Anyone that knows me will know that I am 95385935x more likely to go for extra fries than exercise. I don’t exercise – my arteries and cellulite will attest to that – and I don’t really eat healthily (blueberries on top of pancakes totally count as 1 of my 5 a day, right?) and I am a self confessed psychopath Stressy Sally so embarking on a retreat consisting of a lot of yoga, a lot of mediation, nothing but extremely healthy food, no alcohol and caffeine – NO YOU ALMOST HAD A HEART ATTACK AT THE THOUGHT OF NO COFFEE! – and lots of time to chill and “be at one with myself” was basically not something that I was ever going to say yes to was it?
Until, well, it just was.
You see, I started February going through a bit of a rough patch/quarter life crisis and to be honest, whilst yes it made me feel all of the goddamn feels that I did not want to feel, it also made me reassess everything. It made me make decisions I didn’t really want to make, it made me put myself first, it made me push myself out of my comfort zone. It made me take control of my life rather than forever choosing Option c (which fyi, is avoiding the issue and dilly dallying your way through life).
It made me just say yes. Yes to things that were scary and yes to things that I might not even like or enjoy, but it made me say yes.
*I when I say history, I actually mean a life changing 4 days.
Kaliyoga is set in the heart of Orgiva, Spain which is around an hour and a half’s drive from Malaga airport. There are so many reasons why the retreat is one of the most magical places I’ve stayed but the location and backdrop is most definitely up there in my top 3. Surrounded by the Sierra Nevada mountains, beautiful blossom (they obvs knew I was coming #doitforthegram) the retreat is genuinely drop dead gorgeous. Like, give Ryan Gosling a run for his money, gorgeous.
Founded by Rosie and Jonji Miles, two of the most inspirational people and wonderful souls I have ever met, the 4 day retreat we embarked on consisted of the following;
Daily Vinyasa Yoga and meditation classes
A hike in the breathtakingly beautiful mountains
Macrobiotic Ayurvedic Food (the vast majority being gluten, wheat, sugar, dairy and alcohol free – I have coeliac disease and there was only 1 or 2 things I couldn’t have on the whole trip)
A raw chocolate/fermentation workshop
One holistic therapy (You can choose from Reflexology, Thai or a deep tissue massage).
Honestly, without sounding like a tree hugging hippie – not that there’s anything wrong with that because my god you are all so cool – but the trip really was life changing and I feel like because everything was so incredible, I need to break it down into a list of my top 5 reasons why I loved it and why I honestly couldn’t recommend booking in immediately, enough.
1. Daily Yoga and Meditation Classes – True story, a few years ago I tried hypnotherapy for severe insomnia and the hypnotist – who was world renowned fyi said I was one of the hardest people to “put under” because I have such an active mind. LOL. (You know that lol is the kinda laugh where you laugh because if you don’t you’ll just cry).
Anyway, I struggle deeply to switch off. In massages I’m thinking about what I fancy for lunch or that email that I forgot to send. In quiet moments I’m concocting hilarious messages to send to Ally. You get the gist. So when I knew I’d be partaking in 1.5/2hr yoga and meditation sessions, I was genuinely worried. Worried that I wouldn’t switch off and then Jesus christ 2hours is a long time to be overthinking your entire existence. Worried that everyone else would be connecting while I’m like lol but tonight’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy is where Derek and Meredith write the frickin post it note.
I didn’t need to worry. Our instructor Lelly, was absolutely incredible. She is the first instructor that I felt like I’ve ever really connected with, like she wasn’t judging me and like she was just here to help. We were all doing it together, with no one better than anyone else (I mean, I put myself at the back because this wasn’t actually the case but I didn’t feel like my moves were sacrilege to Downward dogs even though they definitely were). All I can say is that every time, those hours just flew by, every session I could feel myself challenging myself further and genuinely wanting to get better. Our morning yoga left me feeling so ready for the day and our evening yoga made me almost want to skip dinner and go straight to chill and sleep… it really was just incredible.
And. AND. I did meditation and was so relaxed that I fell asleep at some points. UP YOURS OVERACTIVE MIND, I WON!
2. The Retreat itself – We all know that a picture speaks a thousand words but in some cases no photos and no words can quite do justice to something so beautiful and this is the case with the Kaliyoga retreat. One of the most peaceful, zen, truly stunning landscapes I’ve ever set eyes on, my favourite thing was just taking a few minutes to wander off by myself and stare at it. A bit like builders when a blonde walks past but without the creepiness.
3. The Food – During the trip we had the absolute pleasure of spending lots of time with Nutritionist and Superfood expert Becs who not only had the clearest most insanely amazing skin I’ve ever seen, but she also gave us an incredibly insightful nutrition workshop which I actually enjoyed so much (I know, enjoys something foodie that doesn’t involve pizza or burgers, who the hell knew?). The food on the trip was probably one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises for me. We went Alcohol/Sugar/Meat free and I hand on heart absolutely loved everything we ate. The chefs at Kaliyoga are not only the most creative beings alive but so much thought goes into each dish that there’s honestly so much flavour that you struggle to believe it’s so healthy. I came away from the trip A) not missing meat at all which for the girl who’s middle name might as well be Nandos, was a massive shock. B) Desperate to recreate everything we ate and C) full of energy and finally feeling light and clean and not like a sluggish potato (forever the sexiest human on earth).
FYI – Kaliyoga have their own cookbook and if there is one book/thing you buy this month, make it this. I promise you won’t regret it.
4. The Therapies – I spoke more about the Sound therapy we had with Kim in my Youtube video but in short, this part of the trip was 100% the most eye opening for me. It’s quite difficult to put into words how I felt during the session but if you imagine that every person in the room was crying at one point (in a positive way), you felt like Kim reached right into your soul and knew everything about you just with a single look, and then in one sentence she managed to sum up entirely how I’d been feeling for the last few weeks/potentially over many years.
She was absolutely wonderful. The therapy was life changing. And honestly? I’d go back just for this alone.
I also had the most amazing reflexology session with the wonderful Anna and I’m going to be completely honest.. I was last to put my name down so I missed out on the deep tissue massage and was a bit gutted that I had because omg massage me always. But, Anna was a total genius and reflexology is now something that I am the biggest advocate for and have also incorporated into my life. I fell asleep at one point (this has never happened in a massage) and felt completely refreshed afterwards.
BRB whilst I work out how to smuggle Kim and Anna back to the UK with me.
5. Discovering myself away from the internet – I think when you live your life on/for the internet, sometimes your actual life and your internet life blend into one a bit too much. I for one, am the world’s worst at finding a work/life balance and it’s something that’s really affected my physical and mental health in the past year or so. Taking myself away to the retreat – which would usually be more of a digital detox but obviously us bloggers were getting content so we could tell you all about it – and having much more of a digital detox than usual really made me reassess the way I’ve been living and the way I feel about myself. I’m a perfectionist and ever since taking this blog full time, I’ve never had a day off and never taken time out to appreciate everything I’ve achieved – still haven’t got the McDonalds black card yet but I’m working on it – I learnt that whilst it’s fine to consistently be the class clown and the joker of the group, it’s important to not hide behind it, to take that mask and guard down at times and let yourself be vulnerable because actually, I would rather take a risk and wear my heart on my sleeve and risk getting hurt than never truly opening myself up to feel all of the amazing things I could be feeling.
I learnt that my life going forward will prioritise me, my family, my travels, my best friends… people that truly deserve my time and love. I work to live now and not live to work and this has honestly changed the game for me.
So thank you Kaliyoga for not only giving me the most amount LOL’s I’ve had in ages – pretty sure couples yoga with my main gal Hayley will be burned in everyone’s brain forever – for not only making me realise that I do enjoy healthy food and I don’t need coffee all day long but also that I am actually OK at yoga and when I put my mind to it, I can meditate and switch off. Thank you for giving me an experience that will stick with me forever, I already can’t wait to return.
And PS sorry for completely butchering Downward Dogs more than they’ve ever been butchered before. God loves a trier though right?
I’d love to know if you guys have ever been to a Yoga retreat before? Have you heard of Kaliyoga, is it something you’d consider booking? And if you do, I’m coming with you in your suitcase yeah?
Costs: £995(Sharing a twin Mulberry room/for single occupancy teepee glamping),£1,250(Room with shared bathroom),£1,300(Single occupancy En-suite room).