Going away for a few days to focus on wellbeing and relaxation is definitely something I believe we all can agree on is very well needed after these past two years. Luckily enough, the ultimate getaway for that has been found – Fykiada Retreats; a Grecian retreat where delicious food, time for relaxation, beautiful surroundings and inspiring people come together. If you’re looking for a remote place to nourish your body and mind and enjoy an easy lifestyle, look no further. 

I have wanted to attend a Fykiada Retreat for years, so I was beyond happy to visit Fykiada Retreat on the charming Greek island Koufonisia and experience the magic that founders Anna and Eranthi put together with their team. Almost a week was spent out on this hidden gem Koufonisia, an island about one hour and thirty minutes by boat from Mykonos. The fact that the island was so remote with such a laid-back vibe made it even more paradise-like. Whereas there are only a handful of restaurants and cafés, and one taxi to share on this 26 km2 “big” island, there is literally a buffet of beaches to select from when you’re looking for a place to relax, swim, and sunbathe. Hidden pebble-filled coves, as well as long and sandy beaches, are sprinkled across the island. Hence, your biggest “worry” and problem to solve during your days here is “which beach do we pick today?!”. Apart from that, Koufonisia is very easy-going and relaxed, especially compared to some other surrounding Greek islands. There is no need for beautiful kaftans, Hermès slippers, and chic straw bags – a pair of flip flops and a bikini is all you need!

The easy and effortless lifestyle is definitely something Fykiada promotes, and you will quickly fall into this slow and simple way of living during the retreat. The lovely and relaxing atmosphere is many thanks to the amazing team behind it all; the two founders, the chefs and the teachers. The founders, Eranthi and Anna, started Fykiada Retreats about five years ago and have since then organized over 30 retreats together with well-known teachers from all over the world. They truly are like sunshine and like two Greek goddesses – incredibly caring and helpful, always happy and friendly, they have such an eye for details, and so beautiful from the inside and out. Another incredible team member who helps run the retreat on Koufonisia is Esco, Fykiada’s own chef who cooks homemade plant-based food daily – always with a big smile on his face. Some of his specialities are vegan pizzas, healthy chocolate truffles, Greek salads and fresh smoothies.

The retreat I attended was also hosted by the yoga teachers Anna Karides and Eleni Bhava. Anna is an international yoga teacher (RYT 500hr) and a leading AcroYoga and Vinyasa teacher in the UK and is known for her signature flying therapeutic classes, as well as her playful and energizing Vinyasa flows. Eleni is a yoga teacher (RYT 500hr), a holistic health coach and doula based in London, and she focuses a little extra on intuitive sequencing, mindful vinyasas and yin classes, as well as Ayurveda and chanting. 

Their classes were so well organized and planned, and also had the perfect combination of mindful and flowing sequences and exciting acro-yoga asanas. In addition, the classes were put together in such a way that you were able to just enjoy and feel relaxed during the classes, but still, learn some new tips and challenge yourself a little. Being a yoga teacher myself, I know the time and effort required to create exciting and meaningful classes, which I definitely believe you experience at Fykiada thanks to their high standard and great teachers.

Each day started with a practice, followed by a healthy brunch buffet including everything from freshly squeezed juices and fruit salads, to homemade gluten-free bread and granola. The mornings were probably my favourite moments. Enjoying Shavasana in the stunning outdoor shala, feeling warm rays of the sun finding their way in through the big, white curtains flowing in the wind, and knowing that a day full of yoga, sunshine, saltwater and delicious foods was coming up. Days were spent on the beach most of the time, but we also got to experience one day island hopping by boat, visiting remote bays and hidden beaches, many of which can only be accessed by boat – sceneries and experiences that will be hard to forget! Then coming home to another yoga practice and wholesome, healthy dinner was the perfect ending of each day.

Apart from the incredible yoga classes, people and food, what I personally loved the most during the retreat was to experience how good it feels sometimes to completely allow yourself to relax. To forget what day it is, to let go of all musts and to-do lists for a while, and to get into a more relaxed and simpler way of living. I think most of us can agree how we sometimes marvel at the rewarding and freeing feeling of simplicity. After all, we don’t really need all that “stuff” we have around us in our everyday lives in order to be happy and enjoy life. Walking home from a restaurant down by the beach and looking up at the most incredible sky full of stars is definitely one of my best memories from this year. Waking up each morning to watch the sunrise, saying hi to the neighbours (who were goats) on the way back, and then enjoying that refreshing feeling of cooling down your body in crystal-clear water, really nourished both my body and soul. I believe that enjoying “little things” like that can do wonders for us. Living a life where we are attuned and connected with nature, is also a powerful reminder that we are so fortunate to live here on this earth where paradise, places like Koufonisia, actually exists. Especially when we had to cancel the boat ride home on the last day because of strong winds, we all (or at least the somewhat control-freaks, like myself) were suddenly required to let go of our plans and schedule, and just adjust fully to nature and its power.

My time at Fykiada really reminded me that nourishment is needed for both body and mind. Diet and exercise are two important factors, but taking care of and nourishing our mind and soul are essential, especially in challenging times. Taking time to rest and to do other things that nourish our mind is so rewarding and essential, and I have noticed that it makes me more productive and happier in the long run.  Therefore, I have actually started a new habit since I got back to “real life” and have started to schedule time for “mind and soul nourishment” in my calendar. Walking in nature, reading good books and doing things we love often requires planning and dedicated time in order for them to happen. So, until I get to come back and experience another amazing retreat with Fykiada, that is what you will find me doing in between work and to-do lists. Bringing in some of Fykiada’s relaxed lifestyle and nourishing routines into real life. Who else is joining me?

If you want to read more about Fykiada and its upcoming retreats, you can visit their website fykiada.com

words by Matilde Wergeland