My experience at Kaliyoga, Italy

Last week I jetted off to Puglia, Italy with Alex (@theglutenfreesuitcase) on a yoga and cycling retreat at the beautiful resort of Kaliyoga. To be very honest, I had no idea what to expect from the week, I had never practiced yoga before so was slightly nervous and apprehensive. My holidays usually consist of cocktails by the pool so a week of detoxing with healthy vegan food, no coffee, no alcohol, 2 daily yoga sessions and 30km cycle rides sounded extremely out of my comfort zone, but I was intrigued. I’ve struggled with anxiety for a while now, and would usually say no to this sort of thing, but after reading so many positive reviews about the experience, including a top 25 place in the Guardians ‘best yoga retreats in the world’, I had to go and see for myself.

To start with I have to say, I had the most incredible and life changing week and I’m so happy I didn’t let my anxieties get in the way. I honestly learnt so much during my week at Kaliyoga, I grew a love for practicing yoga, I met some of the most incredible people, cycled miles around the beautiful Puglia coast, ate the most delicious gluten free and vegan food as well as learnt how to breathe and appreciate everything around me. I’ve always been the sort of person to worry about everything, my mind is constantly buzzing with ‘what if’ thoughts and I’ve never been able to just relax and be in the moment. My week at Kaliyoga honestly taught me to unwind, take time out and be happy, I’m so thankful for the amazing experience.

For more information about the resort, the yoga, the cycling, the food, the holistic therapy and more, keep reading!

The resort..

Kaliyoga is located in the stunning Itria valley in Puglia, Italy, just 1 hour south of Bari airport, and a couple of miles from the town of Martina Franca. You can choose to stay in the old Masseria farmhouse or in the lovingly restored Trulli, whichever you do choose, you will not be disappointed! We stayed on the top floor of the Masseria, with a beautiful bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, living area and balcony which has views of the whole resort.

As well as the accommodation, the site also has a shala where all of the yoga sessions are held, a pool to cool down in, an outdoor and indoor dining area, a snug, therapy rooms and various other communal places to chill out including hammocks and sun loungers. Kaliyoga is home to various animals, including a donkey called Nabuco, lots of very friendly cats (and kittens!) and 2 very loving mountain dogs called Tommy and Akira that you are welcome to take out for walks if you like! I honestly could not have asked for a more beautiful place to spend the week.

A typical day at Kaliyoga..

The Kaliyoga retreat runs from Sunday afternoon where you arrive for lunch and an evening yoga session, until Saturday morning. There is a daily schedule throughout the week which we tended to stick to, however it’s entirely down to how you feel and what you would like to do. Here’s how a typical week at the resort looked whilst on the yoga and cycling retreat.

Monday and Friday 

8:00: Optional meditation

8:30 – 10:30: Morning yoga class

10:30: Breakfast

11:00: Free time

14:00: Lunch

14:30-17:30: Free time

17:30-19:00: Evening yoga

19:00: Apperitivos

19:30: Dinner

Tuesday and Thursday

8:00: Optional meditation

8:30 – 10:30: Morning yoga class

10:30-17:30: Cycling trip

17:30-19:00: Evening yoga

19:00: Apperitivos

19:30: Dinner

Wednesday 

8:00: Optional meditation

8:30 – 10:30: Morning yoga class

10:30: Breakfast

11:00 – onwards: Free time. Optional day trip and evening meal in Martina Franca.

The yoga..

The retreat run 2 daily yoga classes, one in the morning which tended to be a bit more energetic, and one in the evening which was a lot more chilled, with relaxation at the end. As someone that had never practiced yoga before, I was slightly apprehensive about all of the yoga classes, but honestly grew to love it. The yoga classes are run by the incredibly talented Tashi Dawa, who teaches Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga and has been practicing yoga since she was a teen. Tashi spends 5 months teaching at Kaliyoga and the rest of the year in India and Australia, deepening her practice and learning. I honestly can’t tell you how much Tashi touched me, she taught me to appreciate myself and everything around me and made me feel so comfortable (as a beginner to yoga) as well as helping those who were more experienced at the same time. The class honestly had a real mix of people, with some people having practiced yoga for years and years, and some people like me, who had never practiced before.

Practicing yoga daily was probably the thing I was most worried about before leaving for Kaliyoga, but it turned out to be one of my favourite parts of the day. With Tashi’s guidance, I’ve now learnt how to self practice, and will continue to develop my skills at home.

The cycling..

One of my favourite parts about the retreat was getting to see more of the beautiful Itria Valley on 2 30km cycle tours which are led by the brilliant Danielle. On Tuesday we left from Kaliyoga and explored Puglia’s iconic trullo houses, olive terraces, historic Masserias along with the stunning scenery. Puglia has been voted the most beautiful place in the world by National Geographic for 3 years in a row, and this cycle trip really allowed me to see why! We stopped for lunch at a farm yard, where the non vegans got to try some of the farms local cheeses, as well as meet some of the cute farm animals. Do be warned though, it was a very hilly cycle and padded shorts are necessary!

Thursday’s cycle ride was a bit more relaxed, we visited the beautiful Torre Canne coastal dune park, stopped for ice cream, and visited the stunning beach where we ate our packed lunch, provided by Kaliyoga and went for a dip in the sea. Although the cycle rides were challenging, there were enough scheduled stops to catch your breath, and I felt such a sense of accomplishment when arriving back at the resort!

The food..

For someone like me, who has coeliac disease and is intolerant to milk, holidays often cause stress when it comes to finding food I can eat, along with worry about cross contamination issues! However, with Kaliyoga’s entirely gluten free and vegan (apart from eggs for breakfast on a couple of days) kitchen, I didn’t need to worry! It was honestly such a weight off my shoulders to be completely care free about the food, and not have to question anything put in front of me.

Food and nutrition is a huge part of Kaliyoga experience, they believe in fuelling your body with gut friendly, locally sourced, organic food and I have to say, I felt amazing for it and my body really appreciated this whole new way of eating.The retreat was also alcohol, refined sugar and caffeine free, which I thought I’d struggle with, but turned out to be one of the best experiences. One thing I can say is, we certainly did not go hungry throughout the week and being greeted with beautiful, brightly coloured food every day was one of my highlights!

If you like the look of some of the dishes we ate whist at the resort, Kaliyoga also have their own cook book which you can purchase by clicking here.

Breakfast..

Breakfast was served daily after morning yoga practice and was buffet style, consisting of fresh fruit, granola, salad, bircher muesli, smoothies, gluten free bread, dairy free milk, jams and more. Breakfast has always been my favourite meal of the day, and I certainly was not disappointed during my stay at the retreat.

Lunch..

On the days we went cycling, we were provided with a delicious packed lunch to take with us in our backpacks including vegan quiche, falafel salad and sweet treats. The rest of the days we were provided with a buffet lunch with meals such as stuffed peppers, vegetable lasagne and soup.

Dinner..

Dinner took place after evening yoga practice in the communal indoor dining area each evening with the rest of the guests staying at the resort, where were were served a tasty 3 course meal. My favourite meals throughout the week had to be the gnocchi with spicy bell pepper sauce and the vegan tacos along with the raw cheesecake and tiramisu! It really is incredible how the talented chefs Francesca and Alessandra create the most beautiful and delicious food out of nutritious, raw ingredients and I will definitely be trying out some of the recipes at home.

Wednesday free day..

After yoga practice on Wednesday morning, the day is yours to do as you please. You can choose to either go on a trip to the beach or local town, or stay and chill by the pool. We decided to walk half an hour into the local town of Martina Franca for a vegan & gluten free ice cream (Yes, the chocolate and hazelnut flavours at the local Latteria Del Ringo ice cream shop were vegan, and they sold gluten free cones!) and some lunch, where we found a local restaurant that cooked us a delicious gluten and dairy free risotto. Martina Franca is such a beautiful typical Italian town, and it’s definitely worth a visit if you are staying at the resort.

On Wednesday evening you have the option of either staying at the resort and having a light evening meal provided by Kaliyoga, or going out for a meal at the amazing Garibaldi Bistro. We decided to go along to the meal and had a lovely evening drinking local wine and eating gluten free pasta! I went for the salmon linguine, with asparagus and tomatoes, and honestly couldn’t believe that it was gluten and dairy free! Italy is really up there with the best when it comes to catering for Coeliacs

Holistic relaxation..

Kaliyoga also has a team of hand picked world class holistic therapists, who you are able to book sessions with throughout the week at an additional cost. These therapists can help free you from what might be holding you back, and include sessions such as a healing hands therapy, shiatsu massage, one to one yoga sessions and more. Whilst on the retreat, I booked a massage with a therapist called Frederica, who was able to relax me through her healing hands, as well as eliminate any tension within my body. This is a definite must whilst you are at Kaliyoga and really helped me to get the most out of my experience.

Other Kaliyoga retreats..

If cycling isn’t your thing, Kaliyoga also offer different retreat experiences, across Italy and Spain as well as yoga workshops in the UK. Here are some of the different retreats you can go on:

Spain

-Yoga and walking

-Pure juice detox

-Yoga and raw health

-Hormone balance

-Mindful yoga relax

Italy

-Yoga and cycling

-Yoga cleanse

-Mindful vinyasa yoga

Who is Kaliyoga for?

The simple answer to this is anyone. Kaliyoga welcomes guests of all nationalities, gender and ages. It doesn’t matter if you are experienced at practicing yoga or a beginner, whether you come with a friend, on your own or with your partner. Kaliyoga is really great at welcoming everyone.

Final thoughts..

As I mentioned previously, I was slightly apprehensive about the retreat and had no idea what to expect, but I honestly had one of the best experiences of my life. During yoga class Tashi really struck a cord with me when she spoke about how lucky we are to be in minority of people in this world that have running water and a roof over our heads, which is so true. My week at Kaliyoga taught me to stop worrying about the small things and appreciate everything around me, and I couldn’t recommend this trip enough.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Kaliyoga, learning a lot about myself and making memories to last a lifetime. I will definitely be returning.  For more information or to book your trip to Kaliyoga, click here.

I’d like to thank the whole Kaliyoga team for making me feel so welcome and for a life changing week.

Alice x 

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4 Comments

  1. Jane
    May 5, 2018 / 3:41 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog Alice
    Very interesting and intriguing. Putting on my list to do with my daughter. What an experience. Your a beautiful writer by the way.

    • glutenfreealice@yahoo.com
      May 5, 2018 / 9:51 pm

      Hi Jane, thanks so much! It was an amazing trip and I’d definitely recommend it 😊💛xx

  2. May 8, 2018 / 4:44 pm

    Amazing blogpost! I want to go now!

    • glutenfreealice@yahoo.com
      May 17, 2018 / 4:38 pm

      Thank you! 🙂 It was great xx

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