Sunfoodyoga is a very special experience for those looking to recharge themselves both physically and mentally in beautiful, natural surroundings. Nestled in the breathtaking Andalusian mountains, these retreats are offered for five seven or ten days, and give you the chance to try yoga and meditation outdoors, as well as explore the nutritional and digestive benefits of a raw food diet, all in the glorious Spanish sunshine! May is a fabulous time to visit this part of the world, when the sun is already hot at mid day, but the countryside is still beautifully green and full of flowers. September is also a great time to come when it’s a little cooler and there is a fresh harvest of figs and grapes and other delights to feast upon!
Stretching in the sun
All of the yoga sessions take place in the fresh air under a beautiful red tent, with stunning views of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and is suitable for all ages and abilities. You don’t need to be an expert, just take it at your own pace. This environment is really special. The garden, full of orange trees, roses, bourganvillea, wild flowers and ancient twisted olives, is quite beautiful.
Bojana’s best balancing act!
When I was there the tiny cream starry flowers from the olive tree were continually floating through the air like a kind of celestial snow. Mornings start with a group meditation in the white tent, and I found this an extremely calming and grounding way to begin the day. After a refreshing smoothie – which will be something like spirulina and fresh orange juice – is a yoga session, followed by a delicious breakfast which is a close to a dessert as you are likely to get here! Banana and strawberry pancakes with a chocolate avocado sauce was a particular favourite of mine.
Lunch at 2pm is the main meal of the day, with dinner at 7pm. Meals are social occasions and a good chance to get to know your fellow retreaters. There’s water or hibiscus tea to drink and lots of types of herbal tea available throughout the day. When I was there there was an international mix of German, Dutch, English and Slovokian visitors.This is the kind of place you can easily come to alone, as you are with a small group of like minded people most of the time, and there’s no pressure to join every session if you don’t want to.
Mountain meal time
There is plenty of free time for you to relax in your own rustically charming room, or there are some small houses in the grounds you may use if there are a few of you here together. There’s a lovely swimming pool too, where you can make the most of the fabulous weather with a refreshing dip.
Swing by the pool
On Thursdays there is a local market you can visit in nearby Orgiva, and you can opt in for walk up into the mountains for a picnic on one day. If you have a car, the majestic city of Granada and the world famous Alhambra are only just over an hour’s drive away.
The retreats are run by Tara Esther Kleij who, although actually Dutch, was brought up in India and has 20 years of experience in teaching yoga. The imaginative raw food meals are provided by a trio of chefs – Pam, Sam and Amanda. You can have a go at helping out making the raw chocolate, which tastes incredible by the way, or watch a demonstration on how to make Kimchi – a fermented vegetable dish which is great for helping digestion. All meals are vegan and feature lots of lovely fresh local produce.
Raw food takes takes time to eat and digest so you may well find yourself eating a lot less than you normally would, and a natural raw food diet often provides a very natural solution to weight problems by rebalancing your body and giving it the right amount of nutrition it needs. A western diet, although seemingly abundant, is often made up of a lot of processed foods which are high in fat and sugar, but low in nutrients. There’s also a brilliant session with raw food expert Veronica who is an absolute mine of information, and you can ask anything you want to know about changing your diet to adapt to this way of eating.
A room with a view
You can opt for beauty treatments from Sam or massages from Tara or her husband Inti who are both qualified massage therapists. I had an excellent Shiatsu massage from Inti while I was there, which really helped my shoulder which I’d damaged in an over enthusiastic trip to the gym.
The seven chakras
Sunfoodyoga is a real find and the next retreat is coming up in September – a little bird tells me there are still some places left! Cheaper than any of its UK equivalents (even taking the flight into consideration) this is a fabulous place and gives you a golden opportunity to refresh, review and recharge both your body and mind.