Famed for its clubs, bars and a general reputation for excess; Ibiza isn’t necessarily the first place you’d imagine when it comes to booking a yoga retreat….which is exactly what made the JoGa Beats F-I-E-S-T-A yoga week so special and unlike any ‘normal’ yoga retreat you’re likely to experience!
The other side of Ibiza is one of health, healing and a magical other-worldly feeling, which really encapsulates the fantastic energy of this mystical island, and is something many tourists are missing out on.
Jo Youle; the host of this retreat – is a British born yoga teacher, freelance journalist and radio DJ (having worked with the likes of BBC 6 Music, Virgin Radio and Juice 107.2, to name but a few).
She has led the crowds of Bestival in morning yoga sessions, and amassed a loyal following to her own style of music–led vinyasa flow yoga, known as JoGa Beats. Having lived in Ibiza for a year now, the retreat was made extra special because of Jo’s knowledge of the many hidden gems of the island, which we were lucky enough to discover as we followed her lead. The JoGa Beats fiesta week promised the chance to ‘re-charge, cut loose, play, dance, chill your boots and let your inner magic unwind and unleash itself back to nature…. Providing the lift you need to re-connect and create a new synergy and energy within your body’. Well, after reading this, I couldn’t have been more excited to escape the unpredictable British May weather, and indulge in a little sun, fun and lots of yoga!
Accompanying Jo on the week long F-I-E-S-T-A, which ran from the 8th-15th May, were the talented, professional dancer, choreographer and teacher Nathaniel Parchment, and the beautifully passionate Ayda Ellis, who’s ‘hatha-meets-tantric’ anusara-inspired evening yoga classes provided the perfect Yin to Jo’s Yang-tastic morning sessions!
Upon arriving at Casa Solara – a natural, bright villa nestled in the Ibiza countryside to the North of the island, which provided our accommodation for the week – I instantly felt completely welcome and at home. Thanks to the hard work of our fabulous host Solara An-Ra; each bedroom was decorated in Indian décor and with attention to the smallest detail; the garden and orange groves abundant with colour and fresh fruit and beautiful buddahs, and our own out door yoga platform awaited us to practice on!
Unlike many retreats, where you may find yourself in one morning yoga class, followed by a day of ‘free time’ in which to entertain yourself; the JoGa Beats fiesta week offered an array of different optional trips, activities, and workshops, (many included in the price) which made this retreat a real experience, rather than just another standard getaway.
Our first day was spent walking amongst the rocky trails of Atlantis and a spontaneous dip in the clear (and clean!) Ibiza sea; a totally refreshing and adventurous day! The evening saw us experimenting in a body-mind centred dance workshop with Nathan, in which we tried our best to pretend we were graceful (!) and felt completely able to unwind in this therapeutic dance session and afterwards, every taught muscle had flopped and we were ready for bed. Nathan’s passion for helping people to connect with their bodies and find ease in movement through subtle core strength and fluid movement was truly a pleasure to experience.
Having earned our dinner that evening, I’m so happy to share that our daily meals were prepared by the most loving and skilled chef, Greg Parry – who’s healthy, wholesome vegetarian brunches and dinners were absolutely delicious and enough to keep lots of hungry yogis satisfied all week!
A trip to the annual Medieval festival was our second day. Dressed in medieval-style costumes, we explored Ibiza’s old town and the many stalls selling everything from handmade bags, soaps and raw chocolate (which I highly recommend buying while you’re there and munching through all week like I did!), to Medieval style head dresses, barbequed pig legs (if that takes your fancy….) and the local Hierbas – which we sampled and is made from local herbs! All accompanied by the excitement of live music and street performers.
For our evening session, we sweated it out at another hidden venue; a dance studio snuggled between trees atop a hill where we flowed through an amazing JoGa Beats session, and a high-energy Africa funk dance class with Nathan. An incredible evening of laughter, sweat, and new experiences.
Also included in the week, was a day at the Healing Ibiza festival; created by the healing practitioners of the island and offering workshops, therapies and taster classes to experiment with different styles of movement and healing. The festival is held at the luxury Atzaro Spa Hotel and is where we spent our Sunday. Deciding to take on nearly all the yoga sessions on offer that day, I had the fortune of taking part in vinyasa flow, kundalini, ashtanga, eight Indians, and of course the popular JoGa Beats taster session, as well as making time to try out Qui Gong and tasting some of the delicious smoothies and healthy vegetarian salads provided. The evening entertainment of Robert Miles’ sunset DJ set for Openlab – his radio station on the island, was enough to entrance me into really feeling the way Ibiza brings people together.
The rest of our week was spent indulging in JoGa Beats morning classes, the playful and uplifting flow really set us up for the day, which one morning commenced with a shake down meditation, Osho style and left us feeling energised and pumped to explore the beaches, cafes, hippy markets and juice bars of Ibiza. Our days ended with sessions led by the amazing Ayda Ellis (aka Yogi Yuni), learning transformative alignment techniques and building up so much knowledge of adjustments through partner yoga exercises, combining the strength of Anusara with the subtle energy aspects of Tantra and Hatha.
On Monday evening we were treated to an optional sound healing session with Jodie Swingler (which if you’re given the opportunity to experience, is SO worth it). Of course this was all wrapped up every night with a lovingly prepared feast of healthy and absolutely delicious vegetarian dishes – and if you ask anyone who was on this retreat, they’ll all tell you how we managed to polish off every morsel of food on the table every day!
Completely encapsulating the JoGa Beats experience and rounding off our brilliant week; the last day greeted us with a sunrise meditation and yoga session at another beautiful and hidden, secret spot on the island, followed by a visit to the much loved Passion Café for their heavenly ‘Best Ever Raw Chocolate Smoothie’ and some time to do our final unwinding on another wonderful beach of the north. Our last evening wrapped up the JoGa Beats yoga Fiesta perfectly with a special sunset yoga class at an unbelievable hidden platform near Es Vedra (I can’t tell you where exactly, as it’s a SECRET, but this place alone is worth booking up for the next retreat, and is another reason why having Jo’s knowledge of the island makes the trip so special!) Our final dinner at the lush Sunset Ashram restaurant met us with an unexpected full moon party and moon set, which we noticed as we sat down for dinner as the moon magically popped up to greet our main courses!, It meant we rounded off our incredible week dancing under the huge glowing moon, once again allowing me to feel the other worldly, transformational energy Ibiza bestows….if you know where to find it!
So what did I take home from the JoGa Beats Fiesta Yoga Retreat Week? Well, a new found sense of strength thanks to Jo’s wonderful core and upper strength vinyasa flow yoga sessions, a nourished body thanks to our delectable meals, a new group of friends that I’m so grateful to have spent the week with, and most importantly I’m taking home a new found sense of fun, freedom and….THAT fiesta feeling… back to the UK; just in time for a busy Summer of teaching, writing, learning even more, and taking part in some exciting new projects!
The next week-long JoGa Beats retreat will be taking place from the 9th-16th October 2014, when the weather is still beautiful and the sea even warmer for swimming. I highly recommend this week long event, it is one that indulges the senses, your yogi needs with an amazing variety of yoga styles, and teachers and taster session, PLUS some of the most tantalising food, that really lifts you up, nourishes and leave you feeling energised and ready to take on anything when you return. Take a look at the next one if you feel like taking some time out for a treat: http://www.jogabeats.com/retreats A big thanks and big big love to everyone involved in the fiesta retreat; an unforgettable introduction to Ibiza.
Want to know what Jo’s classes are like or experience some of her teaching for yourself? Head here for an interview about her yoga sessions, and here to practice along to the JoGa Beats Sun Salutations mix.
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