Ashtanga Yoga - The Posture of The Body Is The Posture of The Mind

9 January to 16 January 2023
A retreat with Isabella Nitschke and Matt Ryan

“Ashtanga yoga - the posture of the body is the posture of the mind” ­- a week long immersion exploring the mind body axis of ashtanga yoga.

This retreat is open for all levels of practitioners – from beginners to advanced.

Matt Ryan Isabella Nitschke Purple Valley Yoga Tenerife
Isabella Nitzsche Purple Valley Yoga Tenerife

Retreat schedule

The week will feature mysore style self practice sessions/ led classes and afternoon workshops with specific themes. Matt will share his experience and expertise of Zen meditation and its benefits; Isabella will teach specific breath work and chanting classes. The week will also put special focus on how to keep a healthy and sustainable practice over time. Afternoon classes will cover mobility work, strength building exercises and look at injury prevention with the aim of creating an understanding for the function of the practice and different asanas.

Each day will end with satsang and sharing where questions can be asked and discussed.

Course daily Schedule

Morning mysore style class (5 days),
Guided Primary Series (6th day) 2-3hrs
(there may be a separate beginner’s session in case there’s a need for this)

Afternoon class with specific theme each day (2hrs)
Chanting and satsang (45min)

Monday 9/1 - welcome gathering

Tuesday 10/1 - Zen Ashtanga Yoga - an introduction to Zazen meditation;
 “It's so easy to get lost in the physical aesthetic of Ashtanga that the more subtle internal practice gets lost in the noise. Using Zazen has helped Matt quieten the crazy mind and embrace the quality of a true practice.  Through Zazen Matt discovered how the mind component of Ashtanga Yoga is integral to the whole foundation of the practice and to the complete understanding of the external physical form.” (Matt lead)

Wednesday 11/1 – Breath and Bandha essentials
The purpose of all yoga is to quieten or still the mind - Yoga citta vritti nirodhah. How we breathe may affect how we think and how we feel. In his class we explore how different breathing techniques (in motion and stillness) have an impact on our physical and mental states, and how we can alter our reactions by regulating the way we breathe. We also explore the connection of Bandha (locks) and their relationship to the breath, asana practice and life energy (prana/apana). The aim is to give participants a deeper understanding their yoga practice with the intention of improving the relationship to the breath and learning how to self-regulate. The class ends with a guided relaxation. (Isabella lead)

Thursday 12/1 – The Vinyasa of Ashtanga Yoga
The practice of Ashtanga Yoga is built around the key concept of Vinyasa - or 'moving breathing system'. Matt will be looking at the integral components of the Vinyasa system, breaking down the composite parts to give students a deeper understanding of its practice which in turn will allow for a more focused internal experience of Ashtanga Yoga. Matt will be using methods from other mind & body practices including Pranayama & Tai Chi to highlight the mechanics of Vinyasa, he will also be adding in his usual doses of wit and wisdom to make the workshop both fun and challenging. (Matt lead)

Saturday 14/1 – A sustainable practice
This class covers how we keep a healthy practice over a long period of time. We look at how to create a good foundation for a stable practice, how to stay injury-free and how to stay inquisitive and motivated when we encounter difficulties on the path. We specifically explore the balance between mobility and strengths in different asana with focus on the hip, leg and lumbar spine region where injuries unfortunately tend to happen. We look at variations for different asanas and how to adapt the practice in the most suitable way for each individual situation. (Isabella lead)

Sunday 15/1 – Beyond Primary series – Intermediate series for everyone
Combining back bending, twists and hip openers Ashtanga Yoga’s Intermediate sequence (Nadi Shodhana) works to cleanse the nervous system and this introduction is for both inquisitive beginners and seasoned professionals. Techniques suggestions and ideas will be presented creating an accessible and fun gateway to the sequence. (Matt & Isabella)

matt ryan purple valley yoga
Matt Ryan Isabella Nitschke Purple Valley Yoga Tenerife


Isabella Nitschke
Isabella Nitschke is the owner and manager of Ashtanga Yoga Malmö based in southern Sweden where she runs a daily mysore programme. She found yoga more than 18 years ago following a running injury and the practice has since helped her improve her health on many levels. Isabella has Sharath Jois’ blessing to teach the primary and intermediate series of Ashtanga Yoga and has assisted him twice at his shala in Mysore. Isabella has in the past 13 years been returning to India regularly to practice, study and to further develop her chanting skills and studies of yoga philosophy and Sanskrit.She has also had the privilege of studying with teachers such as Rolf and Marci Naujokat, Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor, Eddie Stern, David Swenson, Maty Ezraty and Susanna Finocchi.

Isabella is also a qualified yoga therapist for mental health, a lifestyle coach and relaxation therapist. She has devoted much of the past ten years to studying and exploring the effects of yoga on our nervous system and our mental health - in particular how the practice can help increase our resilience to stress and the ability to self-regulate. She is currently attending a 300-hr training in trauma sensitive yoga with Josefin Wikström in Sweden.

Isabella’s teaching style is inclusive and aims to create a safe space for all students. She follows a gentle approach with particular focus on breath to cultivate sensitivity and awareness of the body and mind. Isabella has over 20 years of experience from working in health and fitness worldwide and has studied both anatomy and movement mechanics extensively.

Prior to teaching yoga Isabella had a career in international politics which gave her the opportunity to live and work in many different countries and cultures. She speaks several languages fluently and is still very engaged in human and women’s rights which was her primary field of work. Seva (karma yoga) is an important part of Isabella’s yoga journey and is engaged in the work of several charities such as V-Care Mysuru and Odanadi.

Read more about Isabella at

Matt Ryan
From well-known House DJ at clubs such as The Hacienda in Manchester to a dedicated Ashtangi- today, Matt has practiced and taught Ashtanga Yoga for more than 23 years. Since he received his level 2 authorisation in Mysore from Pattabhi and Sharat Jois, he has taught all over the world, including Europe, India and North America.

Matt came to yoga as a consequence of the nightclubbing. During his years as DJ, he developed a debilitation disorder called depersonalisation, a close friend suggested Yoga as therapy. Within 6 months of his ashtanga practice he hung up his headphones and took off to Mysore to study with Patthabi in his old shala – this was in 2000. Matts journey out of darkness into light has helped him to get perspective not only at his own life, but it has helped him to develop the ability to understand and help other people. When he teaches, he teaches to empower the student- he works towards helping them to create their own life purpose through the ashtanga yoga practice – with Ashtanga being the microcosmos of the macrocosms of life. Matt believes that the yoga mat can be a door to personal fulfilment in practice and in life. His aim is to help the student to become the best version of themselves, something that let Matt be the best teacher he can be.

A few years ago, Matt got introduced to Zen meditation. He sees many parallels between Zen and ashtanga, and is today incorporating Zen in his way of teaching.

Practical details

Maximum number of students is 25. 

Morning classes will be taught with maximum 16 students in each class.

Cost: £950 GBP per week for shared accommodation and £1250 GBP  for single accommodation. The price is all-inclusive (includes accommodation, all meals and yoga). There is an option to pay a deposit of 50% of the full amount to secure your place. The deposit is non-refundable and the balance must be paid at least 4 weeks prior to the start date.

We have a limited amount of single rooms for this retreat. Before booking send us an email on to confirm availability.

To book this retreat, follow the link below and complete the form to make your payment. 

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