My first yoga retreat – one week in Portugal

I began my yoga practice some years ago. The more I practiced, the more I found I really enjoyed it.  Today, I love yoga. This autumn I wanted to get out of Germany for a bit, so I decided to do a yoga retreat – my first one ever. I spent 7 days at a retreat in Portugal. This is my field report.

The retreat took place in Colares, Sintra, which is close to Lisbon. I chose to do a retreat in Portugal because I’ve never been there before, it’s close to the sea and it’s still warm in October. It was a good choice: the sun was shining every day and the temperature was more than 20 degrees. 

Arrival Colares

The retreat started on a Saturday. We were picked up at the airport so the arrival was easy and relaxed. The place where we would do yoga twice a day for the next week was ideal for relaxing and finding inner peace. It was a beautiful house with a swimming pool in the backyard and a view of the sea. In the garden there was a big wooden hut and a cozy yoga space under a large pine tree.

The first day’s scheduled activities were arrival and getting to know each other. The other participants were a mix of people from various countries. In the afternoon we had our first yoga-session at 5pm together by the pool. A relaxed and mindful arrival was the focus of the lesson. At the end, a delicious vegan dinner was waiting for us, and it was a perfect end to the first day.

Yoga routine

Even though we had a yoga session in the late afternoon, there was another one scheduled the next morning from 8:30–10am. From Sunday on, I had to rise from my cozy bed at 8am everyday. Although this meant, the alarm rang at 7:30am, the early mornings were the best time for listening to the birds sing without any interruption.  This is definitely not the worst way to begin a day. Although waking up early is not something I normally like, this kind of morning routine was actually quite enjoyable. We started the day with a warm tea, 90 minutes of energetic yoga followed by a really good breakfast. It was a great way to start the day.

Because the yoga practice in the morning was more focused on activating the body as well as physically challenging, the second 60 minute yoga session in the afternoon was more focused on mindfulness, relaxation and meditation. The combination felt so perfect I was not willing to miss a single lesson!

first yoga retreat TalkWellness Anja Eva Keller

Beside yoga?

Between sessions there was enough time for other exciting, mindful and relaxing activities. It was easy to do other non-yoga related activities because the retreat was close to the Atlantic Ocean and a national park. These extracurricular activities included long coastal and mountain hikes (I hiked a lot), simply spending time at the beach thinking and dreaming, and many other forms of active relaxing! There was even enough time for reading (I finished 3 books that week).

Anyone planning to do this retreat should also visit Sintra and some of the really awesome places nearby. I highly recommend Quinta da Regaleira. One can easily get lost there for hours in it’s fairytale garden with tunnels, caves and lakes.

During my stay I visited the town Sintra where I learned there are lots of soap manufacturers in Portugal. The selection, scents and beautiful wrappings of soap were unbelievable. To be honest, I love soap and after my visit to Sintra, I don’t think I will need to buy anymore for the rest of the year.

My yoga teacher

Before I arrived in Portugal, I was a bit doubtful. I was not concerned about doing two yoga sessions per day, that part I was actually looking forward to.  However, I was worried because I do not like every style of yoga, and I do not like every teacher. I think all yoga lovers can relate to this concern. It is important to like your teacher or you won’t have fun. Personally, I am not a fan of teachers who, in practice, are too esoteric.  I don’t have any issues with the sacred Oooooohm.  I like it as much as I like to take a Shavasana at the end, but I prefer the kind of yoga that helps you feel your own borders and strengthen your body. Some teachers focus too much on meditation and esoteric ideas.  In my opinion this can be somewhat annoying. Maybe it’s just me, but I enjoy the other benefits of yoga more.

I didn’t know Masha, the yoga instructor, before the retreat. Therefore, I didn’t know whether I would like her style of teaching. Fortunately, my doubts were for no reason. Masha is a very mindful person, but not in a transcendental way. She is not just a yoga teacher, but also a climber. She is close with nature, is vegetarian and is also conscious in avoiding plastics and excess rubbish. We quickly found a common topic: DIY Cosmetic.

Beside all that, Masha was present and attentive the whole time.  This helped everyone feel great and have fun. She is a very nice person and many found it easy to like her.

How was she as a yoga instructor? Maybe because Masha is also a climber, she is able to teach yoga with just enough dynamic and powerful elements. To be honest: after three days and with all the hiking, I had very sore muscles.


Were my expectations fulfilled?

Clearly, yes! I spent one week with so many beautiful souls. The food was phenomenal and I had a lot of time for myself. I was able to relax my body.  I cleared my mind and focused my thoughts on other things. After a few days, my head was full with creative thoughts and ideas. I enjoyed the time I spent there a lot and I plan to do this again every year. This experience for me was liberating, relaxing and it promoted awareness and mindfulness.

I’m Henriette Neubert and I’m a Nutrition Blogger for food for fitness. My hobbies are reading, climbing and yoga. It was a pleasure to share my experience with you.

first yoga retreat TalkWellness Anja Eva Keller