At Manduka, we were founded on the simple concept of creating a foundation to support those (teachers, studios, retreat centres, community guides) who Inspire the Practice. The yoga teachers, studios and retreat centres inspire more than they will ever know. They become people and places of familiarity, comfort, community, and joy. They help create strength in the chaos. They push us when needed and grant space when it's best. They facilitate our own 'moments' on and off the mat.
Quite simply, they are our inspiration.
Manduka is grateful for the thousands of teachers, studios and centres who make it part of their life's work to create a sanctuary for us to move our bodies, free our minds, and find peace. Even if for a moment, we honor you and say thank YOU for Inspiring the Practice.
Inspiration is what unites us all to make ourselves and this world a better place. Let's take off on this journey together to celebrate those that #InspirethePractice.
MEET SURYALILA RETREAT CENTRE
Suryalila in Andalusia, southern Spain, was recognised as the best Yoga Retreat Centre 2023 by Om Yoga Magazine. The centre is nestled serenely in a large open valley in the foothills of the Sierra de Cadiz. A striking part of the natural beauty of the property are the breathtaking vistas unfurling in all directions; rolling hills, fields of sunflowers, and lakes. The sense of vastness and expansiveness is very uplifting.
This beautiful space, founded by Vidya Heisel, hosts International Yoga Groups with world-class Yoga Teachers, Signature in-house retreats, Retreat Yourself Packages for independent guests and Yoga Teacher Trainings. Manduka has taken a moment to sit down with the Spanish-based yoga retreat centre Suryalila to find out more about their magical centre.
Suryalila has recently won the OmYoga Best Retreat Award, tell us how the retreat journey started and where the centre is at today?
Suryalila was opened 12 years ago by Vidya, who aimed to create the best Yoga retreat Centre in Europe. In 2023, Suryalila received the TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice Award and was honoured as the Best Retreat of 2023 at the Om Yoga Show Awards in London.
"The mission of Suryalila is to be an enduring sanctuary where all who work here fully support each other’s freedom, growth, creativity and highest potential. To all who come here we offer an experience of profound beauty, wholesomeness wellbeing, human warmth, respect and care. This is expressed by our authenticity, wholehearted dedication, and careful attention to providing an environment where individual guests and group leaders feel nurtured and supported. We are guided by integrity, openness, kindness, happiness and love." - The Suryalila Team
Tell us a little bit about the retreat space.
We have three beautiful Yoga Halls at Suryalila. The largest and most awe-inspiring is The Om Dome, which has been coined “the most magnificent Yoga Hall in Europe”. The sacred geometry creates a cathedral-like space, which is breathtaking. The Dome overlooks rolling hills, olive groves and a ruined convent. Inside, the Dome boasts underfloor heating and cooling, and two long walls for practicing inversions. The walls have been beautifully decorated with colourful murals of Indian gods and Tibetan imagery. There is a state of the art sound system as well as atmospheric lighting. The Dome can comfortably hold up to 80 people practicing Yoga and a lot more for concerts and other events.
What is the connection between the retreat centre and Frog Lotus Yoga?
Both Frog Lotus Yoga and Suryalila were founded and are directed by Vidya. Frog Lotus Yoga (FLY) is Vidya´s Yoga Academy, running since 2000. Suryalila is now home base for Frog Lotus Yoga.
In a few words how do you describe the centre’s yoga retreats and YTT’s?
Suryalila offers over a hundred different Yoga retreats annually, led by international Yoga teachers and featuring stellar in-house retreats. We have been fortunate to welcome many well-known teachers here such as Sarah Powers, Donna Farhi, Tiffany Cruikshank and Megan Currie. Vidya, Suryalila's founder and director, conducts all her popular Yoga Teacher Training Programmes here as well. The centre also welcomes independent hotel guests, who come to take the world-class in-house yoga classes, feast on the amazing organic vegetarian food and enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings.
What is the one thing you want each and everyone of your guests to walk away with at the end of one of your retreats/YTT’s?
A full heart!
What is the approach/philosophy at the centre?
At Suryalila, we nurture guests with kindness and generosity, creating a beautiful and tranquil environment. Our exceptional organic, vegetarian buffets, skilled massage therapists, and a warm, friendly atmosphere foster connections and deep conversations.
What made the centre decide to use Manduka gear?
Vidya is a master yoga teacher, having taught yoga for 45 years now. She is a huge fan of Manduka mats and has been practising on them for the last twenty years. When asked why she prefers them over other mats, Vidya says, “When we opened Suryalila, almost ten years ago I knew right away that all the mats had to be Manduka, and between our three yoga halls, we have almost 100 PRO™ Yoga Mats. I love the thickness of Manduka mats, which allows you to do postures such as headstands without needing an additional blanket. They are incredibly durable, and even after hundreds of retreats and intensive yoga teacher training’s, they are still like new.”
How have you seen the impact of the retreat centre on the communities in the area?
A surprising and unusual element in rural Andalusia, we employ many locals, including three on our Management team. Suryalila is well-known in the area, adding colour and spice to the neighbourhood. Weekly community Yoga Classes in Spanish strengthen our ties with the local community.
Tell us about the extended retreat family?
With around 28 full-time staff and 7 women on the main management team, Suryalila has a robust team. We run a nonprofit permaculture project called Danyadara on the property, with a small team of volunteers. A small community of employees has grown around the centre, some living on our property, and others in the local white village.
What has been the hardest thing you have had to deal with throughout this journey so far?
Covid was a significant challenge, almost leading to closure under a deluge of cancellations. We are grateful every day to still be here.
What would you like to see for the retreat centre in 5 years time?
Continued leadership in the European market, providing a stellar experience for guests, continual improvement, and the growth of the planted trees into a forest.
With thousands of yogis everywhere dreaming of hosting their own retreats what pearls of wisdom would you give them?
To run a retreat, build your Yoga Community wherever you teach. Once you have a good following, you can start offering retreats.
Recent Accolades and Testimonials:
- Recent Awards: TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice Award and #1 Award for Best Yoga Retreat by Om Yoga Magazine.
- Leon M (TripAdvisor): "Perfect! Magical place. Beautiful food. Lovely people. I had a wonderful time, the yoga was superb, the massage was the best ever. Overall, a perfect experience in an exquisite location I could have stayed forever. "
- Cristina F: "Just wow! If you are looking for a calm, relaxing, natural and magical retreat place come here. Located in a beautiful area this space is superb. The garden is lush, the pool crystal clear and cold and the yoga shalas amazing. It was my first yoga retreat and I would absolutely go again!"
- Martin D. Clark (Editor, Om Yoga Magazine): "Suryalila is a magical spot – you feel the deep peace the moment you arrive, and after one night, you never want to leave again…"