YOGA & PILATES HOLIDAY
SOUTHERN BOHEMIA, CZECH REPUBLIC, 26 JULY – 2 AUGUST 2017
“Why hasn’t anyone told me about Český Krumlov?”
Those were the first words of Tracy, one of the lovely London ladies who took part in our last expedition, as we strolled into the ancient little town in the evening of our arrival and she saw this:
Why indeed? As a native Czech who is very familiar with the beauty, hospitality and cultural richness of my homeland, I am always surprised to learn how little is known in the UK about this corner of the world. Most Brits chase the sun in the FIS countries — France, Italy and Spain, but there is a lot more to continental Europe than chorizo, Monmartre and the gondolas of Venice. So I’m inviting you to spend a week in a place you might otherwise never choose, but you’ll be darn glad you did. I am confident that you will fall in love with Southern Bohemia at first sight, just like Tracy, and everyone else who’s ever set foot to this beautiful region.
Wait, why is it called a holiday? Aren’t you running a retreat?
Technically, a yoga (or Pilates) retreat is a place you go to “hide” to practice, practice and practice some more. The main focus of retreats is improving your skills and deepening your knowledge of a particular discipline. You don’t usually leave the residence during this time. Many retreats offer 4 or more hours of yoga per day, morning and evening, with time to relax in between, and not too much more.
I, too, want you to improve your core strength, self awareness and become stronger and fitter, but I also want you to have a lot of fun! Especially considering you will have traveled a considerable distance and there is so much to see and do here. I don’t really want you to retreat, I want you to have a great time! Make new friends, drink some great beer, eat something a bit naughty and walk it off as you get lost down twisted cobbled lanes… just make the most of it. Moreover, if you normally only do an hour of yoga or Pilates per week (which tends to be the case for many), putting your body through four or six hours a day is a bit of a shock to the system. Two hours is plenty, and that’s what we will do. Yoga and Pilates in the mornings, followed by thirty or forty minutes of meditation… and then, off we go! A holiday it is.
Tell me more about the yoga and Pilates stuff.
Two hours give us some time to spend on things we couldn’t fit into a typical class. We will learn more about anatomy, try different techniques to achieve more ambitious poses, explore pranayama (yogic breathing) and brush up on principles of correct movement and alignment. There will be some partner work, and we will also try our hand at a bit of massage and bodywork. Anything to make us feel great! If you want me to spend some time on a particular topic or issue, I will do my best to accommodate you. Mats and blocks will be provided as most of you will probably want to travel only with your carry-on luggage, but do bring your own mat if you’re taking a large suitcase. There can never be too many mats!
So, what else will we do?
Just because we won’t be doing yoga or Pilates all the time, it doesn’t mean we won’t get any exercise for the rest of the day. Pack some good sturdy boots. We will be doing lots of walking. There are mountains and hills to hike, castles to visit, a huge dam to have a swim in, and the Vltava river to paddle down — that one is quite relaxing, to be fair, only gentle upper body engagement is required :). On our days off, if you feel you have the energy, you can always nip into Krumlov to explore its many wonderful nooks and crannies, and park yourself in one of its picturesque taverns.
Where are we going to stay?
Our accommodation is in the Svachovka hotel, a gorgeous country estate 5km from the town of Český Krumlov, complete with a spa, a golf course, a brewery brewing excellent beer and a distillery producing whiskey (now, I’ll say yes to beer, but let’s go easy on the hard stuff, shall we?). There is an indoor pool we can use, and if the weather allows, we can practice in the mornings on the deck by the pond — otherwise in their spacious converted barn.
I’m not sure I want to do so much running around, do I have other options?
You don’t have to take part in anything you don’t want to, and if you feel you just want to put your feet up and chill out at the hotel, or go off on your own, you are completely free to do that. I know this region like the back of my hand and hope you will join in on everything, but I’m not going to micromanage your time. No offense taken if you make other plans!
You can have a game of golf, sit in the local pub or head for a little stroll through the woods. The spa offers various procedures at very reasonable prices — their specialty is the “Glockner beer bath” (this is the Czech Republic, after all!). Or you can have a nice massage.
What will a typical day look like?
The timetable will look something like this:
7:30 am — good morning lemon water, fruit and snack, mini-walk
8:00-10:00am — yoga, Pilates, or both
10:00-10:45am — meditation (we may change location)
11:00am-12:00pm — brunch
12:00 – 2:00pm — siesta time
2:00pm — a trip somewhere amazing!
7:00-8:00 pm — return, dinner
9:00-10:00pm — social time, if we still have energy (games, TED talks, etc).
10pm — bedtime
This is just to give you a rough idea, we don’t have to be always this rigid. Some changes may be necessary depending on the weather, but the summer in the Czech Republic is usually reliably warm and sunny, so fingers crossed and we’ll have sunshine the whole week.
My partner doesn’t do yoga or Pilates, can I still bring him/her?
Yes! They are welcome to spend the morning as they please, and will still have plenty to do with us for the rest of the day. If they are fans of beer and golf, all the better!
So how many meals a day are we having?
Brunch, dinner and snacks. There will be nuts, muesli bars and fruit in the morning before we start with any exercise. I’m not being mean here, but I really don’t want you to work out on a full stomach. I’ve been to retreats where we were served a wonderful and very filling breakfast, and then went straight onto our mats… urgh. Not pleasant, and not healthy. There will be enough to keep your blood sugar stable, so don’t worry about going hungry. If you, however, really need breakfast for whatever reason, that can be arranged, too, for a little extra money. Brunch should keep us going through the afternoon, and there will be water and snacks for you to take when we go out, too. Although the Glockner restaurant is renowned for its food, we may decide to have dinner outside the hotel on a few nights. I think it’s good to keep our options open, as the Krumlov area has many lovely places to eat and you might feel you’ve missed out if we always eat in. For the nights we do go out, you will be given an allowance of 150 CZK towards your meal.
I am a vegetarian, will I have veggie options?
Both vegetarians and meat eaters will be catered for. If you are vegan or have any other dietary restrictions or food allergies, please let me know in advance and I will make arrangements with the restaurant.
And how do I get there?
The best way to travel is from Gatwick Airport to Prague, and then take a shuttle south to Český Krumlov. The flight with EasyJet leaves at 8:55am and arrives in Prague at 11:55am (with one hour time difference). You can expect to arrive at Svachovka between 4-5pm. The returning flight leaves Prague at 12:25pm and arrives in Gatwick at 13:35pm.
I will be booking a shuttle on the Czech side for these two flights, as they are the most reasonable cost-wise and time-wise (as of 4/1/2017, the return flight is priced around £110, so book early). You may decide to make other travel arrangements, in which case I will refund you the cost of the shuttle (around £28 one way) and you can find your own way to the hotel at your convenience. There is a good website for figuring out how to get around by public transport, unfortunately only in Czech… most of it is self-explanatory but let me know if you need help.
So, how much do I need to save up?
Early bird: £620 per person if sharing a double room, and £695 for a single room
if booked by 15 March 2017 (a deposit will count, too)
Late bird: £675 per person if sharing a double room, and £750 for a single room.
A non-refundable deposit of £300 must be paid by 31 May 2017, with the rest payable no later than 30 June 2017.
What is included:
- Shuttle from and to Prague Airport (cca 2.5 hours each way)
- 4* accommodation for 7 nights
- Brunch, dinner, snacks and water during the day
- Yoga, Pilates and meditation tuition
- Use of indoor pool
- A 4-hour rafting trip to the Zlatá Koruna monastery
- All local transport — shuttle
- A trip to the beautiful village and UNESCO heritage site Holašovice, the regional capital České Budějovice (home of the original Budweiser beer and an impressive town square) and the romantic Hluboká Castle
- A trip to the Lipno dam in the Šumava region (AONB)
And what is not:
- Alcoholic beverages (but the beer is very cheap! :))
- Extra food
- Golf or spa activities
Here are some slideshows to show you what else is waiting for you:
I hope I have given you enough time — and reasons — to plan this holiday into your year’s timetable! To book, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 0798 223 6118. The maximum capacity of this trip is 15 people. We are in January now and five have already expressed interest, so please get in touch early to avoid disappointment.
Some happy testimonials from our two previous holidays:
“Such love, such beauty, such calm…such invigoration! I was unsure about what to expect when I first set off for this retreat; needless to say I shouldn’t have worried. Guided by our teacher and friend Barbara, the other yogis and I embarked upon a journey of exercise and enlightenment, incorporating yoga, meditation, climbing, rafting…and relaxing. I often find it hard to relax, but on this retreat I really learnt how to let go and let myself be still. As soon as I can, I’ll be back with the yogis for another one!” Jonathan
“The yoga retreat in Český Krumlov was amazing. I saw the most beautiful architecture, breath-taking scenery and had a holiday with exercise, fresh air and relaxation. I felt stronger on the inside and the outside from the yoga practice and my skin was glowing from all the fresh fruit and vegetables we ate. I met some lovely people, it really was a beautiful bohemian adventure.” TJ
“My experience of Český Krumlov I have had the pleasure of visiting this beautiful part of southern Bohemia on three occasions. The town itself is just a lovely place to wander through, taking in all the history and architecture and stopping off at local inns to sample some good hearty food, at such reasonable prices too. The surrounding areas have a lot to offer, with my favourite pastime probably being the rafting for miles along the meandering local river. I have many fond memories of this lovely area and will hopefully return again one day.” Paula
“Spending one week in August at the yoga retreat, situated in the hills high above the town was a fun experience. A great group of friendly people mainly from London with me being the ‘outsider’ from Fareham, Hampshire, went to discover something different. The yoga was taught by Barbara in a way that allowed everyone to push themselves to their personal limit. After an early morning yoga lesson, people could choose to do what they wished and it was all very relaxed. Visits were arranged with transport laid on, to go exploring towns and locations further afield.” Scott
“Definitely feeling the benefits of so much yoga, other exercise and fun. I weighed myself at the spa on Saturday and I think I lost 4 kilos over the week – despite the dumplings. Everyone says how fantastic I look so I’m converting them to your class ;0) Also I’ve really got my mojo back – I was so low when I came away and just feel a million times better. My partner says he will send me away to one of your retreats as often as he can cos he’s got his happy girl back! Thanks so much for the notebook, incense, candle holder and all, it made me feel so looked after at the time and now they’re a wonderful souvenir. Just burning the incense now brings all the memories flooding back! I thought the walk in the woods, the Lipno Dam and the ride down the river were fantastic activities – the sort of thing I never get to do and really brought me back to childhood feelings of fun and happiness. I really loved the location of the pension, being able to walk /meditate in the woods was just such a dream. And the fact that all the travel for excursions was included was a bonus!” Esther
This year, I look forward to sharing this exciting and fun week with you.