Restoration at ION: Sophie G James (Arkana Yoga) InterviewThu 30th Apr
At ION, connection doesn’t just happen on the dance floor. Our Restoration program is a chance to experience a sense of calm and the natural highs that complement the rave. An intrinsic link exists between music, nature and wellbeing, and it’s with this in mind that we’ve developed our rebalancing timetable of yoga, meditation and sound healing. All levels and abilities are welcome, from curious first timers to those with existing practices. No matter your reason for attending, Restoration is an added dimension to the festival, a communal decompression in unspoiled surroundings.
We recently caught up with Sophie G James from Arkana Yoga to discuss her restoration program at ION and her thinking behind it.
Thank you for taking the time to speak to us Sophie. What can we expect from ION’s Restoration program?
It’s a pleasure! Sound and music is paramount to the Restoration program as well as detoxifying practices, with a few special experiences up our sleeves. The idea is that Restoration is for everyone to enjoy, no matter your background or previous experience. As well as breathwork and yoga classes, we’ll be delving into the world of Cacao - a raw chocolate packed with antioxidants that acts a natural ecstasy - and Kundalini, a detoxifying breathwork practice that induces a trance-like state whilst purifying the body.
It’s a chance to experience natural highs, health and happiness to complement the rave - for a sense of calm and connection, to rebalance during the times we need it most. All levels, all abilities, everybody welcome: people who are curious, first timers, sceptics, as well as people with existing practices.
You’ve practiced in Dhermi before, can you tell us more about the location and its energy?
The setting is next level gorgeous. The coastline has the mountains overlooking the sea, it’s just unreal. The local people are as warm as the Albanian sun and the fruits and flowers set this insane natural palette of colours and textures. You feel elevated and blessed being there. And the water… crystalline clear, distinct blue, perfect temperature - it’s like silk, it feels so nice on the skin. Water unlike anywhere. The canyon of Gjipe is mind-blowing - like an island it’s only accessible by boat. So epic. The location itself is easily one of the most special places I’ve been to; the entire place is something totally unique, like being in on a secret time and place. We’re so fortunate for the opportunity to be there. All in all - it’s a really, really epic location with some of the best event producers in the game.
Festivals and live music events are increasingly pairing with wellness and holistic practices – what is the connection?
There’s a lot to be said about bridging the worlds of music and hedonism, and happiness holistically. It’s about feeling really good in our bodies whilst coming together, whilst doing things that we enjoy, that are good for us, being liberated, expressive, in beautiful places with beautiful people around us. Modern and ancient science states that everything is frequency. We are vibrating at immense speed, and music is such an expression of our humanity’s vibrancy, as much as embodied practices that work with the health of our bodies and spirits. We tend to see people across both spheres of music and wellness as people who are explorers; people who are open to experiences, connecting and discovering. The connection between these worlds and these people is life, effectively - it is embodied creativity and perfect for those who enjoy enjoying life. These worlds are intrinsically connected.
I have the point of view that there's a certain emotional intelligence with people who love and live for music. There’s often a passion, depth or sensitivity there - whether that’s conscious or subconscious - and this translates perfectly between people and dare I say it, spirituality. Besides that, those of us who breathe music can have personalities which are often notoriously hard to satisfy. Generally, we’re people that go for ‘more, more, more’… so integrating wellbeing is a way of honouring our passions whilst giving some consistency to our everyday lives and adventures.
Tell us more about your background, and what led you to this vocation…
My origins are in underground music, namely techno and drum and bass. From raving and flyering, to interviewing artists and presenting, looking after warehouse venues and licensing shows, to programming festivals and club nights, I’ve had a pretty colourful time being part of underground music for the best part of 10 years.
What brought me to this vocation was repetitive burn out and in the process of recovering from that, confronting a lot of different parts of myself. I’d take myself traveling to learn lessons, experience liberation, and get inspiration from cultures, values and traditions outside our everyday living. I am passionate about sharing these wisdoms of awakening in a way that’s enjoyable and accessible to everyone. I’ve been working with a broad demographic of people all my life, and especially in the last couple years, which gives a new level of appreciation for life.
It's a constant journey and I’m human too - I just want to share the humanity of this path and this practice. Life is nuts a lot of the time, and I am adamant there are ways we can enjoy ourselves a lot more - by looking after ourselves, and each other.
What is the meaning of ‘Arkana’ and what philosophy / philosophies lie behind your practice?
Arkana is a sensory experience more than a conventional yoga class. Arkana is really about adapting for the needs and moods of the moment, a practice that’s very much about inspiring and uplifting as much as it is grounding and soothing. Sound and sensory exploration is an integral part of that. The practice itself evolves from extensive self-practice and study, discovering techniques in sound therapy, Buddhist meditation, ancient philosophy and beyond. The word has origins in various ancient languages; namely ‘Arkana’ is the protection given through sound in shamanic ceremony. You’d need to experience it yourself to really know.
What are your ‘top tips’ for a festival week in Albania?
Take in the surroundings and be sure to ask how people are - the people next to you, around you, your friends and yourself included. Make sure you get in that water every damn day! Definitely hydrate. Speak to the locals, try the local foods, especially the fruits! TRY THE FIGS. Eat local honey, enjoy the local food, try and learn some Albanian from the locals! And enjoy some world class music in one of the most epic locations you'll ever go.
And finally, what are your hopes / intentions for the week?
I intend to be grateful and present in every moment. To facilitate epic memories for anyone seeking. To deliver special sessions with an amazing and professional team. I hope to introduce practices to people who might not normally get to experience them as well as share special moments in and out of Restoration. I hope to enhance everyone’s time, to soak in Albania as much as ION’s stage and sound production. I intend to be energising, detoxifying and enjoying it all!
100% of the profits from all Restoration sessions will be donated to Albanian charity Fundjave Ndryshe, supporting their efforts in building houses, schools and hospitals for those living in poverty across Albania.