Four of the best

Quirky yoga hol­i­days, by Francesca Syz

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - FOOD & DRINK -

When it launched in 1979, Sky­ros was a trail­blazer in al­ter­na­tive hol­i­days en­cour­ag­ing self-dis­cov­ery, and yoga has al­ways been a key com­po­nent. To­day the com­pany runs re­treats in lo­ca­tions as far-fung as Mar­rakech, Ha­vana and Thai­land, but its most pop­u­lar are still the two on the epony­mous is­land where it all started. Dur­ing a week at At­sitsa Bay, on the north-west coast, guests can try up to three cour­ses, choos­ing from sub­jects in­clud­ing ‘yoga with aware­ness’, Cuban salsa, stand-up com­edy and dig­i­tal pho­tog­ra­phy. There are four days of classes dur­ing any week, with at least two yoga ses­sions run­ning per day, in an open-sided pav­il­ion fve min­utes from the cen­tre of the re­treat. Classes com­bine yoga and mov­ing med­i­ta­tion, with a fo­cus on de­vel­op­ing core move­ment. De­li­cious Mediter­ranean food is cen­tral to the ex­pe­ri­ence, as are evening ac­tiv­i­ties, which in­clude par­ties, sto­ry­telling, talks and com­edy shows. A week-long re­treat at At­sitsa Bay this sum­mer costs from £595 (01983-865566; sky­ros.com).

If you rel­ish the idea of com­bin­ing cy­cling in the wild with the Wild Thing pose, you will en­joy a Moun­tain Yoga week­end run by Polly

Clark, a yoga teacher and moun­tain-bike trail leader. Based at an out­door-ac­tiv­ity cen­tre in a con­verted school on the edge of the spec­tac­u­lar Cam­brian Moun­tains, the week­ends, for up to

12 peo­ple, bring to­gether vinyasa-fow yoga and off-piste moun­tain bik­ing (bikes are avail­able through the cen­tre). The days start and end with yoga classes held in a peace­ful up­stairs room, with adrenalin-fu­elled rides in be­tween. Th­ese week­ends are for all lev­els of abil­ity, and routes are

clev­erly worked out so that more ex­pe­ri­enced rid­ers can hit the ver­tig­i­nous black runs while oth­ers tackle tamer ver­sions but end up at the same spot. The yoga is gen­tle and restora­tive, the

bik­ing is hard-core (wear padded trousers), and the food at the cen­tre is hearty – for ex­am­ple veg­e­tar­ian lasagne fol­lowed by ap­ple crum­ble. The next moun­tain bik­ing and yoga

week­end is April 15-17 and costs £275 (07737-261614; moun­tainyo­gabreaks.co.uk).

What makes this re­treat bril­liant is not only the be­spoke yoga – José Manuel Poncé, who runs it, is a cra­nial os­teopath as well as a yoga teacher and gives you in­sights into your pos­ture, align­ment and fex­i­bil­ity – but also the food, walk­ing and lo­ca­tion. In the his­toric town of Tru­jillo, Ex­tremadura, a three-hour drive from Madrid, you choose your ac­com­mo­da­tion – from the up­mar­ket NH Pala­cio de Santa Marta to the sim­pler Mesón El Blasón – con­gre­gat­ing each morn­ing at Poncé’s house, two min­utes from the town square. Poncé and his part­ner, Bran­don Everett, an ex­cel­lent cook, con­verted a coach house into this rus­tic-chic hide­away with fan­tas­tic veg­e­tar­ian meals. Af­ter break­fast you move up to a tran­quil loft with a ter­race for yoga. In the af­ter­noons, Poncé leads walks in the Ex­tremaduria­n coun­try­side, dis­pens­ing guid­ance on how to fo­cus on the present. Week-long yoga and mind­ful­walk­ing re­treats cost from £495 for the course, in­clud­ing meals; ac­com­mo­da­tion from £108 for six nights (07735-448588; span­ishyo­g­a­re­treat.com).

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