In February 2014, I went on a yoga retreat with Yoga Bless in Jamaica. It was a great experience: friendly and simple, with time for relaxation by the pool, activities in the ocean, becoming healthier and meeting unusual people, with five countries represented when I was there.
My host and yoga instructor, Maki
First and foremost, Maki, who leads the retreats, has been wholeheartedly studying spiritual practices, natural foods and nutrition for a decade, traveling the world to find teachers on three different continents. Originally from Europe, she has strong connections to the local community in so many ways.
Maki gave each of us a lot of personal attention. She and I had long discussions over delicious and healthy versions of Jamaican dishes and also about how to be healthy and happy. She loves music, too, and there was always something special coming out of her phone speaker.
The yoga practice
Yoga practice at the beach. Image: Yoga Bless
Maki provides written and electronic materials that complement the practices. Each practice also had a different herbal tea that we sipped as we went along, and I grew to love them: leaf of life, pepper elder, bamboo, ginger, and others.
Location and other activities
The retreat was located at a pair of large guesthouses owned by a retired couple on a small bay (maybe 50 acres?) by the ocean. There is good snorkeling and a swimming pool overlooking the bay. The rooms and bathrooms are oversized, equipped with air-condition and television, and the beds are firm.
Spacious bedroom. Image: Yoga Bless
There are four medium-large dogs who are friendly once they have met you but will bark at cars and strangers coming to the gate; they tend to sound the alarm several times a day during daylight, only rarely after dark. Despite this, it is a very quiet neighborhood, with two beautiful, small beaches a 10-minute walk away. By car, it's about 10 minutes to Lucea and 35 minutes to Negril, although we did not bother with renting a car when I was there.
A shuttle with a very friendly and knowledgable driver is available for day trips. The rates are a little below market rate and the driver is a "connector", running into people he knows as we traveled around western Jamaica, so you get to meet many different kinds of people—a big plus for me! It was very enjoyable to go to market day in nearby Lucea with Maki and meet vendors.
A vendor showing a happy smile. Image: Markéta Hritzová
All in all, this was locally oriented—the opposite of a resort—and a homey and personal kind of experience. Many people would benefit from this retreat.
Ever had such a satisfyingly wonderful yoga holiday? Share with us your personal stories and comment below. We would love to hear from you!