Question everything, especially your beliefs

On June 20-24, Slow Food & Yoga Festival will take place on Gili Air. This festival will be 5 days
full of yoga, art, music, culture, slow food and sustainability, and many inspiring people are  coming from all over the world to join the event. Among others, yoga teacher, speaker, transformational coach and humanitarian – Nadine McNeil (Universal Empress), will join the festival and host yoga classes in Gili Air. We are excited to have Nadine on board the festival, as we admire her devotion to activism and the great work she has been doing to help people in need for many years. Nadine’s passion for yoga is inspiring to us, and therefore we asked her some questions regarding her passion for yoga and her attendance at Slow Food & Yoga Festival.

Nadine McNeil - Photo by Jessica Coup Photography

You discovered yoga while working for the UN and practiced regularly to respite
from the job’s physical and emotional demands. How do you feel yoga have affected
your life? What has yoga given you?

Yoga returned me to me. Through the practice I've learned self-acceptance, especially as it
relates to my imperfections. I've learned that judgments of self and others are limitations of the
mind that prevent us from leading our lives fully and completely. Yoga has taught me how to
develop an intimate relationship with my self and others. Perhaps the greatest lesson I've
learned is: question everything, especially your beliefs.

Yoga is a viable tool in the attainment of world peace

Nadine wish to inspire possibility to people around the world and her mission is to share yoga
with diverse and underserved communities. Nadine is Jamaican by birth, but travels the world
teaching yoga, doing talks at events and leading workshops.

Please tell us about your yoga journey and why the practice is so special to you
(Including the terms Consciousness Rising and Democratization of Yoga)

“My path to yoga started through physical fitness; being a gym and fitness enthusiast virtually
all my life. When I first started practicing, I didn't really enjoy it. Still I persevered. My yoga path
really deepened when I moved to Indonesia to work with UNICEF as an Emergency Response
and Logistics Specialist, following the 2004 tsunami. Based in Jakarta, I practiced Bikram yoga
6x weekly.”

“As the impact of yoga on my life deepened, I realized I wanted to learn more about the
philosophy - so at the end of 2008, life transported me to the Sivananda Ashram in South India.
It was there that I saw and experienced that yoga was a viable tool in the attainment of world
peace. It was never my intention to become a teacher. That said, upon my return to Jamaica, I
began offering yoga in orphanages, schools, prisons; i.e., marginalized communities who may
otherwise not be exposed to yoga. Herein the democratization of yoga for me was born.”

“Consciousness Rising speaks to a shift in our individual and collective awareness. This is
what we're increasingly seeing in the world. Your festival is a testament to this. Enhanced
awareness gives rise to shifts in consciousness which ultimately provoke meaningful and lasting

Nadine McNeil - Photo by Jessica Coup Photography

In order for us to support others, we must first take care of ourselves

Nadine worked 22 years within the UN, including stints in Sudan, Iraq, and Kuwait. She had an
important role as head logistics specialist for UNICEF during the tsunami in Indonesia in 2004,
and she led the Global Volunteer Network initiatives during the earthquake in Haiti in 2012.
Nadine has also worked in the Netherlands with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical

All of Nadine’s experiences have inspired her continuous devotion to activism, which also has
an impact on her yoga and transformational work. Nadine’s talks, workshops, yoga sessions
and retreats are continually described as powerful, moving and insightful.

You have done amazing voluntary work through the years helping people in need. In
which way do you feel yoga has helped you in times of crisis?

”Wow! Yoga helped to keep me grounded, balanced and centered. There was a time in my
former professional life where I encountered burnout. It was the practice of pranayama and
asana that restored me. In order for us to support others - be it in a crisis or in life in general -
we must first take care of ourselves. We're of no use to ourselves and others, when we are

You joined the Yoga Barn family in Bali, Indonesia in 2015, and have been teaching
there regularly since. How do you feel about living in Indonesia? What is special
about this country?

”From my very first visit in the early nineties, I was deeply moved by the beauty of this
country - Bali especially - that reminds me so much of my birthplace, Jamaica. I feel very at
home here; welcomed, embraced and respected”.

”From a historical context, Indonesia is to the East - spices, coffee and much more - what
Jamaica is/was to the West. There is a co-existence amongst people of varying demographics
here in Indonesia that I have not witnessed in any other country - and I've done my fair share of

Nadine McNeil - Photo by Jessica Coup Photography

Let’s all show up from a place of deep and reverent love

You’re joining Slow Food & Yoga Festival in Gili Air, and we are so happy to
have you on board. What are you expectations for the festival? Have you ever been to
the island before, and how to you feel about Gili Air?

”I'm super excited to be a part of this initiative and to support its cause. My only expectation
is that we all show up from a place of deep and reverent love. From this vantage point, all things
are possible”.

Nadine looks forward to returning to Gili Air together with many other international yoga instructors who are joining Slow Food & Yoga Festival in Gili Air. Slow Food & Yoga Festival is a charity event supporting the local community of Gili Air. The aim is to showcase the best of what Gili Air has to offer by showing of the natural beauty, the amazing yoga and the tasteful food Gili Air is hiding. All proceeds from the festival goes to Soraya Foundation, a local NGO supporting the kids of Gili Air with educational initiatives. The founder of the event is Julie Thonnard, Slow Villas, who created this festival together with Emily, Flowers & Fire Yoga Garden to give something back to the island and collaborate with the local community.

Nadine McNeil - Photo by Jessica Coup Photography

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