Yoga in hot temperatures

Yoga in hot temperatures: what to expect

Over the last few years, hot yoga has seen a huge increase in popularity. While traditional forms of yoga accomplish calming effects, stretching benefits and even aerobic exercise, and they are ideal to get toned, lose weight and improve mind balance, a little heat can add even extra benefits.

A couple of forms of yoga that require some heat are hot yoga and Bikram Yoga. These yoga styles take place in heated rooms (up to 40 degrees) and claim to provide added benefits to practitioners. Some say the artificial heat is supposed to mirror the heat of India, where yoga was originally born and people practise under such conditions.

However, if you’re not a big fan of an indoor room full of sweaty yogis, you can still enjoy all the added perks of a heated practise while practising outdoors in Spain! This was especially true in our last retreat in Málaga, Southern Spain, where temperatures during an intense heat wave reached almost 40 degrees during our evening practise! And the group did great, actually!

These are some of the advantages of practising yoga in hot temperatures:

  1. Detox. Sweating is the best way to remove toxins from your body, so embrace it! Plus, all blood cells are cleansed and oxygenated.
  2. Slim down. It’s quite obvious that with so much sweating, it’s easier to tone up the body and lose weight faster than with normal temperatures.
  3. Going deeper. The heat makes your blood thinner, which is pumped deeper into the muscles being stretched and hence making them stronger. It also helps in healing the joints. So you’ll feel deeper stretches and stronger muscles!
  4. High energy level. By practising a softer routine in a hotter place, your body gets the same intensity of a workout but with a low-impact exercise. Doing so under the Spanish Sun –it boosts your energy to the sky!

But one thing is true: yoga in hot temperatures is not for everybody. Extreme heat should be avoided by pregnant women and people with significant heart issues. It is also discouraged for people with epilepsy or taking anti-depressants, or being treated on anxiety or insomnia.

Prepare yourself

While your yoga practise will be highly satisfying (I promise!), please be prepared!! These are some precautions you should take:

  • Avoid eating a few hours before the class. Or if you really need to, have just a banana or a few almonds to pump up your energy.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which will only dehydrate you.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after the class to make up for all the fluids you will sweat out.
  • Take as many breaks as you need during the class.

Yoga under the heat can be a little intimidating and you might be scared your body can’t handle it because it will be more difficult. But in fact, the opposite is true. Just follow our advice, and enjoy the Sun!

Chanting in yoga

How opening up to chanting changed how I feel about yoga

About a year ago, I knew nothing about chanting. Not that I’m an expert today, but my perception has most certainly changed a lot.

I used to think chanting was for the crazy hippies and maybe the sect-bound weak personalities. I know –I was quite prejudiced. But hey, I’ve changed! Changed happened after the very first session. I was leading a retreat with Sivananda teacher Laia Puig, and she incorporating some chanting in the sessions.

It was powerful.

Just listening to her was mesmerizing, but when the group slowly started loosening up and joining here and there, we all could feel the energy. We were in a trance, we were singing the Sanskrit words and falling into some sort of spell that would last a long time after the singing.

After the retreat, I attended my first kirtan… boy, wasn’t that special! The singers would start singing the mantras slowly and little by little speed the rhythm up… following the rhythm, yogis attending the concert would clap, sing, dance, get up and jump with their hands to the sky.

The power of chanting was incredibly evident and I suddenly understood why so many spiritual traditions use it for transformation. I was transformed. I felt connected to all those people. I felt real happiness. And I wanted more.

If you’ve never experienced anything like this before, be open. And trust me, it will get pretty awesome. So allow yourself to be open to new experiences. Let go of any negative thoughts like “I will look stupid”, or “this is weird!”. Remember in yoga we always say that the poses you don’t like are the ones you should be practising most, because your body needs them most. The same is true for any experiences you are resisting.

So let go of the expectations and judgements that don’t really serve you and bring your awareness to the surrendering of the moment… Maybe just listen… maybe start moving… maybe chant a little… you will then experience the freedom that comes with living the moment.

Me, I’m leaving tomorrow on another retreat with Laia, and I expect more chanting, more freedom, more connection…

I cannot wait!

7 things to expect on a yoga retreat

7 things to expect from our yoga retreats

So we’re leaving on our yearly Mindfulness and Ashtanga Yoga Retreat in a few days, and first-timers are always a little nervous to see what they’ll find. Even people who’ve been on yoga retreats before are curious to find out how this one is going to develop.

So these are a few things you should expect when you come on a yoga retreat with us:

1. It’s mostly girls

European and North American yoga is mostly dominated by women (around an 80%). This means that most possibly this proportion will be present in your yoga retreat as well.

2. Time for yourself

At our yoga retreats we usually give you some free time for you to just relax and breathe. You will always have a couple of hours a day with nothing on the program so you can reflect, observe and clear your mind.

3. Setting new goals

Getting out of your daily routine and taking time away from home will help you see things from a different perspective. Take advantage of this distance, take a look at your life, evaluate it and reassess your goals.

4. Asana practise

Our yoga retreats are designed so you practise at least once a day every morning, and perhaps twice. The difference with your routine practise is that you might be practising with a different teacher, or you might be focusing on special poses or transitions. Take it all in.

5. Time to meditate

After a couple of days of an intense yoga practise and meditation your emotions will start to come to surface. By opening the physical body through yoga, your emotional body will start to release as well: don’t hold them back. You usually do that on your daily life, so acknowledge any new feelings that may come up during your yoga retreat, and let them go.

6. New friends

You won’t feel like the odd one out in a new group of friends. Think about it: you already have lots in common with the rest of the participants –you all love yoga. And most probably, you will all have a common interest in healthy eating, wellness and self-improvement. A yoga retreat is the perfect place to meet new and interesting people!

7. Time outdoors

All our yoga retreats contemplate time in nature. Whether it is on a hiking excursion at a natural park or a sightseeing trip in Seville, make sure to breathe the new and fresh air, and let it nourish your body.


You will have been working on your body and soul, clearing your mind with meditation, and filling it will all new experiences and people. So if all goes well… you will not want to go home!

How to find your purpose on a yoga retreat

3 sure ways a yoga retreat will help you find your life purpose

There exist only a few who have discovered and grasped their true potential in life. Indeed, this is a very challenging task. Our society values those things that have barely any spiritual significance: money, status, goals… so it’s really hard not to believe that your happiness and well-being lie in the better-paid job, the bigger house, the more expensive clothes, or the faster car.

With all this noise, how can we provide some clarity to our inner selves and open up to discover our own unique gift to this world? First and foremost, remember that the answer is already within you: nobody else can teach you how you have to live your path and what your potential really is. Remember though, that you need to find time to connect with yourself, and that you must believe in your inner voice above anything else.

A yoga retreat will undoubtedly help you find some answers to these challenges. A yoga retreat will remove you from your routine, both physically and rationally, and consequently will make you face new points of view which will eventually lead you to your life purpose.

These are some ways in which a yoga retreat will guide your inner self:

1. There will be compulsory inner work.

Be it yoga and/or meditation, that is what you came here for. Take advantage of it! A daily spiritual practise during one whole week will spark a change in habits. This practise will help your brain get used to a newfound silence, acknowledge your calling and listen to the needs of your spirit. Rejoice and learn from stillness.

2. You will be surrounded by like-minded souls.

Being around other people who are emphatically looking for answers is one of the best experiences on a yoga retreat. While sharing some holiday time with similar people, you will realise that we are all the same; we are all looking for truth and happiness, and we are trying to make the most of our brief time on earth. Feel the energy!

3. You will be introduced to inspiring teachers.

You may be following your all-time yoga teacher, but it’s possible that other spiritual guides will be present at the retreat offering extra activities: massages, reiki, Ayurveda teachings, Kirtan sessions, etc. Don’t judge other traditions, and be open to ancient knowledge from different backgrounds. Take it all in! You never know where your true calling is hiding.

Whatever phase you’re at in your inward journey, a yoga retreat can help you arrive to where you have to be. The clarity you will find on your retreat will travel with you as you go back to your everyday life –this time more alive, more confident, calmer and happier.


The journey and the destination

The journey and the destination

A good friend of mine loved to talk about the great poem Ithaca by Constantine P. Cavafy. He knew it by heart, he quoted different passages to illustrate different situations. Every time, he made me wonder whether I was living life to the fullest.

The poem talks about the obstacles Odysseus had to face on his long journey to Ithaca. However, the main theme for the poem is to remind readers to enjoy the journey of life. You may think there’s a goal you must reach in order for you to be happy, but in reality, the path you have to walk to attain that goal will make you smarter, stronger, and ultimately, you will have learned that every obstacle was a blessing in disguise. You will learn happiness is to be found along the path, not at the end of it.

Us, as yogis, we hear this reasoning all the time: be present in the moment, listen to your breath, and release everything else. This teaching might take a whole life to sink in (I wouldn’t know, since I can’t yet even start to grasp it…!), but in the meantime, one learns patience and tolerance. The spiritual journey we yogis walk is a constant source of challenges as well as limitless lessons.

I like to go back to this poem every once in a while. I spoke to a class of young undergraduates the other day, and I told them there is not one single definition of success. That they should name theirs and don’t let anybody define it for them. I love how the poem says that you shouldn’t be afraid of any obstacles as long as your thoughts are positive, and as long as you remember it’s you yourself who created these foes.

Be confident, and true to yourself. You will arrive to wherever you need to arrive.



As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.

Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.


C. P, Cavafy

Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

Yoga Your Heart in Barcelona

Top 5 moments of our Yoga Your Heart retreat in Barcelona

Oh wow. It was only a couple of weeks ago, and it already seems like an eternity… This is what happens right after a retreat –you just wish it lasted forever, that that was your regular day to day, that you got to spend your days chilling, travelling, practising yoga, and spending your time with positive and fun people… but I’ll write about that some other day.

Today I want to remember the top 5 moments of our Yoga your Heart retreat in Barcelona a couple of weeks ago!

1. These yogis playing around at Barceloneta beach

Yoga your heart

Photos by ©

Well, this is what happens when you mix Spain and yogis coming from mostly northern latitudes…! 😉

Anna, our yoga teacher, invited us to play around with some postures and flows, and the group responded just taking off their shoes and socks and jumping right in!


2. A visit to the biggest Modernist site in the world

Yoga Your Heart Sant Pau visit

While many who have been in Barcelona before might have visited world-renowned sites like the Sagrada Familia or Park Güell, Sant Pau Modernist Site only opened its doors a few months ago, so I was sure none of the yogis in the group had had yet the chance to see it.

They were all utterly amazed at the typically Catalan architecture, the magnificence of the site, and the history of the buildings and the old hospital.


3. A yogi levitating down the stairs

Yoga your heart moments

This is just how yogis like to travel, you know. 😉


4. Magic and food

Yoga your heart best moments

Well, this is the beauty of yoga retreats: you never know what talents the other people in your group may have. And as it turns out, they are usually very interesting and mostly entertaining! On this occasion, we had our own private magician!!! He left us all wondering and wow-ing with all his tricks!

Every time we sat down to eat some delicious croquetas and other tapas, Guillaume took out his pack of cards!


5. That moment when you complete a challenging sequence!

Yoga Your Heart challenging sequence

Photos by ©

Being it Valentine’s Day weekend, the focus of the retreat was on heart-opening postures and vinyasa sequences. Anna made us practise the following sequence: downward dog – leg up – bend and flip the leg to the floor to Camatkarasana – hand to the floor to Urdhva Dhanurasana.

That last step, placing your hand on the floor to full wheel, involves a major change in the position of the body. It may only look like a small shift in posture, but you have to be willing to open your chest and your heart without fear, and you have to trust yourself enough to know your hand will support you when you will be completely upside down.

On the first and second days of practise, I could not get myself to do it. I did not think my back, my wrists, my arms, my shoulders or my chest could support me. I thought I would break. Something changed on the third day of practise –my body, and my heart, had opened. I completed the sequence.

I was free, and I was happy.


Namasté, Anna. And namasté, to the wonderful yogis who joined us in Barcelona.


Header photo by ©


How to stay grounded while traveling

5 tips to stay grounded while traveling

Building some sort of routine is quite easy when you’re at home, where you are in control of your calendar and can fit in an agreeable schedule. However, when you travel, that rhythm is altered, and it can catch you off-guard. To set yourself out for an awesome trip, learn how to keep yourself grounded with the following techniques:

Staying grounded far away from home truly comes down to being mindful and focused even when changing landscapes, time zones and your meal time schedules (quite evident in Spain, right?!). Staying grounded means being able to stay present at all times during your trip, being able to breathe without effort and feeling no anxiety for the changes applied to your body and brain.

When you can do that, you appreciate your every minute away to the fullest. Don’t try to stick to your regular schedule. Instead, try these techniques while on the road:

Create a peaceful space for yourself

Cluttered environments can make you feel restless and maybe even anxious. Unpack your bags upon arrival, and take some time to arrange your new room so it feels more homey and cozy for you. Maybe you even have personal items like family photos or a little Ganesha figure that always travel with you. Take your time to familiarize with your new and temporary home before setting out to explore more.

Energize with oils

Like candles, essential oils stimulate your smell, which undoubtedly impacts how you feel. Ayurveda recommends lavender scents for vata imbalances, jasmine or sandalwood for pitta, and eucalyptus for kapha. Bring some of these always with you together with your other personal items, and add a few drops to your bath or massage them into your skin while setting down.

Light a candle

For me, candles do the trick even better than the oils. There’s a calm warmth to the flame, and this is especially true when the candle is scented with familiar fragrances, like lavender, lemongrass or musk. These will help you refresh and quiet your nerves.

Let go of expectations

It is normal to have expectations when we travel. We look for the perfect trip because we’ve invested time and money into it. But when an unforeseen accident happens, like a delayed plane, getting sick, or a minor car breakdown, it is helpful to remember some little yoga philosophy: what would Patanjali do?

He would probably apply two of the observances (niyamas) of the eight limbs of classical yoga: Ishvara pranidhana (practise of surrender) and santosha (contentment). This can help you remember that pleasure must be found in the journey, whatever unexpected turns it may take.

Modify your yoga routine

If you go on a yoga holiday or retreat, expect to have a detailed yoga schedule that may alter your usual routine. However, if you travel for any other reason, you might not have room schedule-wise, or the right space, or even the energy for your full yoga practise. Do try to stick to some sort of yoga practise –you will undoubtedly notice some improvement. Attempt to meditate a few minutes a day and practise a few standing yoga asanas: by grounding your feet, you will immediately feel steadier.

Yoga Retreat or Yoga holiday

Are you ready to attend a yoga retreat… or a yoga vacation?

So you’ve decided you want to follow your favourite yoga teacher on her latest retreat. Or perhaps you have seen a beautiful ad online with yoga by the Mediterranean Sea, and you can already picture yourself drinking sangria in between chaturangas.

Oh, boy, don’t fool yourself! A yoga retreat might have less of those sangrias by the ocean and more 6am-wake-up-calls-to-meditation than you can imagine! On the other hand, if you are really committed to a very enlightening and demanding yoga practise and you find yourself in the middle of a Spanish fiesta, you might think you have not made a very wise choice.

So how to tell a yoga retreat apart from a yoga vacation before it’s too late? We’ll help you out here:

What is a yoga vacation?

Usually, a yoga vacation features a fun and gentle schedule. The location is generally close to main attractions, and the focus is on having a good time. You will be offered excursions (horse-back riding, snorkeling…) and other sports to complement your yoga (kayaking, surfing…). Food costs may or may not be covered, and there will be at least one yoga (asana) session per day.

It is for you if: A yoga vacation is for you if you expect a restful week and want to indulge in some good fun while doing some yoga as well. Because this combination just feels so good!!


What is a yoga retreat?

A yoga retreat often requires much more discipline. Retreats take place in quite austere locations, namely ashrams, retreat centers or educational centers. Food is generally vegetarian, and daily schedule tends to begin at 6am (or earlier!), with not only asana, but also lots of meditation, chanting, and educational talks. Participants are expected to attend all elements of the retreat.

It is for you if: A yoga retreat is for you if you want real and strict immersion, and your aim is to grow personally through your yoga practise instead of enjoying a chill-out holiday.


What will you find at Surya Retreats?

At Surya Retreats, we usually offer yoga vacations, and only a few strictly-speaking yoga retreats. However, our yoga retreats always take place in stunning locations and there is usually enough free time to unwind and discover Spain during your trip. We want you to enjoy your yoga while you discover this beautiful country!

Do not hesitate asking us questions –it’s your money, your time, and we know how you value them!  We always provide a sample schedule for you to get an idea, but please make sure you are ok with things like what time you have to wake up in the morning, what style of yoga is taught, the sleeping and bathroom arrangements, the type of food provided and the amount of free time.

We will always tell you everything which we think you might need to know, but please, talk to us! Let us know anything you feel that might influence your experience – it can be anything from your need of free time to your being a vegetarian and wanting to stick to that during your vacation.

And once you have made your decision, book the trip and let it flow! We will make sure you enjoy every second of it, whether you have chosen a quiet and reflective retreat, or a wild, adventurous ride!

Enjoying yoga retreat

How to truly enjoy your yoga retreat

Whether you have decided to go on a yoga retreat because you want to escape your daily routine, because you want to meet new friends, discover a new country, or really deepen your yoga practise, remember that a yoga retreat is only for you, and your personal growth. A retreat is the place where to reconnect with your true self and look inside to find what you might be seeking.

No two experiences are the same, so open your heart to healing, peace, strength, love and joy. We have prepared some tips to help you enhance your yoga retreat experience! Read more

Live to walk

Why traveling makes us better yogis

Traveling is more than just stepping on new lands and trying new foods. It’s about meeting a new you, it’s a personal transformation, it’s a learning experience that propels us out of our comfort zone.

Why do I travel? Well, I am in love with culture and languages. When I travel, I want to gain some understanding of the place I visit, and I want to connect with the local people –I want them to show me a culture different from my own. Read more