It seems like a distant memory now, but only a few weeks ago I was soaking up the sun, warrior posing, and chowing down on baklava with some amazing women. If you follow me on social media, you will have seen that I was away in Turkey at the Azure Wellness Retreat with Hayley – more specifically, their Body Positive week. By that I mean that it was a week aimed at poeple who wanted a safe space to hang out, practice yoga, be comfortable in a bikini and talk with like minded folk. A space where we could share experiences, ask for advice, take killer photos and laugh til we cried. And happily – it will be the first of many retreats like this! Let me tell you all about it from the top, and hopefully it will inspire you to join us next year.
The retreat is located in Turgutreis, which is about a sixty minute taxi drive away from Bodrum airport. It’s not in a totally remote area, but there aren’t any noisy hotels or clubs nearby. When you arrive, you are greeted by the hosts Ali and Michelle who take your bags, run you through times of yoga and meals and the week’s itinerary. There is tea and coffe on tap 24/7, and they give you a water bottle to help keep you hydrated – I felt like I was on Love Island! We then went to our rooms – which were absolutely heavenly to see after travelling for about 11 hours! Comfy beds, warm showers and a lovely little balcony. The week had begun!
Yoga began the next morning at 8am. The idea of rolling out of bed and straight into an hour long yoga class did fill me with dread. I like my fitness, but I am a total beginner when it comes to yoga, and I didn’t want to spend 60 minutes feeling out of my depth. However – I needn’t have worried. We had two different teachers that week, and both were so good at reading the room and knowing how to push each of us. The retreat provided all the tools needed – mats, blocks, bands and blankets. I definitely preferred the second style of yoga (Hatha) as it was a little faster paced – less holding the poses, more balance and strength focused. An hour before breakfast and an hour before dinner made my body feel great – stretched, strong and calm. It was a sweatier session first thing, and quite a relaxing and refocusing session in the afternoon, which I found to be a really nice way round.
In addition to the yoga, our BoPo week was also packed with a few activities. On the first day we went for a ‘Hammam’ – essentially, a scrub and massage at a spa. It started with a sauna, then we were washed, scrubbed and soaped, massaged for an hour and given a face mask. I feel so soft, smooth and relaxed after two hours of pampering, and my skin was prepped for a week of tanning. And then, as recommended by Michelle – it was time to hit the local markets! Herbs, spices, Turkish Delight and loose leaf teas on one side, and clothes, towels, ceramics and lamps on the other. Us girls were in heaven! We sampled, we bartered and we bought. Sadly, a sour taste was left by some of the sellers. Being asked how much to grope my boobs, being followed, and generally hollered at was not my idea of fun, and I gave as good as I got until it got too much. A sales tactic gone wrong for a few too many.
The rest of the week seemed to fly by. We had plenty of time to relax and chat, but we also had lots of fun activities and trips to partake in. On the Sunday we went on a 7-hour boat trip – a lovely day of sunbathing, swimming and sight seeing. However, when they say don’t touch the rocks in the sea they really mean it! I accidentally scraped against one and had quite a severe allergic reaction! So maybe take some antihistamines if you are venturing in. And as part of the body positive week we also had a class on essential oils, learnt to belly dance and visited the town of Gumusluc – probably the most instagrammable place ever! As it was the first year of running the BoPo week in the newly opened retreat, it was all just a learning experience. But for me, they got the balance right. Learning about oils was super interesting and relaxing, and it helped us get to know each other a bit more. And the belly dancing seemed a little daunting at first, but the teacher was a little ball of sunshine and energy, and we all felt encouraged, entertained, and full of endorphins.
The week was truly fantastic. Delicious, home cooked vegetarian food, yoga, sunshine and plenty of laughs. I cannot wait for two bigger and better weeks next year – dates will be coming soon and I will of course keep you all posted! And hopefully I have persuaded a few of you to go along and enjoy a wonderful week in Turkey.
To see photos, learn more about the retreat and book a stay click here.