We catch up with Elinor Evans, the owner of Mind Body Retreats Ibiza…
After heading to Mind Body Retreats in Ibiza at the end of last year, we found a new love for yoga. To delve a little deeper into what goes on behind the scenes, we caught up with yogi and owner of Mind Body Retreats Elinor Evans. Find out where her interest from yoga stemmed from, why she decided to open a retreat in Ibiza and why she thinks yoga is becoming more and more popular…
Have you always had an interest in yoga? How did you get into it?
Yes, I was always interested in yoga. When I first started work in London I went to my first ever class at lunchtime on the top floor of the office overlooking the Thames. I was intrigued by all the weird and wonderful shapes people were making, and the strange looking props like bolsters and blocks. Yoga wasn’t so popular back then, there were very few teachers in the UK and it felt pretty unique. Being tucked in for savasana at the end of class with a thick warm blanket was so nice and I was hooked. I started practicing at home and since then I’ve always had yoga in my life. It’s helped me through some tough times in life, been the catalyst for a new career, given me some beautiful friendships and a passion for health and fitness.
What made you want to open a yoga retreat?
I wanted to have the satisfaction of running my own business in an area that I’m truly passionate about. Going on retreat can be a truly transformative practice, meeting like-minded people, taking your practice to a different level, eating healthy food in the sun is such a great experience. Most of us aren’t good at taking time out for ourselves, to disconnect from everyday life and nourish mind and body. A yoga retreat is a pretty accessible way of doing that. Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time on fitness and yoga retreats and yoga teacher training, and it’s incredible (and addictive) to watch people develop and transform as a direct result. Opening a retreat was one way to create that transformative experience for others. I’ve been lucky enough to train with some incredible teachers and meet some inspirational people over the years, so it was easy to put together an incredible retreat schedule full of great yoga teachers and amazing experiences.
What made you pick Ibiza as the location for a retreat?
I came on retreat here for the first time a few years ago and fell in love. There’s something so special about this island. It’s beautiful all year round, has incredible beaches, beautiful healthy food, talented chefs, and it attracts unusual and inspirational people. I love the fact that you don’t just get an ordinary massage here, there’s always an extra spiritual element to it. Here, it’s totally normal to go for all kinds of healing, get a gong bath or have your chakras realigned. I also love the music scene here, it’s what Ibiza is famous for and I love it in the summer when everything is open and there’s great music everywhere you go. A lot of people have a preconceived idea of what Ibiza is all about, but this is a place where all the good stuff is for everyone.
What is your favourite thing about owning a yoga retreat?
Having an excuse to come to Ibiza all year round! It’s lovely seeing the island slowly come to life at the start of the season in April/May and then being here right at the end of the season and all is quiet again. The flowers and plants change with the seasons and there are different sights and smells every time I go for a run or hike on the island from the pines to the wild herbs in the spring and the scent of jasmine in the height of summer. At the retreat I absolutely love watching guests visibly relax and the tension melt from their bodies as they get ready for class or soak up the sun by the pool. It’s such a buzz to watch new friendships develop, read great feedback in the guestbook or share an amazing meal together and get to know new guests. Much more fun than working in an office 🙂
Where is your favourite place to visit in the world and why?
This is a very tough question!! I’ve been to some incredible places…. Sunset anywhere in Ibiza is always top of the list as is being in one of the famous clubs or beach bars drinking something bubbly listening to great music. I love places by the sea such as the coast of California south of San Francisco. I also love running through the desert, the Sahara was the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen with incredible fossils, the ruins of lost cities, huge sand dunes and stunning mountain ranges as far as the eye can see.
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Why do you think yoga is becoming more and more popular?
I think the rise of technology has had incredible benefits but it’s also led to society being increasingly unable to switch off. Stress, anxiety and depression are so common, and so many people are looking for something that helps them get back to basics, back in touch with themselves. Yoga has huge benefits for positive mental health as well as being great for strength and flexibility in the body. A fast hot yoga class can give you a huge buzz, whilst a restorative class can help you relax and switch off the chatter in your head. Yoga Nidra and relaxation can help you overcome issues like anxiety, addictions or depression. I also think people are coming to realise that everyone can practice yoga, no matter what size, shape, age or physical ability. Everyone can benefit. It’s great to see yoga being offered in gyms, dedicated studios and via the internet. Its such a positive change to see it being more accessible than ever.
What are your plans for the next five years for Mind Body Retreats?
We have big plans here at Mind Body Retreats over the next few years. We plan to fill up the calendar with even more fabulous retreats with different styles of yoga, and add more dates for our most popular teachers. Ibiza is so bountiful, and we love feeding our clients amazing food, so we’re planning to grow more of our own produce. We already have incredibly fragrant sweet lemons and limes in the garden so we’re adding oranges, herbs, courgettes and salad vegetables. I’m also building fitness equipment as we speak so we can offer more fitness options alongside the yoga or allow our guests to keep up with the fitness programme they follow at home.
Explain some of the food at Mind Body Retreats – what is your favourite and why?
I’m clearly biased, but it’s all amazing even for those who normally prefer a meat based diet. I’m not a full time vegan, but I don’t miss meat when I’m here as the the thought and attention to detail that goes into the food is incredible and always results in a really satisfying plate of food. Not only that, it makes you feel healthier too. My favourite meal is the courgette lasagne with cashew mozzerella, it’s just divine. I made some for my parents once I found out the recipe and it was gone so fast! My favourite desert is the coconut and passion fruit cheesecake… or maybe the chocolate brownie… mmmm I’ll have to get back to you on that one!!
What is your favourite thing to do in your down time?
I love doing crazy fitness stuff in my downtime as I always like to have a challenge in the diary. I’ve found that competing in ultra marathons is an amazing way to see the world. I’ve done 2 x Marathon des Sables (6 back to back marathons over 7 days in the Sahara and the Ica desert in Peru) and I’ve done plenty of races over 26.2 miles in some stunning scenery including the Northumberland coast, the Chiltern Hills and the Marlborough Downs. I’m currently training for the Wall which is 69 miles in a day from Carlisle to Newcastle along Hadrians Wall. When I’m not doing that I love boxing, lifting heavy weights and sweating out burpees at crossfit.
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Where are your favourite places to go when you are in Brighton/ London?
London is my favourite city on the world… Absolutely love so many places but my current favourites are Hutong at the Shard for food and drinks at the Booking Office in St Pancras. In Brighton I adore the cafe culture and anywhere that sells turmeric lattes 🙂