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Jean Hall review
Fab yoga holidays with a gifted teacher

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Retreat

In Short:

 ‘Jean has the knack of making you feel totally safe and physically challenged at the same time’

The Quick Read: With her background in dance and intensive training in Iyengar yoga, London-based Jean Hall is able to fuse flowing, dynamic classes with precise instruction about alignment. Unpretentious, down to earth and easy to get along with, she teaches in London, and runs holidays and weekends throughout the year in places as varied as Kent, Sussex, Ibiza, Portugal and Mexico – often with her friend and colleague, the equally talented yoga teacher Liz Lark.

Jean’s yoga holidays: Jean strikes a balance between retreat and holiday – the focus is on relaxation, both in and out of class, but there’s a strong physical practice to underpin it all. She has the knack of making both beginners and advanced practitioners feel as if the class has been specifically tailored to their needs, and has many repeat guests. Food is always healthy. Her venues, while varied, are chosen specially for their atmosphere and beauty, in settings that are conducive to deep relaxation and contemplation.

Every summer, for example, Jean and her friend and fellow yogi Liz Lark hold a ten-day retreat in the northern hills of Ibiza – a part of the party island that has certainly never seen a nightclub – at a glorious retreat called Shunya. The vegetarian (often vegan) food is amazing, with most ingredients grown on the premises; the chlorine-free infinity pool soothes the eyes as well as the skin; everything is congenial and conducive to good yoga.

More on the yoga: On Jean’s holidays there are morning and afternoon classes, both lasting between two and two and a half hours. They involve quite a strong physical practice, but are paced beautifully so that there is time to unwind and recover, and she incorporates pranayama, meditation, restorative postures and sometimes yoga nidra into her sessions to counterbalance the physicality. Props are often available to help deepen the practice, and for the more restorative asanas. On Jean’s joint holidays with Liz Lark, there tend to be three classes a day, and a choice of either beginners or advanced classes running simultaneously.

Our experience: Sasha Bates has taken two yoga holidays with Jean – a week in Portugal, where Jean taught alone, and a weekend in Kent, which Jean and Liz Lark ran together. Here’s what she found:

‘I love Jean’s yoga holidays. I come home feeling like some real transformations have taken place, and that I am physically stronger and calmer. Her classes are a fusion of styles woven together using the breath, and she creates a fluid meditation of asana-in-motion. Her dance background shines through in her lovely flowing routines, which effortlessly meld from one thing to the next and ensure a class is never boring.

I found Jean’s yoga physically challenging but do-able, thanks to her meditative pacing, her clear instruction and her confident belief that I could push myself further. With her help I could deepen familiar postures and dare to try new ones, almost without realizing how much further I was going, such was the gentleness of her approach. She manages to transmit her belief in your abilities in such a way that you feel totally safe at all times, but ultimately very proud of yourself and all that you can achieve.

Jean is on the faculty of Triyoga’s teacher training programme and is extremely knowledgeable and skilled in her teaching, yet she translates her vast knowledge into simple, precise and easy to follow instructions so no one feels left behind.’

Jean’s training: Jean has been practicing for over 25 years and trained as an Iyengar teacher 18 years ago. Since then she has studied many other forms of yoga with teachers such as Pattabhi Jois, as well as the more unconventional teaching of Gill Clarke and Paddy McGrath.

Jean’s yoga classes: Jean teaches classes and workshops in London at Triyoga Primrose Hill, and at the Telegraph Hill Centre in New Cross.

 What’s queenly: If your practice has become a bit jaded, Jean will reinvigorate your enthusiasm and help you realise just how much you are capable of.

What’s lowly: There is no pressure on anyone to do anything they don’t want to do on one of Jean’s yoga holidays, but if you are hoping for a chance to lie around and do very little during the actual class then you may find this a bit of a challenge.

Reviewed by Sasha Bates

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