Ibiza is a funny little cookie. It’s a hedonistic getaway on one end of the spectrum and a holistic holiday at the other. It attracts a crowd so diverse that it’s hard to pin-point one specific ‘type of traveller’ the island is suited to – in fact, its probably safe to say Ibiza’s best visitors are those who know how to mix the hedonistic partying side of the island with the holistic relaxed parts too. Life’s all about balance anyway – party a little, relax a little!
But I digress… we recently returned to Ibiza, an island that has shaken every stereotype I had of it and thoroughly impressed me visit after visit and this time was no exception! We returned to try something we’d never really done before – go to a yoga retreat.
At first, I have to admit, I was a bit scared of the idea of a yoga retreat – more specifically Soulshine Yoga Retreats. I discovered earlier in the year that yoga is not quite as easy as I thought it was (it’s easy enough to be fair but I’m lazy:-) ). I was also skeptical about going ‘cold turkey’ on little things I typically enjoy on holidays – a glass of wine in the evening (and afternoons), a long lazy snooze in the afternoons, waking up late, delicious meals… you know, the usual stuff.
As it turns out, I had very little to be worried about because Soulshine retreats are all about balance and about you being happy. Yes, there are early morning yoga sessions but it’s your prerogative as to which sessions you attend or skip. You have several massages and pamper sessions! You can have wine/beers whenever you want, you can head down to the clubs for a late night party session, you can go for a hike if you please… you can do whatever you want to. Rather than go on and on about what you can and can’t do, let’s go through what a typical week at Soulshine Retreats in Ibiza is like and you can see for yourself what I mean.
Soulshine’s Ibiza Yoga Retreats is located multi-million pound villa which spans the rolling hills of Ibiza and is build on a converted farm house. Seriously, it’s the kind of place you start to skip with excitement as soon as you arrive to what will be your new home for the week.
By the way, I mention the ‘Ibiza’ part because in winter, Soulshine also have a winter retreat – this year’s is based in the French Alps (and it involves skiing as well as yoga).
We arrived late night (by choice as we arrived back in London from another trip on the same day) while others arrived in the afternoon. You get picked up by the retreat, by the way, so little logistics like that are all taken care off.
The first day is pretty much spent getting to know each other, relaxing by the pool and sipping on wine with delicious food over dinner.
For what it’s worth, everyone’s super-friendly here and very easy to get on with and we all hit it off pretty quickly! We’re all from different background and they’re people from Canada, Singapore, the US, The UK, Belgium, Turkmenistan and Nigeria! (See what I mean about a diverse crowd?) We had guys and ladies (mostly ladies though) and ages ranging from early 20s right up to the their 50s.
*Our hosts Lou and Ben were already aware of my predilection for wine (this season’s choice is Rosé) and our welcome is with a nice chilled glass of Rose (Lloyd went for a red wine) while we get show around the villa.
Due to our late arrival, I decided a late morning would be apt and so I pretty much fell into a deep sleep until it was breakfast time. (Someone will come get you for breakfast by the way – which means you don’t ever have to skip brekkie by sleeping past your alarm – even if you wake up late, you can have breakfast saved for you).
We attend a talk on nutrition which I find particularly helpful as it’s very science and fact based. I struggle to believe bold claims that aren’t backed by facts or science so this was right up my alley – plus my background is in sciences to everything held up perfectly and was quite an eye-opener.
Afternoon was spent soaking up some of that famous Ibiza sunshine by the pool (much needed as our trip prior had been a much colder trip and London didn’t offering much in the way of sunshine) and having a couple of yoga sessions.
The evening yoga sessions are the best by the way as they’re much more calming and soothing. (I may have almost napped at one point during it – I was that relaxed!)
We also got to meet the founder, Soulla – that’s her real name, and to say she’s a darling is something of an understatement!
She’s one of the nicest, funniest people you’ll meet and we just clicked immediately. Soulshine Yoga Retreats is her love child (so to speak) and her passion – all of which we really got to see over the course of that week! It’s very rare to have guests from a wide-range of backgrounds and have everyone have only positive things to say about the same person and credit to Soulla, pretty much everyone who met her was very taken by her calming, laidback charm.
Day 3 was something of a surprise when we arrived – the entire day would be spent sailing around the island, stopping over at a place I’d wanted to visit in the Balearics for quite some time – Formentera!
We had an early yoga session (7.30am) of course, after which the entire day was spent in revelry on a boat, jumpimg into the sea, exploring the sand dunes and cooling off on the beach. (All with delicious food and snacks, of course).
Almost forgot to mention all this while, the food is super healthy here. It’s all vegan (vegetarian if you don’t want to go vegan) and absolutely delicious! Our personal in-residence chef here, Andrea, used to work at an exclusive & private member’s only club in London (I don’t wanna drop names here… *cough* Soho House *cough*) and she knows a thing or two about food!
We return in the evening and some of us even stop over for a cheeky cocktail before heading back home for a late evening feast, filled with lots of jokes and even more wine. 🙂
(*At this stage, I pretty much knew early morning yoga might be given a miss 😉 ).
Day 4 was a chilled day filled lots of yoga sessions and the first of our hour long massage treatments.
There’s a whole range of massage/treatments you can have here. I decided to go for a firmer sports massage (I like to know and feel I’m getting a massage) while Lloyd opted for a more relaxing one (he promptly fell asleep for a couple of hours right after).
I spent more time relaxing with a beer by the pool (too hot for wine) and chatting with the girls. Some of the girls headed off on a hike around the farm and neighbouring village – others went to checkout the markets and relax by the beach. Nothing is off-limits here, as long as you’re happy, everyone else is happy.
This started off similar to Day 4 but today, after some more yoga sessions, we headed into Ibiza town for a bit of fun in the sun.
I can’t even pretend – I let totally loose here and got in quite a few cocktails and wines. It was too late to head back for dinner so we stayed out and had dinner out too!
Ibiza old town, by the way, is absolutely charming and is always worth visiting when you’re on the island. It’s fairly easy to get around while exploring it’s quaint little streets within the historic walls and the view from the top here is pretty special!
At dinner, we even ran into an old friend at one of my favourite restaurants on the island and saw to the more ‘hedonistic’ side of the island. 🙂
Late morning again. As you can probably tell by now, I’m not much of an early morning person. In fairness to me, apart from the morning yoga session, I was at every single session all day.
I honestly had no idea there were so many different types of yoga till this point and best part – I finally learnt how to do a yoga head stand!
I’d honestly seen stuff like this and thought it nigh-impossible (how did people maintain balance doing this?) – as it turns out, having a brilliant teacher really helps!
Also had my second massage 1 hour massage treatment. You have the massages in a secluded area outdoor and there’s just something special about listening to the birds and feeling the warm breeze while having a massage that makes it extra special and very different from other massages you’d typically have indoors.
It was the perfect way to wind down the day and indeed, the week.
Final day and so, one more early morning yoga session and the rest of the day is spent relaxing and being pampered before your private transfer comes to get you for the airport.
This was indeed a week like no other and a brilliant way to relax, have fun and get to enjoy an island that a favourite of many a traveller across the world!