Ashtanga and yin yoga holiday – Italy 2015

You never want a holiday to start with a text from your airline saying that your flight’s been cancelled. And particularly when it’s a flight that a group is booked on.

That’s what happened to us a few days before departure for In Sabina yoga retreat near Rome but we didn’t let that put us off. As soon as we’d all arrived we got down to the serious business of relaxing, breathing, moving and being.

And In Sabina is an easy place to be. With fantastic food, beautiful surroundings and little nooks to while away the hours, we settled in very quickly.

I enjoyed practicing morning Mysore under Cathy’s watchful (aka hawk) eye. She split the group of 12 in two with staggered start times allowing for personal tuition. She beat a few naughty habits out of me on day one (“You can cut that out right now…”).

Face-down Richard demonstrating Cathy's exercise that allegedly dislocates biceps (according to Sally)
Face-down Richard (middle) demonstrating Cathy’s exercise that allegedly dislocates biceps (according to Sally)

Teaching afternoon yin yoga for two hours on the platform was simply bliss. Rachel placed her eyebag over her sunglasses which I found highly amusing and I gained an unexpected teaching assistant.

Twisted root pose, afternoon yin on the platform
Twisted root pose, afternoon yin on the platform
My teaching assistant
My teaching assistant

I gave people the chance to experience some AcroYoga one afternoon and we spent an evening chanting whilst watching the sun go down.

AcroYoga: Celia flies with Elaine
AcroYoga: Celia flies with Elaine

Between the end of brunch and yin, we relaxed some more. Richard and Martin’s favourite spot was poolside, while Claire was intent on moulding a shady red hammock to her exact body shape. Massages, walks into town, a trip to a waterfall and an olive oil tour were all had.

Pool, In Sabina
Pool, In Sabina

On the final night we had dinner in nearby Casperia, an 11th century hill town. We sat outside admiring never-ending views over Italian countryside. For dessert, Celia ordered a black man drowned in coffee and ice cream. Apparently ‘nero’ and ‘negro’ mean quite different things in Italian.

Final night dinner in Casperia
Final night dinner in Casperia

Thank you to all who came and made it a wonderful and memorable experience. Both Cathy and I enjoyed it very much.

Unfortunately In Sabina is fully booked for 2016 but we’re looking at going to Morocco for a yoga holiday next May/June. We’ll announce more details when available. If you’re interested, let me know.

The group (minus Alli)
The group (minus Alli)

Italy yoga holiday feedback

Clare and Cathy, both your classes had everything and more to help develop my practice. I loved the place and the unique group of lovely people.

Thank you so much for all the effort and expertise you put into both planning and teaching. Easily the best yoga retreat I have experienced!

Di piu per favore!



Thank you Cathy and Clare for organising a wonderful week. I’ve been on a few of these types of things now and thought this one topped them all! The yoga teaching was amazing and I feel I have come on leaps and bounds (although that sounds a little aggressive for yoga progress!)

Wonderful week made possible by an amazing group of people. ‘Til we meet again… pause, breathe and smile.



A very positive week – except I’ve managed to gain three pounds, which I guess is positive feedback for Jessica’s cooking in itself!



Cathy and I
Cathy and I

AcroYoga hits Hertfordshire – a weekend of fun and flight in St Albans

Emmeline and I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who joined us at the weekend. We were really impressed with your:

  • willingness to give things a try – even if it felt scary
  • communication skills – saying what worked, but giving feedback to each other about how it could feel better
  • openness – being able to feed back to the group
  • ability to build trust in people you’d only just met
  • sense of fun – lots of laughter!

Here are some photos and more information about the practices – text taken from

Saturday’s solar practice


Trust is the currency that we exchange in acrobatics. With this blanket of trust we become empowered and empower others.

The AcroYoga solar practices are the tools that unlock that power in others and ourselves. The solar elements build strength and feature inversions and partner acrobatics.

As we build strength by using acrobatic and gymnastic training techniques we build confidence. Push ups, down dog push ups, abdominal exercises and partner conditioning are some of the building blocks that create strong teams. We also cultivate the ability to coach each other to encourage positively.

The inversions give us the chance to build trust and efficient acrobatic techniques for headstands, handstands and so on.

Partner acrobatics is where we put it all together in a group of three: base, flyer and spotter. The base creates the foundation for the acrobatics, the flyer trusts and consciously moves through the air and the spotter makes sure this all happens safely! These practices build a playful, strong community that can help us all realise our true potential.









Sunday’s lunar practice


The first steps in the practice of AcroYoga are listening and relearning to be open. The lunar therapeutic practice includes massage, therapeutic flying and partner yoga. The aim in these practices is that both the giver and receiver can feel more full and balanced. Our main tools are gravity, sensitivity, loving kindness, feeling and releasing.

Massage is an ancient gift from traditions. It is a practice that can be cultivated to open the body using bodyweight, loving touch and mindfulness. Before students fly each other it is key for them to have some massage technique so they can be more confident when they massage people while they are in the air.

Therapeutic flying is an inverted aerial massage. The base supports the flyer with their legs as the flyer hangs passively. The base uses gravity, stretching and sensitive touch to open the flyers upper body. When the flyer comes down they do massage on the bases warmed up legs. The session is complete when both partner have given and received, based and flown, inhaled and exhaled.

Partner yoga is the art of using each other’s body weight and breath to open and warm the body. This is a way for us to use a partner’s strength or bodyweight to open our bodies in new ways. In all of these practices gravity and loving touch help us to let go of fear and pain. As we learn to listen deeply we can use our power in a sustainable way.






We will be running another weekend of AcroYoga in St Albans in Spring 2016. If you’re interested in coming, let us know.


Teacher interview: Emmeline Gee

Emmeline Gee yogaI first met Emmeline a few years’ ago in India. Since then we’ve done AcroYoga together on various beaches and in London at TriYoga with Jason Nemer, one of the practice’s founders. In May we’re running a weekend of workshops together in St Albans, Herts. 

I asked Emmeline why AcroYoga makes her tick.

I first got into AcroYoga in 2011 while doing my Yoga Teacher Training in Bali. I’d practiced yoga for 16 years but I soon became an AcroYoga convert.

I’d describe the practice as a fun combination of acrobatics, yoga, and Thai healing arts – Thai massage. It’s popular in the States and rapidly spreading worldwide. I’ve been addicted ever since. I guess there’s five reasons why:

  1. It’s accessible to most people

It may look like the work of circus artists, but there are basic positions that nearly everyone can enjoy. I’ve done AcroYoga with my aunty and uncle, who are in their late 60s, much to their delight. And children absolutely love it! AcroYoga backbend

  1. You learn lots about yourself and others

Plato said “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation”. In AcroYoga, we often test our limits and end up finding new strengths. Trust and communication are crucial – without them you’ll quickly end up just a heap of bodies on the floor.


  1. It’s so engaging you won’t be able to think about anything else

When you’re balancing upside down on someone else’s feet it’s impossible to be anywhere else apart from the present moment. That can be hugely exhilarating and a great stress-buster.


  1. You do it with other people

I love hatha yoga but it’s largely a solitary pursuit confined to your own mat. AcroYoga is done with a minimum of three people (a base, a flyer and a spotter) so it’s very sociable. Many towns have AcroYoga communities who meet regularly and ‘jam’ – it’s a great way of meeting lovely fun people.


  1. It’s way more fun than the gym

I’ve never had much motivation to train in a gym. In AcroYoga we use each other’s body weight to build strength and flexibility. Balancing each other on our feet and hands is hugely entertaining and often involves a large amount of giggling. It’s a great workout and 100% more exciting than a stepmachine.

And did I mention already that it’s great fun?!

AcroYoga St Albans

Emmeline and Clare’s AcroYoga weekend is suitable for beginners – to both AcroYoga and yoga in general. It’s 9-10 May at All Saints Studios, St Albans. For more information visit the workshop page

When Emmeline isn’t AcroYoga-ing, she can be found on superyachts offering yoga instruction, massage and beauty treatments. To find out more about her, visit Angels on Board.




Indian tales: The highs and lows of Goa yoga

Earlier today I had my last yoga practice in Goa. I was on the roof of a one-storey building – the kitchen for the beach huts where we’re staying. As I went through my standing postures, an old bloke was shimmying up the surrounding coconut palms, sending ripe coconuts crashing to the earth below. I faced the ocean and breathed with the waves.

Tomorrow we leave Goa and head to Mumbai for two nights before flying home to London. I’ve been thinking about the yoga I’ve practiced over the last two weeks. Here are some things I’ve learnt and perhaps you’ll find them useful too.

Drop-in classes: a mixed bag

You just really don’t know what you’re in for. On Christmas Day morning I went to a led Ashtanga class with an Indian guy called Deepak. His adjustments were a little unconventional (verging on dangerous) and I felt my body tense whenever he moved near me. He was as bendy as the bendiest bendy thing and didn’t seem to show much empathy for Westerners in their first ever yoga class.

Other classes were lovely but just going to one class then trying a different class the next day doesn’t allow a student/teacher relationship to develop. Consistency is key.

Immersion is good

Katharine and I stumbled upon the Indian Shanti Yoga Festival and it became one of the highlights. At a plush beach resort in Ashwem, we spent three days surrounded by yoga addicts and a schedule that ran from 8am to 10pm… all for £25.

I reconnected with Sivananda yoga through classes with Nataraj, the Director of the ashram in Kerala where I’ve spent time previously. Witnessing him in his baggy Sivananda yellow t-shirt and white trousers just made me feel so happy. He looked a bit at odds with girls wearing tiny lycra shorts but the atmosphere was very welcoming and inclusive.

There was a lot of bhakti (devotional practices). The festival opened with a homa (fire ceremony) to Lord Ganesha. We all offered something to the fire – something we wanted to cast aside for 2014. Swamis from various Indian ashrams taught classes and led the chanting of Sanskrit bhajans.

(Anand led the Ganesha homa.)

(Swami Sugoshananda: “Everything happens as planned and it is for our own good.”)

I also went to a Bhagavad Gita talk, taught by an elderly New Yorker with a huge white beard, long hair and piercing blue eyes. He reeled off the slokas (verses) in Sanskrit. Hearing the words of Krishna to Arjuna with his accent: “Hey Arjuna, so you gotta fight people you care about. But you just gotta do your duty!”



Acroyoga is awesome

Acroyoga founder, Jason Nemer, taught at the festival.

With one person being the base, another the flyer, and another the spotter, we did some therapeutic flying. We practiced giving each other massages in ‘folded leaf’ and worked on backbends suspended in the air in ‘high flying whale’. We did handstands holding onto the backs of your partner’s ankles while they were in a high plank.

(Me being a high flying whale.)

I like the philosophy behind the practice. It’s about building trust and confidence through letting go. The flyer has to resist any urge to control and you are totally in the hands (and feet) of your base. It’s playful, fosters closeness and you learn a lot about your partner. The sessions open and close with kirtan – chanting in a circle, developing togetherness.

Jason will be teaching five days of acroyoga at Triyoga in London later this year.

The final day included four hours of Thai Yoga Massage run by the acroyogis. Thai massage is seen to be a complementary practice to the more acrobatic side. I like this. It’s the yin and yang idea. The massage is the yin (calming, cooling, slow, soft) and the acroyoga is more dynamic, energising and fast-paced.

Summing up

Some of my most enjoyable yoga moments have been my self practices but I’m also looking forward to going home and getting back to classes – both teaching and being a student.

I know this trip has been about relaxing, spending time with my sister and also doing some yoga, but if I were to return to India for yoga, I’d do a period of study with someone who can help develop my practice. I’ve got my eye on David Garrigues’ intensive in Kerala in 2015, a trip to Mysore or even a retreat with David Keil at Purple Valley in Anjuna.

That’s the joy of yoga. There’s always more to learn and India is always calling.

Classes start back in London and Hertfordshire from 12 January and the first yin/yang workshop at Breathing Space in Harpenden will be on 18 January. My first BAYoga Studio yin workshop is on 1 February.

Happy new year everyone.

Om shanti.

Teacher training: Liquid/solid Acroyoga

Some time has passed since my last post and we’ve now survived three days of acroyoga and a day off. For anyone who’s unfamiliar with ‘Acro’ as those in the know call it, it’s some way between Cirque du Soleil and goofing (I’m spending too much time with Yanks) around in the school playground. Have a look at my photos on Flikr to see what we got up to, but suffice to say it was fun and at times a little scary.

I also enjoyed the partner/trust games we played. One was called ‘liquid/solid’ and one of us would strike a yoga pose and the other would do a pose that intermingled with it. For example, I would be in down dog whilst 6ft 3in Swedey Chris would be in up dog in the space underneath me. It got rather cosy when he tried to fill the miniscule spaces I made.

Thanks to Philip, liquid/solid is now also a term we’re using to describe our bowel movements but probably the less said about that, the better.

Have a look at my pics on Flickr but in the meantime, here’s two to give you a taster.

From left: Lucy, Mitch, me and the teacher Ariane. My main concern was the correct placement of my foot on Mitch…
One of Philip’s amazing handstands and Michel being a dafty.