LOTTA travels

How to relax in just one week – Yoga Retreat in Morocco

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Close your eyes, find a comfortable seat, focus on your breath… and open your eyes to the serene and splendid views of Villa Surya on the Atlantic Ocean.

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I was looking for the perfect place to destress in record time. After 15 weeks working in Mali with lots to digest I was tickled when all of a sudden, the opportunity for a short get away came up. So how to destress in record time? I knew just lying on a beach or doing some sightseeing wouldn’t cut it. My body was telling me so and at my age you know you’d better listen before it’s too late. Beach, yes. For quite some time I have been attending yoga classes – in various countries, with various teachers, with various styles. But never consistently or very seriously.

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When my darling colleague Daniela told me about a yoga retreat in Morocco, she had visited the year before, I saw it as a sign and booked the trip on a Saturday afternoon.

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To be honest, retreat never sounded very appealing to me. Somehow it left me with the idea of religiously dogged yogis and health fanatics with model bodies, extreme spiritual leanings and a tendency to rigorous dieting. Doesn’t sound like fun, right? But since Daniela is a totally fun person, I trusted her.

What I was looking forward to:

  • Yoga twice a day – I’m a rather slothful person by nature, so I have to force myself to follow a physical routine… which never works once I’m caught up in everyday business.
  • Hammam and massages galore
  • Walks on the beach
  • Gazing out onto the ocean
  • Feeling the fresh and salty breeze on my face
  • Cooler temperatures
  • A week of eating healthy, homemade, vegetarian meals without even having to step into the kitchen
  • Putting some distance between myself and the challenging place I call home these days

What can I say? I actually found all of that and more in Morocco. Villa Surya, the second location of Dfrost Almugar Surf & Yoga, is situated at the foot of the Anti-Atlas Mountains overlooking the wide and tranquil beach of Imi Ouaddar, better known as Paradis Plage, just north of Agadir.

The landscape is dominated by the beige and brown colors of sand, earth and dried grass, dotted with dark green of the gnarly argan trees and highlighted by the brilliant blue of the ocean and the sky. At a balmy 27° C  (14° C night) and cool breezes off the Atlantic actually made me shiver after having lived in a city, where it hardly cools down below 25° C at night.

My days in Villa Surya followed a simple and quite natural pattern. Around 7 am, I went down to the living-room/lounge area to drink some fresh pressed orange juice, coffee or tea. Morning yoga started at 7:30 up in the divine Yoga-Shala on the rooftop. This airy space is beautifully designed with carved white wooden beams, a band of sliding windows that paint the room in light and offer stunning views of the sandy beach a short walk away. It is the perfect setting for yoga practice and I found myself returning to that divine realm in search of inspiration during the day.

One day we took the morning practise out onto the beach with Amy – another wonderful experience to be stored away in the treasure chest of lovely experiences.

Strengthened and energized by an activating yoga session, we then gathered in the charming Moroccan patio for a delicious vegetarian breakfast that always offered a vast choice of sweet and savory delicacies, prepared from scratch with ingredients from organic farms in the kitchen of the villa. Meals were always fun, more like a family affair than like a hotel, as the delightful staff joined us. I just loved the fun, deep, inspiring and open conversations we had around that low table of upcycled wooden boxes. No stuffy people there, instead a team of young yoga teachers and hostesses with fascinating backgrounds and lovely personalities that quickly became friends rather than staff.

During the day, I either went to the beach, took a walk along the surf to one of the neighboring villages, had lunch in one of the local restaurants (I have to confess that I wasn’t really hungry after that sumptuous breakfast!), or just relaxed in one of the many comfy spots of the villa – patio, lounge, sundeck, sauna, hot tub, or balcony.

Sometimes in company of other guests, like the lovely Charlotte from France, sometimes I just took a time out in my simple but beautifully appointed room with my incredibly comfy bed.

To make my relax perfect, I booked two appointments at a local hammam, which left my Mali-stressed skin baby soft. The first time I went all by myself and had the full attention of the lovely ladies at the Hammam in the mountains. The second time two interesting British girls, Chloe and Olivia, came along and we really got to experience the social component of this feminine space – so much fun!

I really felt very much at home in Villa Surya and quite well cared for. There was always water, coffee, tea, lemonade and ginger water available in the lounge and around 4 p.m., the kitchen sent up some sweet delights to brighten up the afternoon. Around that time everybody was invariably drawn back to the villa and to the restorative yoga session before dinner.

These evening sessions were totally different from the activating and usually quite sweat-inducing morning practice. I always looked forward to these deep journeys down into muscle, tendons, bones and soul that helped calm down my mind and took the tension out of my body.

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Can you imagine how good it feels to have such a delicious and comfy dinner then in the patio, surrounded with people who are filled with gratitude, lightness and positive laughter?

To me Villa Surya had the feel of a private home, not of a hotel. The house has a capacity of max. 14 guests, so I guess there is never any danger of feeling like a number in an anonymous resort (been there… maybe someday I will tell you about my two weeks in a couple’s resort in Thailand…). I was lucky that my spontaneous trip fell into the last week of Ramadan, so there were never more than four guests at the villa, myself included. Some days, I was even the only guest and had private yoga sessions! If alone or in company, this was the perfect setting and mix for a week of power relax (I love that contradiction in terms…) and the people I met in that magical place played a big part in all of that – so… thank you to

  • my open and fun fellow guests Charlotte, Olivia and Chloe, Elli and Jen
  • my inspiring an attentive yoga teachers Amy and Adam,
  • my lovely hostesses, the spirited Mustang Lady Dominika and my Sunshine-Soul Sister Emma,
  • and last but not least to my darling colleague Daniela for pointing me in the right direction, to Villa Surya.

Now, headed back to West Africa, I can say relax accomplished 😊

PS: One day and one night. That’s how long it took me to travel back from Morocco to Mali. I left my paradise at the Atlantic at 9:45 on Monday morning and arrived back in my Bamako home Tuesday at 9 am. During the night our plane from Casablanca couldn’t land in Bamako because of severe weather and after three attempts we were routed to Guinea for refueling and waiting… we finally touched down at Bamako Airport at 6 (instead of 1:30) am… and the shuttle toured half of Bamako, dropping off tired travellers… 😀 kind of sad I didn’t get a Guinea stamp in my passport!

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PPS: I did not receive any money for writing this blog and I paid full prize.

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