24th - 30th September 2016
Nature Wellness Retreat in Marrakech
Atlas can carry the heavens on his shoulders, you can restore your lightness!
Let us take you to a magical place in the heart of the Ourika Valley - an exclusive eco-retreat an hour out of Marrakesh into the Atlas Mountains. Old Greek legends say Atlas was the rebel Titan that Zeus punished, turning his body into rock to hold the heavens on his shoulders. (You'd never heard of that? Oh let our geeky yoga teacher tell you all about it)
Join us this end of September for a week that will change you forever:
- a more integrative take on yoga with a new approach on postural dynamics, to get your stature, self-confidence and lightness back,
- walking meditations through the National Park of Toubkal (did you know Martin Scorsese’s Kundun was filmed here?), to regain your breath and inner peace,
- the best local organic dishes, to remember you can have taste and health combined,
- the best starry nights you’ve ever seen, by far,
- a real Berber Hammam, organic Argan oil massages, so much pampering you’ll finally understand you do deserve it,
- like-minded people in a non judgemental, joyful and cooperative environment, that will turn into lifelong friendships.
The estate is about 50 kilometres from Marrakesh, the most important - and fascinating - of Morocco's historical imperial cities, at the heart of the Ourika Valley, in the High Atlas mountain range. It expands in the midst of olive tree groves over the hills, by a crystalline stream.
Featured in National Geographic Traveler this May, and in the January 2015 issue of the yoga magazine Happinez, the eco-lodge is the dream come reality of the Moroccan-Dutch entrepreneur Khalid Boukhima. This lovely kasbah offers single, double and triple occupancy rooms, all with complete, private bathrooms.
- a spacious yoga shala donned with eco-mats,
- a sun-bathed terrace overlooking the breathtaking National Park
- several kiosks for yoga outdoors or your 5 (and 6, and 7) o’clock tea,
- a private pool,
- a wooden swing and hammocks to read or rest by the river and listen to the multitude of different birdsongs. Here start uncountable hiking routes through this sector of the Atlas mountains.
The retreat is located in the National Park of Toubkal, Morocco. This is about an hour from the Marrakesh airport or 1h 15 mins from Marrakesh medina (old city).
Marrakesh Menara International Airport is served by many standard and low cost companies (from Air Berlin to Ryanair to Vueling) with hundreds of daily direct flights from the whole of Europe, and some Arabic countries. We are here to help you find the best traveling option so please don’t hesitate to ask.
Airport transfer from Marrakesh is included. There will be two pick-ups on the 24th, and two drop-offs on the 30th - one mid-morning and one in the afternoon. If any of the participants arrive a day or two before and would like to be picked up in the medina, please let us know and we’ll organise for the minibus to pick you up in the city centre.
Please check our FAQs for more information.
All spaces are simple, airy and colourful, built and decorated in traditional Berber style. Don’t let yourself be fooled: the unassuming quality of these spaces is not accidental, rather meant to enhance the experience of the overwhelming surroundings.
Double rooms have separate beds, however they can be put together if you come as a couple.
There is no WiFi. We believe it defies the purpose of a true retreat, since that should include also a retreat from technology. (However for those that cannot stay away from the virtual world, there is a cyber-café in the nearby village, a short stroll away, and you can also buy very economic SIM cards that come with a fair amount of mobile internet. We will pretend we haven’t seen you instagramming your latest asana achievement.)
NB: By default upon booking, you will be assigned to a single room, unless you book for 2 or 3 people. If you wish to opt for a spot in a double or a triple, please get in touch with us asap. Bear in mind that the triple rooms are the fewest, followed by the double, so they tend to be filled up first, thus we cannot guarantee you a spot especially towards the end of the booking period.
All meals are included. The morning will start with our Ayurvedic lemonade to purify, hydrate and energise you for your early yoga session. The session will be followed by a traditional Berber breakfast.
Meals will be served in our spacious dining room, on the terrace or in the garden; during hiking adventures there will be a packed lunch. On the arrival day, lunch and dinner are included and on departure day - breakfast.
All meals will be well balanced, delicious Moroccan dishes made with local bio-dynamic, organic or at the very least pesticide-free ingredients.
NB: Our suggested menu options are vegan and vegetarian, however, should you have a severe deficiency or allergies/intolerances that prevent you from getting your essential nutrients from such diets, please let us know and we will organise a menu based on meat or particular meat substitutes. Ahimsa extends to also taking care of You.
Upon arrival we warmly recommend you to participate to our full anatomical assessment, so as to target the sequences to individual quirks - spine and postural issues (spondylitis, scoliosis, hyperlordosis, etc), joint issues (arthritis, chronic knee pain) - and provide solutions around your lifestyle (eg. how to keep a healthy posture if you sit in an office chair 8h+ a day).
The morning and evening sessions will be in our custom yoga fusion style: an exclusive mix of asana with multiple alternatives, postural gymnastics, tai chi, Tibetan rhythms, breathing techniques (pranayama, ki-kou, sufi, etc), pilates, relaxation techniques and meditation. Phew! We just said all that on one breath!
Moreover, our wonderful host Khalid will take you on silent (and non-silent) walking meditations across the national park.
We have put together some awesome jaw-drop themed days for you:
- the spa & pampering day: which doesn’t mean there will be no pampering during the other days, just so you know,
- the cultural full-immersion day: visit to the Berber market (a little bit of frenzy in the middle of absolute tranquility, just so you don’t forget what it’s like), the organic Argan oil women’s cooperative, and an antique traditional foods workshop,
- the big hiking adventure day: that’s when you’ll find out why from Scorsese to Ridley Scott to Iñárritu, so many great directors have chosen to film here (forget Casablanca, that’s not where it’s at)
- and more! (You don’t want us to ruin all surprises from the jump, do you?)
We are ready to rock your world by giving you challenging asana that won’t break you, access to a well of untouched nature, sheer joy of living and the arms to disconnect with a busy, agitated mind.
Of course if during any day - or more days - you want to just have your own space, feel free by all means to take it! The estate offers lots of privacy and you are welcome to go on adventures on your own: it’s very safe and you’re only likely to meet goats that climb on trees! (yeah, that’s what they do here, these are goats 2.0!)
Beginners will be offered a (re)introduction to the practice of yoga and the more advanced will have a chance to revisit and enrich their practice with perhaps a(n) new/alternate vision. Individual attention and options customised in the classroom environment will ensure you enjoy a safe yet challenging experience.
- 06:30 Suggested wakeup time (please don't cry, the best energising lemonade is waiting for you!)
- 07:00 Pranayama (15 min)
- 07:15 Dynamic Yoga Fusion Flow (60 min)
- 08:30 Berber breakfast
- 09:30 Awesome activities / Free time *
- 13:30 Lunch
- 14:30 More awesome activities *
- 15:30 Walking meditation through the groves & Moroccan mint tea (you'll become addicted, it's guaranteed)
- 16:30 Free time / other activities *
- 18:15 Evening Slow Flow (60 min)
- 19:15 Yogic Meditation (15-25 min)
- 19:40 Dinner
- * You can schedule your one-on-one session for individual coaching during these intervals. One session per person during the retreat is included. These sessions are optional but recommended.
This schedule is just indicative and may be subject to change.
- Have you guys done this before?
- Yes! We did a write-up of our last retreat so you can read all about it (and hear what our students said) and see photos and videos and everything.
- “What if I want more?/What if I want it different?”
- Some of the adventures come with option A and option B. We are confident there will be something you will like on offer.
- “How can I get to this awesome yoga retreat of yours?”
- We will sync with all participants so we can pick everyone up on a smooth minibus ride from Marrakesh to the National Park. There is NO extra cost involved. Unless you really want to catch a cab and pay for it just because. In the end we can’t argue with that.
- “Too bad. I’m flying from New Zealand and the only reasonably affordable combo of flights is getting me to Casablanca.”
- Just have a chat with us before organising your flight. We are very resourceful at finding the best options for international transfers. We are itinerant yoga teachers for a reason! Or if you’ve already bought your flight, we can organise a ride from Casablanca for you (it might take over 3.5 hours though) or you can book a cheap national flight from Casablanca to Marrakesh.
- “I have special dietary requirements, will this be a problem?”
- As long as you let us know before your arrival, so we can prepare for the diet you need. Whether you’re gluten intolerant, vegan, or have food allergies, we’ll still find a way to feed you. Oh, there’s kosher goat milk available in the area. No, really.
- “I tend to change my mind a lot. Also my boss does - when we talk holiday times… Are cancellations allowed?”
- You can cancel your reservation up to 40 days before the retreat. If you cancel after the allotted time period you'll lose the deposit, unless you transfer it to another guest, or choose another retreat from those we have on offer. (We do, we do… just wait.)
- “What should I bring?”
- Bring comfortable clothing, a swimsuit, a beach towel, sunscreen, and good trekking shoes. You can also bring your yoga mat, but only if you’re very committed to your own and think you might absorb someone else’s unwanted energy from ours.
- “Can I bring my dog/cat/rhino?”
- The resort is animal friendly, and there is a special area for animals. However you are fully responsible for your animal and for the damage it creates. Be mindful of how a destructive animal might inconvenience your fellow participants.
Rua is a rather nerdy yogini and has been intermittently flirting with yoga for almost a decade, until she decided to fully dedicate herself to it in 2014. Nowadays she is striving to teach yoga the way she would have always wanted to be taught.
Her long-term goal is to gather a new generation of yoga practitioners who think of yoga critically, not superstitiously, who want to learn to work healthily and integrate balance and sustainability in their lives; to offer a resource for those who want to approach yoga but also for those who simply want to understand yoga without practicing it; to offer a space for those who have tried and failed to get into it many times before, to try once more.
Despite exposing herself to many styles along the years (Yin, Iyengar, Ashtanga Vinyasa, a.s.o) for Rua the one size fits all approach won’t do. “Adapting yoga to suit the needs of every unique individual is where the true greatness of yoga lies” as TKV Desikachar had put it, and it’s how her classes inevitably develop.
She can’t get into lotus for the life of her.
Karen loves a challenge and, since she’d always excelled at all sports she’d tried, soccer included, yoga came as a natural progression. However surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, she discovered herself initially to be unprepared for yoga. She wasn’t as bendy as she’d thought, in body or mind.
Gradually though, yoga brought her in touch with her own body in a way unlike anything she’d experienced before, made her more mindful, more aware of her thoughts, actions and emotions, and less competitive. Yoga has taught her to not compare herself with others, but rather to celebrate everyone’s differences.
Today her biggest passion is to share the gift of yoga, linking Breath and Movement with Intention. She sees yoga as a way of life — something to practice both on and off the mat. She also loves to share her delicious smoothie and raw vegan cake recipes to infuse more energy and fun into the after practice.
Karen will lead morning classes (she’s a very-very-early morning person) and Rua will lead most late afternoon classes (Rua is not a morning person, her spirit animal is the sloth), however both might be present in class for your extra support and assistance.
(Ok, here comes our chance to say something incredibly clever to truly impress)
Yoga is not just asana, and holidays aren’t just Paris?
What makes us unique?
- You’ll get to dip a toe or two into so many styles of yoga (and filter what works for you)
- Small groups of up to 12 people and two teachers present, to keep it intimate and ensure you get lots of individual attention and support
- 3 vegetarian meals/day, made from local organic ingredients under the principles of a Mediterranean diet (to provide you with energy and maximise the benefits of your training)
- The individual assessment and private yoga class will help you construct your ideal, personalised practice
- Lots and lots to do with us and by yourself: You can just hike in the mountains, exploring this unbelievable habitat, swim in the pool, bla in the bla
- Yoga Ruka commits to donate a minimum of 10% of the profit from their retreats to support environment, education and environmental education
- 6 nights accommodation in an eco-kasbah with staff providing the warm hospitality Morrocans are renowned for
- 3 local organic vegetarian meals / day, based on Ayurvedic principles, with people you won't forget for as long as you live
- 2 yoga fusion classes daily (asana, pranayama, meditation, functional training)
- a full anatomical assessment to customise your practice to your uniqueness
- 1 individually tailored private session (free of cost)
- silent walking meditation in the National Park allowing you time for inner reflection
- a traditional Hammam bath, scrub & body mask treatment to clean you to the bottom of your souls (or pores, at least)
- a guided hike of your choice (Kundun’s kasbah, Ourika waterfalls, etc)
- 2 Ayurvedic massages to knead the stress from your muscles and sweep away the concerns of the day.
- return transport from Marrakech airport or city centre
- flights to Morocco
YogaRuka commit to donate a minimum 10% of their profits to support the nature and the local communities in the Atlas area.
By purchasing this deposit, you accept and agree to our terms and conditions. Don't worry, they're not scary!
If you have any questions before you book, please get in touch, and we'll get back to you within 24 hours.