English born James Giuseppi was working as a trader in London in the 90s, when he fell into a spiral of alcohol and drug addiction. He took up yoga, to try and balance his lifestyle but it was only after a trip to Ibiza that he began to take the idea of becoming clean and sober seriously. He says without yoga, this couldn’t have been possible and today he is one of the island’s leading private yoga and retreat teachers.
What made you first come to Ibiza?
I’d always avoided Ibiza because of my dispensation towards all things bad. I came here for the first time on a yoga retreat in 2002, which was absolutely lovely but then I went to the Manumission Motel and it took me 36 hours to get back! But ultimately, it made me fall in love with Ibiza.
When did you first start practicing yoga?
About 15 years ago in London – somebody told me it was good for spinal health as I had a bad back from being so tall and from a couple of car crashes and I was in constant pain for a long time. I went and said ‘I’m just here for a bad back, I don’t want any of that spiritual mumbo jumbo,’ and the teacher just smiled…
So how did you get into teaching?
As I went along, I realised yoga was something that was not only beneficial for my back, it also helped to calm my head. I went to an amazing teacher – who was like the godfather of yoga in London – who a way of teaching the physical asanas with the philosophy. He really assisted me and when I got made redundant, he suggested teacher training.
What is it about the island that attracts so many people in the wellness community, for yoga and retreats?
The magnetic attraction of the place. I love the all-encompassing sort of welcome that’s been given out to all travelers and visitors here through the ages, so many different cultures have visited and stayed here. Es Vedra is the third most magnetic point in the world and there seems to be something quite unique about the people and the energy here.
Tell us about your practice in Ibiza…
I’m as dynamic or gentle as the client wants, or depending on the class, whether people have experience or not – but anyone can do it. Most of my classes are private, but once I week I also do a really peaceful two-hour class at 6pm, in a pagoda near Roca Lisa.
What are the benefits?
It does miracles, it really does, and it’s never too late, even for people with disabilities or older people – the benefits will be there. My story offers a little bit of hope and there are lots of people who suffer from these problems and yoga can really help them in mind and body. The Maharishi always said anything that removes you from the way you feel, whether television or drugs or yoga, is an avoidance thing, but yoga is beneficial. It brings you to a point where you can learn about meditation, you create a body and mind that can be still. And it’s in that stillness where we’ll find real peace and acceptance. The more people there are doing yoga in the world, the happier this place will be I believe.
What’s your self-practice like?
I try to practice at least six days a week – it’s absolutely vital. If you’re going to teach, you have to take time to tune in to how you feel. It’s absolutely vital for integrity. But saying I’m a completely enlightened being, it’s absolute bollocks, I’m not, I still struggle with loads of stuff, I’m in therapy, I go to meetings, and if I don’t do my yoga for a couple of days I become really quite crabby! I’ve realised I’m a human being…