The Ibiza I knew in my (pre-kids) 20s was the island of moonlit raves, with late nights morphing into early mornings as you watch the sunrise on the way home from Pacha. The clubs are still there if you want them, but nowadays the white island has cunningly tapped into the health and wellness trend, with boutique fitness and yoga centres springing up outside Ibiza Town and San Antonio.
Following the Yummy Mummy yoga trail, I am heading to one such a retreat, YogaRosa, hoping for some inner calm, purification and a tree-pose Instagram selfie.
At YogaRosa the emphasis is on healing yoga and meditation complemented by an organic vegetarian/vegan gourmet diet whipped up by award-winning Austrian chef Philipp Gandler. Although I read online that wine is available at dinner at YogaRosa, our retreat is alcohol free: the only shots in sight are green and red smoothies, although they do contain something called ‘happy powder’ (healing rather than mood-enhancing).
First impressions? Well, there is certainly no more beautiful spot to embark on a little TLC for the body and soul. Founder Rosa Klein opened YogaRosa Ibiza in the middle of the island last summer, and all activities take place in the rambling garden. There are two fresh and saltwater swimming pools in the forest clearings, a sculpture garden, different meditation paths, and plenty of loungers, driftwood sofas and hammocks for chilling out. Rosa’s five friendly dogs, resident micro pig and collection of ducks wander about, giving it a homely feel.
I’m here with a bunch of journos, but a couple of friends are retreat regulars and say you meet a variety of fascinating people from all over the world. I guess at €250 a night, you’re more likely to get hipsters than genuine hippies.
If you’re looking for time alone, the inclusive nature of eating and practicing together might take some getting used to, but it is easy to find a quiet corner and everyone is happy to drift off.
Accommodation is arranged around a second pool in quaint wood beamed cottages with handmade Ibizan linen sheets, fluffy robes, toweling slippers and mason jars full of nuts, prunes, goji berries and pumpkin seeds.
Tall, willowy and serene, as one would expect from a dedicated yoga-ista, Rosa was seriously injured in a car accident 14 years ago and credits her return to good health with a visit to an Indian ashram. She believes passionately in the healing power of yoga and pranayama mediation and her enthusiasm is infectious.
The day starts at 8.45am with a cup of herbal tea followed by a 90-minute session of yoga on a whitewashed wooden platform among the fragrant pine trees. Rose incense burns as we begin our practice with four omms.
It’s a bit awkward at first, and I had to stifle a giggle as we tried some unusual face poses – there’s one to give you fuller lips that involves flaring your nostrils and blowing out noisily like a horse through your mouth. The lion's pose means that yes, you roar like a lion. After a day or two, the inhibitions drop and I let rip.
The yoga is Asana Flow – yoga asanas are the poses - which I find challenging at first: it’s been a while since I saw my toes this close up! However, after a few days I notice a change in energy and bendiness. After a week, I feel inspired to dust off my mat at home and begin every day with a couple of sun salutations (we’ll see how long that lasts…!).
After lunch and siesta in a hammock, it’s time for a balance class, working with the body’s resistance in a series of poses that have everyone struggling by the end of the hour.
Later, it’s an hour of breathing meditation followed by shavasana (dead man’s pose) where a couple of us actually drop off to sleep. Who needs Jager Bombs to pass out?
Happily, YogaRosa is no yoga bootcamp. The schedule seems nicely paced, with enough free time to swim or book in a massage. You could, if you so desire, book a natural colonic irrigation (this involves drinking two and a half liters of water, a bit of yoga, then legging it to the loo) – those who did try it claimed to feel amazing after, although I wonder if that’s relative to feeling like crap moments before.
Being a hedonist at heart, the highlight for me is the food. Brunch is served straight after yoga on an enormous reclaimed wood refectory table opposite one of the two pools. We feasted on porridge with cinnamon and goji berries, fresh mango, pineapple, berries, scrambled eggs with chives, seedy gluten free bread, local goats and sheep’s cheeses, banana, zucchini, apple and spinach smoothies....suffice to say, you do not go hungry. Much of the fruit and vegetables are picked from the garden.
While brunch is impressive, I am struggling for superlatives to describe the three course supper that Philipp prepares each evening. Baby squid served with spinach and caramelized onions, fresh asparagus and beetroot on a celeriac puree, courgette flower tempura stuffed with minced mushrooms… He even gives us gluten free – and guilt-free – carrot cake.
You can keep Pacha, DC 10 and crazy clubbing scene. Ibiza’s new healthy and holistic alter-ego chimes perfectly with this grown-up raver. I met some cool people, pulled crazy faces and slept (instead of partied) until dawn - and I can even remember what happened!
How much and when?
Yoga Rosa runs retreats throughout the spring and summer months. Prices start at €250 per person per night including full board, smoothies, herbals teas, yoga sessions and meditation. For further information, visit www.yogarosaretreats.com