Ibiza wellness: Trish Whelan – Top Ibiza yoga teacher
After growing up in Ireland, Trish Whelan moved to London at the age of 18, where she spent the next 25 years working in the music industry. Her career led her to Ibiza in the year 2000, where she felt an instant connection however at the time she had no idea of the transformational life experience that would lead her to swap her rock and roll lifestyle for an existence based around healing, happiness and bliss.
A shift in consciousness saw Trish begin to study the healing arts, including Shamanic, Sound and Reiki healing – all of a sudden, she felt her life moving in a different direction. In 2008, she discovered Kundalini yoga – a practice she now describes as “the best thing on the planet” and embarked on a path that would see her train to become a teacher, launch her own healing retreat company Soul Adventures and permanently relocate to the white isle, where she facilitates transformational healings and practices for students from all over the world.
When did you first discover yoga?
I had a couple of failed stars, where I did some bad yoga classes in the gym. But then in 2005, the first time I left the music business, I did 100 Sivananda classes back to back and I found that it was a really healing experience. I had found something that worked for me, very gentle and I really got into it. Something started to shift for me. At the same time, I was doing my Reiki training, I was an apprentice to a Shaman – I was going through a personal transformation which extricated me from rock and roll.
100 classes? That’s intense! How did that come about?
I’m pretty intense kind of person! But I hadn’t really considered what was happening, until they gave me a card to congratulate me. Healing had started coming into my hands and my life was changing. Yoga helped me with that huge transition. Also in the transition from the ego and real truth – you know, the real you, that lovely person of light and that kind of bolshy little madam. Doing those 100 classes held me in a space where I could just breathe into who I really was. It helped transform me.
Tell us about your journey to discover Kundalini yoga?
After the Sivananda, I went to India, where I had my first real Hatha experiences. It was more about the body, and then when I came back to London, I discovered Jivamukti. I really loved it because when the music talked to me like that in that space, I had a really strong practice. Then I was working in LA (I had popped back into the music business for a bit!) and a friend made me try a Kundalini yoga class. I just had such a profoundly strong experience in that first class, and when I got back to London in 2008 they’d just opened a Kundalini yoga centre in Camden so the journey really started there.
At what point did you make the decision to become a teacher?
When I really saw what a powerful effect it was having on me and my happiness. On my general love of life and my general being. It really resonated with the other work I do, I feel like it’s facilitating healing in epic proportions. Kundalini yoga is holding space for such deep transformation through the technology. It’s so powerful. I just see people really changing and coming into just bliss – and not a bliss like an airy fairy bliss – an absolute, this is my truth, this is who I am, kind of bliss. The grace people fall into with Kundalini yoga is amazing. The master of Kundalini yoga, Yogi Bhajan was such a strong force in the world, for making the better place. His prophecies have all come true… in this case, seeing it is believing it.
You described Kundalini as a technology – can you explain what you mean exactly by this?
In Kundalini yoga, we have thousands of different kriyas – classes are called kriyas and each one is very specific in what it works on, and there is a science of numerology involved in it as well. There are very specific amounts of time you do things for. If you’re working on the heart, you feel it in your heart. If you’re working on your third eye, you’re really seeing, feeling and vibrating differently. It brings a lot of energy to wherever you’re working on. The only way to experience it is by following the technology Yogi Bhajan shared with us. As teachers, we teach from a manual, which are like the instructions from his legacy and at the same time we’re tuning into this golden line of teachers and transmitting a vibration. Kundalini yoga is a shamanic practice, because you’re having the experience of healing yourself. And it’s great!
Tell us about your teacher trainings?
I did my training in 2012. I was very lucky in that my first experience with Kundalini was with one of Yogi Bhajan’s first students, and then when it came to London, I practiced with so many amazing teachers. I go to LA quite a bit and I learn a lot from those original teachers who were at the foot of the master. I trained to become a teacher at the International School of Kundalini Yoga and since then I’ve been studying in Barcelona called Sat Guru, and also with a teacher in Portugal called Shiv Suron.
Who would you say has been the most influential person in your yoga journey?
Losing both my parents, and in that loss and coming that close to death, I realised how important it is that we really live. I’m so grateful to all my teachers, my Reiki teacher, my Shamanic teacher. Everything you ever do in life takes you to the place you’re mean to be at. I feel like being here in Ibiza, now having all this land, where the energy of the land is really strong, having my own temazcal sweat lodge and being able to practice yoga outside in deep nature – I feel like all of the things I learned from my teachers, I can finally use.
Tell us about the style of classes you teach?
I am really keen to present the highest vibration in yoga that I can. I’m keen to be as open as I can, to allow the technology to affect as many people as it can. When I am teaching Kundalini yoga, the music is a massive part for me, and the gong is so healing. Being able to incorporate my healing with Kundalini yoga… sometimes I get goosebumps, or I cry. I have to get people to have a little lie down while I’m having a little cry! You really feel your blessings in this practice.
What type of clients come to your retreats and classes?
They are people who feel a calling the soul. People who want to go deeper into an experience of themselves and their lives. A lot of people answer the calling – it’s infinite how deep you can go into this practice. I have one client who has done eight ‘Vibrate at Your Highest Frequency’ retreat weeks with me and it has completely changed her life and that’s a journey we’re on together. Of course, sometimes people come and don’t feel it’s for them, but for the most part, it’s for people who want to go deeper.
How do you describe your relationship with your students?
I just love my students! You know what they say, your vibe attracts your tribe! I believe whether people are coming to a class or a retreat, there’s a pre-destined soul contract between us to be in that space together. For however long we’re pre-destined to be there, we’re there. It can be hard – like having a party. Running yoga retreats is like having a party, you can think, is anyone going to come? I always feel happy people want to come and that people want to come back. There’s a family vibe here. I am not a retreat company, I’m a yoga teacher and I’m a healer. I offer a space for people to transform within my home. That’s quite a strong offering, so of course my relationship is gorgeous with them. We’re sharing many blessings together.
How do you describe your personal teaching methods?
I’m real. Sometimes I’m soft. Sometimes I push. Sometimes I’m fast. Sometimes I’m slow and I am always trying to be graceful. I’m always endeavouring to be my most radiant. I’m always aspiring to vibrate at my own highest frequency. To be really real and to live it. It’s about staying on the yoga mat and learning. It’s an out there situation, teaching Kundalini yoga, but the effects are so strong and powerful, you’re really excited to share it. And everybody who comes here is a teacher, because everybody teaches us something.
What is your own yoga philosophy?
Everything is yoga.
What is your own personal practice like?
I practice every day. And at the moment I am doing a 90-day ‘getting in the sea’ practice.
Do you ever practice under the guidance of other teachers?
I generally go to LA the end of the season and plug into all of my favourite teachers, the old school ones. When I see how radiant they are in their 70s and 80s – and I don’t just mean not having wrinkles, I mean their soul is so shiny – there’s a feeling when you’re around them and the enthusiasm with which they still share the kriyas. There’s a Yogi Bhajan quote I love that reminds me of them: ‘Make yourself so happy so that when other people see you, they become happy too.’
Tell us about your connection with Ibiza?
I originally came with Roisin Murphy when I was working for Nellee Hooper and running his record label about 16 years ago. He had a side project called the Dysfunctional Psychedelic Waltons, and Roisin did the vocals to a song called Wonderland. We came over for BBC Radio 1 weekend, and I really felt like I’d come home. By lunchtime I was in feathers and turquoise and dancing on the beach. Ever since then, Ibiza has been a massive part of my life and I just can’t imagine not living here. I feel really blessed to be here.
Where can people practice with you on the island?
I have quite a lot of retreats going on – a range of different programs I have developed, all using Kundalini yoga technology and healing to get fast results and strong transformations. The food is really important too. It’s about tuning in and resetting. There’s an option to participate in yoga holidays, to stay here as a bed and breakfast and do one class a day. Then I have classes going on all the time, three a week on my amazing deck on the top of a mountain with the sunset, and during retreats, those classes are also open for people to drop in. I try to share it as much as possible really.
Tell us about one of your most profound yoga experiences?
My first ever Kundalini yoga experience felt like I’d come home but my most profound experience was really the first time I did the gong puja, which is an important part of Kundalini yoga. It’s continuously playing a gong and feeling the vibrations for 7.5 hours. The experience is called the Shabad Guru – the sound healer – and after the first all-night gong, I really felt really, really, really, so high. And so connected. Everything that I had experienced to this point energetically in my life, had fused into this one moment of absolute bliss. I saw an opening to myself and the real me, and I had no idea that I was like that.
How do you stay grounded and connected with your philosophy as yoga becomes more and more commercialised?
It can’t be a bad thing. I don’t think there are any bad people who are teaching yoga – you don’t start teaching yoga because you want to make a fortune or rip people off, the intentions are good. And I think that everybody should do yoga and I think that everybody should do Kundalini yoga! I think the more people that do yoga, the better the world is going to be. The happier we’re going to be en masse, just by raising the vibration, person by person, we can change the world. I really believe that.
What do you find most rewarding about teaching?
When I see people really experience true happiness.
What do you find most challenging?
The ego. We resist so much because the ego holds us trapped. I am seeing my own ego constantly – I have to think, is that coming from my ego or my soul. I am always endeavouring to stay in the soul, and that’s challenging because the ego wants all that glitters. It’s all through grace that were here in the first place, and remaining graceful is the real work.