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A dream come true: Sardinia 2024 Yoga and Pilates retreat

We are just back from the most amazing week-long retreat in Bari Sardo, in the southeast of Sardinia, one of the World´s Blue Zones, where we practised Yoga, Pilates and deep relaxation, swam in the crystal-clear Mediterranean Sea, chatted, laughed (a lot), shared stories and ate good food.

Twenty-eight attendees plus two teachers (myself and my good friend Brendan Reid) made their way from Dublin to Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, on Sunday 2 June 2024.

Brendan and I had been planning this retreat for a year, chipping away at all the work involved, and we could not believe the time had finally come. I was quite nervous as so much could go wrong, but it all turned out so perfectly I can hardly believe my blessings.

After a bus ride to the Galanias Hotel in Bari Sardo we all went to bed in the dark, so imagine the delight of waking up in a Paradise of light and sun, birds singing, three swimming pools surrounding us and above all, only a short walk away, the sea!

By the time I made my way to breakfast, some participants had already been swimming in the sea and exploring the place. Everyone was smiling so broadly I could see all their teeth!

Breakfast was another beautiful surprise, with cakes, pastries, cereal, fruit, bread, eggs, cold and hot meats, yoghurt and milk of all types, cereal, cheese, eggs, pancakes ... my favourite moment of the day!

We then made our way to the beautiful shala for our first meeting and Yoga practice. The room was fitted with so many props and mats we did not have to bring anything. We all introduced ourselves and I thought so many people were never going to remember one another´s name, but I was wrong! They soon made friends.

To start our retreat in the best way, I read a lovely poem given to me by a gorgeous lady who could not come this year because she has just given birth (but I do hope she joins next year) and lit a delicious incense stick she also gave me from the brilliant We Are Fenix, and we were off.

When it was time for Savasana and everyone lay down, I looked at them, I looked out the the curtained door, through which I could see the sea sparkle and shine, and I had a moment of complete presence coupled with total incredulity. Were these people actually here, in my native land, with me? Had they really trusted me enough to follow me there? I felt incredibly lucky, blessed, greatful, excited.

The first few days went by so so fast we all got a little bit worried that we would have to go home to soon! I think that is because we were loving it so much there. The participants were incredibly caring towards one another and even towards the instructors. The banter at breakfast and dinner was great, and we had a few after-dinner sessions when we were so full we could only do Yoga Nidra or at the most Restorative Yoga! Dinner was four courses plus salad bar, no wonder we were full ...

Nidra Shakti, the Goddess of Rest, visited us both at dusk when we did our before-bed sessions, and in the morning, when we sometimes practised dream catching, journalling and a shorter Yoga Nidra session.

Some of the participants wandered off to visit Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, in a minibus, while others explored the village of Bari Sardo, in particular Angelo´s lovely shop Cosa Bona, full of yummy stuff such as mirto jam, aubergine pate, pani guttiau and pistachio cream, or Tortoli´, with its pretty ceramics shop.

The apex was on the Thursday when we went off to our boat excursion in the Gulf or Orosei with Fuorirotta Charter. Some of us climbed to the top of the boat, others stayed at the bottom, and when the crew, who completely spoiled us, served the aperitif, there were some very funny scenes with Wendy (one of our amazing Bakers Corner ladies) shouting orders from the top of the boat to the bottom deck were the aperitif was. In response to her efforts, both food and drinks started being passed through the hatch, with great laughter and a lot of wobbling around as the boat made its way towards our destination.

We visited three of the most beautiful coves in the World: Cala Mariolu, Cala dei Gabbiani and, best of all, Cala Biriola, where, under an arch of rock, I spied many different types of fish with my snorkel. We had a yummy lunch on the boat, and even a snack with Sardinian biscuits and ice tea while making our way back to the port.

Another highlight was our discovery that the Galanias Hotel hosts a wonderful osteopath and reflexologist called Tomaso Moro, who gives amazing massages and treatments. There was a point when the participants were trying to steal the slots off each other in order to get more treatments in!

The hotel was also frequented by interesting fauna such as bats, beetles, lizards, birds, enchanting yellow butterflies, the odd little snake and, thankfully, very few mosquitoes.

On the last day, there were a few tears, many hugs, and a lot more laughter -- the magic had happened: people who had never met each one another before had become good friends, sharing the beauty, the inspiration and the serenity of our beautiful retreat.

The manager and staff of the stunning Galanias Hotel are a big part of the reason it all went so incredibly well. Throw in the perfect weather, the amazing Torre di Bari´ beach and a group of wonderful Yoginis, and you get the best retreat ever!

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Beautifully written and all true! An unforgettable experience. :-) I can definitely recommend 100% to anyone who's hesitating about going in future.

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You are so kind!! Thank you 💜

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