When I first heard about the Dive Into The Depth Of Your Being: Montenegro Yoga Retreat, produced by the sister team of Mary Angeline of Kinessi Yoga and Athanasia of Shamanic Yoga, I was immensely curious. I’d been working with Athanasia for years. But, had never really thought about taking a trip to a country I’d barely heard of for an experience, surround by strangers.
I knew that Croatia was the party focused, hip country in the Balkans. But, Montenegro? What was there for me?
As I continued to receive marketing emails, I noticed that the idea caught my eye more and even more. My curiosity grew after a healing and reading session with Athanasia. When we were finished up, a quiet voice asked me to inquire about the tour.
When I heard that space was still available, I simply said yes.
Preparing for the Trip
I remember feeling nervous and challenged in the months, weeks and days leading up to the retreat. I scheduled my travels in Istanbul and Greece, based around my flight plans and past life experiences I wanted to pay tribute to. Plus, I wanted to settle into the energy of Central Europe before diving into the experience of the yoga retreat.
Leading up to the retreat, I booked healings with Athanasia. What’s lovely about Athanasia is that I booked healings
Sunday: Arriving in Montenegro
Arriving at Montenegro, I was exceptionally happy that I booked the Private Walking Tour of the Old Town of Kotor, Montenegro with Milo. He picked me up from the airport, whisked me away to Kotor for our tour and dropped me off at Petrovac na Moru.
The first evening of the retreat was dedicated to learning about the other attendees and feeling the vibe of the experience.
On Monday, I greatly enjoyed Athanasia’s astrology class. The day was calm, filled with the planned events of yoga and served food. We also had a short walk / hike around the Petrovac Promenade trail at sunset – which was kind of unsettling as our guide ran ahead and left the majority of us as the sun set. We used our iPhones as light.
The gelato we had at Poslastičarnica kod Artina in the main area of Buljarica was delightful.
The highlight of Tuesday was our collective evening walk to Buljarica beach. Later, a group of us enjoyed glasses of wine at Restoran Plaza Buljarica, Slightly over the overwhelming vegan food, I happily ordered a crepe for desert. Walking back, we stopped at the local store for snacks before heading up the steep hill to the residence.
The highlight of this day was the early morning yoga at the beach at another space that Mahakala Retreat also owns.
Along with that, the group day trip to Petrovac.
I absolutely loved the boat ride on the Adriatic Sea – however I did not enjoy the sexist boat operator.
While some of the ladies were in the water to Island of Light Nedelya (Sveta Nedjelja), I stayed on the boat. I didn’t want to deal with sea urchins, swimming in open water or getting off the boat. The only thing I like doing next to water is looking cute.
The ladies swam to the island and some walked up to the top. Obviously, they were tired and wanted the boat to move closer to the island so they could easily get back on. Instead, the boat was drifting away, creating a less than stellar opportunity for conserving energy in swimming back.
In response to our request, the boat driver said to us that they “should swim further because it’s good for them”.
Sexism in any country is beyond stupid. Especially, when you are getting paid.
Making the best of the situation, I focused on taking photos. The boat stopped at various points along the coast. I was enthralled with the coastline and how different it was from the coastlines of the United States. The rocky visuals created such a beautiful contrast to the blue of the Adriatic Sea and the blue sky.
Later, a group of us had lunch at Konoba Tramontana.
The subsequent post walk around Petrovac was visually interesting.
I also had a beautifully private healing and releasing session with Athanasia that afternoon. I felt that the things I spoke about wanting to release during this session directly aided my deeper journey with ayahuasca a few months later, during My Journey of Sitting with Ayahuasca in the Jungle of Tulum, Mexico.
The highlight of this day was the hapé ceremony with sananga application. Plant medicine has been an incredible blessing in my life. The hapé I received during the ceremony had DMT added to it. In an instant, I felt a level of extreme internal clarity in viewing my personal spiritual time line.
I felt a deep connection to my ancestors and my deep, personal spirit. The sananga didn’t burn in my eyes as I expected it. Honestly, after the hapé and DMT experience, I really didn’t notice a difference after it was applied. I felt fine after application.
After a Structural Balancing workshop with Dr. Monica Lesslie, I along with some other retreat attendees took a taxi to Budva. Beth, Ruby and I had a rather lovely meandering adventure, walking around in Old Budva. It was powerful to walk on steps that Romans had walked. I marveled at the timeless construction that remained. Even the intricate iron work that survived was incredible.
We also stopped for rakia, a local liquor, at Rakia & Wine Bar. That’s when I noticed Mustafa and his awesome tattoos of cats. I asked if I could take photos of his cat tattoos. Then, he took a great photo of me as we clicked rakia glasses.
Over lunch at Restaurant Rivijera, we tried a few delicious local delicacies. Beth’s sausage was DEFINITELY better than my makarul sa pasticadom. But, I was focused on trying a local regional dish. Plus, we each tried a taste of each others meals, so none of us felt particularly wanting or hungry.
Now, if you’re in Budva, I highly recommend stopping at Godo for ice cream. You can get your topping cookie dipped in white chocolate or milk chocolate. It’s decadent and absolutely delicious.
On the way back to Mahakala Retreat, I had our driver stop at the lookout for Sveti Stefan. Sveti Stefan is an island – fortified village dating back to the 15th century. Now, it is the Aman Sveti Stefan. Unfortunately, the hotel is now closed. But, if you are staying at the Aman Villa Miločer, you can take a private tour.
After a day of packing and feeling complete from the week, I was ready for the final event. During the closing ceremony, I felt grateful of the week of transformation and ready to move on.
I was in gratitude for the lessons of fuck shit, the adventures I had with others, the friendships I cultivated, the laughter, the sea urchins, the ants, the cats everywhere, the heat, the plant medicine, the transformation and the brilliance of the beauty of this magnificent Earth.
But, I was very happy to be leaving the next day.
Finally Sunday, arrived. I was ready for my flight to Istanbul and my stay at the Park Hyatt Istanbul Macka Palas. I was grateful for the refreshing point of luxury to look forward to after a week in Montenegro.
Thoughts and Reflections
Overall, I did enjoy the stand out aspects of the retreat. Mary Angeline and Athanasia were a wonderful team, bringing spirituality into yoga. Monica Lesslie was also a solid addition, bringing in the science of structural balance in the body. However, I was really there for the experience of Athanasia. I truly felt drawn to the plant medicine she offered and it just felt right to be there.
Thoughts on Mahakala Retreat Space
My first thoughts of the space of Mahakala Retreat was (again, it was at first impressions) was that it was tastefully done and beautifully decorated. I actually truly appreciated my room. The view was absolutely incredible. The green of the hills, brilliantly beautiful clouds and view of the Adriatic Sea offered stunning layers of Earth that pleased my visual palate.
Additionally, I loved my outdoor terrance.
However, over the course of the week, lapses of service were apparent and annoyed me:
Staff would regularly sit in the living room area and relax instead of allowing us the paid private space we assumed we would have; the coffee maker didn’t work, bathroom trash cans were not emptied out regularly, towels were not taken and replaced regularly – especially with menstruating women, small soap bars was not efficient in cleaning, and staff would randomly walk into rooms without knocking.
Additionally, the walk to the beach was MUCH further than what was advertised on the website – down a steep sloping road and across a highway.
Not to mention the trash Wifi access. The website stated that Wifi was easily available. However, once there, we were greeted with the following message:
We aim to create a safe space for you to unwind and relax. Therefore, wifi is only available from 10:30 to 12:30 and 18:00 to 19:00. If you need the wifi, speak to a staff member.
So, you mean to tell me we only have wifi access, as paying guests of the space, for 3 hours a day? Tell me you’re cheap and controlling without telling me you’re cheap and controlling, please. Paying adults to your space should not have to ask for something that’s advertised on your website to access.
Additionally, laundry service was absolutely underwhelming. Why? There wasn’t any. On the first day, I asked about laundry service and how to launder my items. No one bothered to answer me – either paid or unpaid – until after I washed my clothes in my bathroom sink.
Oh, and my favorite thing I dislike, ants. There were ants in my room and staff did nothing regarding spraying, etc.
The food served at Mahakala Retreat was all vegan. I felt like I could shit a garden by the end of it. However, because my period started during the week I was there – I GREATLY enjoyed the seafood in the surrounding areas.
But, I will say that the food was well prepared and delicious. However, it was repeat vegetables. I also would have liked to have accessed leftovers in the fridge for snacks, since we as a group paid for them. Or, even pay for additional foods or snacks without walking down the damn hill to the corner store. However, the food “disappeared” and we weren’t allowed access to it.
It was definitely not like my experience at Haramara Retreat in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico.
Overall, Mahakala Retreat is a retreat space in Montenegro. That is a fact.
However, would I stay there for a week again? No.
Honestly, the next time I’m in Montenegro, I plan on staying at One & Only Portonovi.
Dive Into The Depth Of Your Being: Montenegro Yoga Retreat at Mahakala Retreat
Villa Santa Vita
Buljarica 2 85300, Petrovac na Moru Montenegro