A true island girl at heart, Ibiza yoga instructor and visual artist Lena Tancredi, founder of Sunset Mountain Ibiza Yoga Retreats, was born in Brazil in 1969 and first visited the famous white isle and its sister island Formentera as a holidaymaker when she turned 21. “I have an island obsession,” she admits. “I feel unbalanced in a big city, I can only spend a few days there at a time – I’ve lived on islands my whole life!”
Her journey to becoming a yoga teacher started with her own paralysis following a thermal shock, which affected half of her face. “I woke up one morning and my face was just paralysed. I had a problem with my nervous system – the tissue in my nerves wasn’t strong enough to support them. At the time, I was really sporty and eating a very high carb diet, which can contribute to this and cause facial paralysis.”
As part of her road to recovery, doctors in Brazil recommended acupuncture and regular yoga practice to strengthen her nervous system. “I started taking classes right away, and I quickly started to recover and gain movement in my face. But at the same time, I also fell in love… with the practice, the therapeutic aspects, the philosophy… the yoga way of life.”
“When I like something, I can get obsessive with it,” she continues, explaining her total immersion into yoga. “Because I loved yoga, I would spend the entire day on it – practicing in the yoga school, on my own, buying and reading many books about it. I felt such a strong connection to it, and it gave me a peace I’d never felt before.” After relocating to Ibiza permanently, Lena’s newfound passion inspired her to do a teacher training course, allowing her to share the art of yoga that had changed her own life so completely with others.
“Yoga has brought me joy, grace, strength, inner peace, beauty and a sense of empowerment to all that I do,” she says. “I am also a very scientific person, and I like to know how every position can become possible for every person, from moving to suit your body type to using techniques that control the mind. That elevation of consciousness, the goal of enlightenment… it sounds esoteric but it can be explained scientifically.”
Having graduated from the famous Sivananda Centre in London, and studied under the expert guidance of Barbara Gordon, Nora Belton (now also based in Ibiza) and Swami Saradananda, Lena went on to study more yoga and Ayurveda in Haridwar – a holy city in India, also known as the world capital of yoga – where she lived in an ashram and learned invaluable ancient techniques from gurus and sadhus, pranayama and meditation tools which she teaches with to this day.
Today, Lena is the heart and soul of Sunset Mountain Ibiza Yoga Retreats, where she has devised weeklong yoga programmes suitable for all levels, with a focus on fresh vegetarian cuisine, bonding, opening the heart and of course, asana awareness. The beautiful finca was custom designed for the retreats, and (as the name suggests!) boasts incredulous views over Cala Conte at sunset – a truly magical place to deepen your practice, enrich your knowledge of yoga and retreat in Ibiza.