Slow Food & Yoga Festival - A Gift to the Island

She has travelled around the world, met locals from many different countries, worked in different positions and tasted food from every corner of the globe - but this one specific place made her feel like home. Julie Thonnard arrived in Gili Air more than 8 years ago, and she immediately fell in love with this tiny paradise island. But what makes Gili Air so unique to Julie?

“What made me fall in love with Gili Air that many years ago and still makes me wanna call it home today, is the locals. They have so much heart. I was traveling for 7 years as a scuba instructor - I travelled around the world, but on Gili Air, I just felt like I was a part of the family, so I stayed. Plus the beach, great food, the diving and awesome yoga”.

Julie is originally from Brussels, but she felt there was something special about Gili Air. She likes the small and simple things such as the fact, that she doesn’t have to wear a jacket every day, and that there is absolutely no traffic on the island.

Gili Air is a vehicle-free island and the only way to get around the small streets through the local village and the white sand beaches near the coast is by foot, bicycle or one of the local horse carts;“ Also the fact that i can just walk around barefoot - it’s like this perfect island of barefoot luxury - just have a coconut. It’s naturally a place where you can heal, slow down and definitely rethink your speed of life ”


I want to give something back to the island

Despite the fact that Julie loves to slow down and rethink her speed of life in Gili Air, she has been quite a busy lady the past years. Julie is co-owner of Slow Villas, private pool luxury villas on Gili Air, and Founder of Soraya Foundation, a local NGO supporting the kids on Gili Air with educational  initiatives. And now, Julie is on it again. She recently decided to create Slow Food & Yoga Festival, a 5-day festival focusing on the local culture, Indonesian food, slow lifestyle and yoga on Gili Air. The festival will take place from June 20-24, and the days will be an immersion of local culture, tasteful food and inspiring yoga.

“Me and Emily from Flowers and Fire put this festival  together - because the island has evolved over the past few years, and today the yoga has become much better. The slow food movement is so present on this island that we just wanted to share it with the world“ .

” After the events of 2018 the island has been a little bit quiet and lots of the local people has been suffering. So it was a way to promote Gili Air and to bring business to the local people by making everyone remember that the most important thing is the local community. By bringing the local community forward we can increase tourism. So it’s to show it to them and as a gift to
the island. This island have given me so much magic and I want to give some back".


I really think people should slow down

During the days of Slow Food & Yoga festival international yoga instructors and celebrity chefs will fly in from all over the world to attend the event. Daily yoga classes such a SUB Yoga,  Sunrise Yoga, Sunset Yoga, Acro Yoga, Meditation and food events such as Cooking Classes, Masterchef Competitions and Jamu Competitions will take place. But why does Slow Food & Yoga combine so well?

“ The yoga lifestyle kinda goes hand in hand with the slow food movement - it’s really about taking care of your body. Your body is your temple and yoga is for me a way of life. By promoting your health, you take care of your physical, your emotional, your mental and also
your spiritual body - it all kinda comes together in the yoga lifestyle".

I think the slow food movement and the slow living - rethinking the speed of life - is really focusing more on efficiency for the future. If we had a healthier life rhythm in all the developed countries, as they call them, there will be less people on burn out and it will cost less to society .

I really think people should slow down - eat local, eat seasonal, plant - we just forgotten all of this and we just go the shop and buy everything that’s wrapped in plastic and the trash goes away and we just thinks it disappears or something.


A partnership between local and foreigners

Slow Food & Yoga Festival is a part of Gili Bangkit Festival - a one month festival (June 15 - July 15) taking place on Gili Air. Gili Bangkit Festival is a collaboration between local and foreign stakeholders all wishing to showcase the best of what Gili Air has to offer. What I hope to achieve with this festival is a partnership between the local people of Gili Air and the expats. We have joined forces together to create this amazing festival, which is gonna be a month long - for the people of the island.

The Slow Food & Yoga festival is really to show the world that today Gili Air is more than just scuba diving, party and snorkelling - it has evolved into this cute boutique island with private pool villas and organic cafes and it really has this barefoot luxury vibe that I want to show the world.

The most amazing thing is the authenticity - there is so many amazing people in Gili Air and I just wanna show the world and bring them all together in one festival. There is one guy that does bamboo tattoo workshop and another one who does coconut carving and another one who makes coconut oil on the island. It’s amazing.

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It is the first time Slow Food & Yoga Festival will take place, but hopefully not the last;

“ Depending of how this first edition comes out and what the return is, and how the partnership works out, i would love to continue and make it an annual event - or even do it twice a year, i mean… if the partnership function really well and we work all together, then why not do another edition, for sure .”

You can attend Slow Food & Yoga festival by buying tickets online here 

Tickets include all yoga classes, food workshops, lifestyle talks, cultural evenings, kids space, performances, shows and access to the Slow Food and Artisan market. The festival is a charity event and all proceeds will go to Soraya Foundation. Follow the event for updates and announcement on Facebook or find us on instagram @slowfoodandyogafestival

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