Former dancer James DeMaria was lured to Ibiza by the call of the acid house culture, combined with the ability to practice yoga within the island’s beautiful natural surroundings. It was love at first sight, and after returning home, he tied up all loose ends and hotfooted it back to the white isle to take up teaching full-time. Today, he runs Yoga In The Village in San Juan, plus teaches retreats and private classes.
What made you first come to Ibiza?
I was living and teaching in London yoga, and I wanted a holiday so I came to a yoga retreat here around 10 years ago. I came because I loved house music, and being a dancer, music is my inspiration. I just fell in love with the island and didn’t want to go back – I was totally seduced by the lifestyle and the nature. I’ve been here ever since!
When did you first start practicing yoga?
I was a professional dancer for 10 years and doing dance choreography too. I realised I wanted to change and I didn’t quite know where I wanted to go from there. A girlfriend of mine was doing yoga and got me to go along and I got into it on a personal level. Soon I was practicing five days a week. It seemed to make sense and help me get through my day.
So how did you get into teaching?
I got asked to teach after about a year and a half because my instructors were so confident in what I was doing that they asked me to cover classes. It wasn’t anything I’d planned, it was something I fell into and developed.
What is it about the island that attracts so many people in the wellness community, for yoga and retreats?
Despite all the other things on offer that make it so seductive, it’s the nature. The air quality is really good to clear the lungs, so that’s very healing in itself. I think people can find peace here and they can also go crazy. They can have the best of both worlds – the idea of having yoga holidays and also being able to go clubbing is quite attractive.
Tell us about your practice in Ibiza…
It’s a healing holistic yoga and a real mixture. It comes from me learning pilates and ballet as a dancer, plus movement and release techniques, combined with yoga postures, making fluid sequences so it’s less static. It’s like dance sequences done really slowly, like tai chi, and within that there are stopping positions like twists and balances. I also do classic Ashtanga. I teach in San Juan village and run retreats there, plus I have a lot of private clients. As a community, it’s building really nicely, but at the end of the day for me, yoga is not a geographical location, people find the discovery in themselves. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, it’s more of a space inside.
What are the benefits?
Physical benefits are mainly to do with the internal working of the body – you open all the body’s energy channels so things are free flowing. I get a lot of people who sit at computers all day so general things are de-stressing backs and shoulders. Emotionally and mentally, you’re more able to handle life – you can see things more clearly and differently plus it opens your circle of awareness. I think Yoga makes people nicer, more attractive, and they become more open and less contained in the ‘me’. In a future sense, if everyone could be more like that, the world would be a better place.
What’s your self-practice like?
I like to practice every day and it doesn’t always mean postures. It might just be breathing exercises or just some stretching, just to release tension in the shoulders. I practice here in the studio for at least half an hour in the mornings, though it could be up to two hours, depending on postures.