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24 questions with Leonie Nanassy, founder of Hands On Life

Leonie Nanassy
Leonie Founder of Hands on Life Retreats, Devon
Find out more with Leonie

At Hands on Life our ethic and inspiring people to reconnect is very important to us, find out more in 24 questions from 24 Fingers…

#1. So, what’s your favourite word?


#2. Excellent. What gets you up in the morning?

Hope, tea and the dog.

#3. What do you truly, honestly think of social media?

It’s a minefield, exciting, endlessly creative, time-consuming and time-wasting.

#4. Kindles or books?

Oh, books. Books are beautiful.

#5.  Roger that.What do you think is the biggest challenge to your industry right now?

Within massage? It’s the no-touching policy. There are laws around touch which, in certain circumstances, is the right thing as you have to be so careful, but it means people are kept away from touch. Touch is what helps us to pause, ground, and nurture our body and minds, helping us to thrive and reconnect with ourselves and our loved ones… and it’s a fabulous tool to express your creativity.

#6.  What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A teacher but somewhere along the way, I started to have dreams of being an actress or dancer, and then a sculptress. In one way actually, now I am a teacher and I dance.

#7. What led you to your current career?

When I was working promoting the arts and doing fairly big creative events, I burnt out. I went to California when a friend challenged me that they would pay half the fee for a month long massage training at the famous Esalen Institute. The whole experience along with very inspiring teachers absolutely resonated with me. It felt like I could explain everything I felt through my hands.

See the whole interview here




WIN a place on our next retreat!!



Join us for our Esalen® Massage and 5Rhythms Dance® Retreat in June!

Win a place at our next retreat in May 2017
Win a place at our next retreat in May 2017

A unique opportunity to experience the power of touch with internationally renowned massage and movement teacher Ellen Watson 🌿
Unwind, connect, nourish, learn and relax in magical surroundings. We will guide you through an inspiring weekend of massage, 5Rhythms dance, yoga, meditation, delicious food and much more!
Bring magic into your everyday life ✨

To enter LIKE our Facebook page, TAG a friend and SHARE!


Celebrating Mother’s Day


Mother’s day is a time to remember ALL of our mothers:

Our birth mother and all the amazing females in our lives that have guided, nurtured and loved us throughout our journey. Especially in our worst and moments of craziness and self doubt. It seems to me that all woman, including those without their own blood children, are mothers and carers to something. For example; to friends, elderly parents, animals, other people’s children and even nurturing or caring for mother nature. At Hands on Life we feel that Mother’s Day is a celebration of being female. We work hard, we sacrifice, we passionately care for others, we guide, we fix, we create … we sometimes forget how incredible we are. Whether your mother’s day is a big family event or a special day just for you, enjoy it & take time to appreciate yourself ❤️️

A wonderful Grandma

In memory of a wonderful Mother & Grandmother

Did you know…

The word for “Mom” is “Mama” in Mandarin Chinese, “Mamma” in Iceland, “Em” in Hebrew, and “Me” in Vietnamese. Because one of the first utterances babies make is a “Ma” sound, nost languages around the world have that sound as the basis for their word for “mother.”

Rose scented

Gaia, or Mother Earth, was the first goddess in Greek mythology. She created herself out of primordial chaos. She also created Earth and the universe.

💋 Here’s to celebrating all the wonderful women in the world💋

Happy Mothers Day❣️

The Old Rectory, Devon

❤️️ Gift an inspiring women in your life with a special retreat ❤️️

Are you in need of some quality YOU time, or know someone who is? Why not spend a wonderful long weekend with us in Devon.
Join our Esalen® Massage Retreat this June!
Rest deeply in your own luxury en suite rooms, feast on healthy, nourishing and delicious food, bask in the beautiful surroundings and connect through touch, learning a skill that will stay with you for life.
❣️ Change your life through art & movement ❣️
The Old Rectory’s stunning setting, stylish living and workshop spaces create an ideal environment for relaxing in nature while returning to the wisdom of your senses and your body. This retreat is designed for anyone, whether new to Esalen® practices, or wanting to spend time cultivating presence, awareness, touching and being touched in body, mind, heart, and spirit.
Click here to find out more:

Leonie Massage

 Book Now


Fierce love: a date with myself : Review

On a retreat
How do we make time for ourselves in this busy world and what can happen when we do? Alex Fisher came down to our Fierce Love retreat at The Old Rectory in Devon this summer.

Alex really has felt lasting transformative effects from her weekend retreat with us – see her review on Psychologies and you will see what I mean.

Find out about more workshops and retreats with Anya and Leonie on the Retreat Calendar or call 07974 385842.

Leonie & Anya Introducing…

July Newsletter

Leonie and AnyaA big thank you to all of our retreat participants for making each and every one of our retreats a special time to remember. We loved the feedback “everything you do, you do it with so much love.” because we love what we do and we love that it shows.

Our website has been given a facelift and we have a new collection of inspiring retreats, in addition to our first yoga teacher training in the upcoming year.

We’d love you to take a look……

A sample of our upcoming retreats, see retreat calendar for full schedule.


October 7th – 10th 2016 | Yoga & Ayurveda Retreat

An inspirational autumnal retreat sowing the seeds for positive change. Experience yoga, meditation, delicious seasonal meals and nurturing treatments, gently infused with Ayurvedic wisdom.



Nov 18th – 21st 2016 | Strengthen your Core Connection

Discover the transformation of Positive Self-centering with a true understanding of ‘Core Integration’ in all that you do. You will start to move, live, feel, love and speak differently.



January 13th – 16th 2017 | Strong to the Core

Inogen Gunter Pole Instructor

Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga integrated with fun Pole lessons (no experience necessary), nourishing meals, beautiful accommodation and great treatments.


We are excited to bring our first Teacher Training to The Old Rectory

in collaboration with Hands on Life at the Old Rectory in Devon. UK
Yoga Teacher Training

Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga is a biomechanics, transitions, flow-based style, created by world-renowned yogi Sadie Nardini.Alyson Wish and Anya Hawkes are master trainers for Sadie Nardini and travel the globe taking helping to train Next Level Teachers.

Our 200hr UK 2017 Training will be a 3 module retreat-based training immersed in the gorgeous Devonshire countryside. This structure of training will help you to dive into the training without the distractions of everyday life, leaving you open to learning and evolving as a teacher!

200hr Rockstar Teacher Training – 3 Modules of 5 days

Module 1: February 3rd to 8th 2017
Module 2: May 9th to 14th 2017
Module 3: September 26th to October 1st

*You must complete all the modules to be a Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga, Yoga Alliance Certified Teacher.

Price: £3000


– Certified Yoga Teacher Training with two special teachers –

– *3 x 5 nights luxury accommodation –

*based on 2 sharing a luxury ensuite room. For single room occupancy please add £300 per module




May Retreat – Yoga and Ayurveda

May Yoga Retreat


Yoga pose


Yoga and Ayurvedic Retreat

May 6th – 9th
Join us for this fun transformative retreat. You’ll be expertly guided through yoga and pranayama workshops designed to uplift and empower you.

We will explore Ayurvedic principles infused with our knowledge of the benefits of creating a more alkaline system for optimal health and wellness.

This 3 night all inclusive ‘Alkaline & Energise’ Retreat includes:

  • Food to help balance your body
  • All classes
  • Use of all facilities including salt water pool and sauna
  • and more
£390 shared luxury room
£540 single luxury room


07974 385842

Radical Acceptance

Hands on Life – recommended reading – exceptional books

radical-acceptanceRadical Acceptance –  Embracing your life with the heart of Budda by Tara Brach. This illuminating book is about radically accepting all things in your life. It is a clear and practical guide helping us to accept ourselves and our circumstances in this moment.

The book is a great resource taking us on a step by step journey away from the conflict, lack of confidence, guilt and shame and  leads us through meditation to radical acceptance of our life.

Join us in 2016!

Join us in 2016!

Swimming Pool

The Old Rectory’s ‘Hands on Life’ programme has been the backdrop for some truly inspirational retreats over the last few years, all hosted in this wonderfully tranquil environment in the heart of the west country.

Leonie Nanassy founded Hands on Life in 2014 with the pure intention to offer a luxurious yet approachable space for people to experience personal transformation.

Leonie met Anya Hawkes in St Lucia and LOVED her style and approach to Yoga. She invited Anya to host a retreat with her at the Rectory…since then she has become one of the primary retreat teachers at The Old Rectory.

After much success and incredible feedback from retreat guests, Leonie has invited Anya to become a partner of Hands on Life.x-anya-leonie

Pulling together their skills and many years of experience, passion and dedication we have created the ultimate in transformational luxury retreats.

Our inspirational 2016 schedule of events features our Yoga & Ayurveda retreats in addition to Youthful Living Programmes and Core Connection retreats to reclaim your core vitality, and our very special Sleep Retreat…there really is something for everyone!

Take a peak at

We invite you to browse over our offering for 2016.  As a warm welcome, and our gift to you, we are offering £100 off retreat prices for bookings taken before the end of January 2016 so there are no excuses but to give yourself a well earned break in the new year.

Nothing is more important than learning to live with more ease and kindness. Book yourself a very special gift… we look forward to seeing you soon…

the Hands on Life team


Our dedicated retreat team
Leonie Nanassy host & bodywork expert 
Anya Hawkes yoga & wellness expert
Carrie Allcott vitality chef & culinary expert


All of our luxury retreats are 3 nights and include stunning accommodation in one of our unique ensuite rooms, at least two classes and workshops per day and an abundance of deliciously healthy food and drinks everyday.
*some retreats may include treatments & consultation, please see individual listings for details.  

and receive £100 discount per person 

*50% deposit payable on booking & balance due 2 months prior to retreat start date

 Youthful Living Retreat
Jan 22nd & April 22nd 2016
Join our latest rejuvenating retreat and we’ll help you to feel youthful on the inside and out! In just 3 nights we’ll give you your va va voom back!  You’ll feel pampered, refreshed and ready to take on life (you’ll look fabulous too)

Strength:Core Connection
Feb 5th & Nov 18th

Lost your connection to your core? The place that keeps us feeling centred, powerful and courageous?


 Sleep Retreat
March 11th & Dec TBC
We are in the midst of a sleeplessness epidemic. We are incredibly excited to offer this unique sleep retreat to ease you back into a healthy pattern of rest and slumber, harmonising you with your pillow again.

Alkaline & Energise
Yoga & Ayurveda May 6th 2016May is the perfect time to put the spring back in your step! In this wonderful retreat you’ll be expertly guided through yoga and pranayama workshops designed to uplift, empower and gently detoxify you. You’ll feel energised and AMAZING!

The Winds of Change
Yoga & Ayurveda Oct 7th 

A beautiful, inspirational, autumnal retreat sowing the seeds for positive change.