Meet Holly: The British Girl Who Quit London Life To Create Yoga Retreats in Spain

Holly Giselle Yoga started its journey in backstreets, boutiques, cellars and pop up spaces in London. Riding my bike around London after work and on weekends trying to find these hidden spaces made up some of my favourite yoga treasure hunting sessions in the big Smoke.

And, at the same time as I spread my wings to the tropics, Brit born and raised Holly (founder of HGY) flew away to start a new life in Spain in the pursuit of a dream to create yoga retreats under the Mediterranean sun. I always think it’s a crazy brave move to uproot life and replant yourself somewhere total different… I also think it’s one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves! And I am fully stoked to have the opportunity to share Holly’s story along with REVEALING SOME HOT NEWS about her upcoming retreat. She’s making her dreams come true, and I am fully babe crushing RN (and you will be too after reading this!).

I caught up with the fully righteous Holly Giselle Yoga to get all the goss on leaving behind London, why Spain was calling and everything about her first ever yoga retreat coming THIS OCTOBER. Check out our Q & A below.


So you were a city girl…. Can you tell us a little bit about the life you left behind in London?

HGY: Sure! I spent almost 10 years working in a fast paced fashion career & living in East London. At the time it was my dream and I worked really hard to get there. I met some amazing people and worked crazy showroom days and events surrounded by beautiful clothing and accessories all over the world. 

That sounds dreamy! So, when did you start practicing yoga and what drew you to it in the first place?

HGY: I took my first yoga class when I was 17 in a community centre in the small town I am from – it was me and 6 ladies all over 55. During that first session I really connected with something, but it then took a good few years away from the practice for me to rediscover it aged 25 in London while searching for a way to exercise that suited me. I’m naturally really noncompetitive, and find sports and gyms difficult to stay with! But yoga was different and my good friend Jessica Skye at Fat Buddha Yoga started teaching around that time. I loved going to her classes across London every week, she really got me hooked!

What made you decide to to be a yoga teacher?

HGY: Alongside my career, I decided to take my training really as a new challenge and to learn more about it. I wasn’t sure I wanted to teach but had a real compulsion to discover more about yoga, I felt there was even more to it than I had found so far and knew that a few weeks away devoted to the practice would help me find out. By then I was practising between 2 and 4 times a week, and was looking for a new challenge in life as well as searching for a way to improve my health and wellbeing.

Around the same time, I was becoming more and more unwell and actually was diagnosed with a very rare, progressive and incurable autoimmune disease the day before starting my course; since that point I have intertwined yoga further into my day to day and can credit a huge amount in terms of my recovery from surgery 2 years ago – as well as managing my disease – to yoga. Having experienced this first hand I am keen to share this tool with others and that is my drive really, to teach, share more with others and to create events and places to practice together in.

The yoga scene in London is thriving, what made you decide to leave city life?

HGY: Yoga has become far more accessible and wide spread in recent years and witnessing the rapid growth in London over the past 5 years has inspired me to take this energy further afield! Spain has always been a place I always loved when visiting and I have always wanted to learn the language, I love the pace of life, the weather, the natural landscape and it has a positive energy for both me and my partner. So when we decided to make a change from busy city life to devote more time to creating, learning and our wellbeing, it was the first and natural choice for us to explore the possibility of moving to Spain. We left with a few ideas of what could be, and our time here has helped us to start realising our next big life adventure…

So, life in Spain? Whats the best thing you’ve discovered since moving there?

HGY: I’ve really learnt to rest. And feel okay about it. Sounds strange I know! But in a hot country you can’t fight the heat, its everywhere! You can have a rubbish sweaty day storming around with a to do list, or you can accept things as they are in the present and roll with them; relax under a tree while its hot and get shit done when the sun goes down. This is a real lesson in being present and mindful that has been a game changer for me.

I’ve also swam in natural thermal springs, hiked up and down mountains, scaled rocky hills to get to a great snorkeling spot and seen some of the most amazing views & colours I’ve ever encountered. Spain truly is a treat for the eyes, taste buds and soul! 

Of course, we want to know EVERYTHING about this retreat! Can you sum up what it’s all about in 100 words?

HGY: The retreat is 4 days surrounded by nature to practice yoga your own way, but really devote some extra time to your practice and to yourself. I like to keep it luxe, so the boutique Eco villa has a small number of really special comfortable and private rooms and our onsite chef is planning an unbelievably good menu. 

Sounds all of the dreamy. And how have you brought the boutique, backstreet and fun vibes of your London classes to this retreat?

HGY: In my yoga Flow & Restore classes we always focus on using breath to move the body, and moving the body to still the mind. This retreat stems from a weekly pop up class run in a quiet and secluded east London warehouse apartment, where weekly I gathered a small group of people to allow themselves some ‘me’ time. Yoga, tea, meditation and some giggles in between. This retreat has evolved from that same sense of gathering to re connect and restore, in a stunning and secluded setting. So we have swapped London warehouse for Valencian mountain top but the vibes the same! 

Quickfire round!

Fave yoga pose?

HGY: Depends on my mood, at the moment its Goddess Pose or Utkata Konasana, because who doesn’t want to feel like a goddess right?

Fave yoga threads?

HGY: Pretty much ANYTHING leopard print.

Fave 3 tunes on your current Spotify class playlists?

HGY:

  1. Ramasutra: Magma Mama
  2. Nightmares on Wax: Soul Purpose
  3. Whitney Houston; Your Love is my Love (my fave savasana smash hit!) 

Fave yoga shala you’ve visited in the world?

HGY: I took a yoga lesson with a girl I met in a digereedoo shop in Freemantle a few years ago when I was on holiday there. It wasn’t a shala, but it was 40 degrees Celsius that day and it was such a memorable space and class! Just me and a few surfer guys sweating it out surrounded by amazing painted digereedoos in a small space above the shop.

We’re trying to reduce our plastic consumption at TTT. Is there any environmental or social issues you feel passionate about at HGY?

HGY: The venue is and eco villa and is making moves to becoming fully bio. We offer free mountain spring water from the local font in glass bottles, and make as many positive choices as possible in terms of what is on site. Natural and bio shower gels and toiletries are provided so that water from showers may be put back to the land around the villa. And it is run totally on solar/wind power. I am in the process of setting up a beach yoga and clean up group in Valencia and so watch this space for that! Personally I have also started making more conscious choices in terms of clothing and this summer have been wearing bikinis from sustainable swim brand We Are Nativ  who use amazing fabric made from Ghost Fishing nets pulled from the sea, to create amazingly designed and crafted swimwear. 

And finally… 

What does the future hold for HGY?

HGY: More retreats, more unusual venues and more yoga gatherings globally! 


The HGY Retreat – The Essential Info

Fancy a trip to Spain? Of COURSE you do. If I wasn’t going to be almost 12,000 miles away, I would be joining Holly in the dreamy Spanish hills. So you’ll all have to go and tell me how amazing it is! It’s perfect for a long weekend escape or as part of a bigger adventure in Spain; so get your diaries at the ready, here’s all the essential info.

When?

Thursday 4th – Sunday 7th October 2018

How much?

£450 – £870 (enquire directly with Holly via Facebook or see more info here for specific pricing)

Where?

Casa Tarsan, Eco Villa

And I should book my flights to…?

Valencia

Everything else…

Everything you need to know is in this LINK: Holly Giselle Yoga – Yoga Flow & Restore Retreat


Babe crushing on Holly now like I am? Go give her a follow on Instagram.

For all the latest info and to find out more about HGY classes, check out the HGY website and Facebook page.

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