Dec 16, 2020

Memories Of South France and Simon Moyes

Ryan discusses his first encounter with Simon Moyes at the at a pretty picturesque retreat in the South of France run by the Luxury Wellness Team.

I first met Simon Moyes in 2015. The setting was at a pretty picturesque retreat in the South of France run by the Luxury Wellness Team, Bodhimaya. I was there, principally to teach yoga and potentially some martial arts.

I was approached directly by the owners of the retreat in South Kensington, London, where at the time I taught regular clients and classes. After our meeting and conversation, I thought it sounded like a wonderful idea to get involved.


The group’s first night of the retreat began with a lovely dinner and getting to meet the guests, although it was a bit of blur meeting everyone all at once. The next morning, it was straight into it with morning Yoga and Meditation. I would offer daily group yoga and private one on one sessions.

My first real memory of Simon was of him walking into a yoga class in the morning session looking completely unenthused – as if he’d been dragged along by his girlfriend, and with a slight element of a toddler strop! I remember thinking “this guy is cool”, as he remarked something along the lines of, “OK, let’s see what this is all about then”.

There was cheeky and fun energy to Simon. I thought right away that Simon was light and uplifting addition to the classroom dynamic.

Regardless of his somewhat reluctant entrance, he stayed and took part in the whole session. He did say that his girlfriend was into yoga and has been recommending it to him, but it had not been something he’d initially been drawn to.

Before the start of the retreat, I’d been informed that the guests would be on a strict detox diet and may not have the energy to do an overly intense yoga class. The first session was an opportunity for me to gauge the level everyone was working at. The level was very varied!

Mr Moyes’ girlfriend looked like she could teach the class, whereas, in the nicest possible way, Mr Moyes seemed to have neglected his yoga body over the years!

The retreat, although structured, had its chill time, and the group would have moments to relax by the pool and enjoy the weather and hikes around the grounds. This provided time to get to know everyone further.

As the retreat went on, Simon would continue taking the yoga sessions with me and also did a few privates. He mentioned that he was actually feeling the benefits of the yoga and nutritional detox in himself – he had the overall feeling of better health and stronger more mobile in his body.

Initially, I could see areas of extreme tightness and underused muscles. I saw that his body and, in turn, his mind would benefit greatly from the practice. Although we only had a short time, it was enough to make an initial impact.

During one of our private sessions, we discussed Simon’s injuries and concern points, one being tightness in the lower back, where we identified the piriformis as one of the main culprits in contributing to the pain and tightness. The piriformis is a relatively small muscle but can have a big impact on our wellbeing. It is located deep in the buttock and runs diagonally from the lower spine to the upper surface of the femur. The infamous sciatic nerve runs underneath or through the muscle.

Most people are walking around with extremely tight and wound up muscles in their bodies. In yoga posture (Āsana), we are working the body as a whole, superficially and deeply, and the Āsana target a variety of muscles at any given time. One of the benefits of the yoga postures is to release these wound up areas and develop length and also strength. We used a few postures, trigger points, breathing technique and thoracic opening to target problem areas and bring some relief.

As I got to know Simon, I learned of his well established orthopaedic practice and deep knowledge of the body. We began to exchange ideas on how we might use our combined knowledge to offer further value to our individual client base. We also looked at the use of yoga in relation to surgical practice and its various possibilities, such as a possible preventative for surgery, pre-surgery prepping of the body, boosting the immune system and joint health for a smoother overall experience, and post-surgery yoga for a more pleasant, faster and well-rounded recovery and re-building.

I was very impressed with Simon’s open-minded approach to yoga/martial arts and their healing and preventive qualities, as well as how they might work in conjunction with his own discipline of surgery.

Returning our thoughts back to the South of France, here are briefly some of the basic techniques we used in our one-to-one sessions.

In order to bring back some strength, and structure to the lumbar region and gluteal muscles we used Salabhāsana (Locust pose). Of course, there are many ways to practice, but as a basic guide, start with 2-3 sets of 5 deep or full breaths. No crunching of the lumbar spine – reach fully and really lengthen out the through the tips of the fingers and toes. Follow this with a few breaths in Bālāsana (Child’s Pose).

Then we would move into a variation Eka Pāda Rājakapotāsana (Pigeon Pose) assisted by props. Be particularly careful of the knees here, and use a fusion or block under the hip to support your weight until the body opens up. Again, aiming for around 5 deep breaths 2-3sets. This would help target the piriformis and release tension from the musculature of the gluteal and lumbar regions.

Further, we would use a bolster or block under the back around T12/L1 area and move to different areas as we went along. Combined with our full breaths, we’d aim to stay here for around 10+ breaths to allow deep-held tension to naturally melt away. In turn, allowing the body the space to strengthen and lengthen the muscles without interference.

To finish, we always allow the body to lay flat and rest, letting the system recover and absorb the effects of the training. This is just an example of a few parts of what we might do, and usually one would be doing these postures as a full routine or class of yoga. How long you hold or repeat will vary greatly and when doing one to ones would be very specific to you.

I do hope this has been an entertaining introduction and light read, and you find some use in the postures mentioned. As for myself, I’m London born and based, and I’ve taught yoga, martial arts and animal locomotion since 2005 internationally, long before the Instagram craze of teachers!

To finish, I’d like to mention, and I doubt Simon realises this, but I feel I’ve learned both personally and professionally from him. I’ve actually looked up to him, as a younger man watching and listening to how he has dedicated to his work, knowledge and practice and developed such a highly regarded and established business yet remained a kind of cool, cheeky, edgy, yet professional surgeon. Always inspired and excited to work with him and provide further value and joint service to our clients. More to come soon!

Ryan KCM

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