Wow, what a weekend! I spent it in an absolutely beautiful part of Wales, pedalling up big hills, whizzing down the other side of them, splashing in streams and taking part in some incredibly satisfying yoga classes. And all under the warm rays of the Welsh sunshine. I couldn’t have asked for more!
I’d seen Mountain Yoga Breaks advertised a little while ago and met Polly – the weekend’s guide and yoga instructor – at the Women’s Adventure Expo at the end of last year. But it wasn’t until I was feeling a little stressed out during a busy time at work recently that I took the initiative to take some me-time and book myself onto a trip. Luckily, Polly had two spaces available on last weekend’s trip, so I packed up my bike, yoga kit and my good friend Laura and headed off to the Elan Valley in mid-Wales.
A Mountain Yoga Break starts on a Friday evening and is jam-packed full of fresh air, exercise and good food all the way through to Sunday afternoon. Guests stay at the Elan Valley Lodge, a Victorian school building that’s since been converted into a multi-purpose centre for events, with en-suite accommodation and some very good cooks!
The weekend kicks off with a yoga session, run by Polly. Polly’s clearly a very experienced teacher and was clocking our individual abilities and restrictions. She was able to make sure each of us felt pushed but in a way that was comfortable. Laura is far more flexible and well-practiced at yoga than I am but we both came away feeling like we had made the most of our time on the mat. And the same applied to the rest of the yoga sessions too – one on Saturday morning, a session with some amazing restorative stretches on Saturday evening, and a final session on Sunday morning. I have only dabbled in yoga previously but at no point did I feel out of my depth. In fact, the yoga sessions left me feeling really empowered – a rather nice feeling!
And so to the riding. It’s fair to say that Polly and Phill, who guided us on our two big rides, know a thing or two about biking in the Elan Valley! They’d planned some brilliant rides that took in the most beautiful views, tested our legs and lungs on long climbs and filled us with grins on some fast descents. For the most part the riding wasn’t particularly technical, but that didn’t matter – the experience of being out in those hills more than made up for the lack of puzzly trails.
There were river crossings, big blue skies and vivid green marshland. There were red kites to spot, views to marvel at and bogs to avoid (or not!). There were long, hot, grassy climbs and beautiful sweeping descents. My favourite section involved a relatively technical traverse along a sunken road, where the secret was in working out which puddles were shallow enough to pass through without swallowing you and your bike whole!
Interestingly I found climbing a whole lot easier than I sometimes do and I can only put that down to the fact that we’d done so much yoga before the rides. I felt like I had more power than usual and that my legs lasted for longer. I mentioned this to Polly and she suggested that it could have been down to the fact that we really opened up our hip flexors before getting on the bikes. That’s a lesson I’ll happily take away.
All in all I had a truly brilliant weekend. Judging by the photos, there wasn’t a moment that passed when I didn’t have a smile on my face and I came home feeling like I had been on holiday for a week. If you’re looking for a fun, restorative weekend that includes a great big helping of fresh air and exercise look no further than Mountain Yoga Breaks – I cannot recommend them enough.