Four of the best
Quirky yoga holidays, by Francesca Syz
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).