How do you put a 2 week yoga retreat to Paros, Greece into words? It's not easy to capture the feeling, but I'll start with the wind. "Meltemi" is the Greek word for the cool, dry, seasonal wind that blows from May to September and tempers the summer sun ensuring a crisp blue sky. This bright sun and clear sky in turn reflect the water and it's various shades of aqua, turquoise and deep blues. Contrasted to the perfectly white painted buildings with colorful doors it's the quintessential scene everyone knows, but the feeling is what grips your soul. Paros is known for it's plethora of beaches and quaint fishing villages. Unlike it's more popular, "sexy" neighbors, it's lack of tourists (especially in June) give it an overall rustic charm which is the perfect environment to cultivate yoga and island exploration with plenty of chill time!
We rose early with the sun in time for coffee, a quick dip, meditation or a walk, but we were on the mat each day at 8am. A 90 minute dynamic, sweaty Vinyasa Flow got our blood pumping and set us up for the day's adventure. 10am Breakfast Brunch was a generous spread of all the Greek favorites, yogurt, fruit from the island, local honey, eggs, olives, cucumbers, tomatoes and fresh baked bread. Being full, we were ready for the beach. There are about 20 different beaches on the island all with a different look and feel. Some were long and sandy full of endless activities, umbrellas and sun beds while others were small private coves perfect for solitude. Freedom in the afternoons plus 2 weeks with a rental car meant we were able to see almost every nook of the island. Sometimes we ran, sometimes we hiked and sometimes we simply lazed about.
Trampled by the sun, salt and wind by 17:00 we were ready to be back on the mat to relax in our Yin/Restorative class or what came to be known as nap time! At 18:30 we "woke up" feeling refreshed and ready for the evening.
After showers and a change of clothes it was time for Rose! The crisp pink wine became our nightly ritual as we laughed, shared stories and reminisced about the day. With an Indian chef, dinner was an incredibly delicious Greek Indian fusion. Imagine traditional dahl and garlic naan served with your favorite Greek salad and heaping piles of tzatziki or spinach pie with chickpeas and a cilantro/mint yogurt sauce. Each evening our palates were delighted by local concoctions with a flair from the afar, but I digress...
I think we all agreed that our favorite excursion by far was the boat trip! The day we set sail we traded our 90 min. yoga practice for a 1 hr. high intensity COREnergy class. This pilates inspired fitness class builds strength and stability, makes you sweat from the inside out and is a quick fix when time is of essence (meet me in the Hofgarten in Innsbruck, Tuesdays 7:30am). We banged it out, grabbed sandwiches from the kitchen that we had pre-arranged the night before and headed to the boat for a full day of fun. I could probably spend one whole post on just this boat ride alone! We had a blast swimming, diving, lounging, eating fresh food prepared by our wonderful hosts all while sipping on white wine listening to cool local tunes (check out Greece is Mine by Christian Ronig). In fact we loved it so much we booked a sunset cruise for our next retreat group the following week!
In a few words, Paros captured our hearts. The blazing sun, the magical sea, the cool "Meltemi" breeze, the warm welcoming people, the sweaty yoga, delicious food, sandy beaches, crisp wine and the stellar company all culminated in the perfect kick off to summer!