Chai & chat with Claire Hamilton Co-founder of AdventureYogi

Co-founder of AY, Acupuncturist and Secret Sanctuary ProducerCo-founder of AdventureYogi Claire Hamilton

When Claire isn’t busy hosting AdventureYogi retreats and yoga holidays she is busy preparing and running the amazing healing areas at SGP and Wilderness to bring peace, calm and grounding to the high energy and crazy environment that is festivals.  Read below about our chai and chat with her about AdventureYogi, the festivals and her acupuncture practice

How long have you been working with AdventureYogi?

When I just added up the years on my fingers I can’t believe that it was over 6 years ago that Michelle and I sat in Jojo’s kitchen (the third original founder) dreaming up a yoga and skiing holiday in the French Alps.  We wanted to go skiing but wanted to do something a bit different, so we conjured up the perfect combination of healthy fun in the snow and sun! It was Co-founders Claire Hamilton and Michelle King in Ibizajust after I turned 30 and I had just bought my first flat and then we were off on our first of many exciting adventures.  How time has flown by!  It has been an incredible journey so far, that has seen many twists and turns along the way.  And what I love more than anything is that the marvelous journey we started 6 years ago continues to change and evolve every year.  Long may the adventure continue!

How long have you been working with the festivals?

In 2002 my great mates from university decided that they wanted to put on a big party for all their friends.  It was an invite only event and it was on Freddie’s farm, so they called in the Secret Garden Party!  The first year was all about raising money for a charity in Africa called Temwa and as I was a newly qualified massage therapist I decided I would give massages to people for a donation to the charity.  I asked my dear friend Vicky (who is now one of our fantastic therapists for AY) and we hired a yurt do work from.  10 years later that team of two in one yurt has turned into the 120 people strong team of the Secret  Sanctuary with over 30 yurts and tipis at Secret Garden Party Festival.  In 2011 we were asked to be part of the Wilderness festival to bring the healing and calming vibes of the Secret Sanctuary to their beautiful event in Cornbury Park.  How lucky we were!

What inspires you to work within festivals?

Dynamic yoga at Wilderness festival 2012I love my time working at the festivals!  Ten years is a long time and we have grown so organically within the festival scene, every year we see a few more faces and healing hands joining our team.  During the two week long events that we are in the fields, we become a family – working together to share our passion for looking after people.  Whether it is Angeline & Edryd (the décor team), or Michelle (Co-founder of AY with me and my right hand lady!) & Colette ( marketing & PR gurus), Justin (from The Bugbar), a yogi from our team of yoga teachers or a masseuse from the band of healers, we all work together to create and bring the festival goers a quiet & calm sanctuary within the colourful chaos to retreat to.

I have always strongly believed in the concept of balance.  My roots are in Chinese Medicine, which is all about the Dao.  And I have wanted that concept to seep into the work I do at festivals.  Physical & mental health & wellbeing is all about balancing what you use up with what you put back in, whilst living in harmony with your surroundings. And within the festival parameters it is very rewarding to see people having the time to kick back, to relax and to maybe try something they wouldn’t normally do… like acro yoga or 4 hands massage or to just lie on the grass and stare at the sky.  We strive to create a safe and inspiring space for one and all to relax & rejuvenate their bodies & souls.

What’s your favourite part of the festivals?

Wow this is a hard question!  Especially as the two festivals are so varied and different in their own way.  At the Secret Garden Massage therapsy at Wilderness Festival Secret Sanctuary healing areaParty I would have to say that I love the field we are in.  The north field is full of the quieter more down to earth bits of the festival with The Forum, the Kids area, Boutique camping and the heavenly Soul Fire restaurant.  What could be better than having a divine massage, then whiling away an hour or so listening to a inspiring talk in the Forum, before sitting down to a delicious feast in Soul fire surrounded by your best friends before heading off to party the night away?!?  Pure festival heaven.  And at Wilderness, it is a harder choice as the whole event is 4 days of the great outdoors. But if I had to choose it would be waking up early (while most people are still sleeping) and having a wild swim in the lake, followed by a hot tub in the sun and then stretching out in one of our incredible yoga yurts with one of my top teachers .  What more could your body & soul need after a night in a tent?!?

When you are not in a field, where do practice Acupuncture & who do you treat?

Wilderness festival funI work in a range of different clinics across the city of London.  From the delightful Bellvue Road family practice on Wandsworth common, to the more urban space of The Well Garden in Hackney Downs Studios!  The Westover Clinic is an inspirational set up as it joins together western & complementary medicine practices under one roof – which I personally believe is the answer when in comes to integrated health & wellbeing.  And Evolve health clinic in South Kensington where I also work marries my love of yoga with my love of health.  It is an urban oasis in the middle of our noisy & bustling city.

Claire hosts many yoga retreats from AdventureYogi when she isn’t busy in a field with the festivals.  Read more about Claire and her Biography here and if you would like to attend a retreat or holiday with her then simply email us info@adventureyogi.com and ask when she will be hosting one.

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Michelle is the co-founder of AdventureYogi. She began this way of life when she spent her winters in the Italian and French Alps, and her summers in Sardinia, working in the tourism industry managing chalets in Chamonix and villas in Sardinia. She then moved to Japan to pursue her passion of snowboarding in the Japanese Alps and this is where her interest in natural health, healing and yoga developed.

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