Saturday, 18 August 2018


With the growth in yoga festivals and the continued success of International Yoga Day, people are travelling further to seek inspiration, challenge and focus from their practice.  Usually following a tried and tested instructor rather than pitching up to a location, when a yoga festival happens there’s a wide choice of instructors to choose from and challenge the new.  It’s good to see what other instructors offer, even if it is only to find out you have found the best instructor for you already.  Most have ventured to California, Ibiza or India, but they are coming closer to home, and the latest in a village in the Aravis area of the 

French Alps has the potential to be the best. 
I recently returned from a yogafest in the mountain village of La Clusaz, about forty minutes drive from Geneva. A three day event, it is in its infancy, but has incredible potential to become one of the leading yoga festivals in the world. There is plenty of accommodation in what is mainly a ski resort, but which has an increasingly popular international mountain bike festival in June.  All the studios are lit with natural light, the main studio with panoramic views over the mountain range. It’s the sort of view one of the clubs in which I teach, has painted on the wall.   The air is clear, and the restaurants, which usually offer meat and dairy, are offering ‘menu equilibre’ with more balanced and vegetarian options.  There was a yogi market, with only about seven stall holders, but this will grow.  
The surrounding countryside and landscape is wonderful.   You are able to paddle board yoga with a view of the valley in the background, as hand gliders fly over head. It is like being in a Martini ad. 
The three days were packed with talks on nutrition, tantric, rhythmic dance, energy healing, acupuncture as well as many master classes from world class instructors. Catering for all levels, there was emphasis on parents and children taking part in many of the classes, although these were kept separate from the main master classes. 
Not all of them were in English – actually very few were, and although I speak French well, and Omm is Omm in any language, it made me realise the importance of not only voice in yoga, but also the importance of what is talked about around the asana. Yes, we are still able to understand the vibration of the voice, but the message is lost and the asana without the mind being able to assimilate the visualisations or identify how and why the poses present a challenge which enables us to grow, that things happen for us, not to us, are important messages to hear and understand when you are attempting a hand stand or side balance.  
I know this to be the case, as when I was going through the motions, the asana, without fully understanding what was being said, the practice didn’t go deep. When I did it reached far deeper. This is my experience. 
I sit in lotus and close my eyes and allow the instructor’s words to sink into me. Absorbed like water to a sponge. I soak them up and see what happens. 
And thoughts come into my head. I see a little girl in my arms. And then a dark haired boy and another boy, with fair hair.  But only half there. Once faintly etched. But I feel the love of the little girl. And the dark haired boy is staring at me.  And I know. They are the ones I let go. I didn’t have the emotional or financial support to have these children so I let them go. In my mind’s eye I see the little girl in my arms is looking at me the way Tom, my only son, looked at me all those years ago. And the little boy is looking at me, so strong and standing upright. The fair haired boy is not as strong. But I love him anyway.  
See what I mean?   Look beyond the pretentious twaddle of what some of the yoga world has become and see it for what it is. The internal journeys we take are so much more interesting than the outer ones. But the outer ones give us ways to describe the inner. That is the authentic purpose of travel.  A way to find out more about your self and ultimately find peace. 
La Clusaz is a natural haven for yoga – surrounded by mountains, with streams running through it. Walking through the village, La Clusaz teaches you to look up. Mountains teach you to look up and be strong.  The streams running through the village teach you to keep in the flow, to go with the flow, to move on, to not stagnate in body, thought or action. And the calm, teaches you to be centred. The cowbells teach you to live in the moment, like little myan balls reminding you of being in the now. The festival was only four days, but this place is ideal for yoga any day of the year. 
Next year there will be more English speaking instructors who will hold the classes in English.  Bi lingual teachers will also offer the ‘bonjour hi’ element to sessions which I recently experienced while in Quebec at Le Monastere, where the instructors talk in both French and English and dance between the two.  
In its infancy, the festival was free of the pretentious twaddle that often the more established festivals fall prey to.  Authenticity and soul is sacrificed for commercial gain and getting the balance right is as challenging as it often is in the asana. 
The instructor taught me to hand stand on my right then my left hand.  He told the class how before that morning practice he walked in the hills and carried a seed around with him to remind him these mighty trees grew from something so small. La Clusaz yoga festival, though small, is perfectly formed, and has all the right ingredients to establish itself as the best yoga annual festival in the world. I will enjoy watching it grow. 

For details about the festival contact.
+33 6 67 27 15 82
Yoga Festival prices:
Prices for the festival :
- 20 euros for one session
- 180 euros for 2 days
- 210 euros for 3 days
Hotel les Sapins from 85 euros per room per night 
For further details about the festival check out website 

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