Founder of Hot Yoga Ibiza Sebastien Carincotte was born in France and spent childhood summers holidaying in Ibiza. He relocated to the island seeking a connection with nature after the hectic pace of living in Paris – little did he know, he would find a much deeper connection here. In 2006, he experienced his first Bikram yoga class and came out a changed man, connected with the yoga practice, with himself and later, with the universe. Fast-forward to 2009, and Sebastien, now a qualified teacher, opened his own professional studio space. Today Hot Yoga Ibiza is considered one of the most beautiful studios in Europe, attracting legions of loyal local students, international drop-ins and visiting yoga teachers alike.
When did you first discover yoga and what attracted you to the practice? When I was 16, I was doing theatre at school. Our teacher taught us some yoga positions and breathing exercises – we were problematic kids, I think she wanted to calm us down! That was the first time I was introduced to yoga, but it was in Ibiza in 2006, when a friend of mine told me about practicing with the heat, that I felt really attracted to it.
Did you feel an instant connection to the practice? From the first class, I loved it. And in the first week, I knew I wanted to take it further and it was making me ask questions of myself, philosophical questions. I began to dig, I went deeper into the practice and as you start to understand more, you continue to want to know more. But the real connection to the practice for me came during my teacher training with Tony Sanchez in Mexico. I felt that connection to God and the universe, moreso than just the physical connections I felt with Bikram yoga.
At what point did you make the decision to become a teacher? After four months of practice I decided to do a teacher training course with Bikram on the suggestion of my teacher at the time. I knew nothing about yoga! I didn’t actually want to be a teacher, I just wanted to have the experience of this intense training and learning, and I thought it could be fun. Then after I qualified I thought I might as well give it a try. And that was ten years ago!
Did you feel a natural connection to teaching others? In the beginning no! It was quite the opposite. But when I started to see the change in people, and when students kept returning to the studio, I began to feel it. I still feel it now. Maybe it was meant to be…
Tell us about your training? I’ve trained twice with Bikram Choudhury – I wanted to DIE in the first two weeks of the first course in Hawaii. It was the most difficult experience of my life. I wanted to go home every day. But I pushed myself to finish, then later on I did a recertification with him again in Barcelona. I’ve done an Ashtanga teacher training, because I wanted to learn the difference between the two lineages, and then I also studied with Tony Sanchez– who I really connected with – twice, in Mexico and Marbella. Tony taught me that you can be your own teacher. You can study on your own, and seek out answers, though I want to do some more training in the future and keep learning.
Tell us about the style of yoga you teach today? At Hot Yoga Ibiza, I teach three styles from the Bishnu Ghosh lineage: Bikram Yoga, Hot Yoga and CORE 40. I also teach Ashtanga classes twice a week. Not every class is for everyone. I think it’s good to try all different types of classes.
How do you describe your teaching methods? I bring all the skills I have into my classes, not just the yoga teacher training. Everything I learn in every day life. With Bikram, the style of yoga demands you are quite military, following a scripted dialogue. It’s quite limiting. In Hot Yoga, I try to be less pushy in terms of physical, and work on the mental and physical elements at the same time. It’s more meditative. We work to bring the body into a state of relaxation. CORE 40 is also more meditative, due to the combination of breath and movement. I’m not so hands-on as a teacher. Why push the body so much? I prefer to push the mind.
How do you describe your relationship with your students? Ask them! It’s a bit like being a psychologist – you have to understand who you have in front of you and interpret how they need to be pushed or encouraged, and know their limits. I always encourage my students to be more conscious.
What is your own yoga philosophy? It’s always evolving. I read more and more, I learn more and more, and it changes as I go along. Now I am getting into the Tantra philosophy – I find Ashtanga and Bikram can be a little too tight. I prefer things that allow me to do a little of this, rather than the feeling of ‘no! you can’t do that!”. Yoga is also so much more than just a physical practice. It’s about the union of the mind, body and spirit. The more you practice, the more you understand: you don’t just ‘do’ yoga; you live it.
What is your own personal practice like? I practice in the CORE 40 style. This suits the type of person I am. I also try to concentrate every day – meditation doesn’t always come, but I do my best. I love the way I feel after practice. How I connect with myself, how I connect with the universe and how I see the world. I still feel this after ten years – if I didn’t feel this way, I wouldn’t practice.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about teaching yoga? Connecting the philosophy of yoga with the business it has become.
How do you feel about the commercial direction the yoga industry has been taking in the past few years? Today’s yoga seems to be all about selling and ego. On one hand – whatever gets you on the mat! If you start a practice because you want a better body, or you want to lose weight, at least you have started a practice. Then the day will come, where – like I did – you want to start digging yourself. You want to read a book or two about yoga. And this is where you start to live your yoga.
Tell us about your connection with Ibiza? I’ve been coming to the island since I was six years old, with my parents. We came here for holidays every year, staying in Santa Eulalia. Then much later, in 2004, I came back to the island for work. I’d been working in clubs in Paris and wanted to get away. I’d thought it would be easy to find a job here, I knew the island already, so I bought a plane ticket and thought why not? After the first summer, when I worked in a restaurant, I went back to Paris and realised… I could not stay there! I needed to see the horizon and the sea, I wanted a garden. I wanted to be surrounded by international people. I didn’t want to take the subway, not be in the grey, raining atmosphere. It was too much for me. Ibiza has been in my heart ever since I was a little bit – I still love it.
Tell us about one of your most profound yoga experiences? I see profound changes in my students every day. That’s why I keep teaching.