I left my job, packed up my home, and made my way to Gili Air

From a 9-5 job, a highly career oriented lifestyle, high expectations from a work oriented dad, and a work that didn’t bring her joy - Gemma Balicki made her way out of climbing the career ladder and went to search for happiness, a recharge and what truly brings her joy; Yoga!
”Originally from a small city on the East coast of England, I grew up with the miss-understanding that success was measured by the amount of money you earned, from working in a 9-5 job in a career that you probably hated. I got this idea mainly from my dad, who actually gave me the advice one day that 'no one likes their job, so you just have to suck it up and deal with it.' At this point, I had been working hard for 8 years of my life to be a lingerie designer. I had spent 5 of those years climbing the career ladder in Hong Kong, and although I loved what I did when I first moved away from home, this lifestyle very quickly began to literally suck the life out of me. All I ever did was work. Day after day, night after night, I was stuck to my desk just watching my life pass me by. I wasn't happy, I felt stuck, and I had no passion for anything; except yoga!”
”Yoga made me less angry, less scared. It gave me confidence and made me believe in myself. It made me feel like I was really part of something bigger than just sailing uncomfortably through life - a movement that was going to change the world. After a few years of feeling this way and trying to just get on with life, I finally let myself surrender to the fact that the life I'd originally chosen for myself just wasn't for me anymore. I couldn't let myself waste more of my energy, more of my life doing something that just didn't bring me joy, and all I really wanted to do was share my life of yoga with people around the world. So I left my job, packed up my home, and made my way to Gili Air.”

Yoga gave me hope at a time of struggle

Gemma started practicing yoga about 5 years ago. At this time, it was just for fun, and she didn’t really know nothing about it, except for the physical practice. Actually, Gemma wasn’t even interested in learning more than that - she just loved being able to move her body, allow it breathe in such way that gave her freedom, and use that hour to step away from the craziness that life brings.
“After a while, I started to realise that I just couldn't stay away. I noticed shifts in myself on a physical, mental and emotional level that made me feel so expansive and open that I just wanted more and more. I had so many amazing teachers in Hong Kong, that all inspired me onto the path I'm living now. They made me see how everyone has something to share, in their own individual way. I know so many people in today’s society, who feel like they are just stuck, forced to carry on in a job or life that they're not passionate about. There are many reasons for people to believe they have to stay trapped. But I don't believe this is true. Yoga gave me so much hope at a time of struggle in my life, and it's my passion - and obligation - to spread my understanding of yoga to others in the hopes that they also have the courage to say no to a life that doesn't serve them.”
To Gemma, yoga is a catalyst for growth and transformation. An opportunity to explore the incredible body that’s keeping your soul safe on this life journey. A chance to move out of your head, into your heart, and let your breath breathe the real you into existence:

”Having trained primarily in Vinyasa yoga, my teaching style is fluid and dynamic, which allows stuck energy to surface, move through us, and be released effectively. I believe there is nothing more important than finding a yoga practice that works uniquely for you, and your body. It's so important to me that students feel totally loved, and supported so I provide a space, so that students can practice at their own pace, without judgement.”


In Gili Air, I have always felt home

After leaving her job and packing up her home, Gemma made her way to Gili Air. This lovely island is always welcoming people from all over the world - no matter what purpose they have on Gili Air. Gemma also felt welcome from the second she entered the island:
”Not only my favourite thing about Gili Air, but the most inspiring thing is how the local people of this island and Lombok interact with each other, and with the tourists that pass by. For them, nothing is ever too much trouble. They are always trying to help where they can, share stories, indulge in conversation, and make every moment count. Wherever I spend my time on Gili Air, the energy from the local community is always high. They make me feel happy, uplifted, and even as someone who is not part of their culture, I have always felt welcome. The local community of Gili Air try to make everyone feel like they belong here, no matter what your background or where you are from, and to me that is a beautiful thing.”
And this is exactly why Gili Air is the perfect location for Slow Food & Yoga Festival. This lovely barefoot luxury island welcomes everybody with a warm and kind feeling, which makes you want to stay. It’s truly inspiring how people from so many different cultures and countries can connect without having the same purpose in life. And just as Gili Air welcomes all types of visitors, Slow Food & Yoga festival welcomes all types of yogis. From beginners to advanced - feel free to join the classes! Among others, you can meet Gemma during the days of SFYF, as she will be teaching at the festival:
“Yoga is all about community, and a festival is one of the best ways to bring people together. Because of the way social media portrays yoga, I hope that through the lens of a festival environment, beginners can join in to experience and understand what real yoga is about. For me, yoga is all about finding freedom, raising your vibration, having fun, tapping into your power, and enjoying the life that we've all been gifted with and are worthy of receiving”


I believe in living a life where time is savoured, enjoyed and spend doing what you love

”Even when I was employed in a fast paced design career, I didn't resonate with the push and urgency that came with such role. Whilst I was constantly challenged by the need to count my hours - create faster, not better - my focus was always on delivering quality over quantity, and my mentality of working smarter, not harder or faster, made it clear that I was not suited to that working environment. I believe that typically in life, there is too much emphasis put on the hours you work. I saw how working for hours on end, striving for quick success was rewarded, whilst striving for a work/life balance was not.”

”The slow movement resonates a lot with me, and I believe in living a life where time is savoured, enjoyed and spent doing what you love and enjoyed with people who you love. Because the only time to live your life is right now. Life is to be enjoyed. It is not in the past, and it is not in the future. Success in life for me is enjoying the motions, moving slowly, and appreciating everything that this world has to offer. Looking for beauty in every moment, is where the magic of life lies.”
You can follow Gemma on her instagram or read more about her on her Facebook Page.

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