Join YogaOnCrete and experience the lightness of spirit and joy of honouring and nurturing the needs of your body, mind and spirit through the practice of Iyengar yoga, Hatha yoga, meditation and Body Soul Movement, daily encounters with the cool, turquoise Mediterranean waters at quiet beaches, idyllic unspoilt surroundings, and wholesome local food, excursions, a warm and welcoming group of people and much more! No previous experience in yoga is required for participation in the course.
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 a limited availability of rooms and 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.
In this retreat, Eugenia and Federica will be sharing their own experiences of how yoga practice has supported them as women in leading happier and more fulfilling lives. The week will begin with an opening celebratory ceremony and yoga class. Thereafter, there will be two yoga classes a day, based on the Iyengar and Hatha flow styles, a sitting or walking meditation session, shamanic rituals, a Body Soul movement session, and discussions on yoga philosophy as applied to your experiences and concerns as women.
Additionally, yoga practices that support certain periods in women's lives (menstruation, menopause) will be presented, and issues that often women in particular deal with (body image, eating disorders, self-worth and self-love, perfectionism, anxiety, being judgmental as well as being susceptible to judgment) will be raised and discussed. The aim is to support each woman to tap into the strength and joy that lies within the softness, tenderness, nurturing nature and intuitive capacity of womanhood, in order to develop trust in our own potential and life as a whole and to celebrate the gift of this life we have been given.
The week begins with an opening celebratory ceremony, in order to embrace nature in your process of learning and growing together, followed by an introductory yoga class at 18:00 on the day of arrival, and the day's program closes with dinner.
The days will then include a morning class (usually 08:00 - 10:00, but may also start earlier on one day, to see the sunrise!) and an afternoon class (usually 18:30-20:00), alternating between Iyengar and Hatha yoga. On occasion, you will also take the session out in nature, e.g., to greet the new day and celebrate your aliveness and connectedness to the beautiful environment with an early morning swim. On one afternoon, there will be a Body Soul Movement session, instead of the afternoon yoga class.
After breakfast, guests are free to relax and enjoy the beach and sunshine, receive a massage treatment, or explore the village and region. The fourth day of the week is a rest day from classes. An optional excursion can be arranged, including a hike through the magnificent Aradaina gorge (approximately 25 EUR depending on number of participants going). Individual excursions (e.g., hikes, boat trips) can also be arranged during the week. On the last day of each week, departure can be arranged after morning class and breakfast.
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 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.
Each class will start with a centering and grounding meditation. You will then focus on building the foundations for a basic series of asana (postures). The correct understanding and practice of postures thus becomes a tool for deepening ones awareness of body, breath and mind.
This is yoga to Federica: to discover, honour and let our divine nature unfold and shine through life with ALL its challenges and pains, all its beauty and infinite possibilities. This course is designed to guide the student in finding their spiritual path (sadhana), in order to live a more fulfilling, balanced and peaceful life. Yoga is not a physical exercise; yoga is a holistic system that sees the human being as body, breath, mind / intellect / ego and spirit (atman). During this course, you will explore these aspects of our Beings as a journey of self-discovery and powerful awakening.
The classes will include:
Asana: starting with alignment-based work, you will find length, ease and effortlessness, in combined breath and movement sequences called Vinyasa. The different yoga sequences warm the body inside and out, developing flow, energy, strength, flexibility and grace.
Pranayama: the science of breathing will be a fundamental tool in awakening your energy force (prana) and in understanding the connection between mind, body and emotion.
Chanting and meditation: devotion and stillness will be your friends in discovering your inner source of faith, compassion and gratitude.
Your body and soul are full of natural, spontaneous energy, vibration, intuition and aliveness. There is no judgment or reaction, no expectation or guilt, and no past or future. Through authentic, free movement in this 2-hour class on one of the week's afternoons, you will release the deep tension and limitations that block your freedom and vitality. You will shake off the minds heavy burden of past experiences and their associated judgments.
Through self expression, you will reach a new form of dialogue and union with yourself. You will play with yourself. You will challenge your ego and your comfort zone, light up your "story" and feel lighter. Through dancing, singing, playing, breathing and touching, you will feed the parts of your body and soul that you have buried, forgotten and ignored. In short, you will reveal and awaken their natural states of being.
The class will include:
In this journey, there is no teacher and no technique to memorize. You are not here to learn any new theories. We have collected so many theories that our minds seem to have lost their ability to be alert, silent and open to pure creation, which is what we seek to encourage during this week.
A round trip to the beautiful Sweet Water beach is included in the price.
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.
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; 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 neighbouring 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 fresh water 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 40 EUR per hour.
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 hire 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 centre, 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 travelling 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.
Alternatively, from Chania you can 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 08:30, 11:00, 14:00 and 16:00; 7.60 EUR; duration 2 hours).
From Heraklion you first need to get a bus to Rethymnon (approximately every hour; 7.60 EUR; duration 90 minutes) and then a bus to Chora Sfakion changing buses at Vrisses (at 08:00, and 13:00; 7.30 EUR; 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.
To get to the bus station in Chania from the airport, 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 luggage storage, operating between 06:30 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 the cost should be about 15-20 EUR.
To reach the Heraklion bus station from the airport, there is a bus service (bus No. 6) at regular intervals, but ask the driver to tell you where to get off for the bus station, because it is not obvious.
Travelling by taxi is the most convenient way to reach the village. A taxi from Chania city centre or airport costs 85 EUR (1 hour) and from Heraklion 140 EUR (2.5 hours).
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