I’d always thought that Ibiza was a place solely for hedonists. Host to some of the biggest and best clubs which attract top DJs, the typical image is of the bronzed and beautiful pumped up and fuelled on potent cocktails partying until dawn – and then doing it all day long.
But step away from San Antonio and you will find that the Ibiza community welcomes the more holistic holiday maker. The kind of holiday maker who not only wants to discover a new country, but discover themselves.
Stunning landscape abounds. Long sandy beaches to relax on, hidden coves to explore, vast green hills to walk, UNESCO world heritage sites to amble about, tranquil blue water to paddle in and all whilst warm sunshine licks the shoulders Ibiza is the perfect place to heal the mind and the body, and go on something of an inner journey. As the nights get darker and the air gets cooler in the UK, an autumn break is tempting – but how relaxing can Ibiza really be?
According to Kirsty Gallagher, who runs retreats on the White Island ‘The way people think Ibiza is just a party island is the same way people think yoga is some boring stretching thing that old people or hippies do – neither could be further from the truth. The party side is a tiny part of a magical, mystical island filled with powerful transformational energy and such beauty just waiting to be explored.’
Perhaps one of the things that unites these two sides of the island, clubbing and yoga, is euphoria. Kirsty has been practising for many years and cites the long term relationship to be due to the fact that it provides ‘a feel good high like nothing else!.’ Who hasn’t come away from a great night out or a fantastic holiday feeling invincible, and with yoga being ‘all about encouraging ourselves, going beyond, breaking boundaries and facing fears inducing a real feel good factor …we expand and radiate out in all directions and give ourselves room for change and growth.’
Whilst some of us might be happy to book into a weekly class, the idea of a retreat may seem a little intense. Can’t I just stick on a DVD and do a few downward dogs I wonder? ‘Imagine a holiday where you get to devote yourself to a daily yoga practice, relax in beautiful surroundings, nurture your body with pure nourishing foods and meet like- minded people. A week to think only of yourself and your well-being by taking time out to completely relax and recharge your batteries allowing inspiration to flood in.’ Kirsty says. She has seen people physically change, not only by becoming stronger and more flexible but dropping stress and tension from their shoulders, happiness and freedom creeping into their faces.
A retreat gives you that time to step away from your day to day life and focus on yourself and what you really want, whether this is physically, mentally or spiritual, and can provide a renewed sense of purpose and direction. This means that the retreats really are for everyone. You can come along for the physical benefits of yoga, of which there are hundreds, and a break away from it all to relax then good for you for taking that time out. Finding the philosophy of yoga ‘a magical changing way of life’ Kirsty does delve a little into this side, but like yoga itself, sets no demands or expectations. ‘It’s up to you to only listen to and take in the parts of it that feel right for you. I get all kinds of people from all walks of life and all kinds of backgrounds on my retreats and everyone takes away from the retreat exactly what it is they need.’
This is the focus of her upcoming retreat – Autumn Sacred Space. A time for immersion into the yoga experience, it is all about deepening and evolving your own yoga practice, whatever level you are at, and whatever your intention for doing so. Being able to switch off from every day life and completely relax is not something we do often enough, and a retreat offers the arena in which to do so. Very rarely in life do we let ourselves just be, and often being distracted can blind us to reality. Once we stop, we can connect. Connect with ourselves. And why not do so in the glow of sunshine on a beautiful island, nourished by healthy food and surrounded by welcoming people.
Although now more likely to be donned in lycra, Kirsty used to live in power suits in a busy marketing career. A trip to India saw her fall in love with yoga, and ‘from that moment my heart belonged to the practice.’ But it’s Ibiza, not India where she has found home. ‘There truly is something for everyone in Ibiza whether you want to lie back and soak in the sun, explore hidden beaches, walks, markets and some of the magical myths of the island, take time out away from it all on a blissful yoga retreat or party. Where else in the world can you combine it all in the same place?’