Yoga retreats have never been so popular. Even with so many yoga schools condensed within a tiny radius, we still seek new surroundings in order to practise, restore and rediscover a healthy balance. Sure, we can all lay on the beach working on that tan, trying to convince ourselves as much as colleagues, that we have gotten our money’s worth of relaxation. But it is questionable whether we really return to the hustle of daily lives feeling thoroughly renewed. The energy of city-living, in particular, can leave most in a constant state of adrenaline. It seems we need a stronger chill-pill when taking our annual dose of vacation – the medicine of meditation.
After spending time at Summersalt Yoga on Vis, a serene island two and half hour ocean journey from Split’s harbour in Croatia, I very quickly noticed the benefits of my routine of yoga and mindfulness. Each morning started with a session of SUP Yoga, waking our bodies up in downward-facing dog as we glided on sturdy paddleboards in pearly blue waters. We would be welcomed with a nourishing vegetarian breakfast to follow, cooked by Milda (Founder & Manager of Summersalt Yoga), including turmeric smoothies, and carob porridge (a beneficial fruit found growing around the island and that can be used as a healthy chocolate-flavour substitute). All meals prepared used fresh ingredients, sustainably sourced from local suppliers to contribute to the Croatian community.
Before our afternoon yoga session at the villa’s shala overlooking the town and harbour of Vis, you have free time to explore or relax. The white villa, perched upon the sloping hills, is perfectly placed to peruse town-life and the daily ferries that dominate the por,t and only a short walk into town. Walking around the narrow streets of Vis Island, through alleyways and stone arches, signs of botanical and human life seep through the nooks and iron gates, that reminded me nostalgically of my favourite childhood novel, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Washing lines hang amongst palm trees, disrupted dining areas and abandoned chairs leave trances of recent commotion. Cats laze amongst the bracken, tired from the heavy heat of the Mediterranean climate. Gardens grow in and amongst the stone walls, never knowing which came first - the ancient buildings or the creeping vegetation? An endless plant palette paints the island, and as you wander throughout the small town, you unearth gardens around every corner, like a childhood game of hide and seek or discovering a secret place found across the Adriatic Sea.
The historic harbour is a timeline of architecture and the land has proven an agricultural gold-mine for producing olive oil. Not only poignant in Croatian history, this particular island has recently become popular to a more modern tourist due to the new Mamma Mia movie being filmed here, with Pierce Brosnan, Meryl Streep and Lily James residing like locals.
Despite its secluded setting, the island is still bustling with town life, which works harmoniously with the surrounding nature. Crave company, a swim in the ocean or a hike through the landscape, all can be found effortlessly here. And all factors have accumulated in spotlighting Vis as the must-go destination when visiting Croatia.
It seems that Summersalt Yoga has been ahead of the pack in finding the perfect location for explorers and the modern yogi to get their fix of travel, fitness and relaxation. The comforting routine provided by Summersalt, set with the perfect pocket of Vis, left me relaxed and rejuvenated in equal measure. Only proving that yoga retreats are more than just a holiday, they are a necessity.
Summersalt Yoga Retreat
Read our Interview An Interview with Milda Urban of Summersalt Yoga Retreat
Words by Jade McSorley