Ibiza wellness: Top Ibiza therapists – Annika Sukup

Born in Austria but an Ibiza resident since 2014, Annika Sukup is the founder of Never Mind, Just Be, which as the name suggests, promotes the ideas of balance, wellbeing and an all-important sense of perspective on this sometimes chaotic Balearic island.

A highly-trained Shiatsu practitioner, she also offers services including cupping, massage and one-to-one yoga training, all guided with a calm presence, a knowledgeable spirit, and a dedication to bringing effortless harmony back into the souls and minds of her clients.

What was your introduction to the field of wellness?
I got into the art of healing quite early through my mother and at the age of 17 I did a Reiki course, followed by a second one a couple of years later. But at that time it was just a tool I had for myself, for family or friends if someone needed it. But until I had an epiphany to become a Shiatsu practitioner, I never really felt drawn to do massage or body work as a profession. I guess it was planted inside me already, waiting for the right time to pop up. I just followed this inner guidance.

Tell us how you discovered Shiatsu?
I was about 20 years old when I was introduced to a Shiatsu massage therapist by a friend. I was really curious and made an appointment with her because at the time I was at a point where I didn’t really know what I wanted to do next. I had finished school and I had a job to pay my bills but I was still searching for something. I didn’t make my appointment because I had pain or any physical discomfort, but because I felt stuck and I wanted more clarity and balance in my life. After a few sessions, I was really impressed by the effects of the treatment. It didn’t take long until I decided to do a life coaching training. So even if I didn’t decide right away to become a therapist myself, this experience impressed me and gave me the respect that I have for this particular kind of massage therapy.

At what point did you decide to dedicate your career to it?
It came a few years later – a while after I had finished my life coaching training. I was sitting in my apartment and suddenly it hit me to become a Shiatsu practitioner! It felt like the perfect combination – coaching and Shiatsu. Whenever I decide to do something and it resonates with me completely, I just run with it right away. So in the days that followed, I checked out different schools, and was immediately clear to me that I should do the three-year training course at Hara Shiatsu Academy in Vienna. In my opinion they had the best and most intense training.

How did you hone your expertise?
Through practice, practice, practice. I began to do treatments by donation during the first year of training to gain as much experience as possible. One element of the training included three-month long internships. They offered different options like Shiatsu for burnout or for psychosomatic disorders, gynaecology and more. It allowed me to dive deeply into the topics and I got to monitor the progress of my clients over a longer period of time, which was amazing to see. Right after finishing the training, I became self-employed and began to work as a therapist in a shared practice, as well as becoming part of the healthcare program at a big company in Austria. Since I was really interested in Shiatsu naturally, I also read a lot about it. I watch a lot of webinars and I try to get treatment myself whenever possible.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from your craft?
How intelligent the body is. It’s always present and it immediately gives us signals if something is out of balance (most commonly due to stress). The first ones are easy to ignore and most of the time, we do exactly that. So usually we get different or clearer signals like tension, pain, and discomfort. We might experience problems with sleeping, with digestion or hormonal imbalances. But the human body has the capacity to heal itself, if we let it. When we listen to our body and if we give it what it needs – attention being at the top of the list, followed by nutrition, movement, relaxation and more – the body’s own intelligence does what it needs to bring itself back into balance. But for this, it needs time and a cooperative mind.

In modern life, why is it so important to take time to look after ourselves?
Because everyday new things are invented to keep us entertained, busy and distracted. And simultaneously, the number of anti-depressant prescriptions, burnout and disease is rising. It’s so much easier to drown out our minds with Netflix marathons, alcohol or other substances, than to slow down and to sit with all the uncomfortable thoughts, feelings or pains we don’t want to experience. Too often we forget what truly matters, and we only realise when we don’t have it anymore. That’s especially true when it comes to health. We take it for granted and we only start to change our mindset or our lives once we are confronted with the loss of it. So if we want to be and stay healthy we have to do something about it everyday.

With that in mind, who is your therapy for? 
For everyone who feels stressed, whether it’s external or internal stress. For people who feel uncomfortable and out of balance but don’t really know why. For symptoms like insomnia, digestive issues, hormonal imbalances, back pains, migraines or headaches that don’t have a medical explanation. Shiatsu is amazing if people feel tense and hyper and need to relax, or when they feel fatigued and need more energy. It’s for people who want to connect to their body, for those who need grounding, and for the ones who want to reset their nervous system. And for anyone else who wants to experience the incredible effects of Shiatsu.

Talk us through some of the benefits of your treatments.
Shiatsu has its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine (and was developed in Japan) so it’s originally a preventive measure. It’s very effective for relieving symptoms but one of the great things about Shiatsu is that it’s focused on finding the cause in order to bring long lasting relief. Every Shiatsu session is individually adapted to the client’s needs and it goes even beyond physical complaints. I had a client who had a traumatic experience and was suffering from sleeping problems and night sweats. She got treatment twice a week and not only did the symptoms go away, she left feeling more centred and balanced, and she found trust and confidence again.

What other changes have you noted in your clients?
I noticed that it brings them not only back into their body but when they are open for it, they connect to their inner essence. This essence brings clarity, happiness and a sense of peace. They begin to treat themselves better, they begin to be more attentive to the signals of their body and their relationship with themselves transforms. I have experienced this in my own life as well.

So what is your personal wellness philosophy?
Health is not a goal, it is a way of living. It’s the small things we do or don’t do everyday that influence how we feel. Every choice we make has an impact on our wellbeing. The choice of food, of the time we go to bed, of how we respond to stress and so on. I’m not suggesting to live like a saint or to go to bed as the sun sets, because wellbeing includes doing things that nourish our soul as well, and sometimes this can be eating chocolate or dancing all through the night. But whatever you choose to do or not do – do it joyfully and with love for yourself.

What’s your connection to Ibiza?
When I was nine years old I went on vacation to Ibiza with my grandmother. She died in 2014, only one day after I returned from three months spent travelling through Thailand. During that trip I had already made the decision to move away from Austria, but I didn’t know where I was going to go. A few weeks later, a friend called me and told me she was going to open a yoga studio in Ibiza, and around one month later I was here. I’m not sure if or how this is related to the passing of my grandmother, but I don’t believe in coincidences and I must say, I feel very protected here on the island.

Is that why you choose to practice here?
Yes. Ibiza called and I answered. I wasn’t sure at first if I wanted to live on Ibiza. I didn’t remember much of it from the vacation with my grandmother and all I ever heard about it was related to parties. And I am so not into that! I learned pretty quickly that Ibiza has so much more to offer. And it seems like what I do is something that brings balance – not just for each individual who finds his way to my Shiatsu mat, but also as a contrast to the party scene.

Finally, what is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Seeing the big smile on my clients’ faces when they leave the studio. But it’s also witnessing clients begin to understand how important it is to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. When they don’t ‘only’ feel better or relaxed – which is really rewarding as well, but even more so when different areas of their life begin to change.