Partner Feature: Om Retreats

Om Retreats is Brighton’s unique, non-profit yoga retreat company. It was set up in 2016 by two friends and yoga teachers, Hannah Lee Weller and Charlie Griffin. They had the vision of offering inspiring and nourishing yoga retreats for paying customers, and using the profits to bring free-of-charge yoga to charity partners and vulnerable groups. Now, two years on and lots of retreats later, things have flourished beyond their expectations!

Om Retreats founder Hannah Lee Weller has recently joined the board of trustees at Brighton Yoga Foundation. It seemed the perfect fit to partner together, based on the shared purpose of both organisations to bring yoga to the wider community, and particularly to those least able to access it. Hannah will be helping and guiding on many aspects of the BYF’s work, with particular focus on the community and outreach work.

More about Om Retreats

Om Retreats hold their weekend and day retreats in a variety of beautiful locations around the South East, from converted barns, to Georgian houses and incredible yurts. They choose their locations to give clients a breath of fresh air from the city, and time and space to really connect with nature. The yoga programmes on offer are always varied and full, with the opportunity to explore Vinyasa, Hatha, Restorative and Yin yoga, along with meditation and breath work. Their ethos is warm and encouraging, so yogis of all abilities are made to feel welcome. There is plenty of advice available for beginners, and additional challenge available for the more experienced students.

Om Retreats work with a variety of groups including people affected by cancer, domestic violence and sexual abuse, to offer them yoga classes, workshops and retreats free of charge. Charities they work alongside include Macmillan, Rise and Survivors Network, as well as schools and refugee organisations. To date Om Retreats have taken groups from these charities to various locations in the countryside for day and weekend retreats, as well as going into their venues to deliver classes and workshops.

Festival Feature: About Balance

About Balance is a low-cost, fair trade, well-being centre, that aims to make the wellness industry affordable and accessible for all.

It all began when Effie Love (the founder) was working as an acupuncturist in Brighton, she quickly realised that the cost of her treatments were not easily affordable and accessible to everyone. Knowing this, she was driven to create a space that offered treatments, yoga and well-being services for all, as well as making sure teachers and therapists could make a living! Part of About Balance’s success has come down to their unique ‘Karma Card’ initiative, which works as a clever membership scheme, giving you a hefty discount off classes and therapies, and unlike a gym membership, you don’t have to be locked into a contract, with a choice to pay month by month if desired.

We spoke briefly with Effie ahead of the upcoming Yoga Festival…

How did you hear about Brighton Yoga Festival?

About Balance and Brighton Yoga Festival are actually exactly the same age! We were one of the original organisers of the festival,  setting up About Balance alongside getting the festival going! We had a stand at the festival even before we were open, so we feel a strong connection to it! About Balance has come along way since then, 4 years down the line we have a bigger venue, a shop that support local producers and 2 floatation tanks. We feel very blessed!

How you will be involved in the Festival this year?

We will be sponsoring one of the main areas, as well as giving away 20 yearly Karma cards to big donators (sharing the love and all that!). We will also be teaching 3 yoga classes, have a retail stall and I’ll will be giving a talk about ‘The value of yoga and accessibility’ with the ‘Joyful Web’.

Why is it important for everyone to experience yoga?
Yoga is like coming home. Yoga is the place where you are fully awake and fully absorbed. You learn this through the asana practice, but if you are lucky, you will take the tools that you learned there and take them off the Mat. The reason Patanjali gave Asana such an important part in the 8 limbs is because what you can learn on the mat by following your breath and movement, you can take to your life off the mat to get closer samadhi- full absorption. Like Jim Terran (of Vajrasati yoga) once put it so beautifully- it’s like when you are smelling a rose, and the scent is so beautiful, you are fully absorbed, there’s nothing else in the universe bar you and that rose in that moment. This is yoga for me.  Oh yes and it makes you flexible and beach body ready! 😀
About Balance is based at 20-22 Gloucester Pl, Brighton BN1 4AA 

Find out more and check out their daily schedule here:


Festival Feature – Chant Malas

Helen Forester –  Founder and Creatrix

Helen is a mum of two small humans and began creating mala beads in 2014, around the birth of her first child, when she become more immersed in her own japa meditation (meditation using a mantra and a set of mala beads to keep count) practice as she prepared for her first birthing experience. Helen lives her life by the moon and is inspired by the goddesses of the world. Both of these things heavily influence her work and craft. Helen is passionate about honouring the roots of mala beads and, for her, the mantra and the mala are inseparable.

Helen is a passionate advocate of working with charities and businesses run by women, supporting women in India and the UK, and is currently working with Ashadeep, a mental health NGO in India supporting women with mental health challenges and learning difficulties.

All of the mala bags that Helen uses to house her designs are created from field to final product by the women living at the women and she is very excited to be introducing a range of meditation cushions made by the women later this year. All products purchased are not-for-proift, ensuring that the women are fully reimbursed for their time and energies.

This year, Helen is sponsoring the retail zone at the Festival, and thrilled to be supporting the Foundation’s community work, as this is something that runs very close to her heart. Be sure to pop by Helen’s stall at the festival or come to one of her talks and guided meditations and say hello!

Helen will discuss why 108 is an important number in yoga and do a guided visualisation using mantra. She will also be running two yoga classes full of stories and laughter for children and also run a yoga for Teens class.



Festival Feature: Space Yoga Studio

Space Yoga Studio is the new, premier place to practise yoga in Brighton & Hove. Recently opened in the heart of St. Augustine’s Centre, a stunning renovated church dedicated to wellbeing and the arts, the studio is a nurturing and sacred space where you can connect with yourself through an ecceltic range of yoga and meditation classes amongst like-minded people.

Set in immaculate, contemporary surroundings, and perfectly located on the edge of Brighton city centre next to Preston Park, the team have gathered the finest teachers with a full schedule of classes running throughout the week. As passionate yoga teachers themselves, they have artfully created what feels like the perfect yoga studio, with the support of local yogis.

Space Yoga Studio welcome you to come find yourself on the mat…

Over the weekend,  Space and Ashiyana Yoga Retreat will together be hosting a wide range of classes in the gorgeous Pavilion room, overlooking the cricket pitch. Practise, stay for chat, and experience the energy of the new studio everyone is talking about. 

Just Launched: Mat Rental Service

Brighton Yoga Foundation has teamed up with Yogamatters to set up a unique service to provide yoga mats for classes, community venues, independent yoga teachers and studios. Are you a yoga teacher running a workshop? A studio with a yoga mat shortfall? ….we can help!

Thanks to a generous donation of mats from Yogamatters, the Foundation is able to provide mats at very low cost (just enough to cover storage and cleaning costs).

We can arrange for you to borrow, collect and bring back the number of yoga mats you need for a small charge.

If you are running a class being offered to people for free, the mat hire service is also free (except for a deposit). For paid yoga classes and events, the mats are offered at £1 per mat plus a deposit.

The full terms and conditions of the service can be found – BYF Mat Service Terms & Conditions

To arrange mat hire, contact us:

Yoga With Homeless Young People

News from one of our head festival organisers Cat Duval and her work with homeless young people, showing how Yoga can lead to self-empowerment, self-acceptance, and a better life….

Originally Posted by Cat Duval on 12th November, 2015

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“The long awaited day was today. Starting to run a yoga course working with homeless young people in Brighton, bringing yoga into their drop in centre the Clocktower Sanctuary.  The task of breaking down yoga into bite size manageable chunks and distilling thousands of years of wisdom, philosophy and practice into an accessible course that not only engages but inspires young people experiencing homelessness to believe in its relevance, prioritise it to come each week and with any luck integrate it into their day to day life.  No pressure then!

My aim with this course is to offer the opportunity to look at key principles of self acceptance and self empowerment through yogic philosophy and practice.  To offer straight forward tools and a key set of principles that these young people can apply to their own challenges and life situations, both on and off the mat.  A way to bring focus to the physical when the mental chatter is relentless, a way to calm the body when heat builds, to cool with the breath, to regain control and awareness and move forward from a place of balance in mind and body.

Read more Yoga With Homeless Young People

At BYF 2015: About Balance

About Balanceabout balance acro photo

About Balance can be found on East Street, (just above V-Bites Café) and the studio & therapy rooms are ‘just a stone’s throw away’ from the sea. Co-owners Effie Love and Hannah McGuffog opened About Balance in September 2014, and the center has ever since been home to what appears to be the most diverse variety of  Yoga classes across Brighton and Hove.

acupuncture photoProviding an eclectic and wide range of therapies such as Acupuncture, Reiki, Energy Healing, Constellation Mapping, Pranassage, Reflexology and lots more, the space offers complete wellbeing, with something for everyone.

About Balance pride themselves on being a low-cost, fair-trade well-being centre. They believe in making well-being and yoga affordable to all, while making sure all of the teachers and therapists are well-paid. ‘Karma Cards’about balance dancer photo are available to purchase, which enables vastly reduced rates on classes and therapies for just £15 per month. The Karma Card will also get you 10% off in V-Bites (situated just below the studio and therapy rooms), The Marwood Cafe, Seed N Sprout and The Spice Shop (to name but just a few). About Balance also collaborate with Hisbe, thus creating a real sense of community by linking all of these different shops, studios and cafes together so everyone can afford to support the local retailers.

(Check the website for their current special offer of £30 for 3 months!)

About Balance bring two classes to the festival this year, each lead by one of the studio co-owners.

For those who find themselves stuck at a desk all day, Effie Love offers ‘Yoga For Office Workers, and has this to say about her class;

“The human body was not designed for sitting down on chairs. Unfortunately, the reality is that most of us, spend more and more time staring at computers sitting on our glorious bums. . This brings back and neck ache, as well as others discomforts and injuries to the body.

In this class we will learn a simple sequence that we can do every day to help open the rib-cage, stretch our backs and improve circulation”. 

About Effie Love:

EFFIE BYF PHOTOAbout Balance co-owner Effie is an acupuncturist (BSc (hons), LicAc, MBAcC), a massage therapist and a dedicated yoga teacher. She is also one of the BYF organisers.

Effie works in Google and have a very good understanding of the human body and how to make it better and as a resolute make YOU happier.

The second class from About Balance is lead by Hannah McGuffog; a Hatha-Vinyasa class suitable for all levels. Hatha Vinyasa is a gentle flow with some ‘vinyasas’ added to keep the energy moving. The mixed-ability class has lots of options offered for the asanas, so each student can get the most out of the class.

About Hannah McGuffog:

Hannah McGuffog PhotoAbout Balance co-owner Hannah’s style of teaching is very down to earth, classes are always spiked with humour and the general idea is to challenge you and make you go home feeling better about yourself.

Stop by the About Balance Stall on the day of the festival for more information about classes, therapies and workshops, and amazing offers on their Karma cards!

Click here to visit the About Balance Website.

Check back very soon for specific class times; scheduling is currently in process and we are very nearly ready to announce the Brighton Yoga Festival programme!

Introducing…. AcroYoga

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If you’re looking to deepen your practice, have fun, work with a community of other life-loving yoga practitioners, and of course develop greater core stability, strength and balance, than AcroYoga might be just what you’re looking for….

‘Acroyoga is a beautiful practice that combines the dynamic wisdom of acrobatics, the awareness, breath and balance of yoga and the healing, loving nature of Thai massage. Working with one or more partners these three disciplines are fused into spectacular sequences of inversions, flows and balances.

It’s a community practice, which, at it’s simplest, means that you are working with other people. In this way we can practice developing trust, connection and openness which can then be taken into the community as a whole. In AcroYoga, the smallest community is 3 people covering the 3 main roles of base, flyer and spotter.

Read more Introducing…. AcroYoga