When you make note of Pete Hughes’ various roles and hobbies, it starts to read somewhat like a bucket list for outdoor and fitness advocates. Currently a yoga teacher and massage therapist in Bristol, he’s also a kitesurfing instructor on various adventure retreats, where he also guides hikes, coasteering, surfing and cycling; you can catch him doing these in his spare time, too. That’s all without mentioning his time as a professional woodworker. Of all of these, though, it’s yoga that Pete is most entranced by.
For him, it’s about connecting with your body in much the same way as when you’re surfing, running or climbing; that psychosomatic relationship makes yoga completely applicable to outdoor adventure pursuits. It helps to keep your body strong and conditioned for high octane activities, and clears your mind for focus. It’s why he’s now leading a ‘Not-Just-Yoga Retreat’ in his native Ireland, on the wild West Coast, that’s as much about outdoor adventure as practise on the mats. Pete earned his yoga qualification while travelling through India, which is kind of like learning to climb with Alex Honnold.
He was on a two-year round-the-world trip at the time, having become disenchanted with urban life in London as a property developer. Before then, he’d lived in South Africa for four years on the coast, spending his spare time surfing, swimming and cycling up and down that rugged coastline. That daily engagement with the outdoors that he’d grown so accustomed to was suddenly missing, and he craved it.
After another short stint in South Africa, where he apprenticed as a woodworker, he moved back to Ireland and eventually to Bristol, where he lives now. Along the way, he’s made it a regular habit to just get outside, whether it’s driving across to South Wales to surf the coast or just hiking the local hills. Evenings, weekends, days off: it doesn’t really matter, Pete will be outdoors and doing something active. That, and regular yoga practise, is how he grounds himself.
The thing is, these small trips are exactly that: small, and uncomplicated. It’s an approach to outdoor adventure that many aspire to but few actually adopt; far too often, any meaningful engagement with the outdoors requires days or weeks of planning. Surfing on the coast, for instance, might be an annual event, whereas for Pete it’s a regular hobby. Availability plays a part, of course (he moved to Bristol to be closer to the coast and mountains, in part) but anyone can adopt the same mindset of getting outside as often as possible and having fun.
Beyond these regular trips, Pete also makes bi-monthly visits to Ireland to teach yoga and kitesurfing with Big Style, an adventure organisation on the West Coast who he runs his yoga retreat with. There’s also an annual trip to Tanzania to instruct on kitesurfing, though integration with the locals is a key part of those larger adventures. According to Pete, there’s always a football match between the guests and locals, with the winners getting a goat. “Thankfully we always lose, as I don’t know what we’d do with a goat”, he laughs.
Pete’s approach to outdoor adventure is a simple one: enjoy as much of it as you can, both on large-scale events and everyday activities. It’s a philosophy born from being denied regular access to the outdoors, then relocating himself and changing his career to make sure that need was being met. It is possible to make your life more adventurous and it will be worth it when you do. For starters, check out Pete’s Not-Just-Yoga Retreats; as an introduction to outdoor, laidback living, there’s little better.
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