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Expert tip: This is one of the most popular yoga retreats offered in Greece.
During this Iyengar yoga retreat, the importance of external alignment as a prerequisite for students to develop awareness of internal space will be emphasized. Precise energetic techniques as they apply to the practice of asana and pranayama will be provided, while students will have the opportunity to understand external and internal rooting in different series of asana, relax in action, focusing on the internal dynamics of the body, and open the back body and diaphragm, in order to put the energy of the spine in movements. The Iyengar yoga retreat aim is to encourage students to become more receptive and independent, and able to develop their own personal practice.
Join YogaOnCrete and experience lightness of body, mind and spirit through the twice daily practice of Iyengar yoga, daily encounters with the cool, turquoise Mediterranean waters at quiet beaches, idyllic unspoilt surroundings, wholesome local food, excursions, and a warm and welcoming group of people that will make this experience unforgettable!
Accommodation is offered in YogaOnCrete’s 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 a limited availability of rooms, single rooms in particular). The house is a 5-minute walking distance to the village centre 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.
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 7.30 a.m. with an optional meditation, followed by the Iyengar yoga class at 8.00 am. 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 there is a second 1,5 hour class, followed by 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 (approximately 25 EUR depending on number of participants). 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). 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 practise the student overcomes physical and mental/emotional limits and develops a deep awareness of the body, power, control, patience and physical and mental harmony.
Constantinos is an enthusiastic & dedicated practitioner of Iyengar yoga since 1992. In 1996, he moved to France where he also obtained his certification as a clinical psychologist from the University of Picardie. During that time, it became apparent to him that health is not simply the absence of disease but also concerns a state beyond that. In 1999, he moved to London where he continued his study of psychoanalysis at a postgraduate level while also studying yoga. After his return to Greece in 2003, he opened the first official Iyengar Yoga Centre in Athens.
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 which are just a 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.
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During this retreat, you will be served with seven breakfasts and five dinners. It is included in the price.
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.
YogaOnCrete’s cook embodies this spirit, preparing two nutritious lacto-vegetarian meals a day, using local, and wherever possible, organic products (grown in YogaOnCrete’s 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 at an extra cost (25 EUR). Individual excursions and shorter hikes can be arranged to numerous gorges, or along the coastal trail, in addition to boat trips and 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 a 10-minute walk away from the house.
lligas (Vertigo), 1.5 km out of the village, has been awarded a Blue Beach Award for its pristine waters. Filaki (Prison), approximately 2 km away, offers a nudist choice. Amoudi (Sandy Beach), 1.5 km away, is the quietest beach around. Glika Nera (Sweet Water) is the favorite pick. Its name refers to the fresh water springs that are found under the sand and that give the sea its magical clear color.
It can be accessed by 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 km 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 at dawn in late May to early June, the image of men on horsebacks, exiting the castle and riding into the sea, can be witnessed in the early morning mist – these are the mysterious Drosoulites (mist-men).
In order to reach Chora Sfakion, you can fly directly to Crete, to the airports of Chania (CHQ -pronounced "Hania", which is an hour's drive from YogaOnCrete) or Heraklion (HER, which is 2.5 hours' drive from YogaOnCrete). 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). You should also try 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).
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