Yoga in Morocco: Souks, Surfing, and Suspended Inversions at Paradis Plage
I’m hanging in mid air with my limbs free to roam and my spine compressed in the exact opposite way it’s used to; a yoga hammock tied to a structure above me hugs my lower back.
I imagine this is what being an astronaut in space must feel like, or rather an acrobat! The blood rushing to my head thanks to gravity adds to the awesome buzz.
In less than an hour in Karim Fadali’s aerial yoga class at Paradis Plage, just north of the coastal city of Agadir, I was able to not only hang upside down in various positions but also stretch and work all sorts of muscles more than ever before.
I guess this is what happens when hardcore exercise is also the most fun ever at the same time. You don’t feel pain and fear is quashed too, to an extent. I thought I could keep going for a lot longer at the time but the next day my body felt sore all over.
Karim (half Moroccan, half American) is a calm and collected creature and militant teacher, but isn’t afraid to have a laugh with you when it all goes wrong on the hammock.
He joined us for breakfast at main restaurant The Ocean and shared some of his wisdom.
Paradis Plage lives up to its five stars as the staff really do go the extra mile. It is a fairly new resort all the locals are talking about, just a few miles along the coast from Taghazout, Morocco’s sleepy surfing village.
It opened in 2012 and specialises in surf, yoga, good food and good times. Its cool credentials run deep: the resort runs surf contests, pro surfers like Beth Hamilton have stayed and it has a partnership with Rip Curl.
They’re super chilled and flexible too, and you can bring your pet with you as long as it weighs less than a stone. Friendly cats and kittens roam freely everywhere.
Later that day I had a tasty lunch at Le Spot, the chiringuito adjoining the Surf Lodge outside by the shore, washed down with a beer while chilled hip hop played into the evening.
I headed back to my room to rest as by sunset it was time for an hour of yoga in the purpose-built shala. Its walls are made of glass so we could enjoy the panoramic views of the day’s burning end in lotus before our practice.
The hotel’s clean yet quirky decor gave me a stomach sinking feeling that my house was far too plain. I was on a mission to buy up some kilims and kettles from a nearby market
The next day I jumped on the 33 bus, which picks up hourly outside the hotel, for a 15 minute (£1!) ride to Banana Village. I walked around and bought some trinkets from the souk, which is on every Wednesday. On my way back I stopped into Taghazout’s L’Auberge surf lodge, hotel and restaurant for a tender chicken and apricot tagine. I sat out front for a couple hours watching the fishermen pack up and surfers come into shore before jumping on the bus back to Paradis Plage.
The following morning it was time to brave the surf. I was there in December so bang in the middle of surf season which runs October through March.
I can only advise you surf before you attempt aerial yoga if you’ve never done either before. Both are a challenge in different ways.
Luckily the previous day I’d taken up the ‘restaurant 27’ chefs on a made to order Moroccan meal, so by dinner time, it was ready.
I warmed up from my surfing attempt and went down to the spa for a muscle melting ‘strong massage’ before heading to eat at 7.30pm.
I started with an assortment of briwates, which are spring roll-like and filled with pumpkin. This was followed by a tagine and light orange cinnamon salad for dessert. Equally as tasty and requiring the same amount of prep time is cous cous. Sounds plain; it’s anything but.
If you want a break from tough but fun physical activity Paradis Plage can organise a day trip excursion for you. I opted to go to Essaouria, an ancient medina 2.5 hours drive away.
On route I saw the extraordinary view of goats on the top branches of argan trees. They munch away the fruit and regurgitate the nut, which is utilised for food and lotions.
We stopped in at an argan factory where local women make cooking oils and spreads, beauty creams and all sorts from the nut.
Essaouria makes for wonderful sightseeing, what with its imperial walls and grand harbour.
I walked around the stunning ancient town before heading into the huge souk for more shopping. Local craftsmen were selling silver jewellery, tie-dye shawls, knitted hats and jumpers, pattern and colour-dense Berber rugs and loads more. You won’t need much more than £50 for a decent shop.
Since my return I’ve taken part in aerial yoga and Pilates at my local gym. I consider myself quite the budding acrobat these days. But nothing will quite compare to the serenity of facing the warm Moroccan sunrise while suspended at 180 degrees.
Paradis Plage – 7 night break from £675pp based on two sharing a Junior Suite on a B&B basis, including return flights from Gatwick to Agadir and private airport transfers.
Additional activities include Aerial Yoga with Karim Fadali (200 dhs or £35 per person / hour) available March – Sept 2015
Karim is also doing 200hr yoga teacher training courses at Paradis Plage (price on request)
Yoga Lesson (150 dhs or £26 per person / hour)
Essaouria excursion (1100 dhs or £191 per car / one day excursion)
Surf Lesson (350 dhs or £61 per person)
Massages (from 300 dhs or £52 / 25 minutes)
To book visit thehealthyholidaycompany.co.uk/trips/paradis-plage or call 0208 968 0501