Our Team

Our Team

Our Retreats are facilitated by an inspiring, experienced and dedicated team.

‘When you learn, teach, when you get, give’ ― Maya Angelou

Leonie Nanassy

Esalen® Massage bodywork therapist

Leonie NanassyLeonie is the founder of Hands On Life. She is an Esalen® Massage bodywork therapist, and lifestyle adviser.

Her passion for vibrant living has been the cornerstone of her professional development. Leonie has many years of experience participating in and facilitating a wide range of creative events, retreats and workshops around the world. Learning from gifted and committed teachers and healers, she has accumulated experience in a variety of areas including a range of healthy eating principles, drama and art therapy, tantra techniques and moving meditation such as Gabrielle Roth 5 Rhythms.

Leonie lives in the countryside with her partner, Laurence, and their melancholy springer spaniel, Fugly. She believes that including regular excercise, humour, kindness and healthy eating, makes us more at ease with ourselves and those around us.

Her motto: “Where you tend a rose, a thistle cannot grow”.



Anya Hawkes

Yoga teacher and wellness expert

Anya HawkesAnya is a dedicated life, mind and body explorer and passionate yoga instructor.

After many years of delving into the many facets of the wellness world Anya has discovered the most effective tools for transformation which she shares with love, wisdom and a great sense of humour.

Consciousness warrior, life-lover and global teacher with her feet firmly planted on the earth but with her head full of fun and dreams,  Anya’s core message is one of positive self-centering.

When she is not on the mat, on the move or being mum to teenage boys,  Anya loves to cook, create, travel and dance and dream big!

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Carrie Allcott

Our in-house cook

Carrie Allcott

Carrie is our in-house cook. She cooks with her heart and soul. We are incredibly fortunate to have Carrie in residence on our retreats. You can literally taste the love in her food!

Her work in the culinary arts has taken her on some great adventures from setting up an outdoor organic catering company, overseeing catering for Wild Women groups, Chi Gong camps and movement medicine dance groups to catering in Buckfast Abbey for Zhixing Wang – master healer, where they loved the ‘Chi’ in her food.

She has worked in the famous organic Riverford field kitchen gaining inspiration from Jane Baxter’s passion and expertise, and most recently in the organic kitchen at the Karuna Institute.

Bridget Rees

Administrator & Host

Bridget Rees

Bridget is the Administrator and Host at Hands on Life. She’s also a yoga obsessed Cornish girl who enjoys the sunshine. She loves to write, she’ll read any book you hand to her, and is willing to spend hours hunting down a ripe avocado. You’ll often find her looking guilty with a cup of tea and an empty packet of dark chocolate.

Bridget is doing a degree in Event Management and loves learning and sharing her knowledge of yoga. She is qualified in Indian Head Massage and very passionate about well being, whole foods, positive and holistic living.

She is always excited about practicing yoga in the studio and learning nutritious recipes in the kitchen.

Her motto: “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl


Sarah Murphy

Naturopath and Herbalist

Sarah Murphy is a herbalist and naturopath with over ten years’ experience working with plant medicines. She runs a busy herbal clinic in Cornwall where she manufactures many of her own medicines, including a range of popular medicinal skin creams and herbal syrups.

Sarah trained at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London and has a special interest in Iridology, herbal skin care and gardening. As a former teacher, she enjoys sharing her passion with others by running regular herb walks and workshops designed to reconnect people with the magical power of plants.

Sarah is also a freelance health writer, and has a number of articles published in journals and websites around the world.

More information about Sarah and her work can be found on her website The Freelance Naturopath

Special Guest Teachers

We have some very special guest teachers coming from time to time.

Jo Betts

Yoga InstructorJo Betts Yoga Teacher

As I stumbled across yoga for the first time over twenty years ago I couldn’t believe I had found such a beautiful practice which involved developing the body and mind in such a way that it would take me on a lifelong journey of self-discovery.
I am a qualified yoga instructor, having completed Yoga Alliance accredited training. I have practiced and trained with many inspirational teachers such as Rod Stryker, John Scott, Regina Ehlers, Manju Jois and more recently I have been studying with Rolf and Marci Naujokat in India.
I am a dedicated yoga instructor committed to sharing these teachings for the benefit of all, regardless of age, level of fitness, lifestyle or spiritual leanings.
It has been said that ‘yoga is not for people who don’t want to change’. Yoga becomes an active force in our lives. It reawakens our senses and becomes a transformational process, an alchemy for the soul. Self-limiting ideas that serve us no purpose other than to hold us hostage in a state of complacency seem to diminish as yoga realigns us, and guides us towards a lighter, freer and more compassionate way of living.

John O’ Conner

SculptorJohn Betts Sculptor

Johns interest in sculpture began as a hobby through which he discovered he could communicate his thoughts, feelings and interests in a way which held his attention and inspired his imagination. John trained at the ‘The Art Academy’ in London. His talents were recognised by two renowned sculptresses Lorne McKeen and Tanya Russell. Both artists generously offered their support from which John benefited greatly. John spent the next few years assisting various professional sculptors, after which he established his own studio.
‘‘John’s sculptures are beautiful, inspiring and thought provoking.”
Over the years Johns work has become increasingly popular and much sought-after. Johns signature style is clear to see with the exaggerated form and sincere emotional study of the lone figure. Key works such as ‘Innerspace’ ‘Beyond Limitations’ and more
recently ‘Alchemy of The Heart’ demonstrate his recognisable style.

Ellen Watson

Esalen® Institute moving meditation

Ellen Watson

Ellen Watson is celebrating her 30th year on faculty & staff at Esalen® Institute, California, where she practices, and teaches various modalities of moving meditation practice. Ellen is a senior trainer of Esalen® Massage & Bodywork, Gabrielle Roth’s 5Rhythms™, Holotropic™ Breathwork, and creator of SpiritDanceSoulSong, The Art of Essential Touch, and Your Body is a Musical Instrument. From 1984 through 2003, Ellen developed and administered the Movement Arts Program at Esalen®. In 1996, she founded MovingVentures™ International Healing Arts, a 501c3, whose mission is personal development and vocational education in the somatic arts, focusing on women and men in developing countries, and the southern USA. MovingVentures™ faculty offer workshops, retreats, and trainings at Esalen®, in Bali, and at other inspiring locations around the globe.


The Sleep Guru

Anandi The Sleep Guru

More information coming soon…

Gabriela Lerner

Raw Living Coach, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Personal & Spiritual Growth Coach and author of ‘Food Heroes’

Raw Food Retreat in Devon 2017

To Gabriela , raw food is a lifestyle, which includes not just the foods we eat, but also our spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing. She has cured herself of Fibromyalgia, IBS and Hypoglycaemia and has helped her husband recover from prostate cancer, all with the help of raw, vegan food and adopting a healthy, holistic and sustainable lifestyle. Bringing her skills together, she shares her unique approach of a nutrient dense, low sugar, vegan diet combined with healthy exercise, mindfulness and an attitude of wellness through retreats and workshops all over the world.

Gabriela lives in rural Dorset in the South West of England with her husband Neil. Her passion is to help people shift to a culture of health, where living healthily is not a burden, but offers joy, abundance and freedom in all areas of life.

Margaret Turner

Fine Jeweller

Jewellery Making Workshop Retreat with Margaret Jones
Margaret’s intuitive approach to jewellery design reflects individual personality and style, with the intention that both the wearer and giver enjoy the greatest pleasure. Her inspiration comes from life and she strongly believes that jewellery should be timeless and unique to the wearers lifestyle.

She always designs jewellery to work in total harmony with the human form, to be comfortable and ready for any occasion.

Since graduating from Central School in the early 70s, her striking and innovative jewellery designs have won accolades throughout the world, featuring in both private and Royal collections. She is ceaselessly passionate and prolific, often collaborating in design outside of her usual media, bringing a lifetime of experience to her work.

Jem Friar

Personal Detox Coach
N.C., I.I.S.T., I.S.T.Y.M., I.T.E.C., S.P.

Jem Friar Detox Retox Retreat

Jem has been running detox & health retreats as the Personal Detox Coach & with his own & various other superb detox retreat companies in the UK & overseas, since 2000. He was also in two TV series (“The Spa of Embarrassing Illnesses” & “Spa of Weight Loss for Life”) about detox retreats that help people suffering from long-term, chronic health & weight problems.
Jem has trained in naturopathy, yoga, chi gung, meditation, life coaching & numerous forms of bodywork including Structural Re-balancing, Thai massage, sports massage, holistic massage, Indian head massage, Reiki & Reconnective Energy healing.
Jem is passionate about supporting people to come back to optimal health & balance which he does in a light-hearted, playful, educational & compassionate way.


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