Embracing our freedom at Yogamagic eco retreat in Goa

Hannah MacInnes reviews this marvellous eco retreat in Goa and finds it the perfect place to make a big decision

One often reads about this or that retreat that ‘changed my life’ or ‘changed me’ but often and naturally treats it with a certain scepticism or raised eyebrow. But Yogamagic really did do those things for me.

Returning from my glorious ten days there, I moved out of my London flat where I was not happy, left London altogether, and took up home in the countryside, commuting into work each day on the train instead. It was one of the most refreshing and best decisions I ever made.

I made it whilst sitting, legs crossed, a blanket wrapped around my shoulders, in Yogamagic’s beautiful yoga shala during morning meditation, with the sun’s rays sliding in through the thatched roof and the birds gently tweeting outside. So many of the things that had been troubling my mind before my visit also slowly dissipated in that way during my stay. The clue is in the name – there is something ‘magic’ about the place.

I had often thought that to go on a yoga retreat necessitated hiding away from the outside world, restricting your diet, and sticking to an established meticulously planned routine.  I didn’t think it could be a real, true, free-ing holiday. While I often embrace such things on retreat,  during my time at Yogamagic I adored the freedom I had too – to explore the beautiful Goan beaches and local markets, whizz around on scooters, swim in the ocean, watch the sunset – all in my own time, and all safe in the knowledge that my beautiful, tranquil, safe home-away-from-home, my amazing bed, the fabulous meals, the friendliest faces and good humour of all the staff was all there to go back to.

‘I adored the freedom I had to explore beaches and markets, whizz around on scooters and swim in the ocean – all safe in the knowledge that my tranquil, safe home-away-from-home was all there to go back to’

I loved it all. The exquisite Rajasthani-style tents, each woven with a different rich colour, which felt like everything ‘eco luxury’ should be, and with clever outdoor bathrooms. The blissful morning routine of meditation, followed by sipping mugs of delicious lemon grass or masala teas sweetened with honey, perched around the crackling fire before the deeply relaxing yoga sessions. The breakfasts, which we ate sat on soft cushions around a large low table looking out over the paddy fields and the grazing buffalo. I am a breakfast lover, but breakfasts here were in quite another league of wonderful, with platter after platter of fresh fruit, coconut, homemade muesli, buffalo yoghurt, honey to drizzle over the top, then toast and avocado or eggs anyway you like, beautifully presented on silver platters, with pancakes, tomatoes and all manner of other savoury delights as well.

I felt genuinely liberated but at the same time safe and happy – I never wanted to leave.  I did try to leave by heading South to Palolem to another retreat after five days at Yogamagic. But after a three hour taxi journey, I arrived at my ‘new’ beachside yoga home and lasted all of five minutes.  I quickly realised I just wanted to spend all my precious time in Goa in the comfort and safety of Yogamagic!  So I ended up in a taxi (terrified, on my own and in the dark) all the way back that night. I called to check there was still a room for me, knowing that mine had been moved into, and when I arrived it had all been sorted –  a new tent had been cleaned and was waiting, the security guard had stayed up to guide me there, via the kitchen for a midnight snack.  It felt like home.  I then spent a vast amount changing my flight and extending my stay for a further four days.  I am not sure I would have left if I didn’t have a job and a family waiting for me!