Mat Turner

Yoga Retreats/Events Organiser


Yoga and Amorgos Saved My Life !

Depression survivor, ex Activist, Political Journalist and Trade Union representative and total non conformist.

It was only a matter time before I spiralled into a place of no return. Sick of being labeled, zomibified by medication and to be honest sick of being part of the rat race. I decided enough was enough. After giving away all my possessions, house car and belongings, I kept to one side just £400. I just felt I needed to strip completely and start all over again.

I remember being sat in a cafe with my phone... I was looking on Google and typed the words "How To Travel The World For Free" journey began that day. The first thing that came up was the Workaway Website it is a fabulous concept whereby you can go anywhere in the world (once you have found a Workaway Subscribing Host) and offer 20 hrs labour in return for bed and food. My adventures started in Spain, Bulgaria, Cuba, Argentina and Greece (Amorgos), where I was immediately swept away by its energy and beauty.

Irene owner of Aegialis gave me the opportunity of helping out around the hotel, I was in fact helping out with the maintenance, painting etc ready for the new season.

A few weeks went by and I could see the hotel coming to life again, as guests started to arrive... It was fascinating and wonderful to see all these happy faces throughout the day. As time went on I was spending more and more time chatting and to be fair not getting much work done! One day I was approached by Stavros (son in law of Irene) who had noticed what I had been up to and rather than tell me to concentrate on my work he offered my a position 'Baggage Handler'......

"A what?" 

I didn't like the sound of that but Stavros added a little charm to it by answering 

"Turner".... (that's what he calls me)"

You will be the first person people see and the last... they will remember you" 

Not entirely convinced I decided to give it a go, I actually loved it, I was spending even more time now chatting and really getting to know about the guests... perfect.

Most of our guests were Yogis, who I had a special connection with. I was beginning to fall in love with it, learning from teachers from all over the world and discovering that I was just like them. In a way I was already a Yogi without the moves. I was surprised how many people had a similar story to me and that we were looking for an alternative from the norm. The world around us, a lifestyle that benefited not only the body, but mind. The more people I met, the more genuine friends I met, each one having a positive impact on my life.

I wanted to give something back. I also wanted to encourage others to look into Yoga as an alternative from medication and other methods that are often counterproductive.

And so began the birth of ELYSIA, bringing teachers together in one place, sharing this magnificent Island and hotel, but most of all a place whereby we could create a community, a group of people that connect, exchange and collaborate, a convention with a difference.

I dreamt of something intimate, something that was not about cramming people in a sports hall. I wanted people to feel like they were coming home to a family they felt they had always knew. Irene and Stamatis shared my enthusiasm, it was also clear to me that having a family Feeling at the hotel was very important to them. You only have to see the reviews about the hotel.

They trusted my enthusiasm and we decided to organise our first ELYSIA International Yoga Convention 2017. In order to fit it into the year it was decided to bring the start of the season forward by 1 week (April 5th). It was actually October we had the conversation, it was a tough challenge, but I had a super little team that worked passionately....we did it and it was the most beautiful thing I have ever been involved with. I am so proud to see how ELYSIA is evolving and imagine this will continue year after year after year.

I want to thank every person that has helped me to get where I am today, 

David Kennet, 

Kat Webster, 

Anja Kursawe, 

Julia Simpson, 

Cristal Gould, 

Karuna DiLibero, 

Steven Mangini 

especially as they have always been supportive and know all about my journey.

I will always be grateful to everyone and also to Yoga itself, the chatter in my mind is no more, I learned how important it is to breathe, to slow down, to think clearly, to focus and to allow myself to love myself. I learned to be patient. I learned to say the word no (ok a little more ha ha). I learned that my thoughts were well….just thoughts, I had so much to be grateful for.

Now I have EVOLVED and trying to give back to the Yoga Community,

I respect Yoga and spent a little time worrying about how western Yoga has lost some meaning, but I think it’s more important that I respect it in my way, without trying to create a stir or to preach, whichever way it is going. I have learned from so many people and heard so many points of view. We are all human and views are differently. I just want to live as yogically as possible, without putting myself through suffering in order, to find the way as they say. I think I have been through enough. All I can do is try to be the best version of me, and give out love, respect the planet I am thankful to be living on and everything that lives here too.

At the moment I am trying to create events that are not about money (That’s not a judgmental statement) I am lucky and live nomadically, I have no family to feed, no bills and have only needs (Food and a bed) I am happy with little. Organising ELYSIA 2017/2018 and now 2019 inspired me to create EVOLUTION. The Yoga industry is very saturated, so it’s not that easy, I don’t have funds for ads and i’m not the best when it comes to technology. I rely on FB, which has worked in the past, but now we have the algorithm thing going on which i’m sure does not help. However, I do have passion, a genuine love for yoga and community. I share peoples retreats, but must admit i’m slowing down from that now, as I see my events do not get shared. It goes against what I believe in and my ideology, as we should all share and support each other. But then again, I don’t have the pressures that others have.

Love Mat