I woke up in a panic. Have I missed yoga? Why am I in a tent? Man, I feel rough.
Oh that’s right, I drunk about two bottles of wine last night. I’m camping at a yoga retreat. And if I get up now I can make it to class at 8am.
After an hour and a half on the yoga deck surrounded by beautiful mountains, and a delicious breakfast buffet, my hangover was cured. This pretty much set the tone for the rest of the trip.
Let me clear one thing up. When I say yoga retreat, what I really mean is yoga holiday. You don’t have to become a tee-total vegan while you’re here. You can do what you like, eat what you like and drink what (and as much as) you like. When in Spain!
A yogi’s paradise
What better place to unwind than Casa de Carrasco, a yoga retreat – and olive farm – set deep in the Serra de Cardo national park. Pure zen.
Bumpy, meandering tracks lead you into this secluded yoga haven. Seriously, I still haven’t managed to pin point it on Google Maps! All I know is it’s a 45-minute drive from Reus airport.
It’s so remote they even have to get water brought in by lorry as there aren’t any pipes nearby. Nor are there any electric lines, so they generate all their energy by solar power. And you can forget wifi or phone signal!
But who needs that when you’ve got this view:
And this hammock:
And Ruby the dog:
There are also 2 other dogs and 3 cats, and they often join you for yoga.
All this is the brainchild of Sarah Good, who’s been running the retreat with her partner, Martin, for the past 6 years.
An experienced Sivananda yoga teacher, she leads the classes each morning, which are an energising mix of sun salutations and flowing asanas. All levels are welcome as she offers easier alternatives for beginners and more challenging options for yoga pros.
As well as being a yoga goddess, Sarah also gives fantastic massages using a blend of essential oils and organic olive oil from the grove. I had the detoxifying one and I practically floated for the rest of the day.
She is a true inspiration. Not only has she created this gem of a place, but she puts so much effort into the finer details. And makes it seem effortless.
The lone traveller
Just to give you some back story – when I found out I had a week’s break before I started my new job, I thought I’d jet off for some sunshine and chill time. Because it was so last minute, I decided to travel solo. I’d never been anywhere by myself…
I’d actually been to the retreat before with someone else, and found that a few people came on their own. So I knew it would be the perfect place to experience solo travelling.
And it was.
The place can accommodate up to 16 guests and it’s very much a community vibe. You cook together. Eat together. Do activities together. It’s so easy to chat to people.
And then if you want some alone time, you can simply choose a hammock to relax in or watch a film in the Love Shack (best to go in the evening though as it becomes a sauna during the day).
Back to nature
If you like your mod cons, this probably isn’t the place for you. Straighteners and hairdryers are banned! But once you realise how beautiful this place is, all the things you used to be preoccupied with just melt away.
There are 4 safari tents to choose from – all very spacious and sleep up to 3 people. To save money, you can bring your own tent or stay in one of the pop-up tents. Or, if camping really isn’t your bag, you can stay in one of 2 lovely ensuite rooms adjacent to the house.
I went for a safari tent and it suited me just fine. If I could go back though I’d tell myself not to be alarmed if I hear a wild boar squealing and snuffling around my tent in the middle of the night. They’re just looking for fallen olives and almonds. Obv.
For those in tents, there’s a little shower block with 2 toilets, 2 showers and 2 sinks. As mentioned, there’s a limited amount of water, so they ask you to be sparing with it. A sign reads: “In this land of sun and fun, we rarely flush for number one!” You get used to it.
Breakfast is provided, but for everything else, there’s a little shop that Sarah stocks up with veg, salad, cheese, rice, pasta and even their own olive oil. There’s also stuff like suncream and toothpaste if you run out or forget.
You can either cook at Stella’s bar overlooking the pool, or in ‘The Casita’, where everyone eats breakfast. I preferred to cook at the bar. When else do you get to cook outside, surrounded by mountains?
Excursions and activities
When you’ve had enough of chilling by the pool, there’s plenty of other stuff to do. You can sign up for wine tasting, paella making and Ayurveda workshops at the retreat itself. I tried all 3 last time and they were such fun – especially the wine tasting. More like wine glugging.
For the more adventurous, there are a few different hiking trails. I tried one with a couple from the retreat. Now I’m not a hiker, so it was pretty hard to keep up with them, but it was an amazing feeling when I made it to the top of the mountain.
A day trip to L’ampolla beach is a must. I went with a volunteer who was working at the retreat for a few weeks. We chatted, drank sangria, ate tapas, went paddleboarding, explored, found a bull fight (and snuck into the VIP area), ate churros and watched fireworks. And I thought I’d come to relax…
Another must-do is the kayak trip down the River Ebro. It was so good the first time, I had to go again. Just look at Miravet Castle…
Casa de Carrasco certainly did the trick. I came away feeling refreshed, revived and relaxed, despite all the exertion and lashings of vino.
It also made me appreciate a slower, more mindful way of life, which I’ve been trying to channel now I’m back in crazy ol’ London.
Yoga Panther x