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Wellness retreat: hiking and yoga in the French Alps

I’ve never felt so grounded yet elevated at the same time

Practicing yoga in a studio comes in many shapes and forms, from candle-lit to aerial, but there’s one thing neither a studio, a gym nor even your back yard can provide — being surrounded with mountains and waterfalls and breathing in crystal-clear air.

I was fortunate to attend an eight-day wellness retreat in the French Alps and enjoy a combination of yoga and hiking. Plus, even tried paragliding, which was terrifying at first, but unforgettable at last. The entire retreat, however, was much more than breathtaking views and adorable Alpine animals. I’ve never felt so grounded yet elevated before.

The holiday was organized by Adventure Yogi, and it was one of their several retreats they host in and out of the UK, including places like Ibiza and Norfolk.

The chalet is only a 20-minute drive from Saint Bourg Maurice train station, so you can either arrive by train or, if you choose to fly in to Geneva, there’s a 3-hour flight transfer to the accommodation.

Arriving to the chalet in Sainte Foy, around 2,200 feet in the mountains, peaks and valleys welcomed us as we settled in our en suite rooms.

Besides the obvious difference of the scenery from being in a city, two of the biggest advantages of being at such high altitudes are the clarity of the air and the fresh taste of water. You won’t have to worry about buying bottled water because the taste of tap water is delicious and leaves you with nothing to worry about.

And, as the snowy slopes of the French Alps turn into blooming mountain trails and Azul blue glacial lakes, what once was a ski paradise in the winter becomes a hiking haven in the summer.

Glacial lake in the French Alps

Two of the main activities during the retreat are hiking and yoga to exhilarate and energize your getaway. There’s a 90-minute empowering yoga session before breakfast to get you ready for the day then a restorative practice in the evening before dinner to stretch and unwind after the daily hike.

Each day, we visited a different city or ski destination and hiked in the surrounding mountains. At the highest point, we could even see the snow-capped Mount Blanc. Amidst the slight breeze and the sound of our footsteps, every now and again we’d notice the sound of bells coming from goats or cows enjoying their lunch on the slopes. And if we were quiet enough, we could even spot a few marmots hiding nearby.

Practicing sunrise yoga in the Alps

Plus, one early morning there’s hike up high in the mountains for sunrise yoga and meditation. A 5 a.m. alarm might sound too extreme on vacation, but it’s well worth it. Doing yoga during sunrise in nature is really powerful. It changed the way I practice yoga and meditation and helped me better understand what mindfulness meant and how to get the most out of it.

The meditative effects of yoga are commonly known, but did you know that hiking is a very efficient stress reliever as well? Studies have shown that walks in nature boost mood, decrease stress levels and help fight depression and anxiety. So, sitting down with your legs crossed isn’t the only way to switch off. Wondering around these beautiful mountains might just help you leave all your worries behind.

The intensity of both the yoga and the hikes suit all fitness levels, but none of the programs are mandatory. If one of the days you’d like a little more R&R, you can sign up for a massage, relax in the hammock or enjoy the outdoor hot tub or sauna.

If you’re up for a little more adrenaline, however, you can choose from a variety of exciting activities such as paragliding, wild water rafting and hydrospeeding.

Flying sounded just about right for me. I’ve always wanted to experience what that feeling of flying freedom’s like, so I signed up for paragliding and it was incredible — scary but super fun.

Would I go again? Without a doubt! Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or just looking for a getaway that’s more than sightseeing and reading a book on the beach, this retreat will not disappoint. It keeps an ideal balance between recreation and relaxation and adventure and mindfulness.

There are six weeks of holidays this summer from July 18 to August 29.
Prices range from £989pp to £1294. 

For more information, visit adventureyogi.com