Soft, powdery sands. Crystal waters, gently lapping the shore. The golden glow of the setting sun, fading into pastel pink skies. Ibiza and Formentera’s striking natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere make the Balearic sister islands the perfect place to soothe your mind and reconnect with your body. And thanks to Mellow At Home’s virtual yoga classes, you can escape to these dreamlike sceneries whenever your heart desires.
Recorded in the most beautiful outdoor settings Ibiza and Formentera have to offer, the sessions are led by Dutch yoga teacher Sascha Vos de Wael and filmed by her partner Tomas Toonders. Together they have created an online library of virtual yoga classes, meditations and breathwork training that offers a variety of different techniques and themes. With her calm and soothing voice, Sascha guides viewers through each session in perfect English, making the classes accessible for people from all over the world.
Wake up your body with a sun-centered ritual filmed on Ibiza’s Cala Nova beach, open your heart by harnessing the energy of Venus during a yin/yang session in the ‘campo’ of Sant Carlos or practise forgiveness supported by the peaceful visuals from Formentera’s famous Ses Illetes peninsula (like you have never seen it before: completely empty).
To give each class even more soul-nourishing benefits, Sascha has themed many of the sessions around the 12 astrological signs and the lunar cycle. Analysing the qualities and character traits associated with each sign of the Zodiac, she creates her routines to support and elevate her viewers through the energies of each season.
You can also find more specific ‘self care’ videos in Mellow At Home’s growing collection of virtual yoga classes and mediations; for example a gentle yin flow to help with period pain or a dreamy bedtime sequence filmed under the rising Full Moon. Mellow At Home members can also sign up for special online events such as New Moon retreats or social media detox weekends.
We met Sascha and Tomas on a sunny winter’s day on the beach of Cala Pada, one of the duo’s favourite and one of the first locations where Sascha began to build the Mellow community with free outdoor yoga classes. Here, we talk about how the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic ended up laying the stepping stones for their virtual wellness platform, their mission to help people all over the world to create a beautiful home practice and why it’s more important than ever to step away from the noise of social media and the never-ending news cycle…
Congratulations on the launch of your beautiful platform! Can you tell us about how Mellow At Home was born?
Tomas: We moved to Ibiza in early 2017 and started by organising yoga retreats because Sascha has a background in teaching.
Sascha: One of my favourite teachers was a direct assistant to Paul Grilley, one of the key founders in Yin Yoga. It came really purely from the source and it sparked so much for me.
Tomas: At the time I was working as an Ibiza travel guide, so we thought let’s combine the two. It was going really well, but in the end we both felt that the hassle of the administrative work was outweighing what we loved about the retreats: the connection with the people. But even though I didn’t know it at the time, I was already organically creating a new job for myself. From the first retreat we organised, I began to document everything on camera so I could produce ‘after movies’…
Sascha: And then he began to get enquiries from venues about his filming work! Seeing how much Tomas enjoyed it inspired me to pick up the camera myself. I began filming yoga retreats as well as doing ‘second shooting’ at the weddings that Tomas was being booked for. Yoga became my ‘fun job’ and I started to give free classes to island residents once or twice a week – and that’s how Mellow Ibiza yoga got started!
What made you decide to take the Mellow community online and offer virtual yoga classes?
Sascha: Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, we didn’t have any filming work this season as so many events and weddings were cancelled. During the first lockdown, I was talking to one of my friends in the Netherlands who was doing all of her classes over Zoom. But I didn’t want to go back to being bound to a strict schedule, like I was when I was teaching yoga in a studio, so I didn’t think live-streaming was right for me. But then Tomas had the idea to record virtual yoga classes, so we could build up a gallery of videos that people could watch whenever they have time.
And in Ibiza you have the perfect backdrop! Is it more difficult to film outside?
Sascha: At first we wanted to film inside to have perfect sound and lighting, but we just couldn’t find the right space. Then, one day, I was preparing a class that was all about waking up the body and I really wanted to film it outside during the sunrise. It came out amazing and the setting was just so incredible. That’s when we decided to film all our videos in nature.
Tomas: We have developed our own way of filming without any noise distortions or interruptions. When we started with the videos, we would often have dogs starting to bark in the background or the wind being incredibly noisy. So now Sascha records the audio first, and then listens to her own class via a mini speaker while I film her outdoors.
Sascha: We can basically film anywhere and it works really well! We just went over to Formentera because it’s amazing at this time of the year – we could basically pick any beach we wanted…
Tomas: One of Formentera’s most famous beaches, the peninsula of Ses Illetes, was completely empty yesterday. There was no wind and the sun was shining, so I went for a swim while Sascha was recording the class.
There are so many virtual yoga classes available now, but as well as filming on these two incredible islands you also have the astrology connection that makes Mellow At Home stand out!
Sascha: Tomas wasn’t really sure about that in the beginning…
Tomas: ‘Keep it simple,’ I said.
Sascha: But I really wanted to offer something different and with the astrology element we can work with a special theme every month. It really inspires me to read about the zodiac signs and their characteristics. We just filmed our ‘Scorpio’ series, and this sign has a lot to do with transformation and shadow sides. We record eight classes every month and it really helps me to design the different routines.
Did you study astrology, Sascha?
Sascha: I’m self-taught. When I was little, my mum used to make astrology birth charts for people – so I grew up surrounded by piles of books on the planets. It fascinated me from a young age seeing her draw the lines between the planets and creating these charts. Growing up with her talking about star signs, ascendants and moons, I was already quite familiar with everything when I began to educate myself.
For this project, I wanted to dive deeper into the subject – but the main thing is still the yoga. There is so much we want to do with the platform and one of the ideas we had is to create a membership based on star signs, so people get access to all the videos from the month of their birthday. And then you can also give it to someone as a birthday gift.
Tomas: I also think the fact that we film only in nature makes the sessions even more special.
You really offer a portal to another world – especially for people who have to stay at home again…
Sascha: During the first lockdown, I started to do daily meditations on via Instagram TV at @mellow.at.home – and now that so many people are in this situation again I’m going to bring them back. These are really hard times for a lot of people, so I want to offer my support outside of the membership option.
These are very challenging times and the bad news just seem to keep coming…
Tomas: Nowadays we have two realities: online and offline. And offline is much smaller, but it also feels… nice. It’s more local. You can hear the news from the people you interact with, instead of being bombarded with everything. This is why we offer regular social media detox weekend retreats – so you have three days of no WhatsApp, no social media, no news sites – nothing. And it feels really great.
Sascha: You can waste so much time on your phone just scrolling. And it takes time away from yourself: from having a nice morning routine, from spending time in nature, from spending time with your family…
Tomas: Our generation can still remember what life was like before the Internet arrived, but the younger generations have no idea how a world without the Internet works! I feel really strongly about giving people the experience of waking up with a clear mind instead of grabbing your phone first thing in the morning. Having social media keeps you on a kind of surface level – it’s easier to go deeper into yourself when you don’t have these constant distractions.
Sascha: We have designed a nice little programme to keep our subscribers ‘in the moment’. We start on a Friday evening and for 48 hours, you get to experience what would improve if you don’t constantly have that device by your side. How is it benefitting your morning routine, your mental health and your energetic levels? We set new intentions, and in the morning there is a 15-minute walking meditation in nature – but I encourage everyone to stay outdoors longer. Then there are full-length 60 to 75-minute classes such as a Midday Flow, Evening Yin Yoga, Podcast episodes… we want you to really sink into it!
It sounds wonderful… Where do we sign up?
Tomas: Everything is hosted on our own platform www.mellowathome.com. And accessible through a membership that costs 10 Euros a month. We wanted people to feel like they can just try it, so they can cancel whenever they want. There is no minimum contract length – it’s a no-strings set-up.
Sascha: We really wanted to create something that has a bit of a community feel. I didn’t want a huge online gallery of free videos that feels overwhelming. We also want to offer a kind of guidance to our members, for example that a certain video or series is perfectly suited to a particular time of year or occasion. This also ties in with some principles from Ayurveda, really working with the seasons. There are so many different ways you can practise yoga and I wanted it to be really suited to the energy of each month.