We are often asked by prospective guests which retreat, teacher or style of yoga they would enjoy most. Our short answer would be that most retreat weeks are suitable for most people. Quality and experienced teachers are one key to great yoga holidays – their care and understanding should make their particular style accessible and enjoyable to all. Having said this certain styles and retreats may appeal to different people.
Ashtanga yoga is one of the most physically demanding styles of yoga. It is a set sequences of poses, either led by the teacher or taught Mysore style. In the Mysore method everyone works through a set sequence in their own time, holding each position for 5 breaths and receiving help from the teacher as needed. Ashtanga yoga retreats at Yoga Rocks are suitable for anyone, though it helps if you have a reasonable level of fitness. This style of yoga encourages fast physical changes and after a week here you will have a personal practice and the confidence to continue it at home. Some people love the physical nature of an Ashtanga retreat. By the time they have finished their morning practice they really feel they deserve making a holiday of the rest of the day, and can relax, guilt free, on a beach, with a book or in a hammock. Others find it a little strenuous if they don’t soften the practice and approach it joyfully.
In 2019 Maria Boox teaches Mysore style here. David Williams, who first took Ashtanga to the USA, teaches led Ashtanga in a way designed to make it a lifetime practice. Danny Paradise will be teaching a more freestyle led class and he likes to include the Ashtanga pranayama (breathing) sequence. Melanie Cooper and Norman Blair will also teach Ashtanga yoga mornings in 2019. Melanie will teach both a detailed led class as well as a Mysore class, while Norman’s Ashtanga class will be slow, detailed and involve plenty of props. For more on this style and its founder Pattabhi Jois click here.
Vinyasa yoga owes its flowing movements supported by the breath to Ashtanga. Each class is different and people really enjoy the variety of yoga poses. Some teachers are very creative; others stick to more well known range of poses. Each pose has variations so that those who are more/less flexible or strong can benefit from going as far as they are comfortable with, in a safe way. It should be a fun, but challenging, yoga style.
At Yoga Rocks in 2019 we have David Lurey, Helen Reavill, Gosta (Shunya) and Josie Sykes teaching vinyasa yoga and each have a very varied yoga background. This means that lots of different influences pop up in the flow over the course of a week’s retreat and the focus of the classes can bounce between strong asana, restorative flow, pranayama and meditation techniques. Though the teacher leads the flow, it is often the needs of the individual groups that create it. Vinyasa builds strength and flexibility and is suitable for those who are willing to move.
One popular form of vinyasa flow yoga is Shiva Rea’s Prana Flow Yoga. This uplifting yoga works towards a free style flow which she calls trance dance. The lovely Coral Brown leads a Prana Flow retreat in 2019.
Hatha yoga often refers to a gentler form of yoga. The postures are steadier and can be held a little longer while the emphasis is often on a more traditional Indian style of yoga. Those who are not so physically active often enjoy hatha yoga more. Though not as physically tough as some other yoga styles, it reaches deep levels, gently opening you up and releasing stress from the body and mind. Everyone has something to gain by learning to relax in a good hatha pose – and this can sometimes only be learnt on a yoga retreat rather than in a yoga class squeezed between work and social commitments.
Sky teaches hatha yoga at Yoga Rocks in 2019 and loves to share his vast array of knowledge and yoga goodies. His yoga is deeply rooted in traditional practice, is delivered with real flair and has many other elements too, not just hatha yoga.
Iyengar Yoga gives much emphasis to the detail and integrity of the poses. Often poses are held for a longer time and props are used instead of variations. We have no pure Iyengar teachers here although Melanie Cooper as well as Norman Blair will be exploring some afternoon Yin Yoga classes in their retreats here. Yin Yoga holds the poses for a very long time, so you have space to focus on alignment, allowing the body and mind to melt into deep hip openers and forward bends. It is very satisfying but also challenging with deep sensations arising from long holds.
Jivamukti Yoga was founded by Sharan Gannon and David Life, the dynamic Jivamukti duo. This style is a physically challenging form of Vinyasa yoga that aspires to help us towards liberation through compassion to our fellow beings and animals. Devotional chanting, upbeat music and philosophy are interwoven through the asana classes and aim to help the process along. Gosta spent many years with Sharon & David at their New York studio and will lead our 2019 retreat that is most influenced by their philosophy and practice though over the past couple of years they have began exploring more seriously other styles of yoga. Expect some Iyengar influenced afternoon sessions and more.
Acro Yoga is partner yoga and plays with the qualities of trust and reliance. The basics are not difficult, so anyone can try, it feels nice and looks good hence the photos and films all over the internet. If you want to try some acro yoga, whether you have done some before or not, David Lurey’s retreat would be great week for you. He’s one of only a handful of level 2 Acro Yoga teachers in the world and likes to explore the fun of this style over a few afternoons on his yoga retreat here. It’s quite a nice way to get to know the other guests a bit better and tends to lead to a very sociable retreat atmosphere and it is fun.
All of the above needs to be taken with an ‘accepting’ pinch of salt. Great yoga is honest, sincere and heartfelt – these qualities make for a special yoga holiday. Many labels attached to the various yogas and are a simple way to give people an idea of what to expect.
When it comes to having a great yoga holiday the safe, supported and encouraging way our teachers lead you through the yoga is more important than the style. Beginners, advanced pupils and teachers attend most weeks. The calibre of our teachers mean other yoga teachers come to practice and learn more but coming as a beginner is real a gift to yourself – you will learn so much.
Something we have not touched on is other yogic activities like pranayama (yogic breathing exercises), meditation, or chanting which can often be enjoyed here. While some teachers like to teach some meditation as a separate session, others simply encourage and show you how to find the meditative space within your yoga practice. Others weave a sitting practice into a class.
If you have any questions about specific retreats and what further yoga activities might be on offer please write and ask. Our teachers draw upon their vast knowledge and depth of personality – some weeks are very much yoga holidays while other weeks are deeper yoga retreats that tend towards the monastic. Neither is better – they are all good for some people at some time. Feel free to write, tell us about your yoga experience and what you are looking for and we’ll help you pick a suitable week. Often the highly driven look for strenuous yoga when they’d benefit more from learning to relax in a more meditative class, while those that are more naturally meditative and relaxed could do with a more active class to light some fire inside them!
Finally we’d like to say that while the teacher is vital and the style a matter of choice you will find the biggest plus about Yoga Rocks retreats is that they are not ‘one trick ponies’. Not one exclusive things makes them. They are a combination of world class yoga teachers, amazing natural energy in the beautiful environment, locally produced food that is lovingly prepared and the caring atmosphere. We, our team and our teachers, try to combine to make something very special. Hopefully you’ll get the opportunity to experience one of our yoga holidays in 2019.