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), the local organic shops in the towns of Cecina and Volterra (for most of its dry food and bread), and local transport companies for picking-up our guests from the local train station.
The very hamlet of Querceto is powered through renewable electricity, generated by the biomass reactor that feeds on the wine and olive-oil by-products produced by the hamlet itself.
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.