The meaning of yoga is union – the union of the body, mind and spirit.
Getting fulfilment from yoga takes a combination of factors. It depends on your mindset, surroundings, teacher, style and more.
Last week I took three days away from work to discover how gentle sunshine, serene surroundings and good company can help you enjoy the slow stretches of yoga so much more.
The TD active Holidays yoga trip to the Algarve is a three-night break with only one item on the itinerary.
Our group of 12 was joined by Sinead Mooney, a highly qualified instructor, life coach, meditation trainer, and founder of Moons Yoga Loft in Dublin.
We dedicated an hour and a half twice daily to yoga, and the rest of the time was spent doing as you please – strolling to the sleepy fisherman’s town of Cabanas, hopping on a solar boat trip to the beach or taking in the architecture of Tavira.
I’ve been practising yoga regularly for around 7 years, but there is always something new to learn.
On the first evening, our teacher Sinead (aka Moons) described us as a group of radicals. It’s a bold move to book a weekend away to take time for yourself. Many of our group were solo travellers, including myself. We realised that the act of treating yourself to so much self-care is actually very out of the ordinary.
This was my first time ever travelling abroad alone. I admit I was nervous initially, but as soon as we touched down in Faro, friendly folk with yoga bags slung over their shoulders began to appear. When you travel with like-minded people, the conversations soon flow. Our welcome dinner at the hotel on the first evening was the perfect way to break the ice. Very soon, those polite hellos we shared on Thursday developed into belly laughs and hugs by Saturday.
The guided group tour also makes you feel much safer than travelling completely solo. With TD active Holidays and Travel Department, you are picked up at the airport and whisked away to your hotel, where all of the organising has been done for you. There is an expert local guide on call for any queries, and at the end, you are delivered back to the airport once more.
I’ve realised that solo travelling with TD active holidays is a wonderful way to meet new people. Our group, hailing from Dublin, Wicklow, Roscommon, and Donegal were the friendliest bunch you could meet. A spare seat was always pulled up to a table at breakfast, and in the evenings we dined together as one big chatty table.
Which brings me to the food! We were blessed to be beside the sea, where the freshest cuisine was served. I tucked into the most amazing prawns, sea bass and codfish. One evening trip to a Portuguese restaurant in Tavira will go down as one of my favourite dinners ever. Our hotel breakfast too was a feast of fresh fruits, pastries and an excellent variety of cooked dishes – just what you need after a sunrise yoga session.
Our hotel – AP Cabanas Beach and Nature was made for wellness. The resort feels so new, having been built in 2021, and is adults-only. It boasts a number of fitness studios and a spa with a jacuzzi, Turkish bath, sauna and various treatments and massages available.
What I loved the most was the rooftop views of the surrounding Ria Formosa Natural Park. The Ria Formosa is a maze of canals, islands, marshland and sandy beaches stretching into the sea.
On both mornings we practiced on the rooftop.
In yoga, usually you close your eyes to focus inwards. But I couldn’t help but peek out at the horizon.
Each morning you could hear the roosters crowing their cock-a-doodle-doos, see serene boats floating in the lagoon, birds swooping in perfect formation and fishermen plodding along the paths for their early morning catch.
Moons incorporated our natural surroundings into our practice too. We angled our poses to greet the rising sun, or to delight in a rainbow peeping through the clouds.
I wouldn’t call the weekend a yoga ‘retreat’, as such. You don’t need to be too serious about practising, nor do you need to be experienced.
As Moons said, she was with us to share our space.
What we wanted to gain from each day was up to us. If you wanted to challenge yourself, you could, or if you wanted to take a shavasana, lie on your mat and watch the clouds drift by, you were more than welcome to do that either. Moons led us through energising classes in the mornings, restorative sessions in the evenings and a workshop where we were invited to deepen our understanding of certain poses.
As we drew the weekend to a close, we were asked what words we’d described the trip. Words like freedom, opening and joy were shared around the circle. Looking back now, at the inclusion, friendship and laughs, I think our group embodied unity.
If you’d like to try some sun, sea and salutations, why not check out the upcoming TD active Yoga Holidays to the Algarve or Madeira: https://www.tdactiveholidays.com/yoga-holidays
Save on selected Explore Holidays here: https://www.tdactiveholidays.com/travel-offers
I travelled as a guest of TD active holidays, but all opinions are my own.