The night before I flew to Spain for Emily Reed’s retreat in the hills of Andalusia, I realized it had been 6 weeks since I left my home in Venice Beach, California to travel the world as a digital nomad-wellness entrepreneur. This transformative retreat came at just the right time, and what transpired during the 7 days at Finca el Moro was nothing short of magic! I returned to London feeling balanced, focused, grounded, and full of gratitude. Although I didn’t meet Emily in person until the first day of retreat, she already felt like a dear friend from our warm correspondence. From the meeting location at Torre del Oro, to the final group lunch in Seville with our blissed out yoga family, the beautiful experience was inspiring, rejuvenating, and one I’ll never forget.
We arrived at Finca el Moro on a sunny Saturday afternoon and I immediately felt the stresses of daily life slip away as I took in the breathtaking views on the wildflower-covered 65-acre farm. The owners, Nick and Hermoine, welcomed the group and showed us to our cottages. I stayed in a shared charming shared room with vaulted ceilings, a Spanish tiled floor, and patio with a magnificent view. There’s also a swimming pool just outside for warm afternoons.
The cottage has a dining area where we ate breakfast every morning; a light meal before asana practice with a variety of hot teas, fresh fruit, yogurt, muesli, and freshly baked cornbread with local raw honey. I knew the meals on retreat would be vegetarian (with gluten-free and vegan options), but I never could have imagined just how delicious they would be! Lunches and dinners were prepared with farm fresh ingredients and served buffet style in the main house, often outside on the terrace. Highlights: coconut dhal, aubergine mint soup with buckwheat blinis, stuffed mushrooms, vegetable lasagna, and a variety of crunchy salads with greens, carrots, seeds, sprouts, and herbs. Daily desserts with fresh fruit from the farm: peach crumble with almond milk custard, baked cinnamon apples, rice pudding with strawberry coulis, and orange almond cake.
While the accommodations, location, and meals were top notch, what really sets the tone for a retreat is the teacher! Emily Reed is a gifted yoga teacher and avid Ayurveda practitioner, offering private sessions, group classes, and workshops across London. She visited Finca el Moro with one of her teachers in June 2015 and knew she wanted to lead her own retreat in this rural locale. Emily has a calming demeanor and compassionate heart, so it’s no surprise that she has a loyal following of students, including all of the yogis on retreat. Learn more about Emily in our Q&A!
Around the table at mealtimes, Emily would engage the group in chats about the Ayurvedic principles and how to balance the doshas through yoga, meditation, and nutrition. There was so much value in the connectedness of shared teaching and learning. While nothing about the week felt too structured or effort-filled, there was just enough of a daily schedule to allow a flow of activities with plenty of free time.
We met in the shala each morning at 7:30am for one hour of meditation and pranayama in silence. This was a lovely way to begin the day. We practiced yoga twice most days, once at 10:30am before lunch and again at 5pm before supper. Our practice throughout the week focused on the 5 elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Space, and Emily shared Ayurvedic teachings from start to end. The yoga was grounding, nourishing, and challenging, when appropriate, to practice arm balances, backbends, and other peak poses.
The yoga also complemented all of the walking! We explored the property and surrounding farms and villages on nature walks, including a 2-hour guided morning walk with the owner, Nick, and an evening walk with the group for a hillside meditation and picnic supper. Emily encourages everyone to do what they need while on retreat so all activities are optional.
A sprinkle of gold on top of everything else is that we all had full body massages during our stay at El Moro. The massages take place in a peaceful cottage just a 5-minute walk from the main house, and left us feeling blissfully relaxed!
Emily’s next retreat is 10-17 September on the enchanting island of Ithaca, Greece. Click here to learn more. It’s filling up fast!
Dorry Golden is on the Soul Seed Travel blogging and social media team. She is a Board Certified Health Coach and yoga teacher with a deep passion for wellness, nutrition, and helping others find joy and balance in their lives.
With almost a decade of social media experience, she has worked for international brands such as lululemon athletica, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and startups in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, and beyond. She’s hosting her first retreat in Costa Rica this October! dorrygolden.com