The idea originated in Berlin (Germany) in 2010, when Kim set-up a yoga collective in an economically deprived neighbourhood of the city offering classes on a donation-basis. The experiment worked well and expanded to a second location in 2013, proving that collective organization and non-profit motives can be economically successful and of high quality.
Some of the teachers, part of the collective, are now involved in Healing in the Willows, whilst others are some of the best teachers Kim met while traveling around the world. The common denominator bringing the teachers together is the authenticity of their practice and the embracing of ‘Yog’ as a way of life.
The name ‘Healing in the Willows’ was inspired by Kenneth Graham’s children’s classic fairy-tale “The Wind in the Willows“, as the first retreats took place at Hardwick House (Oxfordshire, UK) where Kim was living under the patronage of the Rose Family and which had inspired Graham for many of the locations and characters in the book, such as ‘Toad Hall’ (Hardwick House) and ‘Mr Toad’ (Sir Charles Day Rose).
The Willow is also a powerful symbol of healing and purification in Eastern traditions as its roots naturally detoxify the soil – the Boddhisatva Kuan Yin, for instance, holds a willow branch in her hand to heal the World’s weeping souls. Moreover, trees in general have become a symbol of the ecological crisis we face today and the connection we have lost with Mother Nature.
In line with the teachings of Yoga, Healing in the Willows aims to offer retreats with a social and environmental conscience. As such, we source all of the materials and services required for the retreats as locally as possible, with the utmost respect for the environment and the local community.
All products used during the retreats are organic and eco-friendly (including the pure-rubber yoga mats provided) and all our meals are vegan and free from palm-oil.
Why Vegan? Because we share the growing understanding that, in an uncontrollable global system of food production, Veganism best embodies the contemporary meaning of Ahimsa [‘non-violence’] – the very first observance of the path to Yoga.
Moreover, by sourcing as many goods and services locally, we support local business, including neighbouring family-owned organic farms (where we buy all the fresh produce used for the retreats’ meals), local organic shops (for most of its dry food and bread), and locals for picking-up our guests from the local train station.
Committed also to making Yoga available to the widest possible demographic we have a wide price-range and offer a number of bursaries to enable those in need of some financial support to also partake in the retreats.
An Italian-English activist and yoga practitioner for more than 15 years, Kim has lived in Amsterdam, London, Rome, Berlin, New York and Brussels, coordinating international campaigns for the largest environmental and humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including Greenpeace, WWF, Friends of the Earth, and ActionAid.
Graduated in Environmental Sciences with European Studies and with a Master in Economics of Innovation, Kim is the author of a book on development economics and has contributed to numerous books and scientific journals on environmental issues.
Kim has collaborated with the American ecologist pioneer of the Deep Ecology movement, Joanna Macy and since 2013 he has been holding Deep Ecology seminars in Italy and abroad.
In parallel, between 2011 and 2014 Kim founded two Yoga collectives in Berlin in disadvantaged neighborhoods of the city and, since 2013, organizes yoga retreats of international scope, in Germany, Great Britain, Bulgaria, Sweden, and now also in Italy together with his Indian teacher, Boonath (www.workingwiththeshadow.com).
In his yoga practice Kim integrates a holistic-activist approach aimed at awakening individual and collective consciousness by stimulating the ecological-political awareness of people. His Yoga teaching refers to the shamanic / tantric tradition of India that celebrates and reveres the human/ non-human relationship.
Since 2018 Kim collaborates with the shelter of Orciatico (Pisa) and is an active member of the local Animal Rights & Welfare group, GAVOL (in Volterra, Tuscany), dealing mainly with stray and mistreated animals.
Also in 2018 Kim begun a three-year course in Naturopathy for Animals and in 2019 he started studying Animal Communication under the guidance of Pea Horsley, an international expert, with whom Kim will organize a training course in Querceto (Tuscany) in July 2020.
Kim currently lives in Querceto, a medieval hamlet of 35 people nested on the northern border of Monte Rufoli, Tuscany’s largest nature pack.
Kim teaches in English, Italian and French and her courses are open to anyone interested in a path of change and reconnection to Nature.