We are delighted to introduce you to yoga retreat chef Saba Rahbar. You’ll find Saba creating her delicious yoga retreat menus in Tuscany and Iceland and on our UK yoga weekends this year.
We also have some very exciting news to share: Saba will be launching her own Wholistic Cooking Weekend next year. In response to loads of requests from our guests, Saba will be sharing her kitchen secrets at our new luxury yoga retreat location in Sussex in February 2018.
We recently sat down with Saba to find out more.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you got into cooking for yoga retreats?
I was on the contraceptive pill for 8 years to help balance my hormones. It seemed to help at first but I was unaware of the side effects, one being liver disease which I found out I was suffering from.
This made me seek other forms of medicine to heal my body, and soon after I met a Maya medicine healer who was willing to help me. Under his supervision I went through a year of intense liver cleansing in order to get my physical and emotional health back on track.
Shortly after, I moved to Qatar from London and when I got there it was almost impossible to find the ingredients I was using to keep my health in check. This inspired me to make my own products and set up a catering company. I started running healthy cooking workshops, became certified in plant based nutrition, hosted women’s circles and supper clubs. Three years down the line, through a string of interesting events, I was introduced to the wonderful Jools and worked on my first yoga retreat with her in Tuscany!
Our fabulous plant based chef, Bettina Bordi, is passionate about the difference a healthy lifestyle can make to mind, body and spirit.
Her plant based journey started off as an experiment after she started to run yoga retreats where she did all the cooking and the food had to be plant based, gluten free and free of refined sugar. Bettina started to create dishes that tasted familiar, were comforting during a sensitive week and did not compromise on flavour or taste. This sparked a love affair with creativity, ingredients and ways of using them.
After experiencing her own health issues Bettina realised the impact that healthy, detoxifying food can have and what had started as an experiment at the yoga retreats became her life and the foundation of her career. You can read more about Bettina’s story here.
Bettina lives in Spain with her husband and daughter Ayla. And for Bettina, her young daughter plays a key part in the reason she does what she does.
“She is a part of the new generation that will hopefully help us all make a shift in what we eat and how we treat our bodies. For her to learn the importance of food, where it comes from and how to prepare it, is my biggest wish.”
With our founder’s background in international development it has always been an important part of our work to support local economies. When we work abroad we seek out locally owned venues and we work alongside local teams, skill sharing and learning from each other in a culturally sensitive and engaging way.
There is no “them and us” – we are all one team. Sometimes when we work in a new location, our local teams think we are a bit odd, especially if they haven’t encountered yoga before. So we take the time to involve them in what we do, hoping they will understand why we spend hours making strange shapes in a room and eating food that is sometimes quite different to what they eat!
We absolutely love getting to know our local teams: How they work, what makes them tick, how they deal with challenges and what makes them laugh.
There is so much to learn from everyone, and we experience great joy in sharing our yoga retreat journeys.
Some memorable moments from 2016 yoga retreats: Herding yaks on horseback with local herders crying with laughter at how rubbish we were, (secretly) watching a proud and stern camp manager be moved to tears during kirtan, local kitchen crew proudly posting photos on social media of new dishes they have created and styled, a local massage therapist beaming with pride having her brilliant feedback translated, endless banter with Italian and Indian taxi drivers, having long weather chats with Icelanders in hot pools…
Our other sustainability policies relate to purchasing and waste. We purchase our food from local suppliers and avoid supermarkets wherever we can. Our chefs create menus where they can recycle leftovers into the next day’s meals if needed. We choose locations where we can use water from a spring (UK), a well (Mongolia) or use clean tap water (Italy and Iceland) and strongly discourage the purchase of plastic water bottles.
Below are some images of our brilliant Mongolian team 🙂
Here is the very gorgeous Faye Riches, our India yoga retreat teacher. Faye is possibly one the kindest people we have ever met, she seems have an endless supply of compassion. She is also a strong and powerful teacher (see the middle image below!) taking her students through their paces in her dynamic vinyasa flow yoga classes. It is quite a potent combination.
“My classes are a tapestry of strength, grace, empowerment and clarity woven together with eclectic playlists.”
Faye is a yoga pioneer in her home town of Colchester. Over the past 10 years she has worked hard and built a vibrant yoga community. This year she is taking it to the next level and has recently launched Our Yoga Tribe, where she leads a team of talented teachers who work together to offer yoga classes, workshops and events with a focus on healthy wellbeing and mindfulness.
Adam Husler joined our team this year and we can’t wait to work with him.
Adam has a big love of anatomy, which has led him to specialise in Alignment Based Vinyasa Yoga. He has studied at an advanced level under Jason Crandell and intensively under Budokon Yoga Founder Cameron Shayne and renowned meditation teacher Michael Stone.
“My classes are creatively sequenced featuring long holds, controlled yet dynamic movements, intelligent alignment and deep exploration of depth in postures. They’re also dogma free! Anatomy is my passion, not pretty shapes.”
For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure, we’d like to introduce you to Jivamukti yoga teacher Emma Henry. You might recognise her from our home page!
Emma has been working with us for the past 3 years. She shares our love of working in wild and wonderful places and together we have created our wilderness yoga retreats in Iceland, Mongolia and Norway. The combination of Jivamukti yoga and these locations is pretty powerful.
“I love the journey and process that we all go through on Reclaim Your Self yoga retreats. It is a blessing to be able to take people on such transformative trips.“