With its glorious and evocative landscapes, vibrant local traditions and cultures, pure foods and legendary light, it was inevitable that Greece would reach the status of a top global wellness destination where visitors can combine authentic, non-commercial Greek treats with a rewarding yoga practice, meditation and healing. Here we suggest three of Greece’s top yoga retreats.
Silver Island Yoga
This lush, 60-acre islet in the Gulf of Volos is what you can literally describe as a getaway. Although there is an element of understated luxury that has grabbed Conde Nast’s attention, the way it’s run by Greek-South African sisters Lissa and Claire Christie offers a genuine experience of living the natural life. Electricity only runs for a few hours in the evening, food is fresh, seasonal and organic, the accommodations are in the style of traditional houses and above all the days are entirely dedicated to wellness. Instead of wasting hours checking your social media (there is no Wi-Fi) you can swim in tranquil tiny coves or take a kayak out to explore the shores, light a candle in the little church, read on your terrace, go for a walk along the rolling hills and olive orchards or even paint. When you are not doing yoga, of course. Run completely ecologically, using filtered rainwater, solar power and 100% biodegradable toiletries, Silver Island Yoga is an example of an ideal world. Although their courses run from April to October, they are already fully booked until mid July, after which you can choose to attend one week retreats with various teachers coming from around the world and centering on ‘Relax, Rejuvenate, Revitalize’, Quantum Yoga Retreat/Breath’, ‘Life, Yoga/Fierce Grace: Strength. Serenity’ and ‘Surrender/Embodying the Warrior – Creative Yoga’ among others. The day starts at dawn with two hours of yoga and ends with two hours of sunset yoga and can include meditation and other therapies.
Pure Fitness on Ikaria
Since gaining its Blue Zone reputation five years ago, Ikaria has been attracting increasing numbers of wellness-oriented visitors and experts, while at the same time developing a holistic and ecological identity. For the second year in a row, Fotini Bitrou, who teaches Hatha, Restorative, Ashtanga, and Vinyasa yoga and runs purefitness on the Argosaronic island of Aegina year-round, will be running her retreat (24 – 29 June) on Ikaria. Classes take place at The Egg, the island’s only space designed especially for yoga, dance and holistic workshops, which is in Avlaki village, and participants stay at the Karras Hotel just five minutes walk away. A vegan dinner is served every evening after class at sunset on The Egg’s terrace, overlooking the sea. Apart from the free time students can enjoy during the day, Bitrou also organizes excursiobns to the Therma hot springs, known for their curative properties since antiquity, SUP yoga on the beach and other excursions combining explorative adventure with yoga or wellbeing. The group of students are also taken to the island’s most notiorious Panygiri that of Ai Yiannis church in the village of Christos, Raches, where people come from aroud the world to dance to the music of acclaimed violinist Nikos Fakaros and his band, leap over fires and dance the midnight Ikariotikos in the dark.
Dolphin’s Leap in Pelion
The land of the centaurs could not be more inspiring as a place for deep spiritual and physical healing, with its incredibly verdant landscapes, running mountain waters and beaches with crystalline sea. Dolphin’s Leap Yoga Retreat are running a retreat in its fourth year that combines daily yoga classes (morning pranayama followed by dynamic yoga, and restorative yoga in the evening) in an olive grove that looks out to the sea with other holistic therapies such as sound healing with singing bowls, Tai Chi, Qui Gong and even systematic psychotherapy. During their free time, participants can opt to go for nature walks, snorkeling, horseback riding, receiving a massage or just relaxing at the nearby taverna. The simple but graceful accommodations can be single or shared, and there is also a pool to relax by.