Simon Low yoga holidays review
Yin and yang yoga holidays in beautiful settings
The quick read: Simon Low is one of the UK’s most respected yoga teachers and the original director and co-founder of London’s Triyoga. He gave up a career in the music industry 25 years ago to follow his passion and has been teaching internationally for over two decades. Incredibly knowledgeable, with an inclusive, laidback manner, his ‘yin and yang’ style focuses on anatomical alignment and encouraging a balanced practice. Simon runs leading teacher training school The Yoga Academy and a busy calendar of workshops, trainings and holidays in the UK, Spain, Turkey, Thailand and around the globe.
Simon Low’s yoga teaching: Having initially trained with Larry Payne in LA, California, Simon Low has studied a huge variety of yoga styles and spiritual practices, which he incorporates into his own ‘Yin and Yang’ Yoga. His influences range from Erich Schiffmann to TKV Desikachar, from Donna Farhi to Sarah Powers, and his interest in chi kung, Chinese medicine and neuroscience is also reflected in his teaching.
Classes typically last between two and three hours, focusing on either yang or yin. Yang is the more dynamic flowing style, using circular and spiral movement patterns to cultivate strength and flexibility. Yin is more passive and restorative, with long held postures working on connective tissue and the subtle anatomy.
Simon teaches in an engaging, warm way, and classes are fun as well as focused, with great attention paid to developing a safe asana practice. Everything from anatomical details to pranayama and ancient philosophy is cleverly woven into classes, so you learn something new every day without even realising it. Clear instructions mean beginners won’t feel lost either.
Lots of props are used for the yin classes to ensure proper support for the body to fully relax, while opening chants and singing bowls might also feature in class. Overall Simon aims to encourage a mindful, nourishing approach to yoga in its broadest sense and offers much, much more than a simple physical practice.
Simon Low’s yoga holidays: Simon’s holidays are a mix of serious yoga that will deepen your practice on all levels, with lots of free time to relax and have fun.
His carefully chosen venues all have something special about them, and are in rural, off-the-beaten track destinations. In the UK weekend retreats are held in Commonwork, a beautiful and ethical location in Kent. In Spain the venue is Santillán, a charming boutique hotel in the hills east of Malaga (with one of the most amazing shala you’ll ever see in Europe!). In Turkey holidays are held at two sister venues: Huzur Vadisi, where you stay in yurts, a few miles inland from Gocek Bay, and Suleyman’s Garden, right on the Med in Fethiye.
On Simon Low’s yoga holidays, mornings begin in silence before the 2-3 hour long yang session, with free time to relax on-site, have a massage, or perhaps explore locally until the evening 2 hour yin class. There’s usually one day off after the morning class – a sailing trip might be organised, or excursions to the beach or nearby towns, depending on location.
Food is another important feature on his holidays – there’s plenty from a light pre-yoga breakfast, to a big brunch and generous evening meals. It’s always fresh, local, mostly vegetarian and delicious (though at Santillán in Malaga the menu was still being refined when we visited). If you want alcohol, it is available – these are holidays rather than strict retreats.
How was it for us: I discovered Simon’s teaching on a yoga holiday in Turkey many years ago and enjoyed it so much that I eventually went on to do his intensive, month-long 200-hour yoga teacher training in Thailand – an incredible learning experience. My latest yoga holiday with him was at his new partnership venue, Santillán in Spain. After a busy work trip in Malaga, I arrived feeling slightly frazzled and frantic, but from the very first class I began to unwind physically and mentally.
I loved the precise, flowing pace of the morning yang classes, which I still found challenging at times, despite being a regular practitioner. Though classes are long, time passes quickly, and they’re never boring. Simon has a calm but authoritative presence and manages to impart lots of information about the anatomy and wider yogic teachings throughout class. Adjustments are always a revelation, from both Simon and his teaching partner Eija Tervonen.
As the heat of the day began to subside it was amazing to practice yin and allow the body to melt into the long-held restorative postures. At Santillán this is when the shala’s customised yoga wall from The Great Yoga Wall Europe came into play – I loved hanging upside down in child’s pose!
After each class I felt a bit more relaxed and stronger and found I was sleeping more soundly, too. Classes are cleverly put together to progress throughout the week, balancing the more strenuous with the deeply relaxing, so you leave feeling restored and uplifted. As a fellow holidaymaker said: “Simon is like a maestro – we arrive like off-key instruments, he listens to the notes and gradually unravels us until we’re back in tune again.”
Fellow yogis: Simon’s holidays suit all ages and experience levels. The majority of attendees tend to be female (as with most yoga holidays!), but those travelling solo, with friends and couples would equally enjoy it.
What’s lowly: Though Simon’s style is perfect for those who enjoy challenging but slower dynamic or restorative practices, it might not suit dedicated Bikram or dynamic Ashtanga fans.
Insider tip: If you haven’t been to a class before, check out Simon’s teaching style on his DVD and Yin Yoga app for the iPhone before you travel to become familiar with some of the sequences.
Value for money: A week at Santillán in Spain costs £985 for those sharing (add £350 for a single supplement). This includes all tuition, accommodation and food and is good value for the quality and amount of yoga time you get. Holidays in Turkey cost from £895.
Reviewed by Jane Dunford
© Queen of Retreats