Iceland is like no where else on this planet. I’ve had the good fortune to visit now four times, and I’m about to journey there for my fifth adventure to lead the Iceland Yoga Retreat – The Midnight Sun in collaboration with #yogascapes.
Fun fact… I’m actually 25% Icelandic. My great-grand-parents travelled from Iceland to Canada in 1886. Considering the small population in Iceland of 323,002 people, the Icelanders are very good at keeping track of their people. Read a more personal story about my first adventure to Iceland here.
I thought I’d go ahead and share some of my favorite bits about this magical land of moss, music, & very fashionable elves in case you fancy joining us on the retreat this summer.
Iceland is a volcanic island located in the North Atlantic Ocean, 300 km east of Greenland and 900 km west of Norway. The main island, which lies south of the Arctic Circle, covers an area of 103,000 km.
Iceland’s climate is subpolar oceanic, meaning it has cold winters and cool summers, although the winters are milder than most places of similar latitude thanks to the Gulf Stream, which ensures a more temperate climate to coastal areas all year round.
Iceland is said to have the world’s highest number of writers, musicians, grandmasters in chess and artists per capita. There is hardly anyone who doesn’t write or make art. There is a lot of creativity in the air, perhaps due to the forces of nature.
While in Reykjavik definitely stop in at Kaffibarinn, historically the meeting place for local artists & musicians… and now a great place to party with a wild crowd and the best local DJ’s.
Iceland is one of the few countries on the planet that has never engaged in war, and does not have an army. Perhaps this is why Yoko Ono chose Iceland as the location to house her art piece, the commemorative John Lennon Imagine Peace Tower.
On the map of the Earth planet, Iceland is a country situated in the northern
most part of our world. It is an ideal location from which to cover the Earth
with enlightenment and love.
Iceland is a magical and beautiful country. The electrical energy source for the
country and for the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER is geothermal – water, instead
of oil. No pollution. No war. This is just one of the incredible situations that
creates the magic of Iceland.
Right now, light is what the world so desperately needs, since, in varying
degrees, we all live in darkness of fear and confusion of the polluted world.
This column of light in Iceland will not be extinguished. It is the eternal flame
we send out to the world and the universe to give light and warmth, and the hope
and conviction that our dreams can come true.
I hope the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER will give light to the strong wishes of
World Peace from all corners of the planet and give encouragement, inspiration
and a sense of solidarity in a world now filled with fear and confusion.
Let us come together to realize a peaceful world.
I dedicate this tower to John Lennon.
my love for you is forever.
Knitting has long been a national obession of the Icelandic, men included. Traditionally this was a good way to make sure that one could have warm wool clothes to wear in winter. I definitely recommend getting an Icelandic wool sweater while you are in Iceland. They are super cozy and will last you forever. I regularly borrow (aka live in) my boyfriend’s Icelandic sweater.
My number one motivation to go back to Iceland is to experience nature in its purest form. The earth is so rich in minerals that even the grass that grows in the backyard of any Reykjavik home somehow feels healthier in between my toes.
Iceland is home to one of the greatest concentrations of geysers in the world. The word geyser itself comes from the famous Icelandic Geysir in Haukadalur.
Venturing even a few kilometers outside Reykjavik is like visiting another planet.
Continuing east of Reykjavik to the south flatlands we find Skogarfoss, Svartifoss and many other magnificent waterfalls. What’s especially fascinating is the onomatopoeia of the Icelandic language. “Foss” means waterfall in Icelandic.
Icelandic Horses are a rare breed actually resembling ponies because they are smaller in size than regular horses. They all seem to have a very photogenic fringe and because they live most of the year in the wild you can catch them in their natural habitat which brings extra magic. I would say they are near relatives to unicorns in terms of their style, and perhaps this also has to do with the backdrop. Not to mention that there are 100,000 horses in Iceland (that’s 1/3 the human population) and when an Icelandic horse is exported it’s not allowed to return to the country! Furthermore, a rare characteristic of Icelandic Horses is that they have an extra type of gait in addition to the typical walk, trot, and canter/gallop commonly displayed by other breeds.
If you are up for an adventure you can visit the Icelandic countryside by horseback. There are several companies that offer horse back riding and it’s a wonderful way to get in touch with nature.
Another spectacular experience in Iceland is the black sand beaches which span the coastline of Iceland.
By now, you’ve probably seen incredible photos of the Blue Lagoon. An otherworldly natural hot spring attracting visitors from across the globe for an Iceland stop-over, natural hot spring facial, with special mud from the bottom of a crystal blue natural pool.
30% of Iceland’s electricity is of geothermal origin – the highest percentage worldwide. The rest of the nation’s electricity is generated by hydro power, making of Iceland the world’s most eco-friendly country in terms of energy.
Iceland is home to many natural hot springs and geothermal pools. There are also some others you may not of heard of; Seljavallarlaug, built in 1923, is the one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland.
A very Icelandic way of relaxing & staying balanced is to go to the swimming pool. There are many public pools in Reykjavik. Meeting a friend at the swimming pool equivalent to for a coffee for Icelanders.
Icelandic cuisine features such gruesome dishes as boiled and cured ram’s testicles & burned sheep’s head. This may be right up your alley, but definitely not for me.
Luckily there exists a vegan/vegetarian restaurant called Gló which is expanding quickly and now has 4 locations due to raised popularity of healthy lifestyle in Iceland. The Fakafeni location (pronounced fow-ka-fen) has a full on smoothie bar, fresh juice, and supermarket.
Reykjavik has an impressive collection of local designers creating avant guard forward thinking fashion. My personal favorite is Aftur who’s motto is: recycle or die. Aftur was established in 1999 and has from the beginning made fashion clothing from recycled clothing. They are located on Laugavegur 39, Reykjavik 101.
Harpa is a relatively new architecture open since 2011. Icelandic artist Ólafur Elíasson designed the south façade deploying light, colour and natural phenomena to test how physical movement, sensual engagement, and the interaction of body and brain influence our perception of our surroundings.
The award winning Ion Adventure Hotel is a spa & eco-hotel located next to Thingvellir National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). We’ll be staying there the first two nights of my retreat – so don’t miss it!
I hope you enjoyed my favorite bits of Iceland. Please join us June 22-29th for my retreat with Yogascapes. Check out this video to get a feel for the experience, and register for the retreat here while there is still space!