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Yoga Surf Retreat, Morocco

Nancy Spencer travels far afield for Ashtanga by the sea

Published on March 10th 2011.


Yoga Surf Retreat, Morocco

WORKING as a make-up artist and running a busy studio in Manchester city centre, sometimes it’s necessary to take a barefaced break and work on inner well-being for a change. While flicking through my mum’s yoga magazines, I spotted a week-long Ashtanga retreat in Morocco (on my birthday). Agreeing that fate had played a hand, and this holiday had, in a way, chosen me – I booked it.

As well as three hours of yoga a day, I took the opportunity to try out horse riding on the beautiful sandy beach. I also took a Moroccan cooking lesson with Shane, and half a day surfing with a lesson off the famous ‘Banana Point’- a destination for surfers from all over Europe.

As I stepped off the plane and met other retreaters who I would be spending the next seven days with, I started to doubt my ability to keep up with the group. Amongst the sixteen of us were at least seven yoga teachers. The yoga is for all levels but I started to wish I’d attended more than the odd Ashtanga session at St Clements Church in Chorlton…

At 7.40am on the first day, I wandered up, slightly bleary eyed, to the roof terrace of Villa Mandala for our first daily 8am yoga session of the week. The glass yoga room fitted our group size perfectly and overlooking the rolling ocean, we all agreed it was the most spectacular place anyone had ever practiced yoga.

Paul Fox, our teacher and the organiser of the trip, lead the class expertly through the Ashtanga primary series. I felt really stiff in my legs and back (a by product of constantly wearing high heels apparently) but I didn’t feel at all intimidated by my lack of experience - mostly due to Paul’s relaxed, calm and understanding teaching style. After yoga, we were rewarded with a healthy feast for breakfast – eggs, muesli, fruit, yoghurt, with some caffeine thrown in of course.

Our daily restorative yoga session at 5pm worked on stretching and meditation techniques. During meditation my mind was still very much active and I now understand the term ‘practicing’ – meditation is difficult. We then went to the big dining room for our gorgeous evening vegetarian meal, cooked by our private chef Shane (surfer by day – chef by night).

With the morning and evening yoga sessions each day, the middle of the day was yours to do as you like. Everyone in our group was really up for trying out the extra activities on offer, so we decide to visit a traditional Moroccan spa called a Hammam. We travelled to Agadir (about 20 minutes away) and were greeted with traditional Moroccan mint tea on arrival.

My new friends and I suddenly got to know each other a bit better as we changed into some very attractive paper knickers, in preparation for our treatments. We were then lead into a serene marble room and laid out onto hot marble slabs.

Next we were covered in Argan oil - a massage oil made from the Argan tree, which only grows in the Agadir area. Then the therapist put on a mitt and exfoliated us from head to toe, literally. They even washed our hair for us. Almost in trance-like state, we were then lead to the massage room for an hours toning massage. The whole two hour experience was amazing value at £40 per person, and I even stocked up on some handmade facemasks to try out at home.

As well as three hours of yoga a day, I took the opportunity to try out horse riding on the beautiful sandy beach. I also took a Moroccan cooking lesson with Shane, and half a day surfing with a lesson off the famous ‘Banana Point’- a destination for surfers from all over Europe. The food, accommodation and yoga were all included in the price; these activities were extra but still really good value.

To say I had an amazing experience would be an understatement. I would normally judge a holiday by the amazing location and warmth of the weather (which we had both of). But what really made it special was the group of lovely, interesting and inspiring people that I met and had the pleasure of staying with for seven days. I felt refreshed, revitalised and inspired on my return.

One week Yoga Surf Retreat costs £659 per person per week.

For more information visit surfmaroc.co.uk or email here

Nancy Spencer is a freelance make-up artist and founder of Make-up Manchester.

Follow mkupmcr on twitter @mkupmcr

Make-up Manchester
10 Stevenson Square
Northern Quarter
Manchester
M11FB

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