We catch up with Jonathon from Kaliyoga to find out all about their retreat…
Yoga is a holistic activity which is rising in popularity with each and every day, with people favoring the gentle health benefits and healing approach. The appeal of yoga retreats is something which can’t be beaten – practicing your downwards dog or meditating under the warm Mediterranean sun, the smell of oranges and lemons tinging the air, a gently warm breeze tickling your hair. But Kaliyoga offers much more – a fully holistic retreat centre with 15 years of world-class expertise in the key areas of emotional wellbeing, body movement, fitness, nutritional health, relationships and mental balance. You can easily go there to enjoy a restorative week away from stress with amazing food, sunshine, gorgeous views, first class yoga, fun-filled group vibe and much laughter. Or, depending on your intention, you could probe deeper and take advantage of their expertise, getting help with personal issues and enjoying direct experience of solutions that, according to Kaliyoga’s feedback score, often turn out to be profoundly life-changing and beyond expectations.
We recently caught up with Jonathon Miles – one of the founders of KaliYoga – a wholeness retreat with outlets both in Spain and Italy, as well as day retreats from time to time in London. Find out all about where his interest in yoga stemmed from, why he thinks it is getting more and more popular and his favourite places to visit in the world…
Have you always had an interest in yoga? How did you get into it?
In my 30’s I began to experience back and knee pain, mainly due to a sedentary career as a recording engineer in music studios. My girlfriend suggested yoga and my first class at the Sivananda centre in Putney was a revelation – the people were kind and the underlying message was more about being your best self than just being bendy or building strong muscles. I mean, how bendy or strong do you need to be for most of life’s activities? Lifting the kettle, driving a car, posting on Facebook… not hugely taxing on the muscles! I gave up my gym subscription and began learning yoga at least 2-3 times a week. Yoga as a practice and a deep philosophy keeps on giving and there’s always more to learn. I am grateful to my teacher.
What made you want to open a yoga retreat?
I felt a strong attraction to replace my music career with something more beneficial for mind, body and emotions. I had no idea how to do it, but setting up a yoga retreat seemed like the right thing to do.
What made you pick Spain and Italy as the locations for a retreat?
Kaliyoga was founded in 2002 and Spain was our first choice thanks to a contact in the Alpujarra region. I guess you could say we were an early adopter of the area which has gradually become home to an awesome mix of world-class holistic healers and alternative lifestylers.
What is your favourite thing about owning a yoga retreat?
I love to help people to de-stress, to heal emotionally and physically, and to re-activate their ability to trust, share and love. When guests leave Kaliyoga feeling rejuvenated and with a determination to make positive shifts that make their lives zing with positivity, then we’ve done something good. My staff members use their healing powers as a catalyst for others to recognize their own. Current trends in modern living often strip people of their natural ability to cope, leaving them in a chronic state of stress and loneliness. I know because I was deeply depressed without knowing how to heal – an yoga was the toolkit that brought me back to feeling normal. I am very grateful. Each of us has an innate source of well being, but it needs nourishment. That’s the authentic value that Kaliyoga provides. We aim to make each week feel like a relaxing holiday with old friends, full of warmth, laughter and goodness, and we see that it works from the number of repeat bookings we get.
Where is your favourite place to visit in the world and why?
There’s no place like home, but feeling fully at home in myself means that I feel at home pretty well anywhere. But if I had to choose, I have fond memories of an extended vacation in Koh Lanta island in Thailand with Rosie and our daughter Lola, aged 9 months. She’s 15 now. Time to revisit!
Why do you think yoga is becoming more and more popular?
I think people are initially intrigued by yoga because it looks quite aesthetically pleasing– I mean, yoga teachers and students are often beaming with an inner confidence and kindness that feels so attractive. Even if a teacher doesn’t weave the philosophy of yoga into the practice, a well-sequenced class should still direct the student’s attention towards the breath, so every practice can become a sensual inquiry. With time, that aspect has the power to change the way we think, the way we move and the way we relate. And it literally creates a calmer, kinder reality. That’s already a fantastic outcome from investing a few minutes every day in having fun on your yoga mat. And the more you practice, the clearer you get in mind, body and heart.
What are your plans for the next five years for Kaliyoga?
Kaliyoga started out as an expression of our love for all things yoga and family. Kaliyoga’s locations (in Spain and Italy) have their own unique flavours and each has a profound focus on healing: emotionally, physically and mentally. We aim to develop this angle even more over the coming years, perhaps in other locations too.
Explain some of the food at Kaliyoga – what is your favourite and why?
Kaliyoga food is wholesome, based on locally grown fresh ingredients and adapted to dietary needs (e.g. vegan, coeliac, lactose-free, diabetic etc). Our recipe book contains some of my favourite meals which are easy to digest and energise the whole body with nothing wasted. I admit I love a good pudding like Almond ice cream, Raw chocolate treats, and Tarte tatin with GF pastry…!
What is your favourite thing to do in your down time?
I enjoy writing songs with my wife Rosie, listening to my kids stories, and tinkering with old cars.
Do you go to London often? What is your favourite place to go?
We live near Bath, but we are both Londoners and we visit London frequently. Favourite places to go? I’m interested in the contrast between love and death, so I’d plump for Highgate cemetry and anywhere with live music and comedy.
Find out more information about Kaliyoga yoga retreats and book here.