Kirsty Gallagher yoga holidays review
Inspiring yoga holidays with a whole-hearted teacher
The Quick Read: A dynamic, vinyasa flow yoga teacher, Kirsty is a regular teacher at the beautiful Les Passeroses in the South West of France and runs various group yoga holidays in Italy, Ibiza, Sri Lanka, Goa, Dubai and in the UK. On her retreats, you’ll usually experience a dynamic, vinyasa session in the morning and a slower, deep, Yin practise in the evening. She’s vibrant, warm-hearted and doesn’t take herself seriously, yet it’s easy to see that she’s a yogi who really lives the yogic life – all of which makes her inspiring to be around.
Kirsty Gallagher’s teaching: In 2009 Kirsty quit her day job and went off to India to practice Ashtanga yoga, eventually studying with Bharath Shetty at Yoga India in Mysore. She stayed on assisting on teacher trainings before returning home to teach in the UK, from where she now travels to host retreats.
Kirsty’s passion for yoga, and the culture around it, really come through in her teaching, and it’s clear the’s incredibly dedicated both to her own learning and developing the people in her classes. She also sports tattoos of the odd goddess on her arm – showing absolute commitment to her yogic beliefs!
Her priority is to get you to focus on connecting with your body – as she says, ‘the body knows, it’s just that we don’t usually listen. Our awareness of our body is usually from the neck upwards.’ In other words, it’s easy to hit the override button and do things your body doesn’t really want to do – both on and off the mat – so by guiding you to really tune into your body, you come to instinctively know when to push and when to pull back.
Kirsty Gallagher’s yoga holidays: Kirsty runs yoga holidays all over the world, including at Les Passeroses in the South West of France, at the Barberyn Beach Ayurveda Resort in Sri Lanka, at Salento Yoga, right in the south of Italy and at Stanford Hall in the UK. She also offers the occasional women-only weeks such as her Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox retreats.
Yoga on a retreat with Kirsty will challenge you, in the best way possible. Her speciality is Vinyasa Flow, which she counter balances with an evening session of Yin Yoga where you hold positions for several minutes. A morning yoga session usually kicks off with meditation. She’ll ease you in gently – on day one you’ll start with just five minutes, working up to twelve over the course of a week to help you adopt this worthwhile habit. Both the Flow and the Yin can be tough – but if you want to come away from your yoga holiday with new found flexibility, seriously stretched muscles as well as a clear head and a deeper understanding of yoga philosophy, Kirsty could be the teacher for you.
How was it for us: I spent a week on Kirsty’s retreat at Les Passeroses, near Angouleme in South West France, and it was a bit like going on holiday with one of your most fun girlfriends, for she’s vibrant, warm-hearted and doesn’t take herself seriously – all of which really shines through in her classes and makes for an approachable and never intimidating teaching style.
I found her classes playful and inclusive, and she’s astonishingly knowledgeable. I learnt a great deal about yoga, its origins and practice over the week as well as just having a great time, and you’re likely to learn quite a few things you didn’t know about anatomy in her classes (unless you’re already very clued up, or a professional). She goes especially deep with the Yin practise, so that you hold sometimes really uncomfortable positions in order to stretch deep into your fascia – after, I felt I’d had the wringing out of my life.
Interestingly, one thing she doesn’t do during classes is adjust her students. Her theory on this comes via her guru in India, who would explain in great detail how a posture should feel, rather than reposition limbs. In the same way, Kirsty substitutes physical adjustments for extensive explanations of alignment and body parts. I found this a bit strange to begin with, but it made me pay a lot more attention to how I was positioning myself.
Evening sessions begin with some yoga philosophy, if the class is interested. It’s here that the breadth and depth of Kirsty’s yogic knowledge really comes through, as she regales you with stories from the Bahgavad Gita, of gods and goddesses such as Hannaman, Shiva and Parvati as you sit around propped up on bolsters and swaddled in blankets. I found it a fascinating insight into where yoga originally came from and her storytelling was engrossing.
Fellow yogis: Kirsty’s retreats are suitable for all levels, from beginners to more experienced yogis, but who goes on which retreat depends on the retreat venue: expect a younger crowd in Ibiza, but all ages at les Passeroses.
What’s queenly: Kirsty’s an incredibly generous yoga teacher, sharing her time and experience in abundance. She’s also fun to be around – you’ll come away from her retreats feeling as if you’ve made a new friend.
What’s lowly: Kirsty’s style of yoga is mainly vinyasa, so if you’re looking for a retreat that’s gentle or very physically relaxing, it may not suit you.
Insider tip: If you’re interested in understanding more about all aspects of yoga, beyond just asana, follow Kirsty on social media, where she imparts tales of Hindu gods and goddesses and other interesting yoga factoids daily.
Reviewed by Pat McNulty
© Queen of Retreats