A yoga holiday with a difference: Fine food, inner calm and dabbling in the Da Vinci Code at Yobaba Lounge in southern France

A bell chimes. A shaft of sunlight slants across the yoga shala (‘studio’ to the uninitiated).
I exhale.
And relish the opportunity provided by Yobaba Lounge to spend much of the day without mindless chitchat, in blissful, soothing silence.


Putting your back into it: The Yobaba Lounge offers yoga breaks in a restored chateau in southern France

But Yobaba is no hair-shirt monastery — it’s a boho chateau in southern France and new breed of retreat: simple and deeply spiritual, yet with oodles of style and plenty of creature comforts.
There are no trendy yoga hybrids here and no corpulent spa menus stuffed with ‘journeys’ and ‘rituals’.
Straight hatha yoga and meditation are the main course, not an after-thought sandwiched either side of sunbathing by the pool.


A wonderful place to stretch body and soul: The chateau has the feel of a ‘vast, ancient temple’

The house has the feel of a vast, ancient temple.
The bedrooms have a certain monastic simplicity – uncluttered and candlelit – but they are huge and look as if they’ve been styled by Elle Decoration.
Mine has a pared-back safari insouciance with a zebra throw on the carved wooden day-bed and a rocking lion guarding the freestanding bath.

The one next door has a Moroccan air with a hammam-style bathroom.
The food also dances a clever line between hip and healthy.
Vegan, mainly raw, dairy/grain and sugar free; you’d think it would be gloomy on the eye and turgid on the palate.
Instead flavours are light and bright and the presentation is artful – salads are turned into mandalas and chia porridge comes studded with star-bright blue borage and a swirl of freshly made compote.
Every day ends with a pudding that tastes decadent, but which, the owner, Gertrud promises, is guilt-free.


Come find yourself: As well as yoga sessions, the retreat offers day trips and oddly decadent puddings

You can spend your free time softly swinging in a hammock, but there are chances to break outside the walls.
One afternoon we took a trip to Rennes-le-Chateau, of Da Vinci Code fame; on another we sat sipping chai and listening to mantras in a hilltop Cathar castle.
Come the full moon, we built a fire on the shore of a nearby lake and had a moonlight dip before watching the flames for our evening meditation.
Yobaba Lounge could be horribly smug and self-satisfied, but isn’t.
If this is the future of yoga retreats, count me in.

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