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Expert tip: This is one of the most popular yoga retreats offered in Greece.
Join YogaOnCrete and experience lightness of body and spirit and the joy of honouring and nurturing your needs through the practice of Iyengar yoga and meditation, daily encounters with the cool, turquoise Mediterranean waters at quiet beaches, idyllic unspoilt surroundings, and wholesome, vegetarian, local food, excursions, a warm and welcoming group of people and much more! No previous experience in yoga or movement is required for participation in the course while more experienced students will discover tools for deepening their practice.
On this yoga retreat, you will stay for 7 nights. The accommodation is offered in a lovely traditional stone house. Rooms are designed in a natural combination of old and new and are spacious and comfortable. Rooms are allocated on a first come first served basis (there is limited availability of rooms and single rooms in particular).
The house is a 5-minute walking distance to the village center and beach, but also pleasantly secluded. The garden at the front and the private olive grove at the back blend in with the landscape and offer options for places to rest.
During this course, each day will start with a morning class, focusing on building the foundations for a basic series of asana (postures); the correct understanding and practice of postures thus becomes a tool for deepening one’s awareness of body, breath and mind, ending with a deep relaxation and centering and grounding meditation. In the afternoon, the principles of alignment, efficient use of energy through removal of layers of tension and use of breath, as well as subtle sensations that bring the practitioner in contact with the vitality and spaciousness of the inner body, will be explored further.
Each week begins with an introductory yoga session at 6.00 p.m. on the day of arrival, followed by dinner. All other days will begin at 8.30 a.m. with a 1.5-2 hour Iyengar yoga class, followed by a 20 minute meditation. After breakfast guests are free to relax and enjoy the beach and sunshine, receive a massage treatment, or explore the village and region. In the late afternoon (5.30 or 6 pm) there is a second 1.5-2 hour class, and the day's programme closes with dinner.
The fourth day of the week is a rest day from classes; guests can join in an optional excursion, including a guided hike through the magnificent Aradaina gorge (approx. €25 depending on number of participants). All breakfasts and 5 dinners are offered at the house, while on two of the nights guests are free to dine out in the village restaurants (not included in the course cost; approx. €15 for a full meal including drinks). Individual excursions (e.g., hikes, boat trips) can also be arranged at an extra cost. On the last day, departure can be arranged after breakfast.
The number of guests is limited to 14, to create a warm and friendly atmosphere, and to ascertain that individual attention is given in the classes.
The classes comprise of a series of asanas (physical postures), usually sustained for some time so that the body and its necessary actions can be observed within the posture, pranayama (breathing techniques), and meditative techniques (sitting in silence, concentration techniques), through which the development of awareness of the body and mind in the present moment and deep relaxation are practiced.
Iyengar yoga was developed through the pioneering work of B.K.S. Iyengar, who freed the classical yoga postures (asanas) from their Indian mystique and with the use of props made them suitable for Westerners, who want to have a clear understanding of what happens in a yoga posture. A typical Iyengar yoga class focuses on precision of movement, correct alignment, and the study of the ‘muscle and mind’ actions and resistance necessary to enter a state of concentration. Breathing awareness is emphasized in every asana in order to deepen the experience. Through consistent practice the student overcomes physical and mental/emotional limits and develops a deep awareness of the body, power, control, patience and physical and mental harmony.
A round trip to the beautiful Sweet Water beach is included in the price.
Eugenia studied psychology in Athens and went on to receive an MSc in sports psychology in Wales. She then began practicing yoga in 2004, while studying contemporary dance in Scotland. She gained a yoga teacher qualification from the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres in 2005 and in 2012, she received her Iyengar yoga teaching certification. Her classes strive to create a safe and nurturing environment. The focus on the breath, as a powerful tool for developing awareness of the body and quieting the mind, is integral in her teaching, also incorporating elements of her Vipassana meditation.
Chora (pronounced "Hora") Sfakion or Sfakia, the capital of the municipality of Sfakia, is located on the south-west coast of Crete. The landscape of the region is particularly dramatic. The mountains in this part of Crete meet the sea, with steep slopes towering over the beaches. The road from the north of the island threads through breathtaking mountains and small villages to reach the port village of Sfakia. A sense of peacefulness radiates from the dry mountains and the sunset skies.
With its quiet, picturesque alleys, the beaches just walking distance away, and a few restaurants and cafes with tasty local dishes on offer lining the old harbor, Sfakia can become the little haven for anyone who wants to step out of the modern city fast-paced lifestyle for a while. If you are up for a short hike after the sun has gone down, just above the last house of the village is the little church of Agios Georgios, hidden away in a cave. Previously a neighborhood of the village, but nowadays abandoned, Georgitsi is also a ten minute hike up the mountain.
Click to see more vegetarian-friendly Yoga Retreats
You will be served with seven breakfasts and five dinners at the house, while on two of the nights' guests are free to dine out in the village restaurants (not included in the course cost; approximately 15 EUR for a full meal including drinks).
The Cretan diet is renowned for its macrobiotic qualities, but also for its great variety of delicious flavors. More than the pure, fresh ingredients themselves, it is the fact that cooking is traditionally performed almost like a ritual, with love, and always in the prospect of offering the food to others, that makes the Cretan cuisine so special.
YogaOnCretes cook embodies this spirit, preparing two nutritious lacto-vegetarian meals a day, using local, and wherever possible, organic products (grown in their own garden!). The village restaurants, only a short walk away, offer a wide range of local dishes, including fresh fish and game.
The fourth day of each week-long course is a rest day from the classes. Guests can join an optional excursion, including a guided hike through the stunning Aradaina Gorge on this day, at an extra cost (25 EUR). Individual excursions can also be arranged to numerous gorges, along the coastal trail, as well as boat trips to neighboring seaside villages and beaches, in addition to scuba diving lessons.
Most beaches of the region are pebbly, the white of the beach and the turquoise of the water creating a beautiful scene for relaxed swimming and sunbathing. The waters in most beaches actually come from springs high up in the White Mountains, so they are literally crystal clear. The village beach, Vrisi (Spring), is just 10 minutes' walk away from the house.
lligas (Vertigo), 1.5 kilometers out of the village has been awarded a Blue Beach Award for its pristine waters. Filaki (Prison), approximately 2 kilometers away offers a nudist choice. Amoudi (Sandy Beach), 1.5 kilometers away is the quietest beach around. Glika Nera (Sweet Water) is the favorite pick. Its name refers to the freshwater springs that are found under the sand and that give the sea its magical clear color. It can be accessed on foot (30 minutes walk along the coastal path) or by kaiki (small boat, 10 minutes from Sfakia).
Frangokastelo (Frankish fort) and Orthi Ammos (Vertical Sand, literally), are two adjacent sandy beaches 15 kilometers away from Sfakia. Frangokastelo takes its name from the very well preserved Frankish (Venetian) castle built by the shore. There is actually a legend that just as dawn is breaking in late May-early June, the image of men on horseback, exiting the castle and riding into the sea, can be witnessed in the early morning mist - these are the mysterious Drosoulites (mist-men).
Choose from Holistic massage, Thai massage, Cranio-sacral treatment, and Reflexology with our on-site or visiting therapist at 50 EUR per hour.
Heraklion International Airport (Nikos Kazantzakis Airport)
Transfer available for additional US$164 per person
Chania International Airport ("Ioannis Daskalogiannis")
Transfer available for additional US$100 per person
A car can be hired and picked up at either Chania or Heraklion airport upon arrival, or during your stay in the village. The windy mountain road down to the village has just undergone extensive work, with three tunnels replacing the sharp curves, making it much safer and easy to drive on! Alternative car hires companies YogaOnCrete recommends are Drive Kreta and the international Enterprise.
In order to reach Chora Sfakion, you can fly directly to Crete, to the airports of Chania (CHQ - pronounced Chania, which is an hour's drive) or Heraklion (HER, which is 2.5 hours' drive). For flights from the UK, Easyjet, Ryanair and Monarch airlines have direct flights from several UK airports to Crete, both to Heraklion (HER) and to Chania (CHQ), during the tourist season. You can also use Thomas Cook, Just The Flight, Charter Flights, Cheap Flights, or Flight Line. From London Stansted, also check the daily flight of Aegean Airlines to Chania via Athens. For flights from other European countries try Ryanair, that now connects several European cities to Chania (CHQ). Also Easyjet, Transavia, Norwegian Airlines, Aer Lingus, German Wings, or Air Berlin. Be aware that on some occasions booking two single flights can be cheaper than a return flight!
You can also fly to Athens (ATH) (www.airtickets.gr or with Easyjet) and either get a transit flight or boat to Crete (Chania - CHQ).
There is an overnight ferry to Chania from Piraeus, the port of Athens, easily accessed by metro from Athens "E. Venizelos" airport. It departs at 21:00 and arrives at Souda, the port of Chania, which is a 10-minute bus journey away from the main bus station in Chania city center, at 05:30 the next morning. The return journey with Anek lines starts from 63 EUR (deck price; there is a discount if the return journey is booked at the same time as the first part).
The south-west coast of Crete is fairly well served by daily ferry lines traveling from Paleohora to Chora Sfakion, which is a convenient option if you were thinking of spending some time on the south coast before arriving at YogaOnCrete. You can also reach them in this way after hiking the Samaria gorge (consider putting your luggage on a bus at Chania, to be picked up at Chora Sfakion, so you can hike light.
To get to the bus station in Chania from the airport (2.50 EURO; duration 30 minutes), buses run at different times every day to correspond with the flights. This is also the case for the return journey. The bus station in the city has a luggage storage, operating between 6.30 and 20.00, which can be useful if you have a long wait, as the beautiful old city is just a few minutes walk away. If you need to get a taxi from the airport to the bus station, the cost should be about 15-20 EURO. From Chania you can then get a bus directly to Chora Sfakion, but confirm departures in advance because during high season (April-October) there are only four buses a day (at 8.15, 11.00, 14.00 and 16.00; 8.30 EURO; duration 1 hour 45 minutes).
From Heraklion airport, there is a frequent bus service (No. 6) that takes you to the main bus station in Heraklion (duration 15 minutes). Ask the driver to tell you where to get off for the bus station, because it is not obvious. From there, you first need to get a bus to Rethymnon (approximately every hour; 8.30 EURO; duration 90 miutes) and then a bus to Chora Sfakion changing buses at Vrisses (at 8.00, and 13.00; 8.30 EURO; duration 2 hours). Vrisses does not have a bus station per se, rather, a coffee shop in which you can buy a ticket and in front of which the buses stop.
Traveling by taxi is the most convenient way to reach the village. A taxi from Chania city center or airport costs 85 EUR (1 hour) and from Heraklion 140 EUR (2.5 hours).
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