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Combine your holiday with awakening your body, mind, and soul in beautiful Crete, Greece. Cretan land holds a powerful energy combined with the spirit of yoga, providing an excellent choice of reconnecting to yourself to rebalance and rejuvenate the system. With the views of the White Mountains and the sea of Souda Bay, and yoga practices indoors and outdoors in the nature, you will feel the sense of tranquility, balance, and self-reflection as parts of your journey at ZenZem.
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During the retreat, you will stay at ZenZem yoga retreat center. It provides a private en-suite type of accommodation. It consists of two renovated traditional stone built houses, where the yoga shala is also located, and a garden which is not only formulated for yoga and meditation, but also with plenty of space to relax and reflect. Whether as an individual, a couple, or two friends, you may choose between two types of private accommodation: studio or stone built house.
The studio room located in the back garden and has direct and independent access to the garden and a view to the White Mountains. It includes two single beds with clean linen and towels, its own bathroom, and small kitchenette with cooking utensils. A stand fan is provided for hot days; however, the room is very cool.
The stone built house with a mezzanine wooden floor is equipped with a double bed and has a balcony. There is a spacious bathroom and a kitchen with cooking utensils downstairs. This house is air-conditioned.
Both types of accommodation have access to the garden with a view of the White Mountains and olive groves. In case accommodation is full at ZenZem you are informed during your booking and you are offered accommodation in one of the local guesthouses just over the road from the yoga space.
This yoga retreat is specially designed to offer a feeling of wellness and balance for every unique individual. Classes run weekly from Monday morning to Saturday morning, however you may arrive on any day of the week. Saturday evening and Sunday is free to arrange your own activities, tour, or simply reflect and rest. On your arrival day, you will receive an introductory yoga class in the evening and the retreat schedule.
Every day, you will be offered one morning and one evening class lasting for one and a half hours, including yoga postures (asana), breathing (pranayama), and simple relaxation and meditation methods from Hatha yoga. Morning classes take place in the yoga shala and evening classes will be at ZenZem garden, depending on season and weather. You will be guided and supported according to your needs, whether you are a total beginner or a continuing practitioner, through yoga practice as well as discussion of any queries with the group or on an individual level with the teacher.
Part of the schedule is a walking meditation in nature, contacting the ground barefoot, to heal the body and mind on a stone path of Ancient Aptera and a sitted silent meditation at the Ancient Theatre. During the week, after the morning yoga class (usually on the fourth day of the retreat) you will enjoy sharing brunch together inspired by the local Cretan products, and a general discussion upon nutrition topics with the yoga teacher who is a qualified nutritionist-dietitian.
One sunrise yoga class (usually on your last day) will take part either at ZenZem garden or in a serene spot of sea and mountain views by the local Koules Castle (only one and a half kilometers from ZenZem, transportation included). On the last day of each retreat week, there is a closing morning yoga class and resolution of queries before departure.
Stella is the ZenZem founder and yoga instructor. She has studied and practiced Hatha yoga since 2007 at the Yoga Sanctuary, Southampton, UK, where she also obtained her yoga teacher training certification. She has also attended yoga seminars and meditation in various locations of India and Nepal. She is a qualified dietitian-nutritionist, got her PhD in Nutritional Immunology and MSc in public health nutrition. She has been teaching yoga since 2011 in Prague, England, and Crete.
The retreat will take place in Aptera, located at the north part of the island of Crete. It is a quiet Cretan village in the prefecture of Chania, located on a hilltop overlooking Apokoronas (an area between the towns of Chania and Rethymnon), with a view both to the sea and the White Mountains. The village probably took its name from the ancient city, dedicated to the ancient Greek goddess Artemis 'the Aptera', meaning the one without wings, the grounded, and earthly one.
Daily breakfast is included in the retreat. The ingredients are provided fresh in your kitchen and fridge just before your arrival. They are refilled once or twice during the week according to your needs. With prior notice, Zenzem Crete can also provide specific meals according to any special dietary needs. All meals will be vegetarian or vegan. One brunch is included as part of the nutrition discussion and preparation together. Other meals are self-catered or consumed at one of the local family taverns of the village. There is also a mini market only 10 minutes walk where you can do your shopping.
The area around the village is of great archaeological interest, an amalgam of the Minoan era, and Venetian and Turkish occupations. By visiting the ancient ruins, you can absorb the energy of ancient Aptera dating back to the 18th B.C., with its greatest peak around the fourth B.C. Within walking distance, you may visit the Ancient theater of Aptera, Roman baths, and Koules Castle from Turkish occupation.
You can visit Chania old town and the picturesque Venetian harbor with plenty of tourist amenities, souvenir shops, and boat trips. Alternatively, if you would like to stay away from the city, you may take a deeper dive into nature and walk the natural treasure of Diktamos Gorge, which begins at Stylos village or around Kournas Lake.
If you are planning on staying longer, you may visit Rethymno, Knossos, and the Minoan Palace. Not to miss are the natural reserve of Samaria Gorge and the south Lybean Sea or the northwest cape and turquoise lagoon of Balos.
Aptera lies on a low hill, 200 meters above sea level, overlooking the beautiful coast. A few idyllic quiet bays and secluded beaches lie just at the foot of Aptera Hill (at the exit of the village to the motorway, two kilometers from ZenZem house) and can be reached by footpaths with a small exploration. More local beaches for swimming and recreation can also be reached by car, such as the pebble beach of Kalami, the sandy beaches of Kyani Akti, Kalyves, and Almyrida.
Massage therapy, nutritional assessment, and nutritional meal plan can be arranged in advance at an additional cost.
Please book your flight to arrive at Chania International Airport (CHQ). Alternatively, you can also arrive at Herakleion International Airport (HER). Car hire or taxi can be arranged upon request.
From the airport, if getting the local bus from Chania, Rethymnon, or Herakleion town center, the bus stop for Aptera village is called Megala Chorafia, only one and a half kilometers from ZenZem, located on the highway connecting Chania-Rethymnon-Herakleion. If you come by bus, please inform ZenZem Crete of your expected arrival time at the bus stop to arrange the pickup.
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