“Out of pure love for yoga,” Nancy Morrison founded Mandala Yoga Retreats in 2013 as a place for organizing sweet yoga retreats in beautiful and unique locations around Egypt. Being the first of their kind in Egypt, Mandala Yoga makes each “retreat special and different from the ones before by choosing a new teacher and a new destination each time,” says Nancy. Their first retreat was at Matarma Bay in November 2013, and since then Mandala has hosted yogis, experienced and new to the practice, in such beautiful places like Anakato Lodge in Aswan, Marsa Nakari, Minya and the Bahareya Oasis. After all, “Egypt is so full of beautiful places to explore,” as Nancy puts it. Mandala Yoga also offers weekly yoga sessions as a part of their Nile Yoga series at The Platform in Cairo. Here, we connected with Nancy as she reveals her love for yoga and more:
How did you first get interested in yoga?
I have always been attracted to yoga, but the big turning point for me was when I was able to heal from an arm injury and an episode of depression simply through practicing yoga every day. This is what made me realize how beneficial yoga really is, and motivated me to first become a yoga teacher, and then create Mandala Yoga Retreats.
What does your work mean to you?
It means everything. I get to do two things that I love combined together – yoga and travel. I’m an explorer at heart and I love discovering new destinations. I also love seeing how happy people become on our little retreats. I have witnessed the real, tangible, positive impact made on both our retreat participants and on the locations that we choose to host our retreats. All of these things make me super happy and this work also gives me the freedom to be available to my children. This is one of the main reasons I chose to work for myself.
What do you love most about practicing yoga?
It’s a return to the self. It’s creating space around me and within, and it’s an amazing life skill that allows me to connect with myself and keep my head when all those around me are losing theirs.
How do you stay motivated?
It comes naturally when you love what you do and believe that it is useful and worth the hard work.
What, in your opinion, are the greatest health benefits of yoga?
There are so many benefits that it’s extremely hard to choose just a few. But I think most importantly for me is physical and mental strength and healing, inner calm and stress relief – this in addition to upping immunity and improving personal relationships.
What time do things get going for you in the morning? And how do you start your day?
Around 7 AM. I like to start with a glass of water followed by green juice. Sometimes its lemon water, sometimes it’s warm lemon, fresh ginger slices and raw honey depending on the season. My favorite green juice is apple, celery and ginger with a touch of rocket or watercress, which my husband is very good at making.
What does healthy mean to you?
Healthy means balance in all things.
What’s your favorite place and time of day to do yoga?
Early morning when everyone else is still asleep, and any place where I can fit my mat, have enough space to move and some peace and quiet – preferably outdoors, or at least where I can see and hear nature.
What inspires you most?
People who strive for what they want, bending rules and smashing through obstacles in creative ways to live the life they want to live.
What is your rule for life?
What is your perfect day, morning through night?
Waking up somewhere brand new, by the sea, or in treehouse in the jungle, blue skies and clear waters with lots of exploring and discovering to do. New foods to try and nothing to worry about. A complete disconnect from everyday life.
If you could do only one yoga pose for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Headstand. I haven’t mastered it yet, but when I do get into this pose I feel like I am flying and so I think that when I finally get there I won’t want to ever come down.