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Sweaty Betty Talks Yoga Retreats

posted on Monday, 28th April 2014 | find under Tamara, Fashion , Fitness, Nutrition
With summer just around the corner, it's time to get planning that much-needed escape to the perfect yoga retreat. Whether it's three, five or six days that you choose, yoga retreats offer the perfect chance to dedicate time to your practice and find zen in some of the world's most idyllic locations.

Inspirational instructors, healthy cuisine and breathtaking scenery...what's not to love? Sweaty Betty caught up with Ellie and Holly of My Escape Retreats (who had just returned from a retreat in Morocco!) to find out what makes the perfect yoga retreat, and why they are a must for every yogi.

Meet Ellie and Holly of My Escape Retreats...

Traditional mat Pilates teacher Ellie has been practicing Pilates since the age of 9, which she initially took up to complement her dance training. A regular gym-goer with a love of spinning, swimming and outdoor challenges, Ellie recently climbed Kilimanjaro and is currently in training for the South Coast Warrior Run.

A keen cross-fitter who loves to run along Brighton beach, Holly completed a marathon last year and has now set her sights on a triathlon. While Hatha Yoga is Holly's main practice as a teacher, she is also passionate about Vinyasa Flow as it enables her to incorporate her love of music with the practice.

You've recently returned from a yoga retreat in Morocco - how was it?

It was fantastic! When not enjoying the sunshine and delicious home-cooked food, we spent our days surfing, bartering in the souks, taking Moroccan cooking classes and of course, making the most of the practice! Each day began with meditation, followed either by a vibrant Vinyasa flow class or Ellie’s energising Pilates practice to fire up the core and get everyone feeling strong for the day. We saved Holly’s Hatha Yoga class for the end of the day, to help us wind down, stretch and relax. Thanks to the beautiful setting, our classes took place either in a rooftop yoga shala overlooking the ocean, outside
on decking on the beach or immersed in nature and wildlife.

What do you think are the main benefits of a yoga retreat?
Aside from advancing your practice, yoga retreats provide the perfect opportunity to meet new like-minded people, be inspired by different cultures, and experience new healthy lifestyle. Everyone leaves feeling lighter, fresher, happier and rejuvenated - often with a newfound desire to take their practice further when they return home.

How are the classes during a yoga retreat different to a usual weekly class?
For both yoga and Pilates, the intensity is increased throughout the week with more challenging choreography, sometimes using props to challenge stability and balance.

When not practicing yoga or Pilates, what other activities are offered during a yoga retreat?
In your downtime, everyone is free to relax, read books, swim, go to the beach or take a
cookery lesson. It depends on the setting, but the most common activities are horse riding and surfing, as well as other activities that make the most of the location - for example, diving and safaris in South Africa, pampering spa sessions in Ibiza, and walks around the beautiful countryside of West Sussex during UK retreats.

And most importantly, what to pack?!
Loose, comfortable pieces in sweat-wicking fabrics (such as harem pants) are ideal, as is clothing that can see you through from yoga practice to beachside to heading down for dinner. Oh, and when short of space in your suitcase - reversible swimwear is ideal! 
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