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Spring in Zakynthos is a glorious time of year with blossoming flowers and new buds developing on the trees. The colours inspire us, and the sense of rebirth and growth is reflected in our Zen yoga practice. The seeds of our practice grow and bloom as we work with the wood element and the energy systems of the liver and gallbladder. We connect to the smile in our heart and bring it to our practice, nurturing and fostering kindness, compassion, generosity and creativity; Developing these qualities as we explore all aspects of Zen yoga and meditation.
This retreat is for you who need a break from the relentless daily stress of life, who need a little pampering, or who are looking for a way to slow down and let go of all that stuff dragging you down. As well as developing your yoga practice, you will learn ways to reduce stress; simple practices that you can continue and build on at home. You will reconnect your senses and find the balance you need to be happy.
In this retreat, you will be accommodated at Explorer's Rest. They are based in Argassi on the verdant plain at the foot of Mount Skopos. Explorer's Rest is set back on a quiet lane in Argasi at the foot of Mount Skopos. It is a single villa divided into four studios set in a small olive grove. There is parking available in the gardens to the front of Explorer’s Rest enabling you to explore the island in your own way and at your own pace. The studios provide compact home comforts.
The two ground floor studios can accommodate up to three adults. The first floor studios are basically equipped and can accommodate up to two adults each. Guests at Explorer’s Rest are welcome to use the swimming pool at Edelweiss Hotel opposite (respecting the usual pool etiquette of opening times), where you have Aqua yoga and Garden yoga classes. All the studios are equipped for self-catering.
Both Voyager and Wayfarer studios bear characteristics of their names, reflected in their color schemes and décor. The spirit of the sea explorer and the wandering wayfarer are invoked in the carefully selected furnishings, pictures, ornaments and books. Both studios have full kitchens giving you the freedom to choose whether to eat out or prepare some great home-cooked food.
The bunk beds too reflect the sense of adventure they would like to share with their guests. The balconies have French windows with pull-down mosquito nets for your comfort and convenience and enjoy views of the foothills of Mount Skopos. It is perfect for enjoying a sundowner. Both studios have a flat-screen TV, safety deposit box, free air conditioning, and Wi-Fi.
The two first floor studios offer basic accommodation for the happy holiday maker and explorer on a budget. They are accessed via stairs at the rear of the building that leads to a shared terrace at the entrance to the studios. From here, you have a panoramic view of the sea and coast all the way to Zakynthos town, as well as being able to watch the sun rise over the coastline. The balconies on the other side of each studio enjoy views of the foothills of Skopos and the surrounding lush green area. Perfect for watching the sun sinks below the horizon. Both studios have a TV, safety deposit box, and free Wi-Fi.
Apart from nurturing inner growth, Out to Explore yoga holiday also reflects the spirit of adventure they associate with explorers. The excitement of discovery combined with a desire to leave nature undisturbed to experience and respect the local culture. Zen yoga combines elements of Taoist yoga, Hatha yoga, and Qigong. Basically, Zen yoga involves simple breathing, movement, and stretching exercises that are available to anyone regardless of age, fitness, or health.
There are three main principles underlying Zen yoga: alignment, energy, and mindfulness. Alignment refers to physical alignment, an erect spine respecting its natural curves but with a sense of uplifting. In Zen yoga, you recognize that the correct posture influences your state of mind and your energy. Energy refers to the Zen concept of your bodies being energetic systems. This energy, also known as Ki can be built up and drained. It flows through your bodies in particular routes known as meridians.
When you stretch your bodies during yoga practices, you stretch, open, and unblock your energy routes, and guide your energy in beneficial directions. This is done through intention, meaning that your energy is guided through your breath, or through imagery, or focused attention. The idea is to open and energize your well-being energy circuits. It is not necessary to have a deep understanding of this, even just considering it as a concept will help to transform the quality of your yoga practice.
Mindfulness in Japanese calligraphy is called Nen. The character when translated directly is divided into two halves. The top half represents "now" and the bottom half represents "heart or mind". So, put those together and you have your hearts and minds in the "now". Mindfulness too gets easier with practice. Once you get the hang of it, you will never look back.
Although Zen yoga’s origins are in Buddhism, the practice at Out to Explore is non-religious. Zen yoga treats the body and mind as one integral body, aiming to enhance physical well-being and life satisfaction. So, Zen yoga is often accompanied by meditation practice or Zazen.
The word meditation often inspires grimaces and uncomfortable memories of trying really hard not to think about anything. Zazen could be better described as "quiet abiding". Some areas are more active when you are resting, so the idea of stopping all that activity is unrealistic. Zazen aims to allow that activity to naturally go on but without any judgment, without becoming attached to the ideas, images, memories, and thoughts that are constantly trundling through your minds, just letting them pass without getting involved with them.
There has been researched suggests that this kind of "quiet abiding" can actually alter some of the brain's neural paths. It is called neuroplasticity. It means that habitual thought processes or patterns can be changed. Your reactions to stress, physical, or emotional, can be changed just through meditation or Zazen. There is a whole bunch of good stuff that regular practice can lead to; reducing stress, increasing clarity, improved well-being, and alleviating depression. Definitely worth giving it a go!
There are two mindful walking trips included in the Spring Zen Yoga Experience. These are an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the beautiful scenery that Zakynthos offers, while practicing mindful walking or as we will discover, walking meditation. Surrounded by the lush greens and rainbow colors of Spring flowers, the scents of the sea, the warming earth and the blossoming trees, we will immerse ourselves in nature and seek our own inner truths.
Starting to form the mountainside overlooking the bay of Kalamaki and Keri we set off down the winding path passing an ancient chapel, olive groves, and mountain goats to find ourselves on Crystal beach with its natural crystal formations. We can stop and swim here or simply take a little time to meditate. Returning to Kanalos along the same path we will stay together for lunch enjoying the spectacular view towards Marathons (Turtle Island) and profound peace of this mountainside retreat.
This is a circular walk that takes us along the headland above Gerakas beach (an important part of the National Marine Park where Loggerhead Turtles nest every year) taking in the breathtaking views of the coastline and through a pine forest to a small village and back to the beach. On the beach, we will find the mineral clay that when mixed with sea water makes a revitalizing mud pack for the face and body. Here we will settle for our picnic lunch.
It is an opportunity to delve into the less populated areas of the island and get a feel for the history that is generally overlooked by visitors but reveals so much about the character of Zakynthos and it's inhabitants. We will visit the dizzy heights of Kampi where the cross on top of the hill can be seen for miles around and look into the significance of that cross.
We will meander along the coastal roads that seem to go on forever with the azure sea constantly by our side and find Roxa, set into the cliffside with its own natural private bay. Here we'll stop and have our evening sunset practice before dinner together at a local taverna.
Yoga became a part of Barbara's life in her mid 30s. After practicing yoga for 20 years and teaching for two years, Barbara Clother created the Zen Yoga Studio in Argassi as a base for sharing Zen yoga practice. Barbara has been involved in performance arts since childhood, she always enjoyed the emotional release she got from movement. One of her greatest pleasures is helping others find their path and connect with their joy, enabling them to continue their practice in their own daily lives.
This retreat takes place in Argassi, Zakynthos, Greece. Argassi village is situated in the Southern part of the island, on the east coast, three kilometers southeast of Zakynthos town and five-point eight kilometers from the airport which is about 10 minutes by car. On the coastal road between Zakynthos town and the Vasilikos peninsular, Argassi is an ideal base for exploring further afield.
During the summer season (May to October), Argassi resort, based along the sea front, enjoys the benefits of a tourist resort; a small but good selection of excellent and varied tavernas, restaurants, beach bars, and shops. The narrow sandy or shingle beach has a lively water sports center and also harbors the remains of a Venetian bridge built in 1805.
Throughout the retreat, you will be served daily breakfast. Breakfast consists of a continental style selection including croissants and local pastries, fresh breads, toast, and accompaniments; local cheese, ham, and eggs from their own corn fed chickens. Fruit from their trees; apricots, plums, oranges, figs, melon. There will be yogurt, cereals, and muesli. Gluten free options are available upon request in advance. You will also be served fruit juice, teas, and coffee.
When you have evening yoga practice at locations away from Argassi, there will be a suggested and optional venue for meals. The suggested venues are carefully selected in keeping with the desire to support local businesses who share an ethos of care for the environment, local customs, and traditions. It is always wonderful to eat and share a meal together when the opportunity arises but it is also great to have the freedom to choose exactly what you would like to eat so you are not restricted. For this reason, they do not include other meals in the package.
You are welcome to use the swimming pool at Edelweiss Hotel, which is the opposite of Explorer's Rest. If the beach is more your thing, Argassi Beach is a 10-minute stroll away. There are regular buses that can take you to Vasilikos and the gorgeous beaches along the Vasilikos peninsular. Gerakas Beach, at the tip of the peninsular, is one of the main sites under the protection of the National Marine Park for the conservation of loggerhead turtles. You can find out more about the National Marine Park's work by visiting their observation station at Gerakas.
During your free time, you may like to explore some of the more creative activities that Zakynthos offers. Argassi is the home of Afrodite, a local potter who will teach you how to make a piece pottery using old fashioned techniques at the Spinspot pottery. You can also ride a horse on an unspoiled beach beside the ocean, or explore by sea, or enjoy a kayaking trip to the blue caves organized by them. They also can organize bicycle and car hire for you. They are always on hand if you need any tips or advice.
In this retreat, one massage session is included in price. You can choose from sports massage therapy, reflexology, Swedish massage therapy, Indian head massage, and onsite massage.
Additional massages can also be booked upon request at an additional cost.
Zakynthos International Airport
Please book your flight to arrive at Zakynthos International Airport (ZTH). Transfer from and to the airport is included. Out to Explore will pick you up from the airport.
There are all year round flights (Olympic Air) leaving every day from Athens which take approximately 45 minutes. There are also regular flights (Sky Express) to and from Kefalonia, Corfu, Kithira, and Preveza. During the tourist season, April to October, there are direct charter connections between Zakynthos and a number of European cities. Some of the larger charter airlines, Ryanair and EasyJet, fly to Zakynthos.
Transfer from the airport can be done by taxi, costing approximately 16 EUR. Alternatively, you can collect a hire car from the airport either by booking online in advance or you can hire a car when you arrive.
Please book your ticket to Kyllini. The national bus company (KTEL) runs a daily coach service with direct connections to the cities of Athens, Patras, and Thessaloniki via a short journey on the Zakynthos-Kyllini ferry. The trip from Athens to Kyllini lasts roughly four hours and 30 minutes. From Kyllini, there is a direct ferryboat link to Zakynthos. The ferryboat ticket is included in the price of the bus ticket. From the bus station in Zakynthos town, you can either take a bus to Argassi or a taxi costing approximately 8 EUR.
All year round there are daily ferry routes from the port of Killini, on the Peloponnese coast, to Zakynthos. Two companies operating are Ionian Group and Kefalonian Lines. During the tourist season, May to October, there is a ferry connection which is Ionion Pelagos between Pesada in Kefalonia and Saint Nikolas port in Zakynthos. All year round, there are daily car-ferry routes from Venice, Ancona, Bari or Brindisi (Italy) to Patras (Greece). Then, by car or bus (KTEL) to Killini's port, and by ferry to Zakynthos. Companies operating from Italy to Patras, Greece : Super Fast Ferries, Anec Lines Ferries, Minoan Lines Ferries.
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