HOW IT BEGUN.
Healing in the Willows was born out of the vision of its founder, Kim Bizzarri, an Italian-English nomadic activist turned Yogi, who spent the past 20 years coordinating international campaigns & consulting for major environmental NGOs, including Greenpeace, WWF, Friends of the Earth, ActionAid, & many others.
The objective behind the current project is to begin integrating the political & spiritual realms with a view to achieve social change through an expanded individual & collective consciousness which Yoga, in its original form, can be a powerful conduit for.
Kim is the author of a book on development economics and has contributed to numerous books and scientific journals on environmental issues. He has collaborated with the American ecologist pioneer of the Deep Ecology movement, Joanna Macy and since 2013 he has been holding Deep Ecology seminars in Italy and abroad.
In his yoga practice Kim integrates a holistic approach aimed at rekindling one’s connection with nature and the subtle realms. His Yoga teachings are rooted in the shamanic / tantric tradition of India that celebrates and reveres the human/ non-human relationship.
The idea originated in Berlin (Germany) in 2010, when Kim set-up a yoga collective in an economically deprived neighbourhood of the city offering classes on a donation-basis. The experiment worked well and expanded to a second location in 2013, proving that collective organization and non-profit motives can be economically successful and of high quality.
Some of the teachers, part of the collective, are now involved in Healing in the Willows, whilst others are some of the best teachers Kim met while traveling around the world. The common denominator bringing the teachers together is the authenticity of their practice and the embracing of ‘Yog’ as a way of life.
The name ‘Healing in the Willows’ was inspired by Kenneth Graham’s children’s classic fairy-tale “The Wind in the Willows“, as the first retreats took place at Hardwick House (Oxfordshire, UK) where Kim was living under the patronage of the Rose Family and which had inspired Graham for many of the locations and characters in the book, such as ‘Toad Hall’ (Hardwick House) and ‘Mr Toad’ (Sir Charles Day Rose).
The Willow is also a powerful symbol of healing and purification in Eastern traditions as its roots naturally detoxify the soil – the Boddhisatva Kuan Yin, for instance, holds a willow branch in her hand to heal the World’s weeping souls. Moreover, trees in general have become a symbol of the ecological crisis we face today and the connection we have lost with Mother Nature.
In line with the teachings of Yoga, Healing in the Willows aims to offer retreats with a social and environmental conscience. As such, we source all of the materials and services required for the retreats as locally as possible, with the utmost respect for the environment and the local community.
All products used during the retreats are organic and eco-friendly (including the pure-rubber yoga mats provided) and all our meals are vegan and free from palm-oil.
Why Vegan? Because we share the growing understanding that, in an uncontrollable global system of food production, Veganism best embodies the contemporary meaning of Ahimsa [‘non-violence’] – the very first observance of the path to Yoga.
Moreover, by sourcing as many goods and services locally, we support local business, including neighbouring family-owned organic farms (where we buy all the fresh produce used for the retreats’ meals), local organic shops (for most of its dry food and bread), and locals for picking-up our guests from the local train station.