2019 Inaugural HHYR, Evia & Spetses
We held our initial Welcome Reception at Zarka Villas on August 18, 2019, welcoming our first-ever Holistic Hellenic Yoga Retreat guests on our inaugural yoga retreat led by Lerrita Rubinoff and Dr. Carol Hutchison. We had a SOLD OUT retreat of all levels of yoga practitioners and enthusiasts, mostly from Canada but also from the USA and Turkey.
We began each day with a 7-9am-yoga practice in the rotunda, followed by a lovely communal, traditional Greek breakfast, laid out by the pool. Afterwards, for those interested on going on excursions to the Purple Caves or Dragon Houses, for example, we would meet Evia Adventure Tours, by the village bakery for our shuttle. With Dr. Carol joining us on every excursion, we were able to add in meditation practices on our hikes and tours as well.
For those choosing to stay behind at Zarka Villas, Lerrita would lead further afternoon yoga practice by the pool, or at the beach nearby. Everyone would come together after an early supper for an evening restorative &/or Nidra practice. Some guests would choose to enjoy a Jacuzzi under the stars before bedtime, while everyone would fall asleep to the sound of crickets and breezes – waking up at dawn, refreshed, and begin the next day anew.
For 6 nights and 7 days our guests enjoyed the charm of ZV, based in the traditional village of Zarakes, in south Evia. The village has 4 tavernas (‘H Goneia’ catered our breakfast and offered take-out and delivery for lunch or supper); 2 bakeries, 1 super-market and 1 bar – as well as a lovely, classic Greek Orthodox Church in the Byzantine style. There is also a weekly laiki, aka farmers market every Wednesday, which is marvellous.
On August 23rd, the village hosted its annual panigiri, aka village festival, well into the early morning hours of the 24th – and the music echoed all the way down into the amphitheatre of olive groves ZV is nestled in. So many memorable moments drew to a close the evening of August 24th with a farewell dinner all together at a seaside taverna in our neighbouring village of Almiropotamos – it was a lovely way to end our most memorable inaugural Holistic Hellenic Yoga Retreat experience
Due to the success and waiting list of guests wishing to join us in Evia for our inaugural retreat, August 18-25, 2019, we decided to host a second 7-day Holistic Hellenic Yoga Retreat, August 28-September 4, 2019 on Evia, once again at Zarka Villas – and again with the inexhaustible Lerrita Rubinoff, joined this time by Tanis Fishman – an acclaimed yoga Nidra mystic. We filled just 2 of the 3 villas this time, lending a more intimate flavour to our smaller group, which was more international with guests from Europe, America, Canada (including Quebec), and locals from Greece.
This time the excursions were streamlined, and the group stayed mostly all together following the immersive yoga teachings of Lerrita and Tanis. Kiaf’danon catered our daily breakfast this time, which also offered delivery for dinner. The group also chose to host a potluck farewell dinner all together at the Lumi Villa, versus going to a taverna in town – a quieter end for a more quiet retreat experience over-all.
Andrea Salamon, together with Michael Kok, led our Holistic Hellenic Yoga Retreat Spetses group in its yoga practice from September 12-19th, 2019. This was a cohesive group, made up entirely of YDC regulars from Calgary. We had a great time practicing yoga daily in the mornings from 6:45-8:30am poolside, before the traditional, Greek-style breakfast was laid out for all guests at The Bays – a lovely, little B’nB-style hotel. Unfortunately, without a dedicated place to practice yoga, we were routinely interrupted during our evening sessions – but this only helped solidify our meditation practice. Nothing helps centre the mind quite like the sound of nearby chatter, soft music, scooters in the distance, crickets chirping, dogs barking and birds singing!
After breakfast each day, the option of going to one or other of the amazing island beaches was offered. Alternatively, our guests could choose to walk the 20+ minutes into town to enjoy shopping, museums &/or cafés or tavernas – including several more international food options. Spetses is the largest Saronic Gulf Island, most notable for its leading role during Greece’s War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821. Therefore, Spetses is a lot more cosmopolitan in nature vs. Zarakes, but still wholly intimate and accessible.
Some other excursions this group enjoyed, were for example an e-bike tour of the island, as well as a boat tour around the island, with stops to swim in secluded private coves, inaccessible otherwise. We had a couple of very memorable dinners in highly recommended restaurants, including the oldest fish taverna on the island, dating from 1935, where we held our farewell dinner, eating absolutely fresh & delicious fish from the Aegean sea.
Spetses was a gorgeous experience – especially the sunrise practice led by Andrea, photographed by Mike, held on Paradise Beach – trés apropos, our last morning on the island. It was a fantastic, open-minded group, that helped us begin to craft Holistic Hellenic Yoga Retreat more into hosting #yogadventures in 2020, beyond simply “retreats”.
We are very grateful to each & every one of our inaugural guests joining us on Evia and Spetses 2019 – and especially to our teachers, who shared their knowledge, experience and talent with us.
Eleni & Paul