YOGA, THE PATH TO HAPPINESS...
What is yoga?
Undeniably, yoga is a powerful, full body workout, so if you want to use these classes as the perfect combination to your Sicilian holiday as a way of not feeling guilty about all of the outrageously delicious pizza, pasta, wine and gelato that you absolutely will be enjoying… more power to you! This is the only way you will visit Sicily and not gain weight (tried and tested!).
But really yoga is so much more than a workout - I cannot even begin to explain, if you have never practiced yoga before, the absolute joys that are in store for you and I am so excited to introduce you to your journey.
Yoga reminds us of the simple things, like how to breathe in order to unify our body and mind to come to calmness and how to remain there in clarity. It is about reflection and self-realisation. Coming to the quiet of your own mind and taking the time out to be with yourself, something that we don’t tend to prioritise in our day-to-day lives.
This union of the mind, body and breathe (or spirit or soul - whichever resonates more with you) teaches us to understand oneness, a realisation that gives us a deeper sense of empathy and non-judgment towards others and towards ourselves… Self-love or Ahimsa (actually translating from Sanskrit as ‘non-violence’- yes, think about that one), is an important branch of one of the limbs of Ashtanga yoga.
This union of the mind, body and soul, on the other hand, also teaches us the separation between experience and consciousness. With this comes non-attachment, gifting us liberation from fear and granting us the freedom to live in the present moment; the only place where contentment can truly be felt.
Through the actual asana (pose) practice of yoga, we are constantly being taught lessons on the mat that we then bring into our lives off the mat; self-balance, patience, persistence, willingness, understanding and forgiveness.
Although yoga will keep you fit and make you so incredibly strong; it will equally teach you how wonderful everything is that you already have. Teaching you how to love every single cell that makes up your body and how to feel gratitude towards every single event and experience that has happened in your life to make up YOU - this extraordinary, spectacularly divine being that is here today, searching for more and willing to go deeper.
Really, daily yoga is a cure for any aches and pains - muscle and memory - and as soon as you start to feel the benefits for
yourself, you will begin to see the magic, shifting your perspective so that your yoga is welcomed as much more than a workout, but as a way of life.
I am eternally grateful to the practice of yoga, for what it has taught me, shaking me up and snapping me out of the blurred and foggy mindset I was in before. And I am so looking forward to having the privilege of sharing this experience and my energy with you, teaching you how to create and shift energy for yourself and knowing all of the lessons that you will learn along the way in your own time through a dedicated practice.
Who is yoga for?
A lot of people have the misconception that yoga is just a workout that only flexible people can do – this couldn’t be further from the truth. Before I went to India, I was teaching my 78-year-old neighbour Noreen yoga every weekend. You only need to be equipped with the will to learn and the knowledge that yoga is about you knowing your own limit. I will never push you beyond that. Guiding Noreen and many others since then provided wonderful opportunities for me to learn how to change the practice to suit whoever I am working with.
So if you have always wanted to try yoga but have been intimidated by those crazy Instagram poses, this is your invitation to take some inspiration from Noreen and dive into the world of yoga – a practice that is suited to you, because it is your practice. You can voice any concerns or tell me about any injuries in our personal Skype call if you have any, and can book in for additional private yoga sessions in the comfort of your own apartment, your home away from home, during your stay here.
Is this yoga retreat for novices or advanced yogis?
On every retreat I host two separate 90 minute morning practices based on the Ashtanga Primary Series with Iyengar Alignment.
One for yogis (anyone who has practiced yoga before) and one for absolute beginners. So every retreat is suitable for everyone. If you are inflexible but fit, you can come along to the Yoga for Yogis practice and see how you get on. If you used to practice yoga years ago but feel you have forgotten most of it since, try out the Yoga for Beginners class - or even come along to both the Beginner and Yogi class and see which one suits you best. Maybe you are a confident yogi but want to work on your alignment - then come along to the beginners’ class for a slower, more gentle practice. You can choose and change depending how you feel and how your energy is flowing on the day.
Both versions of the classes will include daily mantra chanting, breathing practice, and an opening and closing savasana meditation session.
The 90 minute long evening classes are practiced with the entire yoga retreat group coming together.
These classes are focused yoga classes based around themes, such as Heart and Hip Openers or Balance and Breath, allowing the time to create space for the areas that you wish to connect to and deepen.
When we have our WhatsApp call before the retreat begins or if you prefer to let me know in an email, you can tell me if there is anything that you specifically wish to focus on and I will build this into the evening group practice, creating a yoga practice that you can take home as your own.
What is the style of yoga?
Yoga for Yogis: The Ashtanga Primary Series with Iyengar Alignment
Yoga for Beginners: The Ashtanga Primary Series with Iyengar Alignment
Yoga for All: Focused, Themed, Alignment Yoga Classes
The morning yoga classes will be based around the Ashtanga Primary Series, first developed in Mysore, India, and introduced to the West in the 1970s by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. It is also referred to as yoga chikitsa or yoga therapy for the cleansing and purifying effect it has on the body and mind. Traditionally, practiced six times a week, one session takes 90 minutes to complete, with chanting, breathing and meditation included in the practice. The Primary Series is meant to build strength and flexibility in the body, relieve tension in the muscles, and heal and detoxify the body and nervous system.
This practice is focused on connecting the breath to movement. It is rather rigorous - beginning with several sun salutations, moving into disciplined 5-breath holding poses with a vinyasa sequence to transition between postures. Although the beginning of the class will be quite heated, we will gradually be cooling down moving from standing to seated and finally to lying down poses.
I trained in Goa, India at the Himalaya Yoga Valley Centre, specialising in the Ashtanga Primary Series with Iyengar alignment. Iyengar Yoga, named after and developed by B. K. S. Iyengar, is a form of yoga that was created to be suitable for everyone.
This practice incorporates props such as blocks, bolsters and belts to minimise the risk of injury or strain, with emphasis on detail, precision and the correct alignment of the yoga postures.
With our practice together developed around Iyengar alignment, we really get the most out of the Ashtanga Primary Series.
I will be moving through each posture, explaining the asanas in detail giving constant alignment cues and reminders, while also checking and repositioning your alignment if you are happy to have readjustments as we move through the practice.
A couple of important points that I really believe in, is that you should never be pushing yourself beyond a comfortable limit in your yoga practice, so I do encourage you to make the most of the props and - most importantly, at any point during the practice, please do feel free to come down to child's pose to rest until you feel ready to join in again.
Yoga is best practiced when you are entirely connected to your body and your breath. Therefore, my aim is to keep you in the moment, for the entire practice, feeling and experiencing the connection to the mind, body and soul. In this way, you can have the most conscious yoga experience possible.
The evening classes will be focused on different themes, working on bettering our alignment in depth, moving through a gentle practice with time and space for readjustments and anything specific you may wish to deepen
How do the group sessions work with all levels together?
For every pose I teach during the group sessions, there are options, so you can choose yours as we enjoy our session with the group energy. You are always welcome to come down to the restorative pose at any point – your yoga is always in your hands.
If you have practiced yoga before and are intermediate or advanced, you know that you get what you give in yoga, so will benefit from the group sessions as much as you wish to push yourself. There will always be something new to learn and gain and again, with private sessions always an option, we can deepen your practice specifically the way that you wish to.
Sicily... oh, Sicily
There was no other place that I could have possibly chosen to host my yoga retreats. Sicily has always been special to me. I have a deep connection to this magical, mystical, exotic land with my family roots originating here. It is also the place where my yoga journey really began when I first moved out to Palermo in 2016. This is why I chose to host my yoga retreats here. If you have ever been, I am sure you know that Sicily’s energy is unlike any other; with so much culture, history and natural beauty, every experience awakens the senses. I grew to learn the ins and outs of Palermo and the surrounding area and just have so much to share, but know the difficulties of getting around without someone who can guide you – that’s what I’m here for. You're in good hands.