Craving a gift to yourself that goes beyond a material possession? An experience that will deliver you with the tools needed to create a “reset” in your life whenever (and wherever) you need it? Well, that’s where a yoga retreat with Shari and Sole Yoga Holidays comes into play — one of the greatest journeys for your body and mind ever to be taken.
Greece. Six letters, 8,498 miles of coastline and a vast alcove of islands scattered in the Aegean Sea as if one of the culture’s many Gods dropped a few crumbs of beauty, sunshine and architectural grandeur from a rich feast of geographical perfection.
The island of Santorini. There wasn’t a better place to have another yoga retreat with Sole Yoga Holidays. The last time we had the pleasure of taking part in one of Shari’s yoga retreats was in Zanzibar (refresh: coconuts, lavish beachside villa, custom fashion designs and turtle farms). It went down as one of the most iconic travel experiences had on The Modern Jetsetter. I went into my second Sole experience with major hopes, and those expectations were exceeded with a positive ferocity I could only compare to the winds of Santorni itself.
My Santorini experience was a deliciously refreshing combination of deepening my understanding of the yoga practice (with priceless one-on-one direction from Shari), seaside sunrises and exploring a destination that is — for so many rightful reasons — on the whole world’s bucket list. From Chaturanga and Child’s Pose to cappuccino freddo overlooking the alabaster descent of architecture along the cliffs of Santorini…there wasn’t a moment or a day that wasn’t generous with beauty, lessons and deep overdue reflection. Above all, it was the ultimate physical reset and delivered me with a powerful wave of reinvention as I embarked down new roads.
When you cater to the physical needs of the body, one realizes just how much was neglected — in my case, the behind-the-scenes work of the redesign, growth and rebrand took priority over most everything else, and “me time” was a distant and long-extinct notion. When you have a setting where your only prerogative is to listen to your body, it will tell you the truth. Zanzibar gave me the skeleton to understanding the importance of taking care of the mind, but Santorini painted the broad and vibrant strokes of context.
For every hustling young woman reading this, I have a lesson for you: schedule time to spoil yourself. A magical yoga retreat in a remarkably romantic destination (Sole Yoga Holidays has plenty of options) will no doubt give you the tools needed to achieve golden work-life balance. However, the healthy habits you cultivate once back in your city are what transforms the experience into a lifestyle asset. Shari will help you get there.
Here is the full-insider scoop and itinerary for my Santorini yoga retreat with Sole Yoga Holidays, and why the cocktail of physical attention, playful pampering, Baklava and time with friends was the perfect way to “reset” my relationship with wellness.
Waking up in a lavish private villa overlooking the Aegean Sea isn’t an unpleasant way to wake up (especially since the one Shari chose is cozily tucked into a sleepy and quiet part of the island). As a New Yorker accustomed to sirens, compulsive honking and 6AM Spanish music from my Puerto Rican neighbor, it was a welcome change of energy. Add in a private post-transatlantic yoga session and honey-smothered Greek “honeybuns” for breakfast, and my first literal taste of Greece was rich rich rich.
Thira is Santorini’s main town was our first excursion as a group. The sprawling ivory maze is brimming with culinary opportunities — especially in the realm of Greek Salads (my new lifeblood), FRAPPE (I’m not sure what the plural of that is, but it need to exist) and glimpses of the island’s treasured donkeys. This bustling town was my first impression Greece, and climbing and descending into its many corners of perfection was a 3D experience of my Greek travel inspiration board on Pinterest.
Oia is the sexy, sultry and seductive cousin to the rather laissez-faire nature of Thira, and is no doubt the elevated shopping destination for all Santorini visitors. With a luxury boutique game so strong my wallet is still recovering, a day in Oia (both preceded and followed by a core-heavy Vinyasa flow) fed my wanderlust for Greek luxury and world-class Mediterranean hospitality. I walked away with a couple Greek designed fall accessories, but perhaps the sweetest acquisition of all was a mountain of Baklava shared with Shari afterward.
Don’t worry, she made me so much core yoga work afterwards that my abs are still feeling the wonderful aches.
From the western perspective, the notion of the Greeks having so many gods and goddesses may be novelty or romantic. When venturing into the Aegean Sea on a windy morning (on a boat), you understand why the people felt so spiritually profound about their weather conditions that they had to explain it with a fierce god.
It was windy, it was chilly but there is nothing like a Greek captain offering you wine and stunning views of limestone and volcanic rock and sunshine chats with yoga friends.
Travel note: Visiting Greece during October will lead to slightly windier and chilly conditions, but visiting Greece off-season it the only way to visit Greece. I’m in the business of tourism but nothing is less appealing than the inability to move through a town due to cruise ship crowds. There is no shortage of visitors come autumn, but you still have the sense of privacy, breaks from the harsh sun and plenty of unobstructed photo opportunities.
I’m not sure what captivated my heart more during our visit to the iconic Santo Wines: the wine or the sunset. I can only imagine how many travelers became engaged (or married) as the sun set fiercely behind the volcanic silhouette of Santorini. It’s a spectacular spot chosen by Shari, and I promise you’ll leave both tipsy and with your breath completely stolen. Oh, and there is cheese.
Santo Wines has been Santorini’s premier winery since 1947, and it was easily one of my favorite excursions on the retreat itinerary — because wellness must involve a little wine, warm conversations and laughter. Every yoga girl knows that.
As with all of Shari’s yoga retreats, there was a elusive and all-too-wonderful free day. Santorini is a sensory overload and I used my free day to deepen my relationship with my favorite town — Oia — and catch up on some major RnR at our sweet villa. One of the highlights of the entire retreat was no doubt the location. Yes, Santorini is amazing to explore…but what’s even more substantial is retreating to a sleepy corner of the island to relax, take a hot shower, enjoy a slower pace and digest the immeasurable beauty surrounding you.
The first year of The Modern Jetsetter has inspired me to explore destinations as I never had before — deeply, and authentically. It taught me what I want to inspire, but more importantly, the stories I want to tell. The stories that latch on to my heart are those of people. People who started following the beauty of the dreams no matter how impossible they seemed to the rest of the world. Shari went from a the top of the corporate marketing world, to the summit of a beautiful life: Living in Florence, Italy, and hosting exquisite yoga retreats in the world’s sunniest destinations.
The branding of Sole Yoga Holidays is simple: it’s Shari. It’s her ability to create a family in the most stunning nooks of the world, generously bring guests into it and make you a forever a part of it. You feel her warmth and her smile stitched through every moment of the experience — whether in Zanzibar, Santorini or some other fabulous destination she decided to sprinkle her life-changing sparkle.
If you wish to experience a retreat reset for yourself, sign up for any of Shari’s yoga + wellness holidays from Morocco to Italy to Israel and save $100 on me! Use code: ModernJetsetter on the booking form.