Ex-advertising guru Susie Howell spent her 20s working hard, playing hard and making the most of her glamorous life in London, using her yoga practice as a way to find internal balance. Upon announcing her plans to move to Ibiza as a full-time yoga teacher in 2010, her colleagues suspected she was turning into a crazy, tree-hugging hippy… but secretly, now they’re probably all just a little envious of her newfound lifestyle.
What made you first come to Ibiza?
I originally came as a little girl, which I really don’t remember, then I came on a yoga retreat in October 2009. I was looking for that next step as I was studying yoga teaching while working full-time in London and when I came here for two weeks, something just shifted. I had some clarity, felt like it was somewhere I really wanted to stay – it had a very quick effect on me.
When did you first start practicing yoga?
I discovered yoga when I was 21 and truly it was about wanting to follow the fashion, be skinny and get a celebrity body – that’s the honest truth. But it was just amazing and the more yoga I did, the more esoteric I became in terms of discovering the benefits, not just physical but I became really hooked on the mental benefits too. From the minute I discovered yoga I just loved it, it was always about squeezing it in around my schedule. Now I’ve got the time to do as I please, which is wonderful.
So how did you get into teaching?
I spent 10 years working for a large advertising agency and yoga is what kept me sane pretty much, throughout a very stressful career. It got to a certain point where I felt like I wanted to leave London behind and follow the yogic thing full time, so I did a teacher training course in Hatha Yoga and eventually left my job and came to Ibiza to live in April. Now the philosophy of yoga is becoming more and more important to me, I’m going to go to India in the winter and study in the heartland.
What is it about the island that attracts so many people in the wellness community, for yoga and retreats?
I’ve been asking myself the same question! I think a lot of people come here to heal. There’s just something about this place. I think the fact it’s drawn so many party people for so many years, there’s got to be something about the energy and I think it’s wonderful that we’re able to use it for holistic purposes too. Maybe it’s magnetic, who knows, they say there’s a lot of quartz in the soil!
Tell us about your practice in Ibiza…
I work on retreats with Ibiza Retreats and I hold classes at Can Shiva in San Antonio, plus a really fun Sunset Flow yoga class at a hotel called Sunset Point in Cala de Bou. Though I trained in Hatha, my real draw is Vinyasa Flow and I’ve developed my own style. The way I teach is very meditational, it comes from softness but it’s a very dynamic practice, the idea being that you’re really using the power of your breath to open your body, to move your body and to power your movements. It’s in your own space, really listening to your body – it’s good if you have some experience in my regular classes, but in terms of private lessons, I love working with beginners and seeing their transition – it’s a humbling experience.
What’s your self-practice like?
I do a mix of self-practice and classes. I like to try different teachers because I learn something new from them all the time. As a teacher, you can get into little routines and it’s good to have someone pick you up on habits, and help you reach the next stage of your practice. But I try and mix it up every morning, so you’ll often find me on the beach doing yoga, or I’ll go to Es Vedra to meditate – I love it there, it’s such an amazing place.
Susie Howell, Ibiza Retreats
T: +34 662 093 499