too new age-y and hippy to her liking. She is not one to sit in circles holding hands with strangers and chanting mantras, wasting precious leave days that could be spent in tropical hammocks sipping cocktails instead.
Nevertheless, Bunny is always ready to try new things so she recently enrolled in Mindful Vinyasa Yoga retreat at Kaliyoga in southern Spain. She had concluded, after meticulous online research, that this was, indeed, the best (affordable) yoga retreat in Europe. Only the best for Bunny.
Grounds, Accommodation and Atmosphere
On arrival, Bunny noted the pretty and exclusive, if somewhat rustic, surroundings. She was happy that she had opted for the single use of the twin room, giving her some hard-earned privacy after all the anticipated hand-holding and chanting. The room itself (ominously named Barn) was part of the main building, cozy and clean. Other accommodation options included separate wooden chalets in the garden with nice views and even teepees with outdoor showers if you were so inclined.
For introvert Bunny, it was a relief to note on the first day that all socializing at Kaliyoga was optional. No one spurned her when she established the practice of escaping the other yogis (not that there was anything wrong with them) early on, preferring instead quiet moments in one of the many hammocks in the garden, or the relative coolness of her own room in the oppressive August heat.
The yoga itself was luscious! The open-air yoga pavilion had a gorgeous view of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Bunny couldn’t have imagined a more tranquil environment for bending her stiff limbs and bones into weird positions. She had dabbled in some moderate yoga before the retreat but she was by no means a serious yogi. The group of 15 people (only one man) consisted mostly of other beginners and that suited Bunny just fine. During the week, the gentle Vinyasa yoga got progressively more demanding, but never strenuous.
Yoga with a view!
The first yoga class started before breakfast, but at a merciful 9am instead of some ungodly hour at dawn, and lasted for two hours. Breakfast, snoozing in the hammock, optional treatments, lunch, pool time and more snoozing followed. The second yoga class started at 6.30pm (later than usual due to heat), lasted for 1,5 hours and was usually gentler than the morning practice. Both classes ended in a sweet relaxation exercise that may or may not have put Bunny to sleep on her yoga mat on a number of occasions. To her defense, at least she didn't snore like one of the other yogis...
The last yoga class on the final day was special. The work was done mostly in pairs, which is not usually to Bunny's liking, but it was great fun. The teacher encouraged everyone to bring their smart phones to capture on camera some of the crazy poses rehearsed earlier. The best part was, of course, updating your social media accounts with the impressive pictures afterwards. And no, Bunny was not able to do a proper headstand but she bloody well tried!
Food at Kaliyoga
The food at Kaliyoga was absolutely delicious, fresh, healthy, imaginative and tasty (a lot of beetroot was used for some reason). Bunny had chosen the retreat partly because the vegetarian food was reportedly very good. After a week of scrumptious meals she simply had to nod in agreement.
Breakfast varied from day to day but it was always fresh and tasty.
Food was one of Bunny's highlights at Kaliyoga
Lunch was buffet style, with plenty of different salads as well as heartier options for everyone. If you happened to be having a treatment during lunch, the staff put aside a ready-made lunch plate to wait for your return. Bunny actually preferred this option as she tended to over-indulge when left to her own devices at the buffet.
Three-course dinners were served at the table outdoors at sunset. Although Bunny first thought the portions were on the small side, she quickly got used to having lighter dinners, particularly as they were so delicious.
Various treatments ranging from traditional massages to foot reading and music therapy were offered daily for reasonable prices. Bunny pampered herself with a couple of massages during the week. She also decided to try something new and had a session with a magnetic healer who basically (in Bunny’s interpretation anyway) advised her to quit her job and start enjoying life instead. Hmmm.
Wednesday afternoon was free from yoga and reserved for optional activities. Bunny chose the raw food course - one can never learn too many ways to prepare carrots, right? The course itself was a bit of a hit and miss (Bunny didn't learn anything new) but it was fun participating in the food preparation. It was also cool to get to have a look at the impressive food storage at the Kaliyoga kitchen. If only Bunny had a bigger fridge at home!
Many other yogis used the opportunity on Wednesday to leave the retreat for a waterfall hike, horse-back riding or shopping at a nearby town of Orgiva. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed their excursions but Bunny was happy to cocoon at Kaliyoga the whole week. By the third day of the retreat, she was already in a state of uber bliss, totally Zen and whatnot else.
Doing yoga to the tune of a million cicadas twice a day nicely complemented with hammock time, healthy food, massages and relaxation was just what she had been after. She may even have meditated a bit.
Peaceful scenes at Kaliyoga Spain
Bunny’s Tips for Kaliyoga
- No need to bring your own snacks. Drinks and fruit were available at any time for those who got peckish between meals. Depending on the time of your visit, you are also free to enjoy the spoils of the fruit garden. Bunny was lucky enough to snack on grapes and delicious figs directly from the trees!
- Try to wean yourself from coffee before the retreat as no coffee will be available at Kaliyoga. Many yogis on Bunny’s retreat were suffering from headaches as a result. Green tea was available and used as emergency assistance by those wrestling with the caffeine monster.
- Kaliyoga is an alcohol-free retreat. Do not try to sneak in your own bottle. If Bunny managed a week without booze, so can you. And the non-alcoholic cocktails served before dinner every night were actually very good.
- There is no television at Kaliyoga. Try to disconnect from the real world by not reading the news or using the available Wi-Fi for excessive surfing either. (Bunny didn’t follow her own advice on this one.)
- No need for fancy clothes. Most yogis came to dinner directly from the yoga class in their sweatpants. Others wore dresses but nobody cared either way. This is not yoga for the Kardashians.
- Just go! There’s no hand-holding to worry about. Thankfully, the chanting is also kept at minimum.
You don’t need to be a yoga freak to enjoy Kaliyoga. Bunny is, at best, an up and coming yogi and she had a wonderful time. Nice facilities, excellent food, great yoga sessions and extras for those who need them, make Kaliyoga a pretty darn good choice.