Easter Yoga Retreat in Ibiza

With two days to spare I managed to grab last minute seats on Ryanair to get me to Ibiza in time for the first retreat held by Formentera Yoga and Jax May Lysycia at their new country house over Easter.  Having followed Jax for her yoga instruction from London to Morocco to Formentera I was keen to try out their newest venue up in the North West Hills of Ibiza; a finca set in 20 acres of fruit trees and scattered with sheep and goats, not overlooked by a single neighbour and only a 45 minute walk to the beach.  The perfect escape to unwind and recharge.  What attracted me to this trip was the combination of early morning silent walks; deep, sensitising yoga; meditation and the opportunity to explore another side of the island on two challenging 10km hikes around the coastal paths, led by the very entertaining and knowledgeable Toby of Walking Ibiza who introduced us to the flora and fauna of the white isle (white for it's salt...) The food of course is very important on such trips - you can't demand so much of your body without putting something back in, but the team included Guici the Italian chef who delivered mouthwatering Ottolenghi-style vegetarian food each day.

We were blessed with the most beautiful weather for the entire trip.  Clear blue skies and warm breezes as we stretched out on the deck overlooking the sea as the sun rose and cooler air as we climbed through the pine forests in the afternoons.  Not quite warm enough to enjoy the sea (with some exceptions!) but we sat in a circle on the beach at the end of one day for an evening meditation to the sounds of the waves.

I met some amazing people on this trip, strengthened friendships with others and connected with an energised and more whole self.  I can't do trips like this every month (sadly) but I can take with me the tools to look after myself in day to day life.

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and the wonderful team... Suni, Jax and Richi.. who looked after us so well. 2013-04-04_0001


Yoga at Formentera Yoga

I have just returned from my second yoga retreat of the year with Jax. The first being in Morocco (you can read about it here) and this time at the main base for Formentera Yoga at the blissful Gecko Club. Having previously only been to Formentera for lunch on a past Ibiza trip I was delighted to have the opportunity to explore the island a little more. The beaches are Caribbean in their white sands and azure seas, and at this time of year it's warm but not crowded. This trip was more of a working holiday as Christian and I were planning a day long shoot for Formentera Yoga to provide them with new iconic images which were in line with their spiritual practices, whilst capturing the beauty of the island. We spent a couple of afternoons after morning yoga looking at locations - we were spoilt for choice with striking backdrops of lighthouses (La Mola), piers, woodland and of course the sea.
We were all so excited with the results. For me personally  it was an inspiring  learning process collaborating with Christian Banfield who is an experienced photographer and director as well as having Jax bring her own creativity, individuality and styling to the shoot.
In terms of the yoga - if I had the money and time I would come on retreat once a month. Listening at the end of the week to the group testimonials was moving - Jax had taken a group of individuals from all over the world and ranging from complete beginners to teachers themselves and unified them in a desire to feel happier, healthier and more alive and the tools to do so.  Her teaching had been 'life changing' as one beginner asserted. There were plenty of nods of affirmation to this comment - she had spoken to everyone's needs.
The perfect trip was finished off with a delicious meal thanks to Lana at Passion Cafe on Playa den Bossa opposite Space.
Writer Lucy Kite was on this trip writing an article about the retreat for the Mail on Sunday on 1st July and some of the images from the shoot will be used.  Lucy is a yoga teacher herself with similar philosophies to Jax so I don't doubt that the article will be anything but glowing.
Jax is going to be running a couple of taster sessions in London in Queens Park on 12th August.  Drop me a note if you are interested and I'll send you the details. 

Starting 2012 the yoga way

To ensure that I was fully in mind and body to start the wedding season of 2012 I kicked off the year with a friend at a yoga retreat on the coast in Morocco.  This was the first retreat I had ever been on and so I arrived with an open mind and willingness to embrace whatever was on offer.  Needless to say the excesses of the holiday season had taken it's toll and I was happy to cut out alcohol, caffeine and meat.  Our group of 10 were effectively guinea pigs for the soft opening of the resort and so we had the run of the place. The resort itself, Paradis Plage, sits just along the coast from Tagazhout, a surfing town 40 minutes outside of Agadir, the nearest airport and has billed itself as a 'surf, yoga and spa' retreat .  The tiny fishing village sits along side hills that ripple softly like fabric and the earthy coloured buildings squat low to the ground.

The rooms are all spacious apartments, simply decorated and with stunning views of the sea.  The yoga sala was perfectly set upon the edge of the sea with 240 degree views of the coastline.  Jax May Lysycia the instructor is the most beautifully honed woman whose body is an inspiration!  She led us through 4 hours of yoga and meditation each day; two hours in the morning after a silent beach walk during sunrise as the long shadows reached across the textured sands of the empty beach, and two hours in the evening as the sun dropped into the sea in front of us.  Under her reassuring guidance I found myself able to discover a flexibility in my body that I never knew I had, leaving me feel strong, supple and graceful before the end of the week and with a craving to do yoga daily.

We were particularly lucky to have had a group of 10 who bonded immediately and we spent a blissful week relaxing in the gorgeous winter sun, surfing, trekking in the dusty but aptly named Paradise Valley, paddle boarding on lake and enjoying a hammam in the spa.

And then the drive back to Marrakesh for two days of city (and excessive eating!) with new and old friends and staying at the spectacular Villa Filali with it's eclectic mix of traditional Moroccan style with flashes of kitsch.

The retreat was organised by Formentera Yoga who are based in Ibiza and run retreats throughout the year.  I can't wait to book onto the next one and it will be without doubt and ongoing pilgrimage.

Mark & Gemma's Ibiza Wedding

I had the pleasure of photographing at Mark and Gemma's Ibizan wedding back in June.  They met there one evening in Pacha nearly five years ago and knew immediately that they had met the one.  A courtship followed with a commute between Gemma in Wales and Mark in Surrey until they moved into a flat in Notting Hill a few years later. After an engagement in Cuba, Ibiza was decided upon as the only proper venue, and 50 friends and family gathered for a weekend long celebration.  The wedding itself was held in the evening at The Amante Beach Club, set in one of the most beautiful coves in Ibiza.  Overlooking the Sol D'en Serra bay the resort is surrounded by dramatic rocks and lush greenery.  The guest seating was laid out overlooking the sea and Gemma made her entrance down the steps wearing a beautiful Jenny Packham gown and beige Jimmy Choo heels.

Gemma had thought of every little detail and the whole day was utterly beautiful and elegant.  It was truly wonderful to watch the sun setting over the mediterranean sea as the party continued into the evening.