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In need of a digital detox? Unplug your email and reconnect your life on a yoga retreat to Southwest France - the idyllic Aveyron. Located on eight acres of quiet countryside, Les Aleis has a heated salt-water swimming pool surrounded by magnificent mature oak trees and a nearby river, aptly named La Serene. In early summer the hay meadow (used by three ponies for grazing) is full of orchids and wildflowers. All meals are deliciously home-cooked vegetarian food, much of it home-grown or locally sourced.
Accommodation is in a recently renovated hundred-year-old stone barn which is divided into two identical gites each with 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Downstairs has an open plan kitchen and living space, double bedroom and shower room. Upstairs has a double master bedroom, two twin bedrooms and a bathroom.
There are electric radiators throughout with a wood-burning stove for off-season bookings - perfect for cozy evenings curled up with a good book.
Each gite has an outdoor dining area and patio with plenty of shade. There are deckchairs and a hammock for relaxing in plus plenty of sun loungers around the pool. The swing seat between the linden and cherry trees is a lovely spot from which to admire the garden.
You will be spoilt for choice of yoga spaces at Les Aleis - an indoor upper storey space with wooden flooring, good lighting and a wood burning stove for early morning or late evening practices. It has open-air studio for warmer days to feel connected to the beautiful surroundings.
Morning practices are dynamic and energising - designed to get your breath and body moving and prepared for the day. Classes are challenging but allow for a range of abilities and always end with a generous relaxation period.
Evening practices are Yin / Restorative based and will challenge you in a whole different way. Holding postures and resting in stillness can cause rebellion in mind and body - working through this can lead to breakthroughs on a physical and mental level. Over the week, youll gently work through a series of postures to challenge, open and allow your mind and body to release.
Included with your evening practices are either yoga Nidra or guided meditations. Yoga Nidra is often called yogic sleep and is a fantastic way to switch off and enter meditative like state.
(Some days will include both evening yoga sessions, some will be one or the other)
A 2-hour guided tour of the village of Najac is included in the price.
Your Aveyron home is situated in one of the most beautiful and unspoilt regions of South West France. Rolling countryside flows between forest and hills, cut through by steep river gorges making it a fantastic place for walking and hiking.
The nearby La Serene stream provides a perfect space to meditate under the shade of acacia trees. 500 metres upstream is a spring, renowned for its healing properties, 500 metres in the other direction is a Moulin (mill) producing walnut oil. The mystical Viaur river valley is also nearby, running through to complete wilderness and providing a perfect spot for swimming.
The nearest village, La Fouillade, is just 2 kilometers away and has the quintessential French essentials, a boulangerie (artisan baker), a boucherie (butcher) and deux cafes.
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Meals will be light but nutritious and designed to have a gentle detoxifying effect to restore your bodys natural equilibrium. Dishes are mainly wheat and dairy free. Pure Yoga Zone can also cater for special diets.
Meals will be simple but delicious using local organic ingredients - much of it freshly picked from the garden. In May, youll be treated to home-grown strawberries, which rank in the top 10 of antioxidants and are extremely high in vitamin C. In September, fresh figs will be on offer, which are rich in minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and copper and are also a good source of antioxidant vitamins A, E and K that contribute to health and wellness.
Breakfast offers a choice of granola or porridge, home-made organic wholemeal bread with a selection of home-made jams, fresh fruit and home-made organic yoghurt and free-range eggs.
Lunches are often a sumptuous soup or salad again using local produce. Evening meals could be nut roasts, lentil and spinach lasagna, vegetarian tagines, stuffed courgettes or quiches.
There are local therapists available to provide additional services during your stay. Therapies need to be booked in advance (you will be contacted a few weeks before the retreat to be given the opportunity to book). There will be a free one-hour group introductory workshop to the Alexander Technique (by Lucy, your Aveyron host).
You can also book the following for additional price:
Toulouse is 1.5 hours away and there is a shuttle bus (navette) from the airport to the train station every 20 minutes which takes around half an hour. Easyjet flies everyday from Bristol or Gatwick, as does British Airways. Jet2 and Flybe also fly from many regional UK airports from April to October.
Ryanair flies from Stansted and Dublin to Rodez, which is one-hour away. However, as there is no public transport from Rodez, unless there is a group of people wishing to share the cost of a taxi or a hire care, this is not a very feasible option. Pure Yoga Zone can arrange airport pick-ups for groups of four or more people for 60 EUR return.
Les Aleis is 8 kilometers from the nearest train station at Najac, from where Pure Yoga Zone offers free pick-ups. There is an overnight sleeper (couchette) service from Paris which arrives at 07.00. TGV service involves changing to local trains at Brive-la-Gaillarde or Toulouse. There is a fairly frequent service from Toulouse which takes 1.5 hours and is a beautiful journey along the Aveyron river. Tickets cost 18 EUR each way.