Hacienda Yoga Retreat with Sally Parkes

It’s hard to put into words my experience at The Hacienda, because it was such a perfect week. It sounds really cliche to use the expression, but I honestly returned to the UK feeling the most “zen” I have in a long time…

Aside from the most beautiful location, set up a winding gravel track amidst mountains and fields of olive trees, the yoga was the perfect balance of engaging and chilled, and the food was just tremendous! There’s still a preconception that yoga retreats must equal restriction, detox and “boring healthy food”, but that definitely wasn’t the case here. Yes, the meals were vegetarian but an array of colourful plates greeted us at every brunch and dinner, plus the 3pm afternoon cake became one of the highlights of my day! It was decidedly missed when I headed back to the office in London…

The Hacienda Yoga Retreat


The Sally Parkes Yoga and Meditation Relax and Restore Retreat was lead by yoga teacher extraordinaire and Idris Elba fan Sue Fryer. Not at all what I was expecting, this tan, blonde, super friendly and gin-loving lady was an amazing teacher, and a great laugh throughout the week.

The Hacienda Yoga Retreat

As with all of Sally’s retreats that I’ve been on, the approach to classes is very laid-back – you can attend as many or as few as you like, and feedback is encouraged. Sue led us through a Meditation session at 7am every morning, a 10:30am Vinyasa-style flow class, and then a relaxed Hatha/Yin/Restorative class at 5:30pm in the evening, sometimes accompanied by Yoga Nidra, or yogic sleep – which by the way if you haven’t tried, you should! It’s an amazingly blissful relaxation and was a lovely way to finish the day.

The Hacienda Yoga Retreat

The morning flow classes each day focused on a different area of the body, so we progressed from yoga sequences to strengthen our core, to shoulder-focused poses, to lower body and so on. It was a really interesting way to structure the sessions and meant I learnt some new moves as well as the usual sun salutations and warrior poses (my favourite).

With all props provided, and each person encouraged to adapt according to their body I felt under no pressure to be ridiculously flexible, or “out-do” anyone else in the room. On the contrary, if you wanted to just rest in child’s pose or use twenty different props (me) to support you in a pose that was absolutely fine.

Yoga poses-large

We had a really small group of yogis on this particular retreat, from a range of different backgrounds and  yoga abilities so it was a fantastic mix. They were all lovely ladies too and in fact I’m now in a WhatsApp group with several of them to share our photos and continue the conversation now we’re back home- even if that’s just reminiscing over the amazing cake…


This wasn’t a fast-paced holiday by any means, but that said we did manage to pack quite a lot in! Aside from the yoga, copious amounts of lazing by the pool, reading about three novels and getting semi-lost on my run (more to follow) we were also able to do a bit of exploring.

Tracie, the awesome lady who owns and runs The Hacienda very kindly arranged transport for a small group of us who wanted to go off on a couple of day trips to the nearby small town of Montefrio and the city of Granada.

Montefrio was small, with lots of whitewashed buildings, a round church in the middle and a castle on the hill. We sensibly decided to walk all the way up the hill in the 35 degree heat, to admire the views – which I must admit were worth it, despite the sweaty faces. And meant we had undoubtedly earned our ice-creams when we came down again!

The Hacienda Yoga Retreat

Granada is on a much larger scale and was about an hours drive from our little idyll in the country. It’s not a massive city however, and after a tip from Sue, we bought day tickets for the road train to see as much as we could in a few hours. The train drives around, stopping at different points to allow you to jump off and admire the architecture, pick up a souvenir, sample the Sangria and hop back on again. It even offered a running commentary in multiple different languages, that you could plug your headphones into and know exactly which historic church you were passing!

The Hacienda Yoga Retreat

Granada is also home to the Alhambra, a Moorish palace and fortress which has some amazing architecture and beautiful interiors. It is however, nearly impossible to get a ticket to look round on the day- visitors are advised to book about six months in advance due to the popularity! Entry is also only permissible with a guided tour which takes approximately three hours, but you can however, see a fair amount of the outside and the gardens for free which we took advantage of.

The Hacienda Yoga Retreat

On the Thursday, the day before flying home I decided to lace up my running trainers and head out for an early morning run. The temperatures were such that it was only really comfortable to run early before things had had a chance to heat up too much! I had a quick look on Google maps so I had a vague idea of where I was going and set off about 7:30am. I knew it would be a hilly experience, but perhaps hadn’t counted on quite how much the hills and the heat would slow me down! After running downhill consistently for the first two miles, I decided to carry on and attempt to complete a loop rather than just forcing myself back uphill again. This sort of worked…

The Hacienda Yoga Retreat

Five and a half miles later I arrived back at The Hacienda, rather sweaty and red-faced but having witnessed some amazing views – the sun rising behind the mountains, the fields becoming progressively more golden, and vistas that seemed to go on for miles into the distance. While I definitely walked up a lot of the hills, it was probably one of my most favourite runs ever. I literally saw no people, just running past a few barking dogs (and hoping they weren’t going to follow me), and drinking in the fresh air!

The Hacienda

I couldn’t finish this blog post without mentioning the resort itself – The Hacienda is a gorgeous building with an infinity pool, purpose-built air-conditioned yoga studio, an amazing outdoor stone table for meals and plenty of little places to curl-up and relax. The decor had a real Moroccan feel, particularly the lounge area, and I loved all the fairy lights strung up over the seats and benches to illuminate things when the sun went down.

The Hacienda Yoga Retreat

All our meals were provided by a local Spanish woman who acts as The Hacienda chef, helped out by two “workaway’ girls. I’d never come across this concept before but apparently teenagers/young people apply to do voluntary work via the workaway website, including washing up etc at a yoga retreat. They get their food and accommodation provided, as well as free time to do what they like in the area – not a bad exchange if you ask me!

The Hacienda Yoga Retreat

With only fans in the bedrooms it did take a while for me to adjust to sleeping in the heat, but I really enjoyed being able to spend so much time outside. It was refreshing to just switch off and not feel guilty about sitting there reading or relaxing, without worrying about all the things I should be doing.

The Hacienda Yoga Retreat

I will be counting the pennies to see when I can return!

Have you been on a yoga retreat abroad? Are you good at relaxing on holiday or will you try and squeeze in as much as you can?

Beki x

NB: I was provided with a discounted place on this yoga retreat in exchange for sharing my experience, but honestly it was amazing. 

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