Most of the yogis that I speak to about past yoga retreats or yoga holidays comment on the fact that it’s a challenge to find vegetarian food in Spain. So we thought that we would put together a guide to help you out when your on a Yoga Holiday in Spain. Also, we have put together a list of vegetarian tapas and vegan tapas just incase your a little confused when faced with the 10 page tapas menu. Have a leisurely read…
Health food stores
The health food stores in Spain generally carry a wide variety of organic, gourmet, and vegetarian items, both classic Spanish (such as jars of organic pisto) and international (such as sushi wraps and organic tiramisu). Soy, rice, and almond milk are easily available, as are a myriad of meat alternatives, including seitan, tofu, and soy crafted into hamburgers, kebabs, filets, and other faux creations. You might also be able to get your hands on delicacies such as Catalanbutifarras made from soy.
Aside from health food stores and supermarkets, such as NaturaSì in Madrid, a number of vegetarian restaurants have health food stores on the premises or next door.
Though the selection can be extremely limited, most herbolarios have a dietética section where they sell vegetarian products such as almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, tofu, and a veggie burger or two alongside low sugar, wholewheat, and diet foods.
Going out for tapas is the quintessential Spanish experience you won’t ever want to miss. But before you despair upon finding that most tapas places have only one or two vegetarian tapas on offer, let this be an opportunity to participate in the grand tradition of the Spanish tapas crawl. Go ir de tapas and have a tapa or two at one place, then move on to the next, and so on until you’ve had your fill. Just follow your nose with our quick guide to vegetarian and vegan tapas.
Note: While these tapas are usually suitable for vegetarians or vegans, unless you have a chance to see the tapa in front of you, make sure you ask if it contains any meat or shellfish. One tapas place may put bits of ham in their cheese croquettes, and another won’t. One place might try to put ham strips on your pan con tomate, and another wouldn’t dream of it.
tortilla de patata = potato omelette, often containing onions
tortilla de pimientos = potato omelette with bell pepper
tabla de quesos = an assortment of cheeses
croquetas de patata = potato croquettes (breaded, deep-fried, and cylinder-shaped)
croquetas de queso = cheese croquettes (breaded, deep-fried, and cylinder-shaped)
patatas bravas = fried potatoes served with spicy tomato sauce and garlic mayonnaise
quiche de rocquefort = a Rocquefort cheese and egg mixture cooked in a light pastry shell
buñuelos de queso = cheese fritters
empanadas de queso = cheese-filled turnovers
aros de cebolla rebozados = batter-fried onions
montaditos = small roll sandwiches; bread choices include white and wheat; vegetarian filling choices include a variety of cheeses, omelettes, and sometimes vegetables
tosta = a tapa on a slice of bread; vegetarian choices include a variety of cheeses, omelettes, and sometimes vegetables
pisto manchego = zucchini, tomato, bell pepper, and onion stew
escalivada = grilled eggplant, onion, and bell pepper
aceitunas = olives
champiñones al ajillo = garlic-sauteed mushrooms
alcachofas al ajillo = garlic-sauteed artichokes
pimientos asados = roasted bell peppers
pan con tomate = bread rubbed with ripe tomato, olive oil, and salt or garlic
berenjena con miel = fried eggplant strips drizzled with honey
zarangollo = zucchini and onion stew
Yoga Holidays are going green. We have a couple of projects planned in the ongoing month and are making positive steps to helping the environment. Read on to find out more about our exciting future projects;
Tree Nation Planting Project
We have decided to off set all of the carbon and are going to join the Tree-Nation Planting project. We’re going to work with Tree Nation and we’re grow a Yoga Wellbeing Forest! To counter desertification we will start to plant a tree for every customer who attends our holidays, in your name! Once you’ve received your tree, you can follow this project and watch your tree grow! Tree Nation’s website has lots of information on the project and the countless benefits to both people, the country and the planet in general www.tree-nation.com
Starting at the end of the yewr, we will be off-setting the Co2 emmisions on all flights within Europe and one-way for flights to Asia (we’re hoping you guys will offer the return flight!). We are going to work in conjunction with Climate Care and they have a calculator where you can see how many tons of Co2 your flight put into the atmosphere and pay to off-set it. For more information on Climate Care, please visit their sitewww.climatecare.org
Yoga is not just about getting bendy. Let us know how your helping the environment by working with different communities. As ever, we would like to hear your thoughts and read your stories – click here.
We all know the feeling, we lose track of our breath and find it a challenge to stay aware throughout our everyday. When your on retreat you get the time and space to learn some breathing exercises (Pranayama) that you will be able to use as a tool for everyday stresses that we combat in our everyday.
Pranayama are an important part of a developing yoga practice. Pranayama is one of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, as defined by the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. In addition to deepening your yoga practice, learning ways to calm or invigorate the body through breathing will greatly benefit your life off the mat. Breathing is an involuntary act; it is an essential part of life. Although we cannot control whether or not we breathe, we can control the way that we breathe. It has been proven that different methods of breath affect the body’s health and life force is the core of Pranayama practice.
Three-Part Breath – Dirga Pranayama
A good breath for beginners, this exercise teaches you how to fill and empty the lungs completely. Benefits: Focuses the attention on the present moment, calms and grounds the mind. This pranayama exercise is often done while seated in a comfortable, cross-legged position, but it is also nice to do while lying on the back, particularly at the beginning of your practice. When you are lying down, you can really feel the breath moving through your body as it makes contact with the floor.
1. Come to lie down on the back with the eyes closed, relaxing the face and the body.
2. Begin by observing the natural inhalation and exhalation of your breath without changing anything. If you find yourself distracted by the activity in your mind, try not to engage in the thoughts. Just notice them and then let them go, bringing your attention back to the inhales and the exhales.
3. Then begin to inhale deeply through the nose.
4. On each inhale, fill the belly up with your breath. Expand the belly with air like a balloon.
5. On each exhale, expel all the air out from the belly through your nose. Draw the navel back towards your spine to make sure that the belly is empty of air.
6. Repeat this deep belly breathing for about five breaths.
7. On the next inhale, fill the belly up with air as described above. Then when the belly is full, draw in a little more breath and let that air expand into the rib cage causing the ribs to widen apart.
8. On the exhale, let the air go first from the rib cage, letting the ribs slide closer together, and them from the belly, drawing the navel back towards the spine.
9. Repeat this deep breathing into the belly and rib cage for about five breaths.
10. On the next inhale, fill the belly and rib cage up with air as described above. Then draw in just a little more air and let it fill the upper chest, all the way up to the collarbone, causing the area around the heart (which is called the heart center in yoga), expand and rise.
11. On the exhale, let the breath go first from the upper chest, allowing the heart center sink back down, then from the rib cage, letting the ribs slide closer together. Finally, let the air go from the belly, drawing the navel back towards the spine.
12. You are practicing three-part breath! Continue at your own pace, eventually coming to let the three parts of the breath happen smoothly without pausing.
13. Continue for about 10 breaths.
Try this breathing exercise out before you even come on our yoga retreat and it will be the perfect introduction to winding down before you set off.
Yoga Retreats and Holidays can be life changing. However do you return feeling that you haven’t had a chance to even consider your diet? You have practiced yoga asana, the breathing techniques and meditation but haven’t been told by your yoga host how to balance our diet. Here’s an introduction to Ayurveda to help keep everything in balance;
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is the ancient Indian philosophy of health and wellbeing. It means the ‘art of living wisely.’ In simple terms, Ayurveda is a holistic system which guides us so that we can live a healthier and more balanced lifestyle. It recognises that we are all unique and focuses on food, lifestyle, massage, yoga and herbal remedies to suit our individual make-up.
Where did it come from?
Ayurveda is timeless – it has existed for over 4000 years but yet it still applies to modern day life. The key to its longevity is because Ayurveda is logical. An early description given in the Charaka Samhita (the earliest Ayurvedic literature) written circa 150BCE-100CE says:
“It is called ayurveda because it tells us which substances, qualities and actions are life enhancing, and which are not.”
The wisdom of Ayurveda encourages us to take responsibility for our own health according to the different stages of our lives, the seasons, and the environment we live, work and play in. These factors all have a big impact on our health and it makes sense to adapt our lifestyle accordingly so we can continue to live in harmony with our body and stay at optimum health.
Ayurveda is all about living life to the full and keeping yourself balanced – whatever is thrown at you!
In Ayurveda we are said to have body-mind types, these are known as dosha and consist of vata, pitta and kapha. Eachdosha has certain attributes and describes our individual characteristics, inherited traits, our likes and dislikes and our tendencies.
Generally we are a combination of dosha but one will usually dominate. If a dosha becomes out of balance, which can happen for a number of reasons, it can effect how we behave and even our health.
Typcial characteristics of each dosha type:
Vata – types tend to be visionary, imaginative and full of creative energy but when they are out of balance they can be forgetful, spaced out, anxious and uptight. Typical vata problems are erractic digestion, bloating, anxiety or joint disorders.
Pitta – types are confident, passionate leaders, organised and perfectionists but excess pitta can make them fiery, snappy and irritable. Pitta people have a tendency to suffer from skin irritations, overheating, heartburn and ulcers.
Kapha – types tend to be loyal, kind-hearted, calm and full of love, but a kapha overload can make them lethargic, lacking in energy and a little overindulgent. Kapha types are prone to congestion, excess weight and sluggish digestion.
It’s important to try and keep our doshas in balance in order to stay on top form. It’s not always easy with the hectic lives we lead, but if we can learn what our body needs and adjust our lifestyle accordingly, it’s a big step closer to staying healthy.
I had someone ask me in a regular Yoga class in London what is the benefit of meditation. This is a great question that is raised so many times on yoga retreats or even short yoga weekends. People get some space to think and start to want to open up even more.
Research into the benefits of mindfulness seems to support its claims. People prone to depression, say, are less likely to have depressive episodes if they practice meditation. Stress goes down. But it’s more like going on a journey than taking a pill. Though meditation techniques can be learned quickly, it’s no instant remedy and requires discipline. That said, many who attend lessons or go on retreats find immediate benefits – which is not so surprising, given that in a world of no stillness, even a little calm goes a long way.
Part of the appeal of mindfulness is that it doesn’t come loaded with theological assumptions. You can do it without being a Buddhist, though Buddhist assumptions do underpin it. The most obvious is the concept of dukkha – which can be translated as suffering, dissatisfaction or discontent. It’s meant in a very broad sense, everything from deep psychological wounding to the faintest perturbations that trouble daily life. The Buddha’s discovery, when he was enlightened, was that life is characterised by such suffering. But there is a path to follow, along which suffering will cease. Meditation is a key part of it. Mindfulness eases the habit of clinging to things, even big things like life itself. When the clinging ceases, the suffering ceases too.
Other traditions take a subtly different view. Christianity, for example, teaches that the fundamental characteristic of life is not suffering, but the quest for love. It’s what Saint Augustine had in mind when he diagnosed that to be human is to have a “restless heart”. He argued that the restlessness propels you to discover the source of life, which lies outside of yourself, in God.
A secular take on suffering might see things differently again – as a kind of alert system, telling you that something is wrong with the world. The way to respond is not to detach yourself, but to address the causes. It’s this notion of easing suffering that inspires everyone from doctors to political reformers.
Buddhism has strands that engage in social action too. As for seeking God, there are many non-Buddhist theists who practice mindfulness as a useful technique. This supports the case that you don’t have to be a Buddhist to engage in mindfulness, particularly when it is offered as a practice aimed at caring for yourself. Then, it’s about knowing yourself better, something recognised as a crucial part of living well across a wide range of traditions. It’s striking that today we often don’t take the time to do so. Hence, perhaps, many of the ills of the western world.
But mindfulness says: make the time to step back, and here’s a way to do it. It encourages you to be more aware of life, and promises that mindfulness is a source of insight and hope.
Meditation is something that has been a part of my everyday for as long as I can remember. Finding a place to meditate in London is a little bit of a challenge. Although that all changes when you get yourself out of your normal environment.
Rates of depression and anxiety are rising in the modern world. Andrew Oswald, a professor at Warwick University who studies wellbeing, recently told me that mental health indicators nearly always point down. “Things are not going completely well in western society,” he said. Proposed remedies are numerous. And one that is garnering growing attention is meditation, and mindfulness meditation in particular.
The aim is simple: to pay attention – be “mindful”. Typically, a teacher will ask you to sit upright, in an alert position. Then, they will encourage you to focus on something straightforward, like the in- and out-flow of breath. The aim is to nurture a curiosity about these sensations – not to explain them, but to know them.
It’s a way of concentrating on the here and now. It doesn’t aim directly at the dispersal of stresses and strains. In fact, it is very hard to develop the concentration necessary to follow your breath, even for a few seconds. What you see is your mind racing from this memory to that moment. But that’s the trick: to observe, and to learn to change the way you relate to your your mind. Here lies the route to better mental health.
Mindfulness is not about yogic flying. Moreover, it is not a fast track to blissful happiness. It can, in fact, be quite unsettling, as works with painful experiences, to understand them better and thereby get to the root of problems.
Some of the mediation we have practiced at our yoga breaks recently have been influenced by Dr. Jon Kabat Zimm. Kabat Zimm started up a mindfulness centre in 1979 and has done some profound work for mindfulness, healing and stress reduction. We wanted to share some of his thoughts, have a leisurely read…
Has this ever happened to you while driving to work: you have a long and heated argument with somebody about your work, only to find at some point that you are alone in the car?
So far, the meeting and the argument are taking place only in your own mind! But you are already tense, perhaps even angry, feeling the stress of events that may not happen at all, or that will no doubt unfold differently from the way you have imagined. Afterwards, you can barely remember how you got to work. You certainly weren’t all there for the ride.
Or, you come out of a meeting in which you failed to speak up. Then you spend the rest of the day arguing your points with people in your mind. The meeting is over, but you are experiencing the stress of these mental arguments for the rest of the day. They are going nowhere, and you are out of touch, lost in a fog of your own creation — however important the real issues may be.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone. We all spend much of our lives unconsciously absorbed in a future that hasn’t happened yet or in a past that is already gone and in the process, spend much of the day out of touch with the present moment, which is the only time we ever get in which to live or act. And so, we can easily miss out on the opportunities that the present moment is constantly offering us.
Certainly, mental rehearsal and thoughtful reflection can be useful at times. But there are better ways to do it than through the haze of unconscious preoccupation and absorption. If you have real problems, it will be important to work them with a clear mind.
If you are routinely out of touch with the present, you may miss more than the morning commute. You might be thinking of other things while playing with your children, lost in thought when you are with friends, missing tender moments with your lover, oblivious to the beauty of a sunny day or the place you are in short, missing out on life.
Mindfulness Meditation is about learning to experience life fully as it unfolds—moment by moment. One popular misconception about meditation is that it is a way to make your mind blank so you can escape from what you are feeling. However, author Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn wants you to understand that meditation is an invitation to wake up, experience the fullness of your life, and transform your relationship with your problems, your fears, and any pain and stress in your life so that they don’t wind up controlling you and eroding the quality of your life and your creativity. It is not about running away, or manipulating mental states.
Through the practice of mindfulness, you can learn to develop greater calmness, clarity and insight in facing and embracing all your life experiences, even life’s trials, and turning them into occasions for learning, growing and deepening your own strength and wisdom.
In this program, internationally-known meditation teacher Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn shows you how to:
- Access your own deep inner resources for learning, growing and healing
- Enrich your experience of everyday living by being fully present in the moment
- Reduce stress by responding creatively rather than reacting mindlessly
- Bring greater clarity and understanding to everything you do
- Function more effectively within your apparent limitations and problems by cultivating your fundamental strengths
- Reestablish contact with your physical body to heighten and expand experiences of pleasure and vitality
- Reduce or overcome addictive or self-destructive behavior patterns
- Develop a strong daily meditation practice
We are all really excited for our first yoga retreat in Cornwall. Glamping with a view from the sea, great organic food, yoga on the beach and sitting around a fire star gazing. The £99 Yoga break got even better when we met Dan. Dan is our activity guru and has got plenty of activities in store for you if you would like an energetic break. Other yogis will prefer to sit in a meadow and meditate other may want to try something new. Whatever works for you if you fancy some aqua zorbing read on.
Yoga Holidays Activity List
Students are given snugly winter 5mm wetsuits and soft surfboards and are given professional, fun and engaging surf coaching from our British Surfing Association and International Surfing Association Instructors. These sessions last for around 2 hours, but as with all these activities, we can be flexible to suit your needs.
Armed with snugly winter 5mm wetsuits, buoyancy aids and helmets, the group is lead around a stretch of coastline at Rame Head. Most of the activity is based in the water, experiencing the rise and fall of the ocean around rock formations, gullies and caves. It’s so much fun, it’s like being in a washing machine and a natural water park all at the same time. We also do some traversing along the waterline and small jumps building up to fairly hefty ones at the end of the coast. There are some resident seals along this stretch of coast too as well as the occasional basking shark and sometimes dolphins. These sessions last for around 3 hours.
Cocooned inside a 2 meter diameter bubble of air, riders experience walking on water (but probably just falling with style and laughing lots!). Dan runs an evening session on Sundays in the safety of the swimming pool at nearby Whitsand Bay Holiday Park. On still days when conditions allow, he also runs sessions in the sea.
Dan is able to offer wild and woolly horse riding on Dartmoor for groups of 6-10 people
So many yogis and yogini’s have got in touch with us and outlined that there is no way they can afford £400 – £500 Yoga holidays, Yoga breaks or even Yoga weekends. Considering the current state and how we find ourselves in the UK and beyond. More people want to spend part of their holiday in the UK and they need it to be affordable. We responded by hitting the Yoga Wellbeing drawing board and coming up with the concept for the £99 Yoga Holiday. It’s the first Yoga Holiday for £99 and we are creating an opportunity for everyone to enjoy. Including unemployed yogis, elderly yogis and yoga loving families.
Yoga in London for some can become about fitting classes in and losing track of the main root. So we are trying to bring it all back to what’s important. Yoga outdoors, meditation good organic food, good people and an open fire. What more do you need.
So if you feel like the purse strings are a bit tight at the moment and that you can’t even take a break or holiday this year. Then this might just be the Yoga break for you. Click here if you would like to join us.
Our Yoga Holiday was spent in the stunning mountain scenery of the Monasterio Santa Eulalia. We arrived on the Friday to a beautiful sunset and an amazing dinner of fresh seafood. The morning yoga session was set up the mountains at sunrise watching the different colours change the land. Arriving at our platform nestled in mountain range Laura taught a energising yoga session. We were surrounded by natural beauty and settled down to relaxation with the sounds of the local birds twittering away. It was a far cry from the Yoga in London studio.
We spent the day relaxing and having a wander around the local artisan market that comes to the monasterio. We tried local organic cheeses, got to try out a pottery workshop and bought some beautiful local essential oils. We then all floated to our evening session and said goodbye to the sun and another day. What an amazing area this is, I felt so inspired that I sat and drew the landscape for an hour, something I haven’t given myself the time for back in London.
That became the main theme throughout the retreat, giving yourself the time to invest in yourself as a whole. We are organising another luxury yoga break in October at the Monasterio Santa Eulalia. To book now then click here, we would love to hear from you.