Shamballah Yoga retreat is located on the beautiful picturesque west coast of Portugal, Sintra, a 30-minute car ride from the country's capital city, Lisbon.
Run by Zarqa and Patricia, the retreat encompasses yoga, meditation, therapies, health and wellness and a variety of activities all focused to provide the retreatee with a mindful, healthy and rejuvenated stay.
The day starts at 7.30am with restful guided meditation followed by an awakening yoga practice with a daily evening session and meditation to close the day. The yoga, taken from the Ashtanga series, is applied to suit the group, from beginners to advanced. Patricia is a thoughtful, insightful and steady teacher who gives helpful advice and teachings to each and every individual.
Patricia opens each session with an essential oil for energy and healing, and dedicated the class to focus on one of the seven Chakra body focal points, based on ancient meditation practices. I personally found this grounding and enlightening. Being able to spend time on the self to create space and focus on aligning energies was time well spent.
Conscious living is at the core of the retreat and the Shamballah kitchen is the heart of the home.
The food served is vegetarian, based on the practice of Ayurveda, with recipes that aim to boost health and wellness. This style of cooking encourages the body to detox and complements the yoga and meditation practice. For those with food allergies and intolerances, they will happily cater the menu with advance notice.
The breakfast and evening meal is a group affair served at a big wooden kitchen table, offering a family relaxed informal vibe. Breakfast is a selection of wholesome grains and oats, fresh fruit, freshly baked bread and delicious, locally sourced cheese. Packed lunches are made and left for the group daily, packaged up in a handy travel pack and include quinoa, wild rice, fresh vegetables, and a tasty snack, which is perfect to enjoy at the local beach. Afternoon snacks are served mid afternoon and included creamy vegan coconut blueberry cheesecake as well as fig and almond energy balls.
Dinner is served after evening yoga and included options such as chick pea curry, baked butternut squash and delicious vegan-inspired side dishes and salads. I really enjoyed the smell of herbs and spices wafting faintly into the practice room, but on occasion it took my thoughts away from practice to my tummy!
There is no coffee wine or processed food, so if you crave these kind of things, you can always pop to Sintra or the local town for a coffee and a Portugese tart.
The activities and local area
Patricia and Zarqa carefully handpick all the experiences and activities, providing guests with a wealth of recommended options from which they can create their own agenda. There are day trips and activities to suit all tastes, from surfing, walking, and forest therapy to in-house therapy sessions.
Walks to the local beach are favoured, as are day trips to Sintra to explore the local palaces and gardens. We recommend visiting the enchanted gardens at Quinta da Regaleria and its castle and palaces.
Zarqa and Patricia are both trained in therapies and massage including Ayurvedic and Shiatsu. Therapies are on offer throughout the week, with prices starting at €40. Body work is a key aspect of a retreat as Patricia shared; “the body holds a lot of memory, so therapies are there to help awaken the body mind and awareness, as a key part of the healing and mediation process.” During my visit, I enjoyed a revitalising full body Ayurvedic massage with Zarqa, I shan’t say he has magic healing hands, but it was close.
A 10-minute walk from Shamballah is the breathtaking west Portugese coast. Here there are a couple of local cafes where one can enjoy the views while indulging in local delicacies. Guests are invited to take a walk down to the beach to watch the sunset, which I must say was one of the prettiest I’ve seen and I’ve seen a few in my day! The expanse of the ocean is calming and peaceful, and the nicest thing is, there are not too many people around, so peace and quiet is guaranteed.
Shamballah’s vision is to share a way of living, to create a space where people can come together to practice conscious living and eating, daily yoga meditation and practice and for some who wish, spiritual healing. During my stay their vision was well and truly fulfilled and I left feeling calm and refreshed.
Retreats are from Monday to Saturday and costs start from 600€. Shared and single rooms are available on request. Retreats are run all year round, aside from a few weeks late Jan early Feb.
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