10 things I learned during my yoga retreat

I went on a yoga, Pilates and detox retreat on the gorgeous island of Fuerteventura to chill out and have a peaceful, healthy week in the sun. I knew I’d come home feeling re-energised but I hadn’t thought that I would learn so much while I was away. I learned about my body, my health and about myself and so much more. Here are just 10 things I learned during my yoga retreat and 10 reasons why I can’t wait to do another.

I love yoga

OK, this might sounds like an obvious one for someone who went to a yoga retreat but my week away reminded me how much I love yoga. If you don’t get time to do something regularly then it’s easy to forget how much you love it. (Except for custard donuts – no matter how long it’s been, I always remember my love for custard donuts.)

While I was at Azul Fit I was reminded of how good it feels to regularly practice yoga and how important it is for me to fit it into my daily life. Even if it’s just 15 minutes a day, it’s worth the effort.

I don’t need to eat as much as I thought

Almost everyone over-eats from time to time but it isn’t until we allow our stomachs to shrink back to a natural size that is becomes easier to stop over-eating.

We didn’t go hungry at Azul Fit but our portions were definitely smaller than my usual heavy meals. In the first few days we were all returning for a second helping with our bowls out like Oliver Twist. Then within 2-3 days I realised I was full after one portion and didn’t need any extra. The craving for more food was all in my head.

Tasty food at azul fit

There’s a happy balance to be found with food

I have no allergies or intolerance’s and I’m lucky enough to have a fairly fast metabolism so I think it’s really important not to obsess over food.

Cutting out things like wheat and dairy when you’re not allergic is just making life difficult for yourself.

Find a balance between food that makes you healthy and food that makes you happy because meal times are meant to be enjoyed. So that’s a huge healthy salad followed by a custard donut for me.

Always buy animal products from a farm shop

I will never give up meat or diary products but after talking with Jo, Azul Fit’s food specialist, I realised how important it is to buy quality animal products. We have no idea what these animals have been eating or the conditions they’ve lived in so I’m going to try and be as ethical and healthy as possible while I’m shopping.

Azul Fit villa

Having nice clothes makes you feel good

This may seem shallow but having nice clothes really makes you feel good. I had a gorgeous selection of Sweaty Betty clothes while I was at my yoga retreat and just putting them on made me want to exercise.
There was a little shop at Azul Fit selling lovely, soft yoga clothes and by the end of the week most people ended up kitted out in it. You could see that once people had their nice, new kit on they stood up straighter, they tried harder and they seemed more confident.
I’m not saying everyone should go out and buy expensive designer clothes but clothing that makes you feel good is really important.

I can push myself much further than I thought

Like I said in my initial review of Azul Fit, a good yoga teacher can see what you’re capable of and can gently push you towards that. The teachers at Azul were incredible and before I knew it I was in postures that I didn’t think were possible.
This doesn’t just apply to yoga, I’m sure it applies to everything in life and my new moto is, ‘if you don’t try, you’ll never know’.

I love hanging out with different types of people

At Azul Fit our ages ranged from 25 to about 65. We all came from different backgrounds and came to the retreat for different reasons so there was a great mix of people. I loved how surprising some people can be and they’re often so different to your first impression.

I learnt that you shouldn’t stick with the people who seem familiar and comfortable because it’s the people who are different that are the most interesting.

Having time to relax is vital

Sometimes it’s hard to tell how stressed you are until you relax; and the longer you stay stressed the harder it is to relax. I’m usually a pretty chilled out person and don’t get too stressed but after a week at Azul Fit I was so relaxed I felt like I was floating.

You don’t need to take a week off and go to a retreat to relax (although I’d recommend it if you have the time!), just take 15 minutes every day to consciously relax. Some people like to meditate, some people like to go for walks while others like to cook or read. Whatever you do, make sure you’re consciously relaxing and not just zoning out while starting at the TV.

Strolls along the beach

Careers should not be all consuming

Most of the people who visit Azul Fit are professionals with stressful jobs who need to escape from work for a week. I was told this when I arrived and it was easy to spot who they were. They were up-tight, round shouldered, highly strung and almost twitchy for the first few days. As the week went on you could physically see them relax. You could see their shoulders drop and they gradually let their guards down and opened up. They finally spoke about their families and their work and the long hours they put in and how they’re weren’t sure how to escape the work-eat-drink-sleep cycle.

I think it’s important to have a job that you love but to never let it take over your whole life.

Gorgeous accommodation makes all the difference

Sahara Tent at Azul Fit

While I was at Azul Fit I stayed in the Sahara Tent. Just look how incredible it is!
Every room at the retreat is lovely but the Sahara Tent is something else and it made my stay even more special. You don’t need to stay in a 5 star hotel for it to be special but somewhere unique and interesting can make all the difference.

And an extra one…

I’m kind of freaked out by reiki healing

I had my first ever reiki masage at Azul Fit and it freaked me out. It was like a lovely, relaxing and soothing massage for 90% of the time. Perfect. This is exactly what you need on a relaxing holiday. And then she’d say something that would make me sit up and say, ‘How the hell did you know that?’

She seemed to know things about me that I hadn’t thought about for years. I mean, really. How did she know?

I don’t believe in psychics but this woman had the most incredible gift to just know things. She was previously a psychologist and she must be able to read your body language like anyone else would read a book.

Most people would come out of their reiki massage a little shaken or wiping away tears as they tried to pull themselves together.

Among other things, she knew that I was moving house. I hadn’t mentioned this to anyone else at the retreat because it was a few weeks away and hadn’t come up in conversation. I hadn’t started packing so it wasn’t like my arms or shoulders were sore from lifting boxes. How. Did. She. Know!?

I asked her and she smiled shyly while looking at her feet and whispered, ‘Magic’.


Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a full time blogger and has travelled around the world in search of the best holidays. Monica lives in Wales with her growing family and now also blogs about travelling with young children!


  • January 30, 2014

    It sounds wonderful. No wonder you enjoyed the retreat. You’ve listed so many great benefits.

    I really like your take on the food too although I wish I had your metabolism.

  • January 30, 2014

    Wow– it sounds like you had an incredible time! I’ve been wanting to do a yoga retreat but haven’t due to time & money constraints, along with not being confident enough in my skill– but maybe I just need to take the leap! Your reiki massage sounds like such a crazy experience and your accommodation looks like a dream. Loved reading about your experience, as always!

  • Ryoma Sakamoto.Japan
    February 1, 2014

    Hello! !
    I will introduce the food of Japan today.

  • February 1, 2014

    OH MY GOODNESS!!!! I’ve wanted to do a yoga retreat for ages and you have just reinforced how much I want to do one (probably Azul Fit!). Your room was gorgeous and it sounds like you had a really great experience. I think it’s so easy to people today to be overwhelmed by stress and bad habits. It’s always great to be reminded to relax! 🙂

  • February 3, 2014

    This sounds absolutely wonderful, definitely one to add to the list. I’ve just recently taken up yoga and I’m absolutely in love, I feel like I’m walking on a cloud every time I leave a class.

  • February 3, 2014

    Those are some great insights. Especially the food related ones. Or no, just all of them. A career should not be all consuming, we should not be eating as much as we do and we should enjoy life a lot more!

  • Bridget @ A Traveling B
    February 5, 2014

    These are such great insights and you can tell they came from a balanced, relaxing retreat. I definitely need the food reminder from time to time and shrinking my stomach and realizing when I am full is an important lesson to reinforce. Having time to relax is one that I have recently tried to incorporate into my lifestyle and that time to recharge has been necessary. I think I need to go on a yoga retreat soon!

  • February 13, 2014

    I love doing yoga. Started in Thailand in a tropical retreat and do it in my cold Irish house now almost every day 🙂

  • February 27, 2014

    “I love hanging out with different types of people” I loved that part I think that meeting new people but filtering what they say could lead us to a higher mentally statement. by the way LOVED ALL THE PICTURES! nice work congratulations

  • May 3, 2014

    I’ve always wanted to do a yoga retreat… Looks lovely.

  • Ana B.
    February 20, 2016

    Such an enjoyable read! The majority of the points you make are quite accurate, especially the part where you say that yoga retreats bring out the best in us and we are capable of doing things we never thought were possible.
    Oh, and I love the Sahara tent you stayed in! It looks so cozy and comfortable.



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