Private yoga retreat with Gabriel Azoulay in Finland

Nov 01, 2017

This article was written by Pia, a Finnish blogger and yoga enthusiast.

Your own private yoga retreat with your own yoga instructor 24/7 with you? There are plenty of big summer houses around Finland to make your own wellness retreat. Sauna by the sea or lake celebrates the long day before going to bed. A 3 day retreat in a group making food, doing yoga, laughing, conversations and sharing the passion for wellness is a blessing. 

I was invited to a private yoga retreat in a cabin on a small island close to the city of Hanko in a place called Tvärminne in southern Finland. The whole nordic area is full of summer cottages for smaller or bigger groups. The plus are the incredible nature resources around you with no sounds of machines or other disturbance. We spend a luxurious retreat among ourselves in a private island.

Starting the morning with birds singing instead of hearing the traffic jam, makes all the difference. For a single woman OR a man, it’s nice to wake up in the morning to a house full of life sometimes. Children were aloud, which was a great idea, so it was more like a bunch of friends gathering for breakfast and planning the day. Children playing together while parents were doing yoga. Your not feeling like your abandoning them at home for some ”time for myself”. But of course, there are times you need that too.

Unlike a normal scheduled wellness retreat, we had the opportunity to choose the time to yoga. First session at 10 a.m., then in the afternoon a boat trip to a rocky island doing a lighter session and later some yin yoga before saunas and swimming in the Baltic sea. Not having to wake up too early on your holiday. Sleep is just as important as the yoga practice, especially for people who work long hours in the office.

Our teacher Gabriel Azoulay has developed BIKYASA style from ashtanga and hot yoga which classes are available in my yoga studio. I love the style, it has done magic with my back and that’s why I was excited to join the retreat.

Gabriel is one of the best teachers I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know so far. He’s very aware of how the class is moving forward, not losing his own awareness of each and every student he has. And at the same time he gives opportunities to different kinds of asanas in various levels. Not forgetting the flow with moving from one asana to another. Our first session was ashtanga in impro.

Later on we took a small boat for a quick sight seeing around the area. The Finnish archipelago is situated on front of the city of Turku, but the small islands actually start from Helsinki to all the way to Hanko and from there towards the west coast. And the scenery is breathtaking. The weather was amazing with blue sky and warmth, so the yoga session on a rocky island was a dream come true.

Back to the summer house to fix a good healthy lunch and getting to know new people. I’m not a fan of sharing toilets or staying in the same room with anyone I don’t know, so when the house is big enough you have plenty of space. It’s nice when you know that it’s ok to give other people their space if they want to just stay by themselves.

At night we stayed on the terrace after dinner. Gabriel took his indian harmonica and played some tunes. Using the songs of Krishna Das. Try it, it’s really interesting and I like the songs. Amazing voice.

Gabriels next retreat is in Thailand on the June 3 - 17, 2018 in Aava Resort & Spa in Khanom in the west coast. This Retreat will be co led with an amazing Yoga Teacher and Byron Katie healing worker Melek.

Gabriel Azoulay has a long history with yoga all the way from 1990′s when he first found the interest of India’s religious studies while in university. Then more books came along he found the book of Patajanli’s Yoga Sutra and started his journey as a yogi till today.

Throughout the years he has accumulated and attended various yoga and bodywork trainings, developed and led teacher trainings, supported, collaborated and consulted on the creation of national and international yoga studios and programs. Gabriel spent almost 2 years practicing daily with renowned Astanga teacher, Tim Miller; he lived and practiced in Mysore, India for 6 months, and taught throughout Thailand for 18 months.

While in India Gabriel studied with back bending master Vinay Kumar and led regular Astanga workshops and intensives and daily Yin yoga practices out of his home. While in Thailand he was instrumental in developing the first Hot Yoga Teacher Training for Absolute Yoga, Asia’s largest yoga company.