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AthensFlow Retreats: My First Gay Yoga Retreat Experience

AthensFlow Retreats: My First Gay Yoga Retreat Experience


To learn more about and get in touch with AthensFlow Retreats:


In April 2024, on what I thought would be a typical morning of empty Instagram scrolling, a post for AthensFlow Retreats caught my eye. Around that time, Fabio and I were going through some changes and simultaneously had hit a plateau in our yoga practice, making a men's yoga and wellness retreat seem like the perfect fit for us.

Ian Crump, the founder of AthensFlow Retreats and who would later become known to us as the Master of Details, reached out to us as soon as we filled out the form. Before long, we were jumping on a call with him. Ian has been running a few different varieties of men's retreats in Greece since 2021, organizing several annual retreats throughout Greece's mainland, islands, and Athens. Although not explicitly for gay men, the majority of the clientele identify as gay, representing a significant step forward for the LGBTQ community in the region.


After hearing about Ian's background and passion and having our questions answered with ease, we promptly decided to book the last two spots for the June retreat in idyllic Evia. This was efficiency and synchronicity at its finest, making us ready for the first of hopefully many gay yoga retreats.

To find the perfect retreat dates, location, and type for you, take a look here. 🇬🇷🧘‍♂️

Group of men participating in a yoga class on a terrace overlooking the sea, with mountains in the background.

Scenes from the April 2024 Mykonos retreat

The Retreat Experience

Arrival in Evia

Fast-forward two months, the day of the retreat had arrived.

I woke up that morning with butterflies. The idea of spending five days solely with other queer men was admittedly outside my comfort zone, but it was time to see what the retreat was all about.

However, all of those nerves were put to ease when we arrived at the gorgeous Evia villa that Saturday, welcomed with warm smiles by Ian, our trusty yoga teacher, Panos, and our noble, plant-based chef (who doubles as a PT), Giorgos, along with eight other men from all over the world, including Italy, Belgium, Portugal and even as far-flung as Australia.

The villa, where we would be spending our next 5 days, sat against a mountainous backdrop complete with a tantalizing pool. The inside was communal for easy bonding opportunities, yet spacious whenever you needed a bit of downtime or privacy. We immediately felt a sense of home.

A villa in Evia surrounded by greenery, with mountains visible in the background and a clear blue sky.

Big-time villa living

Daily Schedule Overview

The days were planned without fault, with the perfect balance and harmony of activity and independence to do as you please.

Daily life looked like this:

  • Mornings typically began with reflective journaling and an invigorating yoga session. This was followed by a delicious brunch with the group.
  • Afternoons varied depending on the day. We had optional activities such as of small day trips to various beaches, or lazing by the pool. It was often our own free time to reflect, disconnect, or bond further with the others.
  • Evenings began with a relaxing and restorative second session of yoga. This was followed up with dinner with the crew, along with a social or wellness workshop to end the night. One night we explored the local town and satisfied our non-vegan cravings with some seafood and meat at the taverna 😉.
Two men sitting at the edge of a pool, facing away from the camera, in a private garden setting.

Fabio and I may or may not have gone skinny-dipping

Types of Yoga Practiced

The yoga progression over the five days was impressively inclusive, welcoming all skill levels and body types. Whether a seasoned yoga pro or a complete newbie, we were led artfully by Panos to hone our strengths and strengthen our weaknesses over the course of the retreat.

What began with a gentle hatha yoga class that eased us into the practice, progressed into more advanced standing and balancing poses, and even culminating in (optional) head stands. Along the way, Panos weaved in yin yoga, restorative yoga, meditation sessions, pranayama breathing techniques and more to help us stay centered and refreshed. One of the final sessions was a partner yoga class, which helped us safely challenge our perceived limitations in certain poses.

One of the things Panos always reminded us of was to keep smiling, even in the most painful of poses. While these are two seemingly simple words, they are something we often forget to do on the day-to-day.

It takes a genius to make yoga feel like an art form, and our yoga teacher, Panos, did it with ease. Thanks to him, I have a newly reinvigorated passion for yoga (even if I am still the most inflexible person that I know 😅).

Two men practicing yoga outdoors in Nafplio, one in a squat pose with a tattoo on his back.Man assisting another man in a headstand pose during a yoga session in a garden.

Panos always stepping in to perfect your form!

Connecting with Fellow Retreat Members

What made the retreat for me were the people. As gay men, we tend to have limited places where we can meet and connect with others. I find my relationships with other men to be often superficial and terse; meeting at bars or clubs for a night and then moving on. It is rare that a connection lasts.

However, Ian has a way with bringing together a group of people from totally different worlds and backgrounds; the type of people you wouldn't necessarily cross paths with on a daily basis.

Through living together communally, engaging in sharing sessions, doing yoga together twice a day, and eating together, we forged irrevocably tight bonds.

Now I know that across the world, I have several new friends who will have my back; just as I will, theirs.

Group of men lying on a sandy Mykonos beach with clear blue water and rocky cliffs in the background.

Wellness and Self-Discovery

The wellness and self-discovery component was an added bonus to an already fruitful retreat set-up.

From the beginning, Ian asked us to set both a public and private intention for the retreat and to consciously reflect on it throughout the five days. For example, if your intention was 'disconnecting from the world by not using the phone' or 'stepping outside my comfort zone and connecting with others on the retreat,' you were encouraged to work deliberately towards this goal using techniques like journaling and the support of your peers. The morning journaling also facilitated our personal growth and helped us gain mental clarity.

Additionally, there were some workshops that got us to explore new topics and step outside our comfort zones. To top it off, there were optional massage services, which I was especially grateful for after intense yoga sessions.

The wellness component played a significant role in helping me leave Evia feeling completely refreshed and ready for whatever came next.

Vegan Yoga Retreats: Our Food Journey

For anyone apprehensive about joining a retreat and having to eat vegan food, Giorgos, a devoted vegan for the past six years, will put your mind at ease immediately. This guy has the ability to whip up culinary magic with solely plant-based ingredients. Each day, we were surprised and spoiled with delicious food ranging from gyros (which tasted like the "real thing"), breakfast frittatas, vegan cheesecake, and even Papoutsakia (little shoes), which is like a deconstructed moussaka.

Like Ian and Panos, Giogos is also a master in his field. I loved the explosion of flavors and I always had a feeling that I was doing my body more good after a meal. I left the retreat much more conscious of my eating choices at restaurants and hopeful that I can start to incorporate more plant-based cuisine into my daily cooking regimens.

A healthy breakfast plate featuring arugula, red sauce, seeds, and greens on a white dish.

Reflections on My First Gay Yoga Retreat

Where do I even begin?!

I guess we can look with how I did with my intentions. One of my intentions was to 'connect and bond with others,' given that we were all on a men's yoga retreat. As mentioned, I now have several friends in various parts of the world with whom I connected on a deeper level over the course of five days than I have with acquaintances I have known for years. My other, private intention was 'to leave feeling more comfortable in my own skin.' This intention was twofold: I hoped to walk away from the retreat with greater confidence both physically and emotionally. Thanks to the twice daily yoga sessions and healthy food, I regained body confidence and emerged with a stronger sense of authenticity and understanding for what I need to do next.

Do I miss it? Absolutely. Would I do it again? If there is ever a cancellation, call me up 😘.

A massive thank you to the Ian, Panos and Giorgos for the sharp attention to details, helping me get back on track in my yoga journey, and for stuffing us with gorgeous food day and night.

Other Testimonials

'A truly beautiful experience, with each element exceeding expectations. Ian made the whole process easy, and brought a great mindfulness element to the retreat - challenging and emotional. Giorgos' food was so very delicious and was always something to look forward to in the evening. Panos' yoga sessions were varied and challenging too - he brought and shared such a beautiful energy. The whole vibe of everyone there was wonderful, and all within a beautiful setting. Can't wait to come again' -- Aegina, Men's Retreat - June 2024

The retreat in Nafplio was a transformative experience for me. I came out of the retreat with a clearer sense of purpose for life and work. I was surrounded by breathtaking scenery and a group of people that I will stay in touch with far beyond the retreat...

Should You Try a Gay Yoga Retreat?

If my inability to complain on any part of my AthensFlow Retreats experience in Evia isn't convincing enough, then let me just follow this question up with a firm YES.

We all lead our busy lives, and it's ridiculously easy to get caught up on all of it and stop putting ourselves first. Partaking in an AthensFlow Retreat allows you to step back a little and disconnect from the world for a few days, but at the same time connect and bond with wonderful men over yoga and good food.

Your future self will be so happy you took the chance and did this.

Get in Touch with AthensFlow Retreats

If this sounds like the opportunity for you, go ahead and do these things:

Man practicing tree pose on the Athens metro, holding onto a pole for balance, wearing sunglasses and a blue bag with 'AthensFlow Retreats' printed on it.

How I have become conditioned to ride the Athens Metro now

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