New Season’s Launch Winter/ Spring 2018- Aurora!

aurora cover


The new season starts on Monday 19th February 2018, and this is a great chance to get to get an in-depth understanding of what we are doing, whether it’s your first time to yoga or with me, and also if you’ve been coming a while but want to make sure you get the most out of every session in the 6 week block.

I am excited to announce the new season’s theme….

AURORA….Coming out of the darkness…


“It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life… and I’m feeling good!”


Join me in celebrating the launch of the new season of yoga, a time when we leave behind the darkness of winter and approach a more lighter and brighter phase.


Aurora is the dawn, an awakening after a long period of hibernation, with the lighter of Spring days ahead, and the body sheds it’s winter heaviness and starts to come alive again.


This season’s theme helps us transition from Winter to Spring with a focus on mental health, becoming more powerful and resilient, as we unlock long-held patterns of stress and tension, and bring about more freedom of movement and expression, so we can unleash our true potential and move forward with a sense of lightness, energy and enthusiasm for life.


Drawing on inspirations from Japanese culture, primal movement and martial arts, with a soundtrack from “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, and “Memoirs of a Geisha”, this is a mindful, grounding, stress-relieving practise, combining aspects from both science and spirituality.



This 2 ½ hour workshop will introduce you to the inspiration, concepts and techniques behind this season’s theme, and will give you more of an in-depth understanding of how to get the best out of your yoga classes, as well as integrate the concepts into your everyday life so you can get the very best out of this time of year in terms of your health and wellbeing.


Held at the light and spacious studio at Ocean Physio near Woodbury, with plenty of parking, mats and props, there will be time for refreshments afterwards and a chance to have your questions answered and to meet other students.

Date: Saturday 17th February 2018

Time: 10am – 12.30pm

Venue: The Studio, Ocean Physio, Woodbury Business Park, Exmouth Road, Woodbury, EX5 1AY

Cost: £25 per head (free to Premium Members or 50% off for Basic and Regular Members)

To book follow this link or for details of Membership email me


Le Wild Retreat en France!


prana at le wild retreat

I am so excited and delighted to be returning to my favourite yoga deck in the heart of rural France, the inspiration for much of my writing on being close to nature as well as my Wild Yoga classes.

Staying at a magical retreat centre hidden in a valley of interlocking spurs in the forests of Aveyron, in the south of France, we will enjoy an entirely secluded eco-run hamlet, and our own expanse of wild tranquility.

Join me and other like-minded balance-seekers for a week of nourishing food, yoga and fun in this stunning setting in nature. My aim is to have you feeling energised, refreshed and full of good memories.

Retreat package is just £495 for all food, accommodation, yoga, meditation and walks. Flights are around £89 return to Toulouse at time of writing, and I will arrange transfers to and from the retreat. Take a look at what to expect



The theme will be “wild” of course – the concept being that the closer to nature you are, the healthier you are. The yoga will have a “primal” flavour, based on the principles of Natural Movement and will be a blend of energising morning classes, and restorative evening sessions with meditation, and of course as many wild venues we can find to do our vogue warriors!

The yoga deck is one of the most stunning I have experienced, with amazing views where all you can see is green – so much prana, this is what forest bathing is all about.

With two yoga teachers for the week, myself Gillie Sutherland and the fabulous Chrissie Tarbitt, both of us keen foodies as well as coaches, you won’t be short of support or encouragement either.

There is also a hot tub in the wild to enjoy one evening as well!


An additional element will be that we will be learning and journeying through the chakras, not just in terms of the yoga, but also with our food. Inspiration from The Chakra Kitchen!

We will be clean eating, and although not an entirely vegetarian retreat, vegans and those with special dietary requirements will be catered for.

Part of the fun of the retreat is shopping locally, at the markets, and from the local Artisans who live a walk away. You can get involved as much as you like, picking what you’d like, and helping create nutritious and delicious foods with us. September is also a great time for foraging, there’s lots of fruit to be picked and possibly mushrooms.

There is also a wood fired pizza oven and a Bar be Cue so they will be special evenings we will have together, and we will go out into the nearby town one evening to sample some of the local cuisine as well.


One of the great things about this retreat is how accessible

Arrive: Monday 17th September 2018

Depart: Friday 21st September 2018

I have looked at flights from Bristol to Toulouse and at the moment for those dates it is £80 return with Easyjet

Dep Bristol Mon 17th Sept Arrive Toulouse 13.25

Dep Toulouse Friday 21st Sept Arrive Bristol 14.45

There may be connecting flights from other local airports in the UK, and also some very cheap options from London Gatwick, City, Heathrow or Luton. Hopefully you can find an option that suits.

You will be picked up at Toulouse airport and there is a 90 minute transfer by minibus to through one of the most lush and green landscapes to arrive in our peaceful eco-hamlet.



The eco-hamlet, owned by a lovely British couple Luisa and Piers, has been tastefully restored into French-style gites, and offers some beautifully decorated rooms and spacious, luxury bathrooms for the perfect blend of style and comfort.

Like a home from home, we have lots of comfortable living spaces, including a large dining room, and plenty of outdoor areas for soaking up the sun, although the pool is something really special too for lounging and relaxing.

The accommodation will be for 4 nights and all food will be included in the cost, except for the one evening when we dine out.

All are shared rooms , with the choice of a double bed for couples or twins for singles. Don’t worry about coming on your own though as many people do, and it’s a great way to really escape and be yourself for the week!

You can see more examples of the accommodation here, as well as more reasons why this is my favourite venue so far!

The cost of the retreat is £495 which includes accommodation, food, walks, trips and 2 yoga / meditation sessions a day.

For the more wild, adventurous amongst you there is also the option of camping at the reduced cost of £395 per person. This is a beautifully set up , spacious Bell Tent in your own completely private forest glade with outdoor wood-fired bath tub, solar shower and forest composting toilet.

You can reserve your place with a £100 deposit and the balance is due by August 1st 2018.

  • NB Book and pay in full and pay just £450 0r £350 for the camping option.


I will arrange your pick up from Toulouse airport once I have your flight details

Throughout the week we will have a minibus to transport us around for the week so that we can go and explore the area and take trips into town as people wish.


You can see details of the venue here. It really is a special place, and in one of my favourite areas of France. I travelled here two years ago and is a must for nature and food lovers!



£495 per person for 6 nights food, accommodation, yoga, walks, transfers and some activities.

Guests arrange their own flights. At time of writing this is around £80 return from Bristol (other local airports available) and if travelling from Exeter, there will be others to share transport costs with or take the Falcon bus from Exeter to the airport for £13 each way.

There are just 8 spaces on this retreat, plus two yoga teachers and a driver, so it will be a nice intimate group (all fabulous I am sure!) with plenty of laughter and fun that I can guarantee!

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to ask.

Email me on to book.


SUP SAIL YOGA – A Croatian Adventure Retreat


Come Sail With Us!

Enjoy the adventure of a lifetime in Mother Nature’s abundant playground!

Living on aboard a magnificent 51ft yacht, you will be part of a crew of 8 like-minded souls, exploring the beautiful Croatian islands, stopping off for some paddleboarding, yoga and meditation in some of the most beautiful spots that nature has to offer.

The Crew

Under the guidance of Captain Nathan Williams, a fun-loving Master Mariner and owner of GoXperience, you will be learning the ropes, and experiencing first-hand what it’s like to live onboard, put all hands on deck and muck in to make some nutritious meals to enjoy on deck whilst watching the sunset.



With many years working at Sea you can rest assured your safety and enjoyment are at the forefront of his thoughts.

Nathan is joined by Yoga Teacher and Wellness Expert Gillie Sutherland, who as well as land-based yoga, also teaches Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga. Gillie will be taking you out of the boards, so you can not only master paddle-boarding, but also learn to do yoga on the board, which is the ultimate blend of fun and relaxation, an experience not to be missed.



There will also be sessions on the beaches, combining yoga, mindfulness and meditation, drinking into the sea air, and enjoying all the health benefits of being out in nature. Sessions are appropriate for beginners as well as the more experienced. all levels, ages and abilities are catered for, although it helps if you love the water!

As a passionate health foodie, with a love of fresh fish and natural ingredients, Gillie will also be helping create some delicious and nutritious meals to enjoy onboard.

Part of the onboard experience is living and dining together, and the times of year we have chosen are perfect for eating out on deck, making the most of the balmy evening sunsets, re-living the day’s magic moments, and doing a bit of star-gazing (over a glass of chilled wine if you wish!).

Gillie’s ethos is that “the closer you are to nature, the healthier you are“, and this applies to exercise, food and lifestyle factors such as sleep (which is usually of great quality on a boat!.

She will be sharing some of her knowledge and expertise throughout the trip, so that some of the healthful effects you experience whilst on your holiday, you can take back with you and put into your everyday life.


With easy flights from Bristol, and only 15 minutes to the marina where you will join the yacht, this is an easy and accessible way to jump onboard a life-changing experience for either 4 days or a whole week!

We have dates allocated for these trips, however, if you have a group of 6 people who would like to come together, either as a celebration, a corporate event, or just a fun group holiday then please get in contact and we will see if we can accommodate you on those dates.


The Yacht is a Gib-Sea 51, she has 5 double cabins, each with it’s own en-suite. She is big, comfortable and great for exploring Croatia and a very capable platform for a safe and enjoyable adventure on the water.

Although the cabins are shared, this is all part of the onboard experience, and the cabins can be made into doubles or twins, depending if you’re there as a couple or a single (we will assign your sleeping arrangements appropriately so that you feel comfortable. All cabins have their own en-suite bathrooms.

The yacht is based in Marina Kastela, with Captain Nathan onboard, near the famous city of Split in Croatia. Centrally located along the amazing coast line and perfectly situated to head North or South. Croatia has 1247 Islands to explore and we can tailor your experience to suit you, and of course weather conditions.

For these trips, we use the latest and best equipment. For Paddle Boarding Yoga we use Reds 10′ 8″ inflatable boards, with amazing stability. They are perfect not only for yoga but for the beginner and expert paddler alike to use for amazing mini adventures .

Also, as part of the yacht’s equipment, we have a large tender (small boat) for getting ashore and snorkelling equipment for everyone to enjoy and use at their leisure.


Although we may need to “adjust our sails” according to the weather conditions, a typical day would involve some yoga, food, sailing to a beautiful location, getting on the paddleboards, doing more yoga and meditation, swimming, snorkelling, more food, and a good night’s sleep!

Here’s a typical itinerary though to give you an idea of what to expect:

Fly from Bristol airport ( or any other UK airport which flies into Split)

Bristol flights leave at 6.15am and get into Split at 9.50am

It is a short taxi ride to the Marina Kostela, where you will come onboard and settle in and get your tour and safety briefing.

We will sail to the island of Hvar and moor up around Staligrad, where we will get the boards out and enjoy some Sunset SUP Yoga, followed by a wind-down and meditation on the beach.

Dinner will be on the boat, settling in for the night, and enjoying an early bed ready for the following day’s adventures.

The following days on the boat will start with Sunrise Yoga, followed by a leisurely nutritious brunch onboard, before setting sail to find a quiet spot for some SUP action, snorkelling and swimming before lunch.

Most evenings we will dine onboard, and we will shop as we need it, buying fresh fish, mangoes, coconuts, fresh fruit and veg etc, although for an extra-special evening, we will dine at Nathan’s favourite fish restaurant on Hvar, which you can only get to by boat.

After a walk to the top of the island, we will enjoy a meal cooked on a big fire pit, before heading back to the boat for another good night’s sleep.

On the last day, we will take our flights in the morning back from Split, after a breakfast with our crew mates, and be home in the UK by lunchtime, feeling refreshed and revitalised.



Thursday 7th June 2018 – Sunday 10th June 2018

4 days and 3 night’s onboard the yacht

Usually £595 per person
Introductory offer: £495 per person (must be booked before end of Feb)
Early Bird: Pay in full by end of January and pay only £450


Saturday 8th September 2018 to Saturday 15th September 2018
7 nights on the boat
Dep Sat 15th Sept 10.30am
Arr Bristol 12.15pm
Cost: £1150 per person
Early Bird if booked before end Feb £995
NB Secure your place now with a £150 deposit


Accommodation on the
Sailing Instruction
Two yoga and meditation sessions per day
Minimum 3 Stand Up Paddleboard sessions, although there will be free time for you to take a board and explore on your own
Healthy living plan
Good times and good people guaranteed!


Flights  are not included, however, flights are available at time of writing from Bristol airport for between £170 and £210 return
For food, we all put in a kitty, and decide what we’d like to get as a group, and along with mooring fees, this usually adds up to no more than 50 euros for the half week or 100 euros for the full week. We’ve found it easiest to do it this way as some groups drink more wine than others!
If there is then anything particular you would like to bring or buy when you arrive, the choice is there.
NB Due to restriction of numbers, we only have 6 places for guests onboard at any time, we recommend early booking to reserve your place. The earlier you book, the cheaper the flight, so if you’ve nearly decided then get in touch as soon as possible with any final questions or just how to book, and we can get the ball rolling!

Come join the crew! We’d love to have you onboard.

For more information and for details how to book email





Don’t be so hard on yourself

soft body

It’s the first issue of the New Year, and I have to admit, I’m quite excited, as it’s usually my chance to have a good old rant as the nation embarks on their diets, detoxes and life transformations.

I love being a rebel, but it’s more than that, it’s my chance to inspire people to step away from it all, and instead enjoy a cosier and generally more enjoyable January than it would be living on juices, salads and green tea.

In the days I used to manage health clubs, it was a running joke, all the people flooding in through the gates, every day for two weeks, never to be seen again for the rest of the year.

Those sitting in the cafe bar, eating and apple and a yoghurt, counting the days until the scales told them they were attractive again.

I look back and I hope people aren’t still doing this. If you’re wanting to make a commitment to a healthier lifestyle, I think that’s great, but if you’re not going to be able to sustain it, don’t bother. You’ll only end up feeling worse when you fail.

It’s understandable and I don’t mean to be scathing of all diets (actually I do, but that’s another column), but from my experience, I know there’s another way.

You may have put on a few pounds over Christmas, who hasn’t, but we need that extra layer in the coldest month. So why not embrace it?

Accepting yourself, your new softer body, is a lot more likely to lead to you losing it again when you need to than going on a strict diet or detox.

I’m loving my new softer body today. It may be a bit unfashionable to say this, but I’ve no desire to look like a pumped-up mass of muscles and skin. My body feels stressed when it’s hard. I get an achy back and I can’t move as well.

In my classes I’ve been talking about finding the balance between strong and soft. Strength is great, but without flexibility and mobility, the body is tight, stressed and becomes like dry, hardened clay.

I prefer to be like Morph –  soft, malleable clay.

Not just in my body, but in how I approach life. When I’m doing too much, pounding the treadmill of life, I feel contracted, like I’m holding my breath. But taking time to relax, have time off, I feel myself decompress. The strange knock-on effect has been my body has responded well and my weight has stabilised over the last few years to mean I’ve never needed a diet.

You see, it’s not just about what you put into the body that matters, or what you take away, it’s about creating the right environment for it to thrive.

Strict diets, detoxes and punishing exercise regimes just put you into a stressed state. You may lose water weight in the short term, but long-term it’s counter-productive.

My advice, which is based on over 25 years of experience, would be to use January as a month to relax as much as you can, get outside whilst there is light, and keep moving, but not too fast, and don’t stress about it. Get soft, warm and cosy, eat nourishing, warming foods, get lots of cuddles, and watch the body respond.

Don’t let the world make you hard. Be soft. Be kind to yourself and your body. Don’t punish your body for over-indulgence, but love the extra layer for the warmth it brings you. It will go when it’s ready to go as long as you treat your body kindly.

Please don’t go on a punishing diet that’s going to make you miserable.

Instead love your body and it will love you right back.






It could be the fact that I am still basking in the warm after-glow of my magical trip to Copenhagen, but an odd thing has happened to me…


I’ve started embracing Christmas.


Even more so over the past few years, I have been decidedly dismissive of the whole festive season, be-moaning all the excessive spending and consuming and the pressures of expectation.


I’ve changed my mind though. Or rather I’ve changed the way I look at it. I’ve realised that Christmas doesn’t have to be this way. We can “opt-out” if we wish, and instead go back to what I believe it is about – a season of good will.


“Christmas is not a time or a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real Christmas spirit”.


For some time, I’ve been promoting my belief that we should “make kindness cool”, but in my new bible for the season, “The Little Book of Lykke”, there is a term for it.


Raktivism – the act of doing Random Acts of Kindness.


This may include helping someone in need, but with no expectation of getting back. It can be a something very small and seemingly insignificant, but it’s often the little things that make a big difference.


It often it comes back to us, in ways we didn’t expect, like some kind of karmic reward, but the main payback is how it makes us feel.


“Helper’s High” is a very real, scientifically proven phenomenon. These random acts of kindness activate the reward centre of the brain, in the same way that food or sex does. Cooperation is good for the survival of the species, so we are literally wired to feel good when we engage in it.


I love this idea, and I seem to be seeing more and more sentiments that suggest we may be getting kinder as a species, and that we want to “spread the love, not the hate”. I hope so.


It started with a car in Copenhagen, which had the following quote on the side:


“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world”. Desmond Tutu


Less than half an hour later, I observe the perfect example of this. My travelling companion, Paul, I think is a natural “ractivist”.


We’re arrived at Nyhavn, and having walked for hours that day, we decide to stop for a Glogge and sit for a while to watch the world go by. The table we choose outside because of it’s proximity to the fire and cosy blankets has yet to be cleared. There are four glass mugs with handles, and as the waiter approaches the table, Paul turns the handles round so that the waiter can more easily pick them up.


It’s a tiny thing, but for chap serving hundreds of people each day, it’s huge. He thanks Paul, saying people never usually even notice him, far less consider making his life easier for him. He is so touched my this random act of kindness, we become Mitch’s new best friend.


The kindness comes right back to us, but more significantly, we all get talking about love and how it really is at the heart of everything in life.


I’m seeing the world differently now. Christmas is about love, and I don’t even care how cheesy it sounds anymore, but it really is all around us.


My new mission is to be a Raktivist, and I think it’s going to make me very happy.

A New Approach to New Year’s nonsense

new year nonsense

A New Approach to New Year 

I suppose what’s expected of me today, being the first issue of 2017 and in the health section, is one of the following subjects:

  1. It’s a New Year, it’s Time for a New You!
  2. Detox and Go Dry for January
  3. Diet Plans to help you lose weight

I’ve never liked conforming to what’s expected of me, and although once upon a time, I would have been writing with conviction about all of these subjects, today I’m going to share with you exactly why I won’t be doing any of these things myself,  and therefore I won’t be promoting them. 

I’ll take them one by one and try to help you understand my thinking, then you can decide the approach you will take. 

  1. New Year, New You

Why do I need a new me? I want the old me back, the one aged 4 on a Space Hopper at the Silver Jubilee celebrations on Hurley Road 1977. 

I want that sense of freedom, play, vitality and joy again.  I want the old me but with what I’ve learned in 2016, and every year before that, and without the shackles of past experiences that clouded my rosy view of the world. 

I don’t feel the need for a “new” me, I want to learn to accept me as I am now, warts and all. 

We are already living in a society where the feeling of not being enough has reached epidemic proportions. I’m not buying into this stuff anymore, I want to think to myself “I’m ok”, not “I need to change myself”, in order to reach the impossibly high expectations of what we should look like and how much we should achieve in our lives. 

I think it’s ok to ask for more in life (of ourselves), but first and foremost, we need to accept ourselves as we are. Or go back to the way we were before our conditioned minds made us go mad. 

  1. Detox and Go Dry for January

Detox? In January? Surely January is depressing enough as it is without adding denial, restrictions and abstinence into the mix.

Purely from a mood perspective, it doesn’t make any sense to me, but there are physical as well as psychological reasons why it’s not the ideal time to detox.

Winter is a time to nourish our bodies, not punish them. The last thing we need is to live on salads, juices and light foods. 

We need sustenance in the form of stews and starchy vegetables (and in my opinion the odd glass or two of Malbec) to get us through the colder winter months. If you want to detox the liver, springtime is the best time for that, so wait until then.

The whole reductionist idea of detox is not one I really subscribe to at all. It’s much more effective to positively state your intentions. Think about what you’re going to do more of, not what you’re going to take away. You’re only going to make the naughty thing even more desirable. 

Simply being more “mindful” in your decisions is a better idea. Think more in terms of “what is going to best nourish my body right now?”.

  1. Diet Plans to Lose Weight 

So this one is my real bugbear, so I thought I’d save it until last in case my rant spiralled out of control, and you didn’t get to read the other two. 

With my background in fitness and nutrition, and having run weight loss camps for years, I constantly get asked about how effective certain programmes are in helping people trim down.

Conversations generally go like this..

Them: “So what do you think about Juice Fasts?”

Me: “Fine, as long as you’re happy to live on juice for the rest of your life, otherwise it’s not sustainable”. 

Them: “What about Slimming World? Their plans are really good now”

Me: “Yes they are good for keeping people on the plans, but for me anyone that tells me a Hi-Fi bar is a better nutritional choice than an avocado (and is selling said bars) is not someone I’m going to be taking advice from. But that’s just me.”.

The 5:2 Diet

Them: “So I have a friend who’s been on this since last year and she looks great!”

Me: “And what’s she like to be around on the two fast days?”

End of conversation 


Them: “My personal trainer tells me that I should replace two meals a day with Herbalife shakes and I’ll be in great shape. What do you think? “

Me: “How long have we got?” (Rolling eyes) 

Lean In 15:

Them: “What about Joe Wicks?”

Me: “Oh yes, he’s cute….”

Them: “I meant what is his plan like?”.

Me: “Ah ok, actually he’s pretty good, and his recipes are accessible and sensible. But he’s not the answer, unless you manage to persuade him to come and live with you”. 

So what is the answer?

Well that’s simple. It’s you. 

There is no magic pill, no one size fits all solution, no plan that is outside of you. 

You are the plan. You know instinctively what your body needs to nourish it and how much it needs. Learn your own body, not a product or plan. Get to know what makes you feel good, what leaves you craving more an hour later and decide what’s going to be best for you. 

I’d guess in most cases we know what’s caused the weight gain in the first place, so we know how to fix it. We need to stop doing the things that make us feel rubbish or put on weight. We need to start thinking how we can best nourish ourselves, taking into consideration all the individual factors that will affect how and when we can eat. Only we can do that and we need to make that decision for ourselves. 

Or as my hairdresser would say: “Own it baby!”. 

My advice would be that if you need help and support, get it from a professional (not one that sells fake-food products) or read up online or in books and then experiment on yourself. Approach it like the old you, a curious child learning and discovering for the first time how your body works. 

When you find the answer you have a plan you can stick to, and eventually you won’t need a plan, it’ll just be a part of you, as it always was when you were a child, free from diets, plans, goals and yearly transformations. 

Wouldn’t it be nice to be free again? 


new year new me

Love, Light and Lykke

love light and lykke

Love, Light and Lykke


I don’t even know where to start describing what just happened last week.


If you’ve been reading the last couple of weeks, you will know my latest fascination has been the subject of “lykke”, and the work of Meik Wilding at the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen.


Then on Friday of last week, without having lifted a finger, I find myself there. In Copenhagen. At the Happiness Research Institute. Meeting Meik.


I can hardly believe it now, as I write the words, that this actually happened. An act of kindness has left me humbled and quite emotional.


How do I repay this huge gift I have received, I ask myself. The answer came in the words I wrote last week – I live, I learn and I pass it on. I pay it forward. I can share with you this week my insights from my time there, and know that if it makes just a difference to one person, it’s been worthwhile.


The first thing that strikes me about Copenhagen is how, even as a big city, there is no sense of stress, or hurry or urgency. In contrast to London, people are going about their business at a normal pace, as if they’ve got enough time.


There’s no tooting of horns, not much in the way of traffic, and the cyclists….well, they are a different breed altogether. For one, they stick to the cycle path!


They seem to travel at roughly the same pace, no strain or stress as their posture is good, and they are dressed in normal clothes. No one is trying to look or cycle like they’re in the Tour De France. It’s just a healthy way of getting to and from work, and generally people look happy, without competition.


People here, rather than going to the gym, tend to put health and wellbeing into their everyday life. The commute is all-important as a way to spend the time well. My favourite moment with Meik was when I asked him if he lived near to the Institute, an he told me it was exactly one and a half tracks of AC/DC’s ‘Back to Black” away.


His face lights up, and I can tell it’s one of those little rituals that make him so contagiously happy. When I meet him, he’s had a long day, running a workshop on improving quality of life in those with MS, yet he has all the time in the world, and offers to have our picture taken by the Christmas tree.


There’s something about Copenhagen which made me feel festive, all warm and cosy about all things Christmas. I’m usually a bit of a bah humbug, groaning and grumbling about the commercialism of it all, and rolling my eyes at the Christmas jumpers, decorations and general tackiness.


But here, I’m all over it. I think it’s the lights. There are love heart shaped lights everywhere, Tivoli Gardens is like a Winter Wonderland, and there’s some kind of magic in the air, I can’t help but get caught up in it all.


This is one of the things I think make the Danes some of the happiest people in the world, in spite of their lack of daylight hours in winter. They make the most of the light. In the daytime, they make sure they get their vitamin D fix, and when it’s dark, they use candles and clever lighting to create an ambience conducive to wellbeing.


Just below the Happiness Research Institute, there’s a meeting going on, and in the middle of the table, they have a huge candle. I’ve never seen this before, but I think the idea is genius. They even put the “hygge” into the office environment, and it seems to work. People seem to have struck the balance between calm and inspired, the opposite to the “tired and wired” syndrome often seen in the Western world of work.


There’s a generosity of spirit, which is engrained in their culture, where they believe no one is better or worse than anyone else, and from this comes a sense of community or togetherness, which is an integral part of happiness.


We experience this from day one, in every place we go to eat or drink. People meet up to “break bread’ together, whether it’s over a smorrebord, a glogge (mulled wine), or the most indulgent hot chocolate you’ve ever seen.


People sit outside because there are fires and heaters and blankets and furry covers on the seats. They take their time over their food and drink, sharing, savouring, and making it a sensual experience, not a hurried one.


Nourishment is important here. Like the French, they take their time, they eat well, but not too much, and as a result, there is hardly any sign of obesity here.


In fact, I notice people in general look “well”, and it confirms to me that we can learn so much from how they live here. Across the world, people are no longer looking to the US as role models of how to live, we are looking to countries like Denmark, Holland and Switzerland where they have higher levels of both health and happiness.


I’m reflecting on my few days in Copenhagen on Sunday night from my daybed, overlooking the nature-inspired pool and spa of our hotel. The lighting is like magic, the music just the right level to induce relaxation, the ambiance is just perfect, as is the company, and I’m drifting off into a state of total bliss.


I’m thinking about what I’ve learned here about health and wellbeing, and I think it has three aspects:


  1. Create the right environment and surroundings – bring the light.
  2. Take time for connection with others, whether loved ones, or those you’ve just met, and be kind – spread the love.
  3. Make the most of what you have in any given situation – find the lykke.