EcoYoga Scotland - Totally Off the Grid and Gorgeous

EcoYoga Scotland – Gorgeous and Totally Off the Grid

I was completely and utterly exhausted. A couple of months earlier, my right hip and knee had begun to ache constantly and walking long distances was becoming increasingly difficult. I booted up the laptop, opened my calendar, and began counting. It was mid-October, 2016, and I’d visited 23 countries so far that year, some of them more than once. No wonder I was tired. I needed to slow down and rest.

My friend Dorothy, whom I’d met years ago during a Yoga Retreat in India, came to my rescue. “I know the perfect place,” she said. “We’ll go to EcoYoga Scotland.” Since Dorothy lives in Edinburgh, I didn’t doubt her recommendation for a second. A few days later, we were headed into the highlands on the west coast of Scotland.

I could have looked at this gorgeous view at EcoYoga Scotland for hours

I could have looked at this gorgeous view at EcoYoga Scotland for hours

Happy to have someone else handling the travel arrangements for once, I relaxed and enjoyed the drive through through luxuriant green hills splotched with crimson and gold foliage. At Loch Awe, the paved road ended. We rolled our windows all the way down and followed the narrow, one-lane dirt road along the cobalt lake for the next two hours, breathing in the pure air. I thought it couldn’t get any better, until we arrived at EcoYoga Scotland.

Our luxurious Bothy at EcoYoga Scotland, with the center's Yurt (another type of accommodation) in the background

Our luxurious Bothy at EcoYoga Scotland, with the center’s Yurt (another type of accommodation) in the background

Interior of the Bothy

Interior of the Bothy

Our rooms were in a restored Bothy. These old stone cottages, scattered around the Scottish countryside, are usually bare-bones affairs. Bothies provide the most basic shelter for hunters, hikers, and the occasional lost camper. They have no electricity, no running water, and no furniture. Our three-bedroom Bothy, however, had been luxuriously retrofitted with a sink, toilet, wood floors, and cloud-soft beds.

The glass geodesic dome covers two rainforest showers and the wooden hot tub. A cold plunge tub is on the outside deck.

The glass geodesic dome covers two rainforest showers and the wooden hot tub. A cold plunge tub is on the outside deck.

The center overlooks the River Liever, where a delightful waterfall plunges into a deep gorge accessed by a rope ladder. A giant white porcelain tub – one of the fun bathing options at EcoYoga – sits regally on a wooden deck overlooking the falls. Thankfully, it wasn’t the only option, as my knee and hip would never have allowed the climb. Instead, I stood beneath rainforest showers inside the geodesic glass dome that covers a giant wooden hot tub. Once squeaky clean, I sank up to my chin in the steaming hot tub and relaxed under sunlight filtering through the glass panes. The heated water soaked into my sore muscles, relieving tension in my knee and hip. Just a few hours after arriving at EcoYoga, I felt better than I had in months.

The Yoga studio has under-floor heating and is filled with sunlight

The Yoga studio has under-floor heating and is filled with sunlight

Chattering birds woke me the next morning and I hurriedly donned Yoga pants and T-shirt for a morning practice. Dorothy had checked before arriving; there were no retreats scheduled during our stay, so we had the Yoga studio all to ourselves. I was kind to myself, focusing mostly on floor poses and restorative work. I’d practiced very little over the previous year and a half, but the muscles have memory. I was amazed at just how flexible I still was. After our practice, we beat a quick path for the common kitchen and prepared a heaping breakfast.

The common living room at EcoYoga Scotland, which enjoys gorgeous views over the lake and mountains

The common living room at EcoYoga Scotland, which enjoys gorgeous views over the lake and mountains

The common kitchen, where guests are welcome to prepare meals

The common kitchen, where guests are welcome to prepare meals

Between spoonfuls of fruit, yogurt, and fresh-baked bread we’d purchased on the trip up, center manager Laura Ford explained that the owners of the retreat created it as “an expression of their belief in a healthy, happy, carbon free and sustainable lifestyle.” EcoYoga Scotland is totally off-grid. A 550Kw hydro turbine, driven by the fast-running river water, supplies all the power required by the center. Excess power is sold back to the local utility; it supplies up to 300 additional homes with all their electricity needs.

The Main Lodge, where retreats are held. Solar panels on the roof provide a portion of the electricity and hot water.

Solar panels on the roof provide a portion of the electricity and hot water.

A large bank of solar panels supplements the need for electricity and powers the water heaters. The main dining hall is heated by a biomass pellet boiler and a combination of double glazed windows and Warmcell (recycled newspaper) insulation ensures the main hall is warm and cozy, no matter how cold it gets outside. All the water is sourced from on-site springs, and an organic garden supplies most of their vegetarian food. They even have an electric car that charges directly from the hydro system!

The organic garden at EcoYoga Scotland

The organic garden at EcoYoga Scotland

It was hard to tear ourselves away from the sunny common living area, but a series of historic sites nearby beckoned. Half an hour away, we found the 3,200-year old Nether Largie Standing Stones. Alexander Thom, a controversial advocate of archeoastronomy, claimed that this was one of the most important lunar observatories in Britain. Recent analysis supports the theory that the X-shaped monument of five tall standing stones marks where the moon rises and sets at key points in its 18.6-year cycle.

The Standing Stones at Nether Largie are believed to be aligned with the rising and setting moon

The Standing Stones at Nether Largie are believed to be aligned with the rising and setting moon

Across the field, two circles marked by more standing slabs were covered with tons of smooth rounded stones. No one know for sure what they were used for, though spiral drawings carved into the standing stones suggest these sites may also have had a celestial purpose.

The Southern Circle at Temple Woods, an ancient ceremonial site

The Southern Circle at Temple Woods, an ancient ceremonial site

We continued toward the coast, following the Crinan Canal to the sea. Often called “Britain’s most beautiful shortcut,” when it opened in 1801 the nine-mile long canal allowed commercial sailing and fishing vessels to access the North Atlantic without having to sail around the long Kintyre Peninsula. Today the canal is used each year by more than 2,000 yachts and pleasure boats making their way between the Firth of Clyde and the west coast of Scotland. It has also become a popular destination for canoeing, kayaking, cycling, walking, running, and fishing. Located at the terminus of the canal is the quaint hamlet of Crinan, where sailboats waited for locks to fill and visitors lingered over coffee and pastries in local cafes.

Town of Crinan, at the terminus of the Crinan Canal

Town of Crinan, at the terminus of the Crinan Canal

We returned to EcoYoga in time to watch the sky morph from gold to orange to purple, then hopped in the hot tub for one last soak. I flexed my knee in the hot water and tested my hip. In just two days, my pain had nearly disappeared. As the last glimmer of light faded to inky black and the billion glittering stars of the Milky Way appeared, I knew morning, and our departure, would come too soon.

14 Comments on “EcoYoga Scotland – Gorgeous and Totally Off the Grid

  1. So glad I am linked to your blogs Barbara. I would love to visit this place – it sounds wonderful!

    • It IS wonderful Irene. Next time, I’ll for more than two days. It was completely restorative and healing.

  2. Wow, I never would have thought of Scotland for a yoga retreat. Thanks for sharing this great find!

    • I’m lucky to have friends there who know about it, Cindy, or I never would have found it!

    • Thanks Romnnie – I’m definitely not going to stop traveling anytime soon, and comments like yours help to keep me going.

  3. Your experience seems so wonderful.Even though have never been to a yoga retreat.I am looking forward to one in EcoYoga.Thanks for sharing.

    • You’re very welcome Alex. EcoYoga is a wonderful place, and so beautiful as well. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

  4. I’ve never been to a yoga retreat! This looks so nice! Your post is so informative! You’ve got a new loyal reader in me!

    • Thanks so much Bianca! You’ve made my day with your kind comment.

  5. The Scottish sunshine was so kind to you 🙂 So happy that you loved your stay and we would welcome you back anytime to relieve the pain of ‘ordinary’ world. Much love. Laura

  6. EcoYoga looks such a gorgeous place, I’d love to visit it sometime. Your photos are superb, as always. What are those rope-like hanging things on the far wall of the yoga room?

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