If you, like me, are one of those people who loves the idea of a beach holiday but when actually on the beach is incredibly restless, then Vikasa Yoga Retreat sounds right up your street. It’s the perfect blend of relaxation and movement, and it’s right on the beach.
I had always wanted to go on a yoga retreat; mostly because I love the idea of a holiday filled with exercise, but also because I always want to be able to meditate - I always imagined a yoga retreat would help in cultivating a sense of serenity which could then be applied whenever you were faced with stressful situations in real life. When I lived in Bangkok, a yoga teacher friend always raved about Vikasa Yoga Retreat on the Island of Koh Samui. This little haven is so popular that I never actually managed to find a time when a room at Vikasa and I were both free. Three years later, after leaving a particularly soul-destroying job, I found myself in particular need of restoration - and as luck would have it, the stars were aligned. It was time to visit Vikasa.
As we drove up to the outdoor reception, I was beaming with joy at the sublime setting: positioned on the top of a cliff overlooking the bluest waters with an infinity pool, sweet little thatched bungalows and an open-air yoga sala, it was truly idyllic.
Aside from its paradise setting, another advantage of Vikasa is its formula – it’s a retreat, but it’s by no means extreme. There’s a gorgeous spa and the amazing cafe is even open to the public (and people travel across the island for it!) You can dip in and dip out of as many or as few yoga sessions as you like; you can walk to beaches and shops nearby; they even have wifi! A typical day looks like this: a 7am yoga class followed by a healthy wholesome brunch, then a break of about 3 hours before more yoga at 4pm, then a healthy wholesome dinner from 6:30pm followed by a type of meditation at 9pm before bed-time. And you can dip in and dip out as much as you need or want to.
And the FOOD almost defies description it was so utterly sumptuously delicious. Honestly the sensational food was one of the main reasons I chose to go to Vikasa in the first place, having heard such wonderful things about it from friends in Bangkok.
Brunch and dinner are included in a stay at Vikasa. Both buffets, on each of the five days, were made up of the best kind of healthy, nourishing, real food. It was mostly plant-based but in the best of ways (the vegan labeling was discreet) with such colourful fragrant dishes that any non-vegan wouldn’t have even missed the meat or dairy. The menu of the Vikasa Life Café is inspired by a collaboration of two award-winning chefs – Boris Lauser (winner of Europe’s Best Raw Food Chef award) and internationally renowned Cyril Schivo. The Life Café’s mission is to create magic out of fresh and delicious ingredients – and boy do they deliver! Raw cakes, tropical smoothies, rainbow salad bowls, twists on traditional Thai fare and all using locally sourced ingredients. I was in seventh-heaven!
I have to admit that it took me about two days to settle in and as I was only there for five nights, I recommend staying for up to one week, just to allow yourself to embrace the rhythm of the days - as having hours of time to relax and reflect can be quite a challenge for the hyperactive among us. It’s also a very inclusive space, which I hugely appreciated. I’m by no means a yoga pro, but the teachers are kind and patient, and the yogis I met were a real mix of people and abilities - which I must admit made me feel a whole lot better when I wasn’t the only one opting for Child’s Pose as the advanced practitioners performed incredibly complex headstands.
On my last day I treated myself to a raw dessert, having drooled over them in the fridge every morning. The lime ‘cheese’-cake was a slice of pure heaven – light, fresh, zingy and just perfectly balanced, and my goodness it made it even harder to leave! I’ll just have to go back next year…