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Why Choose Marrakech for a Yoga Retreat?

by Alberto G. Güitrón

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Marrakech is one of the top yoga travel destinations in Northwest Africa. A historic city that stretches back almost a thousand years, famous for its beautiful palaces, magnificent mosques, delightful gardens, delicious food and ancient souks (traditional Arab markets), Marrakech is one of those places a yogi must visit at least once in their lifetime.

This former imperial city, bustling with life and filled with colors, is home to gardens and beautiful landscapes that make a yoga retreat in Marrakech a great experience that should be on every yogi’s bucket list.

What makes Marrakech an amazing yoga destination?

yoga in Marrakech

Image credit: Om Yoga

Marrakech is a city that excites the senses; its name, rooted in the Berber phrase murr akush, means “the land of God.” Here you can strike your asanas overlooking a magical ancient city, where history and tradition meet with mystery and vibrant sensations.

While there are yoga retreats of all types and for all skill levels in Marrakech, the luxury yoga holidays that it offers are beyond expectations. And since it lies near the foothills of the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert, yoga and hiking retreats are quite popular as well.

As for the yoga styles that you can find in Marrakech, the most popular are Hatha, Iyengar, Kundalini, Yin, Nidra, Restorative, Acro Yoga, Vinyasa and Power Yoga. The best part is that doing yoga in Marrakech will open you up to a new level of awareness filled with freedom and excitement.

Lastly, this busy city is also the perfect location to explore the surrounding hotspots in Morocco. It’s less than a 3-hour drive away from Essaouira, a port city on Morocco’s Atlantic coast. It’s also close to Agadir, a city renowned for its beautiful stretch of sand; as well as Casablanca, the largest city in Morocco.

If you want to know more about yoga in Morocco, here’s a guide to Morocco’s best yoga destinations.

What to see and do?

Marrakech

Image credit: Om Yoga

One of the most outstanding things about Marrakech is its Medina, the old part of the city that due to its great number of masterpieces of architecture, magnificent art and unique cultural atmosphere, is considered a UNESCO World Heritage site.

By walking the streets and alleys of the Medina, you can experience the ancient Moroccan lifestyle. That’s especially true if you head to Jema El-Fna Square, which used to be the central trading hub of caravans crossing the Sahara Desert. Nowadays, you’ll find nightly food stalls, street vendors, snake charmers, fortune tellers and musicians. Spending the evening here is, without a doubt, one of the most remarkable experiences one can have in Morocco.

Marrakech is also known as the garden city, as there are plenty of parks and green spaces everywhere. Some of them are world-renowned such as the Jardin Majorelle, Menara Gardens and Le Jardin Secret. Here, one can escape from the busy streets and refresh while contemplating the beauties of mother nature.

There are other important touristic places in Marrakech. Bahia Palace, a very well-preserved palace built in the 19th century, which contains 150 rooms and is surrounded by a 2-acre Moroccan garden. The Koutoubia Mosque, built in the 12th century, located in the Medina, is the largest Mosque in the city. Or El Badi Palace, constructed in the late 16th century which now serves as a museum.

The Gates of Marrakeh are also something you must see, especially Bab Agnaou. It was built as a Royal entrance and today is one of the main touristic attractions in the city. Or if you want to explore outside of Marrakech, you can go to Toubkal National Park, just a couple of hours away, where you’ll find the largest peak in North Africa.

Want to spice up your holiday with other activities? Try a surf & yoga retreat in Morocco.

How to get into & around the city?

yoga in Marrakech

Image credit: Om Yoga

If you travel by plane, you’ll arrive at Marrakech-Menara Airport (RAK). Many people find this place extravagant due to the architecture, including splendid geometric patterns contrasted with the delicate details making reference to Morocco’s culture. It’s just 3 km (1.8 mi) away from the city and you can use public transportation to get there. Alternatively, you can rent a car which could be more convenient but also more expensive.

Once in Marrakech, there are different ways to move around the city, mostly by car, on foot, bike or scooter. While the bus network of the city is well developed and affordable, taxis are also a good option. The fare is accessible, the minimum being fixed to $2USD. Just be aware that it increases at night for trips in the city center.

When is the best time to visit?

yoga in Marrakech

Image credit: SALAMA AYURVEDA

Many would say the best season to visit Marrakech is during spring, when the weather is ideal with temperatures between 22°C and 27°C (71°F and 80° F), and the city is adorned by the shimmering colors of bougainvillea flowers.

Summers are the least recommended, with temperatures reaching up to 45°C (113°F). That said, if you happen to travel during this period, it is recommended to go out either early in the morning or late in the evening. Another tip to avoid the heat is to spend the day on the Atlas Mountains where temperatures are way lower than in the city.

Autumn has similar temperatures to spring, but unlike the blossoms in the trees, during this season you can enjoy the spectacle of the snowy peaks around.

Finally, winter temperatures reach up to 18°C (65°F) during the day, with cooler mornings and nights. Make sure to bring your warm clothes, especially if you want to explore the valleys and mountains.

Can’t wait to go on a yoga retreat but are on a tight budget? There are plenty of yoga retreats in Morocco that are a real bargain.

Things to know before your trip

yoga in Marrakech

Image credit: Zenenergy

To enter Morocco, most nationalities don’t require a visa. However, make sure to check in advance with the Moroccan consulate.

The Moroccan currency is the dirham; Euros, US dollars and British pounds are the most easily exchanged currencies.

Morocco is a very tolerant Muslim country; however, it is better to wear non-provoking outfits.

Morocco has two official languages: Arabic and Amazigh. However, in everyday life, most people speak Darija (Moroccan Arabic), along with Berber language, which is widely used across the country as well. Most Moroccans know French and in the north part of the country you can find people who speak good Spanish too.

If you’d like to learn a few phrases in Darija, it would be very appreciated by locals:

  • To greet when you enter a place, you’ll say Saalam uwaleekum – Peace be upon you.
  • To which people respond Wa’aleekum salaam meaning also on you.
  • You also want to learn the two magic words, Aafek for please and Shukran for thank you!

Finally, don’t forget that:

  • If you want to see animals or visit animal refuges, in Marrakech you can go to JarJar Mules, where they specialize in care for abandoned and injured animals.
  • If you want to experience a part of Moroccan culture that has remained for centuries, visit a hammam, you can find them almost in every corner! It consists of a traditional Moroccan bathhouse.
  • If you want to indulge your palate with the Moroccan flavors, try tangia. The main dish of Marrakech, which consists on a delicious slow-cooked lamb seasoned with lemon, garlic and saffron.

Don't think you have the level for a yoga holiday yet? Think again, there are plenty of yoga retreats for beginners in Morocco!

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