Yoga Practices & Choosing Retreats In Portugal
I recently discovered an amazing little yoga practice in Portimao in the Algarve of Portugal. Villa Prana Yoga, has an amazing vibe to it with a beautiful owner. She really seems to care about her customers and clients. Not only is this a Yoga practice all year round, but a Guest House with Surf & Yoga retreats as well. I’ve not had the luxury of going on one of their retreats, however classes I’ve been to were excellently constructed. Care is taken by the Instructor to insure good posture and good practice. Only a 5-minute drive from our location in Alvor. It’s well worth a visit if you are passing through the Algarve, Portugal.
The classes I did here were truly invigorating and taught in depth. Quite a feat when you consider it is done multilingually for both Portuguese and English speaking yoga lover’s.
While You’re There:
While you’re in the area, you may as well do a quick little stop at the daily Municipal Markets for some amazingly fresh and ridiculously cheap fruit and vegetables, plus some good quality fish and meat if you’re into that type of thing. The markets are conveniently located a couple hundred meters up the road from the Villa Prana studios. So a quick yoga session to wake you up in the morning then a stroll through the cool isles lined with vendors and their produce, followed by white sands, crystal clear waters and maybe even a beverage to top it off. I could fill several days with this calm and relaxed way of life under the sun.
While the studio has class schedules listed on their website in both Portuguese and English, the Markets are open from 7am-2pm and 5pm-8pm, Monday to Friday, 7am-2pm Saturdays, and closed on Sundays. Ample time in the day for you to do a double visit to both if you are that way inclined.
INlight yoga & Massage studio, Algarve
InLight Yoga & Massage Studio is located just 30 minutes west from here in the coastal town known as Lagos. With Lagos being a hub for tourists, especially the surfy kind, it might be likely that this yoga practice is a touch more accessible for travellers.
With a nice variety of different styles and intensities, open plan, well decorated facilities and some really lovely and attentive yoga instructors, it’s easy to say that it goes recommended. A nice full time-table means you don’t have to miss out on any attractions or adventures you might be planning on doing, and with the studio right in the centre of Lagos, you can easily spend a few hours strolling through the shops and cobbled streets. It’s beautiful and full of character. You might even come across a bunch of young musicians starting up an impromptu busking session in the street.
Retreats & How to Choose them, Portugal
If the yoga practices are not quite what you are looking for, there’s always the option for a yoga retreat. Immerse yourself in a yoga intensive retreat or course, which are offered in a multitude of different locations all over Portugal. It’s even possible to select your preferred style of yoga as well as retreat length. Just go onto this website and see what wonderful suggestions it presents you with. Maybe you would prefer a surf retreat, which is easy enough to find on booksurfcamps.com. Combining the two options is certainly a good idea too. I would recommend looking for a yoga retreat that includes surfing, or ask when booking. There are plenty of these about.
Where should you go, you ask? While I cannot recommend a specific retreat, simply as I haven’t been to any in Portugal yet, I can recommend locations. If you follow any of my other posts, you’ll know that I’ve zoomed up and down the coast of Portugal a few times now. With several more times soon to come. If it’s an immersion you are looking for, you have so much to choose from in this beautiful country. Here’s a few things you can ask yourself before choosing a location:
The further north in Portugal you venture, the less English speakers you’ll come across. If you are planning on a complete and total immersion, yoga and Portuguese culture alike, heading to Alentejo or North might suit you better. As you close in on the Algarve things become a touch more touristy and accessible for the english speaking Nomads. However, you will still be lavishly strewn with the Portuguese culture and their rich historic past. It’s just far easier to ask for directions to the cookie isle.
What are your interests? Do you enjoy staring wistfully across the ocean, while the surfer’s cut across the face of a wave. Or would you prefer the dry, quiet of central Portugal? Less tourists, less English, more heat, still beautiful. Then there’s the North again, where it’s mountainous, hilly and scattered with small farms and vineyards. It’s also a touch cooler with more rainfall and agriculture. Lastly, for those who want a little bit of party added to their yoga experience; the Algarve is certainly an easy option. Though, you’d be well served in the bigger cities like Lisbon and Porto as well.
Whether you’re a winter soul or a summer child could alter your choice significantly. Needless to say, as you head North, you’re likely to start cooling down. The further south you go, the hotter it becomes. If you head inland you lose the coastal breezes. As a beach body, it might swing either way.
Basically put, the Central Portugal and inland Alentejo regions can get sweltering and dry. While the North tends to be cooler and wetter, the Algarve gets a fair dose of sun and wind. Coastal areas have the sea breeze to cool it down a little on those hot summer days, though it can be prone to Atlantic storms. Keeping all this in mind, it’s also good to remember that no matter where you are in Portugal, it’s likely to be much milder weather than other European countries.
Summary for Decision Making
I thought to make it easy I would break it down into sections according to regions in Portugal. North to South.
North Portugal (Rural): Little English, Mountains, Hills, Farms & Vineyards, Quiet, Warm Summers, Cooler & Wetter Winters.
Central Portugal (Inland): Little English, Mountains, Plateaus, Pine & Chestnut Forests, River, Summers Hot & Dry, Winters are Cooler, Quiet.
Alentejo (Inland): Little English, Vast Flat Landscapes, Less People (only 5% of the population live here), Hot & Dry Summers, Cooler Winters.
Algarve (Coastal): English spoke by most, Long Hot Summers, Short Mild Winters, Mediterranean climate, Touristy with Touristy Activities, Clubs, Pubs & Nightlife, A Ghost Town in Winter, Bustling in Summer.
Portugal (Coastal): For the most part the coastal regions will reflect a slightly milder version of their inland counterparts. To me it seems you would receive the best of both worlds on the coast. You can enjoy the heat as well as the cool, enjoy the beach and perhaps even some mountains depending on whether you are North or South. There are some incredible surf resorts scattered along the coast. And don’t forget beautiful Ericeira, the long beaches of Peniche, and powerful Nazaré. Coastal Alentejo is absolutely incredible, and very uninhabited.
Up To You
I hope the tips above will make it easier for everyone to choose between the many yoga practices and retreats that sprinkle the Portuguese world. For me a good break-down of all the information sets me up for quicker decision making as I’m one of the indecisive types. I can take ages pouring over information about locations and accommodation before finally making a decision I’ll probably change. Break downs make my life much easier.
Now then, go forth and yoga!