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Festival Founder - Emily Christian - Flowers & Fire

It’s time to grab your yoga mats and head to Gili Air, cause we made it to the second edition of Slow Food & Yoga Festival! After its establishment as a successful part of the month-long Gili Menggawe Festival earlier this year in June, Gili Air’s community is joining forces for the second edition. The Festival will run from October 17th – 20th 2019 and is again being organised all as a benefit for Soraya Foundation. Co-founder Emily Christian, Owner of Flowers and Fire Yoga Garden, is letting us in on the original thoughts and ideas behind the festival:

“I had an idea for a long time, that a yoga festival would be a great idea for the Gilis. It would attract the kind of tourists that were interested in a positive lifestyle experience. I wanted to support options for people to relate in healthy ways and thereby create alternative ways of connecting and doing things together.” 

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Emily Christian - Founder of SFYF and Flowers & Fire Yoga Garden

Emily first came to Gili 5 years ago and immediately fell in the love with the island. Only 6 months later, in love with this paradise, she moved here. In 2018, 2 years after finding a beautiful block of land in the centre of the island, she opened Flowers & Flower Yoga Garden. Her vision was to facilitate the emergence of a soulful inclusive haven, where people could relax, recharge, regenerate, reflect and nourish themselves with the simple pleasures of good food, good company, good reads, and movement.

“Gili Air is so beautiful and so nice to experience from a space of mindfulness, so, I thought a yoga festival would work well! Also, I felt that the geography of the Gilis - the fact that it’s small with no cars, would provide a really nice and intimate barefoot kinda context.”

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Flowers & Fire Yoga Garden

Of the many wonderful things that yoga can bring to our lives, community is a big one. As centre creator, Emily wanted to provide a community home space where everybody could feel safe to be authentic in relationship to one another and where people were welcome to explore a little of what lies beyond their everyday ego mask to come closer to finding home in themselves. Founding Flowers & Fire Yoga Garden though, was not the only thing in her mind. She thought about a yoga festival way before Slow Food & Yoga Festival was founded:

“I had it in my head for ages, but it was a little too much to pull off, especially because I was starting my own business. So Julie (Red: Owner of Slow Villas & Spa) and I got chatting, and she told me that she always had a fantasy about a Slow Food Festival - so wouldn’t it be great to combine the two? So the idea started!”

Emily’s own philosophy and the emergence of Flowers & Fire is continuously evolving, but the values consistently precious to her and the people behind the centre are: Love, Inclusivity, Kindness, Generosity, Community, Learning, Expansion, Curiosity, Passion, Exploration, Creativity, Growth, Family. All of these values seemed to go hand in hand with the way Julie was working, and so, a partnership was created:

“I really liked the idea of working with Julie, because she’s full of life and she’s good at getting people together. I felt that it would definitely be worth combining forces! She has done such amazing work with Slow and with Soraya Foundation, so I thought we would be great allies for this. That’s why we decided to create it together -we both had this vision for the festival, to really showcase the wonderful lifestyle possibilities of the Gilis. ” 

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Julie & Emily - Founders of SFYF

Showcasing the best of what Gili has to offer

Emily has lived on the island for 4,5 years, and her favourite part about Gili Air is that it’s car-less. She joyfully describes to us how she loves the remote island-vibe combined with so many nice and inspiring things to do:

“There aren’t that many places that are car-less and have as much development as Gili Air has. If you can find somewhere that is vehicle free, it will normally be in the middle of nowhere. But Gili Air has wonderful shops and entertainment, yoga, swimming, diving and snorkelling, among other activities. Things to do, places to eat, places to shop - but without traffic and cars. And that’s really unique. To have so many great offerings, but then to have no motorised vehicles.”

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Flowers & Fire Yoga Garden - Café

Gili Air is a lovely, small and peaceful island, where only horse-carts serve as transportation. Jump on your bicycle or walk around the white sandy beaches to explore the beauty of this barefoot luxury paradise. Along the way, you will meet locals as well as foreigners - all living in this peaceful paradise together. This vibrant community is what Emily highlights as one of her other favourite parts about Gili Air:

“ The community makes Gili Air unique. There’s this wonderful local community - and a very  unique Sasak culture. And then the Western Expats that have come and found their home in this island. It’s so interesting how the two societies are starting to connect and relate to each other. ”

“Since the earthquakes in 2018, I think the community has come together even more strongly. There is this fusion of people coming from completely different parts of the world and yet creating community on this tiny little space. I think that is very interesting. I think it works as a community even though it’s still evolving. It’s so nice. I’ve never been somewhere else, where I literally can’t leave my house without greeting a thousand people. You can’t go incognito on this island - because everyone knows everyone. It’s really “from the bottom of the heart-connections”, that we have with each other.

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Flowers & Fire Yoga Garden

A combination of Yoga & Slow Food

The first version of Slow Food & Yoga Festival took place in June 2019 and was mainly focused on the topics: Yoga, Local Culture and Food. It’s decided that the next edition in October will focus on the same. We asked Emily why she and Julie chose to combine these topics:

“It started from this random idea that both Julie and I had been dreaming up. But I think all these themes work well together, as they relate to the concept of culture and positive lifestyle. Gili Air is really perfectly positioned to offer wellbeing holidays. I used to go on holidays and then come back and have to go on a holiday from my Holiday! But what was so great about when I came for my first holiday on Gili Air, was that I could really rest, rejuvenate and rebalance myself. So when I returned home, I was a better person than when I left. I think slow food (good healthy local food) and yoga, both offer the opportunity for positive transformation to those who are looking for that experience. We want to show the people and the world that Gili Air can really support this offering!”


“Slow Food & Yoga go great together because both things create an experience –we can offer people an adventure! You can discover the inner world through yoga and then explore the local culture in the outer world through food. They both fit into the positive lifestyle category.”

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Flowers & Fire Yoga Garden - Kitchen

Vol. II - October 2019

The second edition of Slow Food & Yoga Festival will take place in Gili Air, from October 17th-20th, 2019. The purpose of the Slow Food & Yoga Festival is to share the authentic beauty of Gili Air’s people and nature with visitors and locals alike. The Festival will also present opportunities to foster connections and valuable partnerships between locals and expats. 
Over the four days, festival-goers will have the opportunity to kick off their shoes and wander the vehicle-free island, exploring the cultural fusion of Gili Air through yoga, food, performance, and art. The festival will kick off with an opening ceremony on the 17th of October leading into various activities around the island.

”It’s very experimental - we are trying our best. Julie made a really good call on this- to keep it very simple, cause we are still in the beginning process. We are reflecting on what’s going right and what’s going wrong - and each year we can improve it. We just want to reflect the salty barefoot vibe - everyone is welcome - a lot of heart. We want to give people a really good experience - try new things - feel good in their bodies - good food - good teachers. It’s just a really lovely heart-opening adventure. But it’s still in the beginning, and we probably will still make mistakes, but when you do something from the first times, that’s the risk."

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Flowers & Fire Yoga Garden

Charity Festival & Sustainability

All proceeds from the Slow Food and Yoga Festival will go to the Soraya Foundation. Your ticket purchase will allow their upcoming projects to continue running - including helping the Gili Eco Tribe to work alongside Gili Cares to resolve recycling and rubbish issues, as well as supporting education initiatives in the community.

“Another thing that is really important is sustainability - to raise awareness about that agenda. We want to make sure that festival stalls avoid single use packaging - and the money from the festival will support sustainability initiatives. So we hope that it keeps growing, fostering stronger community ties and letting the world know what the Gilis have to offer.”


Act fast and book your ticket now to ensure you don’t miss out on your chosen workshops and  events. Offer your support for Soraya’s charitable initiatives by visiting THIS link.

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Flowers & Fire Yoga Garden

Gili Air Fest 2019 all rights reserved