The Yoga Retreat Next Door

Jun 14, 2024

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Being a veterinarian can be a demanding job. This past week at Sugar Mill Veterinary Center (, was no exception. By Friday night, all I craved was rest, meditation, and some good yoga. As fate would have it, the universe (or maybe just WhatsApp) had other plans.

Invitation to Paradise

Just as I settled in for a well-deserved Netflix binge, my phone buzzed with a surprise invitation. My neighbor, Jonathan Villacres, a yoga instructor with a fascinating resume (plant medicine ceremonialist and sound healer, anyone?), was hosting a yoga retreat at a rented private villa ( literally in my backyard (well, almost)! Talk about serendipity!

The retreat, organized by Jonathan’s company Yoga On The Beach (, was already underway, but I was welcome to join for the final day’s session on Sunday. The itinerary included yoga, a sound bath, a closing ceremony, and the cherry on top – a delectable 5-course vegetarian breakfast prepared by Chef Maria Cristina. Foodie alert! How could I resist?

Rise and Shine: A Sunday Morning Adventure

Determined to conquer the snooze button, I hit the hay early on Saturday night. Sunday morning arrived, and after a quick coffee and dog walk, I found myself climbing the familiar hill behind my house. Reaching the villa, I was greeted by Jonathan, Chef Cristina, and the two retreat participants who had traveled all the way from Philadelphia and Toronto.

The yoga space was an open loft with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the sparkling ocean – a truly picture-perfect setting for the morning’s practice. Jonathan, from Ecuador, had transformed the space with traditional instruments – flutes, singing bowls, chimes, and more. The atmosphere buzzed with anticipation.

Immersed in Wellness: A Day of Yoga and Meditation

The yoga session was a beautiful blend of Yin and Vinyasa flows, suitable for all levels. But what truly stood out for me was Jonathan’s guidance. He not only explained each pose but also delved into the deeper meaning behind them. For example, did you know “asana” simply means “a manner of sitting or holding a pose”?

This particular session focused on the element of Ether, or Spirit, the culmination of the retreat’s exploration of the five elements. As we moved through the poses, Jonathan’s words resonated, reminding us of our interconnectedness and the oneness of consciousness.

The Transformative Sound Bath Experience

The flow session culminated in a truly transformative experience: a sound bath. Jonathan, surrounded by instruments from his native Ecuador, created a symphony of sound. As I lay on my mat, eyes closed, the vibrations transported me on a journey. Colors danced in my mind’s eye, a sense of peace washing over me. By the end, I felt profoundly transformed, like I’d travelled to a different dimension (minus the spaceship!).

Indulging in Breakfast Bliss

Breakfast was a delightful affair. The post-yoga serenity made conversation almost unnecessary. We simply savored the moment and the delicious food – fresh fruit with a bit of coconut and homemade granola on top followed by a frittata, roasted vegetables, a handmade Mexican bread similar to focaccia (my favorite) and even some of my own vegan cookies!

Inner Peace, Outer Gratitude

With a full belly and a grateful heart, I said my goodbyes and walked home, feeling totally in sync with myself. I felt a deep sense of gratitude. The entire experience had been a gift – a chance to reconnect with myself and discover a hidden gem right in my own neighborhood. Later, I reached out to Jonathan, sharing my experience. As a barre instructor myself, I’ve always dreamt of teaching yoga on the beach. Turns out, Jonathan’s already living that dream with Yoga On The Beach retreats all over the world!

I can’t wait to reconnect with Jonathan and Chef Cristina next time they’re on the island. In the meantime, I highly recommend checking them out. Yoga On The Beach could be coming to a beach near you, or even your very own backyard!

With gratitude, peace, love, and lots of light!


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