Yoga, walking and horse riding retreats in enchanting surroundings
Best for: For the hill yoga retreats, creatives, singles or young mums looking for a real and less ‘out there’ inroad to the realm of yoga will love it here. The riding retreats are ideal for friends or family who want to share a rare and unifying experience.
Not for: Itchy teens or those sorely entrenched in the yang of life for the hill yoga retreats; those with no riding experience for the riding retreats (you’ll spend 5 hours day on a horse).
Set in the Andalucian hills an hour’s drive North from Seville, Trasierra is an enchanting 16th century family home that has been opening its doors for payed stays and retreats since the 1990s. Come to release, recharge and inspire with the daughter Amber Scott, who runs three day Hill Yoga retreats four times a year, or the son George Scott, who runs three day riding retreats from mid-March until mid-June. The easy beauty, detailed touches and splendour of the natural world all around at Trasierra create the perfect environment for those in need of a dose of home-hued love and nourishment. Trasierra will be re-opening for general stays sometime in 2019 too.
The heavenly contrast of being among olives and pines in the spaciousness of the Spanish hills, and curling up in vast white-washed rooms, with roaring fires, dogs and tingling book-spines. Charlotte Scott, Trasierra’s intriguing and beautiful host, who bought the derelict ruin with her husband over 35 years ago, had four children there, and then used her designer’s eye to transform the private house for guests.
Eating dinner at 9pm most evenings might be quite late for some yogis, while the autumnal buzz of flies need a good swat.
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Connie Allfrey reviews this yoga and walking retreat with Amber Scott at Trasierra in Spain and finds bright, kind and precise yoga teaching and creative Bohemian surroundings that inspire her next move.Have a peek
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Hill yoga retreats with Amber offer twice daily yoga, hill and river walks, massages, swimming in the pool, and plenty of time and space in beautiful rambling gardens to muse, meditate and clear. Riding retreats with George involve daily riding, beautiful picnic lunches in the middle of the countryside, one night at Trasierra, one at a charming 1950s farmhouse, and one night camping in beautiful Rajasthani tents. You will be able to stay here for a generally relaxing stay sometime in 2019 too – ask ahead of time.
Two 90 minute yoga classes are held in the yoga studio at 8am and 6.30pm, with an informal yogic talk at 6pm in the evening, on practical aspects like the energy body, and why we focus on yoga in the first place. Eternally curious and in awe at yoga’s bounty, Amber Scott has 12 years teaching experience and is extensively and widely trained in everything from self-practice, to Sanskrit teachings, yoga and meditation traditions and Thai massage. Amber’s yoga is precise, kind and measured – combining Karuna yoga’s compassionate listening and holding the body back, with a slowing awareness of the subtle body from her training with Tias Little. Emphasis is on listening to the body and increasing awareness rather than forcing the body prematurely. Bolsters, straps, and even chairs are used to enhance the stretch and precision of certain postures. Amber gives each retreater a private consultation, sketching out a bespoke sequence with them, so they can feel more involved and in control of their yoga practice on leaving.
The co-hosted Advaya Initiative retreat (usually held each May) will also include Viniyoga, which is a therapeutic branch of yoga, founded by the great guru Krishnamacharya, and taught by his son Desikachar, who believed that yoga should be moulded to the individuality and particular situation of each practitioner.
Two hour daily walks start at about 11am at a comfortable, yet invigorating pace. They set out from the house, apart from the Las Laderas river walk through ancient cork forest used to build the Armada’s ships, which is slightly longer and involves a short car journey. The expansive views and surrounding nature bathe away any stresses, and you can dip in or out of the gentle flow of life and yoga chatting as you go. The local hill walks explore Trasierra land, observing cork and eucalyptus trees, wild mushrooms, easy streams – you might surprise a wild pig at a pool, or wind up a hill to an enchantingly arranged picnic by a cottage by a cottage built for Charlotte Scott as a surprise.
Sometimes you need to just unravel and allow your mind to rest. Trasierra is esconced in breathtaking nature, from the wild and roaming kind to the creatively tended, but padding around the beautiful terraces and inspiringly decorated rooms also makes the house an inspirational place to just ‘be’. There’s a tennis-court and equipment if you can tear yourself away from the lovely pool.
Optional horse-riding on local horses is possible on Amber’s hill yoga retreats. George Scott, Charlotte Scott’s son, also guides three day riding retreats on local horses. The landscape and type of ride vary from day to day, and depending on the group, but they all encompass five hours riding through stunning countryside, surprises along the way, and beautifully set up lunches seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The experience is designed to transport guests back in time through an escape from the technological world, the use of seasonal and local products for meals, and this age-old, peaceful form of travel. The third night of the riding retreat will be in a tented camp, in beautiful Rajasthani tents to fully savour the surroundings, the space and the stars.
The kitchen is open for informal cooking classes with Gioconda or Fiona, and tips on how to make the light bites that magically appear in The Orangery.
Massages take place in either the yoga studio, or in a snug little room upstairs from the guest houses with candles – opt for the latter if possible as, despite the fire in the yoga studio, massages need to be tightly enclosed. There are two practitioners – Pili (more intent on relieving you of that solid shoulder tension) and Bea (more nurturing).
Bedrooms: The 11 ensuite differently styled bedrooms all emanate an easy luxury. The Blue room, like a moorish suite with two alcoves, is perhaps the most infamous Trasierra room; it is good for children as is a bit apart, but the Pink room has a beautiful bath, and the New room has its own little balcony. All the rooms are divine, with somewhere to sit outside, and most of them can be made into a twin or a double, though the soothing and white and spacious Attic room is only for single occupancy. If you know your preferred room, they will do their best to accommodate.
Other spaces to be: The fig tree garden below the pool is a nice place to chill out and have a private conversation or consultation if needs be. If you need the wi fi you can retreat to owner Charlotte Scott’s bohemian office for a little respite and connection.
Though you can get it in an emergency there is no general wifi at Trasierra, so take the opportunity to switch off. A digital detox is strongly encouraged on the riding retreats with most people leaving their phones for the duration, and allowing the photographer control of the pictures. The lemons and oranges hanging around in bowls are sensational – squeeze half a lemon in warm water in the morning to alkalize, or tear into an orange as a dessert after lunch. Little blue ribbons tied to trees guide you home should you get lost on a solo hill walk – either go constantly left, or consistently right, and you’ll get home. Take layers, as the weather can be unpredictable, and a water bottle to fill up from the Brita filter in your room.
When to Go
Hill yoga retreats take place in April and October, with a collaboration with Advaya Initiative in May, and the riding retreats from mid-March until mid-June. The weather can be warm and heavenly at these times, but is unpredictable so might rain a little too. Autumn is romantic and enchanting, but Springtime is apparently completely insane, the exuberant smell of wild lavender and roses sending everyone into an adulating springtime trance.
Breakfast and lunch are eaten in The Orangery, which has a vast windowed doors one side, overlooking the pool. It is crisp and blue and white, with sofas on one end, a large rectangular table for meals, and a high-stooled bar at the other end for honesty gin and tonics. The perfect setting for cosy dinners is the Salon Amarillo, an old set of stables transformed into a banqueting hall, with a fire and sofas at one end and two round, slightly unstable tables at the other, adorned with interesting coffee table books and vintage bracelets-come-ash-trays.
The food is vegetarian and usually cooked by Gioconda, Amber’s sister, and some retreats have been wholly vegan. Food is sourced locally, with fruit and vegetables and nuts fresh from the land. Breakfast consists of a plethora of exotic fruit, from kiwis to pippy prickly pears to slice over yoghurt, chia and a delicious home-made granola. There is toast with butter and jam if you need it, plus fresh watermelon and orange juices, tea and coffee. Lunch is an assortment of salads with a more substantial dish, like chickpea curry, or bulgur wheat salad. Supper consists of pulses and cruciferous vegetables, sweet potato and polenta or squash and kale curry, with a light fruit based dessert, apart from the phenomenal Chocolate Nemesis on the last night. There is water at mealtime and optional wine, though the cost of wine is not included. Teas are available throughout the day in the orangery, where there are often little date and walnut raw balls or pools of gojis, and the occasional warm carrot cake.
Most of Trasierra’s staff are local and long-standing Spanish. As much as possible they try to use their own vegetables, fruit and nuts. Manolo the driver runs the vegetable garden and compost, and the local wines are all super organic. There is also recycling and Brita water filters in the rooms to save on buying plastic water bottles.
Finca Trasierra, Carretera A432 Km 44, 5, 41370 Cazalla de la Sierra, Spain.
1 hour 20 minutes