Yoga holidays in Portugal


WARM UP YOUR SENSES

Loosen your limbs and free your mind under the warm caress of the Mediterranean sun. You'll be extolling the virtues of yoga holidays in Portugal as you surround your senses with nature and leave the modern world far, far behind. Experience expansive, untouched beaches to the west of the Algarve or shaded forests within the foothills of the Serra de Estrela mountains, as you book into a peaceful yoga retreat for a week of pure unadulterated bliss. Alongside daily yoga practise and the beautiful natural surroundings, these holidays offer guests the chance to rest and relax in their own time with massages and meditation sessions just as important as time spent by the pool or practising Portuguese in the local village. Below are just a few more reasons why yoga holidays in Portugal allow you to have your pastel de Belém, and eat it.

Choosing the right time of year – & of day


Portugal's blissful spring and autumn warmth is an obvious advantage for anyone looking to escape colder climes, while in summer, early morning yoga sessions let you avoid the heat of the day. They also encourage early nights so as to allow your mind and body to gain much needed rest. Most yoga holidays in Portugal take place from March all the way through to October or November, which provides ample chances to book affordable flights and steer clear of higher prices in July and August. Staying at a forest retreat in central Portugal is another great way to beat the heat, with silent, early morning strolls helping you appreciate the peace before the day begins. From mud baths and wild swimming in woodland rivers, to surfing the swells around Costa Vicentina National Park, you'll find lots of ways to keep cool in Portugal. Just don't forget your swimmers.
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What does a yoga holiday in Portugal entail?


Daily itineraries usually include an early morning yoga class before breakfast or brunch and perhaps a late afternoon class or workshop prior to an evening meal. This frees up plenty of time in between for exploring, socialising or just enjoying a good book by the pool, as well as optional organised excursions to the beach or, perhaps, a nearby nature reserve, such as the bird-abundant Ria Formosa.
This relaxed agenda allows everyone to enjoy the benefits of yoga within a fairly flexible structure which is suited to beginner, intermediate and more experienced yogis, looking for a restful break. Vinyasa flow yoga is most commonly practised in Portugal although Iyengar, a more precise form of Hatha, is also taught for those looking for a more developmental approach. As well as daily yoga classes, itineraries may also include a choice of massages, acupuncture sessions and private health consultations. Ayurveda workshops can further aid detox and wellbeing from the inside out.

What other activities can I do?


Aside from relaxing and generally feeling fabulous, there are loads of additional activities to keep your mind and body focused whilst making the most of Portugal's great outdoors. Mud baths, wild swimming, and guided surfing sessions all add to the feeling of freedom and keeping active on holiday. Trips into market towns like Loule, or beach towns like Aljezur, offer glimpses into local community life as well as offering chances to check out a few tempting treats.
Yoga holidays in Portugal always include a healthy diet of seasonal produce, handpicked for nutritional value and reviving properties, as well as the delicious taste that can only be achieved through home cooking. Porridge, fruit and juice for breakfast followed by a hearty veggie lunch and tasty evening supper really help to bring balance. On these retreats, classic Ayurvedic principles are combined with locally sourced, organic ingredients, ensuring you get to feel fantastic, rested and raring to go.

Where will I stay?


Although Oleiros in central Portugal and the remote west coast of the Algarve can be perceived as somewhat sleepy, there are plenty of pockets of rural cottage industry to offer yogis insight into the local culture, far from the tourist trail. Visits to vineyards, olive producers and those quiet little cafés, where only the locals hang out, aid understanding of what it means to be a part of the real Portugal. Many retreats provide regular work for local builders, gardeners, chefs, cleaners and guides which, in turn, supports the local economy.
Choosing where you stay is vital for ensuring you continue to relax after daily yoga classes have finished. Central and Southern Portugal roast in summer, so many retreats come complete with a swimming pool or access to the ocean or a nearby natural pool or river, such as the Zezere. Accommodation ranges from private rooms within woodland valley farms, to shared cottages, soulpads, tipis and beautiful beach houses. In fact, there's a yoga retreat in Portugal to suit all comers. Joining these holidays as part of a small group is a great draw for solo travellers and those who like to socialise with likeminded yogis.
Yoga holidays in Portugal allow you to escape and be at one with nature as you embrace daily classes, nutritious meals and positive contemplation. The relaxed, learning environment is as much about being flexibility of the body as flexibility of the mind.
Photo credits: [What does a yoga holiday entail: Miltos Gikas] [What other activities can I do: Gustavo Veríssimo] [Porridge: jules] [Where will I stay: Pedro Ribeiro Simões] [Bottom image: Becks]

Written by: Chris Owen
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