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During this yoga vacation for women, you will be guided on the path to reclaim your divine self. Suitable for women from all walks of life, this retreat in the beautiful Southern Spain has a mixed program perfect for students of beginner and advanced levels. You will explore your practice, meditate, activate, and deepen your connection to your inner feminine. You will be inspired to create your life anew, transform obstacles into power, and rediscover your passions.
Suryalila Yoga Retreat Centre, originally an olive hacienda, is located in the heart of the Spanish Andalusian hills, close to the charming villages of Arcos de la Frontera and Prado del Rey. It is approximately 45 minutes from the historic and beautiful walled city of Cadiz and an hour-drive from Sevilla, the vibrant heart of Andalusia. On the edge of a stunning, mountainous national park, the property sits in a large river valley overlooking agricultural land and in the far distance, the white lakeside village of Bornos.
Suryalila is a beautiful, old, renovated olive farm consisting of eight houses that form the cortijo. In typical Spanish style, there are two inner courtyards, one of which blooms with orange and lemon trees. The property sits on 45 acres of land and is still a working olive farm with 350 olive trees. They also grow organic vegetables and fruits and keep chickens for eggs.
Suryalila is nestled serenely in a large open valley in the foothills of the Sierra de Grazalema. This majestic mountain range can be seen looming large on the horizon behind Suryalila. A striking part of the natural beauty of the property is the breathtaking view extending in all directions: rolling hills, fields of sunflowers, and lakes. The sense of vastness and expansiveness is very uplifting.
The houses on the property are all artfully and tastefully furnished and decorated with careful attention to detail. Every room is uniquely beautiful with impeccable Feng Shui.
There is a cozy, communal living room area with couches and a library shelf. In the few cooler winter months, a log stove keeps this area toasty. There is also an upstairs mezzanine with comfortable couches next to Ganesha Yoga Shala.
There is a beautiful, spacious dining hall adjacent to the main kitchen, where you can enjoy the delicious organic meals with new friends. They also offer many beautiful outside spaces for dining.
Relax around the lovely saltwater pool, hang out in a hammock in one of the pagodas, or enjoy a massage with a highly skilled in-house masseurs.
The furnishings and decorations have all been imported from Bali, India, and Morocco. The Spanish farmhouse-style wooden ceilings with beams and the terracotta tiled floors blend harmoniously with the exotic Asian furniture and wall hangings. The designer decor is both soothing to the soul and delightful to the eye.
Suryalila has three yoga halls. Ganesha Yoga Shala has a gorgeous wooden ceiling, as well as a wooden floor, and is filled with light from windows on both walls as well as a skylight. It also has a lovely balcony with benches for enjoying the expansive views. The Om Dome has been dubbed the most magnificent yoga hall in Europe. The sacred geometry creates a cathedral-like space, which is awe-inspiring. Finally, the Dome overlooks rolling hills, olive groves, and a ruined convent. Inside, the Dome boasts underfloor heating and cooling and two long walls for practicing inversions. The walls have been beautifully decorated with colorful murals of Indian gods and Tibetan imagery. There is a state of the art sound system, as well as atmospheric lighting.
In 2011, Jackie completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training at Anand Prakash Ashram in Rishikesh, India with Yogi Vishvketu. Jackie is now fulfilled in pursuing her passion full time: teaching and providing for others yoga, healing, Ayurveda, massage, meditation, and Reiki, in which she is now a qualified master.
Julie Bladon is a qualified yoga teacher, a lomi lomi bodyworker, a Reiki master, and a writer. She has a passion for yoga Nidra, known as yoga sleep. Julie completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training at the Sivananda Yoga Meenakshi Ashram in Madurai, Southern India, and continues to pursue her education in yoga and the healing arts. She recently returned to India to complete her 300-hour Akhanda yoga teacher training with Yogi Vishvketu at Anand Prakash Ashram, Rishikesh. Balance, healthy breathing, asana, meditation, and deep relaxation are a key focus in her yoga teaching.
This retreat will take place in Cadiz, Spain.
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During this retreat, you will enjoy three daily delicious, gourmet, vegetarian meals. In the dining room, you will also find healthy snacks, ice cream, and a selection of beverages including organic wine and beer. Suryalila has an honesty list to sign when taking these items and you pay for everything at the end of your stay. There is also free tea, coffee, fruit, and drinking water.
The guided tour starts with a beautiful 30-minute drive into the mountains of Sierra de Grazalema to the picturesque village of Benamahoma, where you will embark on a two-hour hike through an old forest.
The route is shaded, gentle, and easy, following the Rio Macajeite downstream. A few refreshing baths can be taken throughout the walk to boost your energy. The waters here have been acclaimed through the centuries for their medicinal proprieties. On a lucky day, you might catch a glimpse of trout in the river. The walk ends up in the sweet village of El Bosque, where you can stop for a drink or a meal at one of the cafes in the village square.
The mountain range of Grazalema is located between the provinces of Cadiz and Malaga. It used to be a border zone in the period of the Arab kingdom of Granada and the Christian kingdom of Castilla during the 13th and 14th centuries. Typical for the landscape from this region is the dramatic positioning of the culturally rich white villages, scattered on the top of the mountains.
Cadiz is less than two hours from Suryalila, which makes it a great day trip. Cadiz is one of the oldest cities in Europe. It was a center of the Phoenician empire up to 3,000 years ago and, then, became the third most important city in the Roman Empire. Later, it became the city where Columbus left for the Americas and, later still, it was the city where the first liberal constitution of Spain was written in 1812.
Cadiz has a unique position, being situated at the end of a narrow peninsula of land, surrounded on all sides by water, leaving it vulnerable to the elements, especially the winds and storms in the winter. In the summer, most of the city seems to move to the beautiful beaches that surround the old city and that continue in the newer parts of town. The atmosphere reminds one of a smaller Rio de Janeiro.
The old city is unique in its charm, with typical narrow streets opening up to beautiful plazas. The cathedral is worth visiting and the vibrant culture and nightlife make Cadiz a great place to visit. Its festivals and carnival are renowned and it has its own distinct form of upbeat flamenco.
Cordoba, which is two hours away from Suryalila, is most famous for its unique amalgamation of Moorish and Christian architecture where the huge and stunning mosque has a cathedral built in its center; a mind-blowing comparison of religious and cultural forms. It began as a Christian Catholic church built by the Visigoths in the BC seventh century, and then became a mosque in the 11th century and then changed again after the Christians re-took Cordoba.
However, the fact that the Christian rulers of Cordoba, after more than five centuries of continuous Moorish rule, preserved so much of Moorish architecture and culture shows the uniquely tolerant nature of the time. For two centuries, Cordoba was one of the most important centers for Islamic culture and religion, even surpassing Constantinople. Islamic universities dominated the town when most of northern Europe was still in the dark ages.
Malaga has one of the busiest airports in Spain, catering to the thousands of tourists coming to the Costa del Sol. It is about two hours from Suryalila, but it is an amazing drive through some majestic mountains. It does have a beautiful old town and is worth visiting if one is flying in and out of Malaga.
About 50 minutes away, is Jerez de la Frontera. Along with Sevilla, it is the heartland of flamenco in Spain and a center for Andalusian horse riding. It is also famous for its sherry, jerez means sherry, and many bodegas can be visited in the city. It has a charming old town and is a great place to spend a day shopping and sightseeing.
It also has a hammam, a traditional Moorish bath house, that you can visit. Similar to all larger towns in the region it has its own cathedral and alcazar, which show the influence of both Moorish and Christian architecture.
Ronda is one of the most famous towns in Andalusia, just under one hour from Suryalila. Similar to many towns in the region, it is a fortified white town on a hill with stunning views and cliffs that was once a center of Islamic culture. The old town is situated on the other side of a gorge, with a beautiful bridge connecting it with the newer part.
Many travelers and writers have written about Ronda, most famously Ernest Hemingway and Orsen Wells, in the 20th century. Both were enamored with the culture and landscape. Hemingway, in particular, wrote about bullfighting. The ring is still used occasionally for bullfights, as well as being a site of tourist interest, with its lovely architecture.
The history of Ronda can be traced back to the BC ninth century, making it one of Spain’s oldest towns. Walking through the town and the old quarter, and then taking the path into the gorge below, gives one a good impression of this special town in Andalusia. Today it caters to many tourists who make a day trip up from Malaga and the coast. Museums, shops, and good restaurants abound for all tastes.
Suryalila Yoga Retreat Centre is only a one-hour drive from Seville, known in Spain as Sevilla. Sevilla is probably the most famous historical town in Andalusia, along with Cordoba and Granada. It has a stunning cathedral and alcazar, Moorish palace. With the original minaret of a mosque incorporated into the Christian cathedral, it is one more example of the fusion of Islamic and Christian architecture in Andalusia.
Sevilla’s history is woven into folklore, with Bizet’s Carmen capturing the image of a steaming, sultry city fueled by colonial passions. The discovery of America in 1492, led to Sevilla gaining a monopoly on Spanish trade with the new-found continent. Walking the streets of this beautiful city with gorgeous plazas, one can take in so much of the history, including the large bullring and the Plaza San Sebastian.
Grazalema is one of the most breathtaking white towns of Andalusia. With its 2,000 inhabitants, it is dramatically nestled in the middle of the Sierra de Grazalema National Park on the edge of the mountain, with an impressive height of 600 to 1,600 meters. It is a must-visit spot for all outdoor and nature enthusiasts. The area boasts lush vegetation due to its microclimate that gets the most rainfall in all of Spain, about 2,200 liters per square meter per year.
The main industry, dating back from the middle ages until now, is weaving wool by hand. You can still buy high-quality woolen blankets and clothes made in traditional ways and even visit the small working museum in the village to watch items being made. Alongside the textile production, local people are occupied in small-scale agriculture, sheep and goat farming, cork harvesting, and furniture making.
There are about 30 different hikes around Grazalema, all equally impressive. The guides will be happy to take you on the hikes that best suit your needs and physical level.
Garganta Verde in Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park is a spectacular canyon artfully carved by the streams of the Pinar River. It is only five kilometers away from the gorgeous village of Zahara de la Sierra. Famous for its lush vegetation and wildlife, it offers outstanding views, some which are over 400 meters in depth.
Be prepared for an unforgettable hike, several exciting abseils, and refreshing baths in the Garganta Verde Canyon. The hike is five kilometers long, with a medium difficulty. The entire excursion lasts for five hours.
Enjoy a horse ride directly from Suryalila into the surrounding countryside. The part-bred Andalusian horses live on the Suryalila grounds, but are owned by Conny Muennemann, who will lead your ride. She has over 15 years of experience leading horse riding tours of southern Spain and is a very knowledgeable and fun local guide. There are beautiful trails to explore for one or two hour rides. These are available for all levels of experience and all the equipment is provided.
Spain is fortunate to have some of the most beautiful coastlines in Europe. Spain has also suffered from massive over-development in parts, destroying much of the natural beauty and leading to overcrowded beaches in the summer. However, the Atlantic coast of the Costa de la Luz still has some of the most unspoiled beaches and natural environments in Europe. Much of the surrounding land is either national park land or military land, which prevents the suburbanization.
The coast starts at the most southern tip of Spain, with Morocco only 13 kilometers away. The small town of Tarifa is famous for its wind and, hence, is a center for kite and wind surfing. The growing international community and the simultaneous old town feel make Tarifa a charming place to visit. A few kilometers further northwest is the beach of Bolonia, a stunning area with the Park Natural del Estrecho giving a beautiful backdrop to the beach area. There are old Roman ruins next to the beach and a large sand dune cascading down to the sea.
The beach between Zahara de los Atunes and Barbate stretches for 10 kilometers and is rarely full, even in the summer. Barbate is a traditional old fishing town, once one of the major tuna fisheries in the world. Zahara is a small seaside town that bustles with up to 20,000 people in the height of summer, only to fall to 1,500 inhabitants once summer ends.
The coastline continues north through small towns and beaches such as Los Canos de Mecca, El Palmar, Conil de la Frontera, Chiclana, and, finally, reaching Cadiz at the end of a long peninsula. Each place has its own charm and the Atlantic ocean is remarkably clean. The Spanish beaches there often have great waves!
Another place well worth visiting is about 10 kilometers inland from Barbate and is called Vejer de la Frontera. It is one of the most beautiful and bustling white Andalusian towns. Perched high on a hill, it is famous for its beauty and flower displays throughout town. It has won numerous awards for these displays.
Vejer de la Frontera is now developing a more international flavor with people moving from other countries and, as a result, a growing number of sophisticated cafés and restaurants have sprung up, offering a wide range of food and entertainment. One special place is a hotel and restaurant called El Jardín del Califa, which specializes in Moroccan-style fare and has beautiful cavernous guest rooms actually built into the rock and a lovely outdoor eating area. La Califa is famous for its delicious food and wine.
Prado del Rey is the nearest town to Suryalila, only five kilometers away. It is a beautiful small town nestled on the edge of the Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema, which is part of the Sierra Nevada mountain range stretching through most of southern Andalusia. There is a beautiful main plaza with a church which would not be out of place in a Harry Potter film, since herons have built a huge nest on top of the quaint tiled bell tower.
On warm evenings, the whole town comes alive with people enjoying eating outside in the many cafes. Prado has an easy-going charm, the people are friendly, and it is a great place to savor Spanish life.
Twenty kilometers away is the famous world heritage town of Arcos de la Frontera, a stunning Andalusian white town, perched on high cliffs above the surrounding countryside. The name de la Frontera signifies its history as a Moorish fortified town, until its capture in 1255 by the Christian king Alphonso X, who claimed it for Seville.
In the 11th century, it was an independent Berber-ruled kingdom for a short period. The town is dominated by two beautiful churches and the Plaza del Cabildo, where one can stare over the abyss that fortified the town on one side. Every corner offers stunning views, often framed through narrow streets and the countryside beyond.
You can enjoy walking through town and taking in the stunning views and architecture.There are many cafés and restaurants to choose from, specializing in the local tapas. Nearby is a beautiful lake with a small beach and swimming area.
For an appreciation of a white painted town nestled in the mountains, there is none better than Grazalema, about 30 kilometers from Suryalila. Getting to Grazalema is quite a stunning journey as you ascend a windy road for nineteen kilometers from the picturesque town of El Bosque. Just before you reach Grazalema there is a stunning view of the valley.
The mountains surrounding Grazalema have to be some of the most beautiful in the whole of Spain, it is a unique terrain offering many stunning walks and drives in the region. One precipitous road called the Puerto de las Palomas leads to another classic white hill top town, called Zahara de la Sierra. Views from the plaza of Zahara look down upon the lake below and the town cascades down the hill with narrow streets meandering up and down on all sides.
On top of the hill above the town sits a castle, the original defensive structure and strategic reason for the town’s position. Zahara was another frontier town and was recaptured from the Christians by Abu al-Hasan of Granada in 1481, leading to the last re-conquest of Andalusia by the Christians and the final fall of Granada in 1491.
At an additional cost, you can book a deep tissue or Thai massage. You can also spend some time in the sauna.
Please book your flight to arrive at Malaga International Airport (AGP), Seville Airport (SVQ) or Jerez Airport (XRY).
There is a bus that leaves from Malaga bus station directly to Villamartin. The price of a one-way ticket is about 15 EUR. There are usually four buses every day, but for an up-to-date timetable, please check the Los Amarillos website.
From Seville, the city center can be easily reached by bus. Buses between the airport and the city center run every 30 minutes between 06:15 and 23:00. The journey takes between 20 and 30 minutes and a single ticket costs 2.30 EUR. From Seville city center bus station, you can catch a bus to Villamartin. The ride takes about an hour and a half and buses leave as follows: Monday to Friday 07:00, 11:00, 17:00, 17:45; Saturday 09:00, 17:00, 19:30; Sundays and holidays 09:00, 15:00, 17:00, 19:30.
From Jerez, you can take a bus to Suryalila from the Jerez central bus station. Please, look for the bus timetables from Jerez to Villamartin to know the departure times and estimated arrival time.
"Jackie's yoga classes are magic, really. They make you feel so much better and are fabulous for anxiety and stress. You do not need to be bendy, trendy or a yoga veteran, her classes are for everyone and all ages. You can work at your own level so there is never any stress about not being able to do something. The classes are very supportive and friendly, so it is not a problem if you come alone. It has been amazing for me and I can see and feel the benefits every day. Thank you, Jackie. And thank you to my friend Emma for dragging me along last year."
Swansea Yoga Facebook page, edited
"I have dabbled with yoga a few times over the years and always found it hugely beneficial when attending classes, but I always seemed to have had my attentions diverted for various reasons and never carried on with it. Early this year, heading toward my 51st year on this planet and being committed to my own well-being, staying off the ageing process and middle age spread for as long as possible, and being committed to the well-being of my colleagues, I investigated the possibility of providing a twice-a-week yoga class at my department at the end of the working day, in order to make it accessible to as many members of the university as possible. Initial interest was high, so I made some calls to contacts I knew had connections with yoga and, one way or another, I met Jackie. We immediately hit it off and it was clear that the classes were to become a reality."
"Since February, when we began our practice, the personal benefits I have experienced from regular practice with such a good teacher have been substantial in all aspects of my life. Most notably in the physical one. My flexibility has returned to what is was 10 or 15 years ago and, as a result, my constant, but slight, backache has completely disappeared. My surfing ability, due to the flexibility improvement and the breathing exercises we practice, is back to a level I thought I would not see again and has been commented on by surfing friends. My recovery rate after running and surfing has dramatically improved, the aching muscles the day after a really good session do not occur anymore. My knees have stopped aching and creaking; this is due to yoga combined with regular running, two exercises that complement each other, and a number of yoga techniques I am learning as fantastic warm-ups and stretch down exercises. I sleep better and I sit better at my desk, my posture has improved and with it all related aches and creaks."
"The benefits are also spiritual. The simple meditation techniques can be, or should be practiced, at any time and are particularly useful when preparing for a tough meeting or a difficult conversation or just to help me focus on the stress point at that time. I am by nature a positive person, but the sense of being well that has re-emerged has definitely put an extra spring in my step and smile on my face. I think my favorite thing over all the great things I describe above is no matter how tired or stressed I am or how run down I feel at the end of a busy day, I always come out of practice invigorated, re-energized, and high on being alive!"
"The best thing of all is I am only just beginning my yogic journey, which is really exciting, in a class environment where you are led by the teacher, but can follow at your own pace. There is no performance pressure, no competition, although I do compete with myself, there is no expectation for you to be more than you are at that moment in time."
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"Jackie's classes are amazing! You will leave feeling a different person and they are very relaxed and friendly."
Swansea Yoga Facebook page, edited
"I absolutely love these classes! I walk out a different person."
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"Inspiring, welcoming, invigorating, relaxing, and a pleasure to be a part of."
Swansea Yoga Facebook page, edited
"Fantastic! It was such a pleasure to practice yoga at one of Jackie's classes. Jackie is a truly beautiful, gentle, and calming soul. Namaste."
Swansea Yoga Facebook page, edited