Why change your name and move to Spain?

It’s been almost a full year since we left the Uk and it feels time to share with you why I have chosen the path I am choosing.

In November 2013 a new horizon presented itself at a time when our projects in the Uk were coming to a close. The College Project in Bristol and the Swindon Yoga and Massage Centre were wonderful educational journeys, yet it was becoming clear that commuting was not a sustainable way of life. The two projects were also unsustainable under the landscapes that were on offer at the time.  What now for Inner Smile Nurture?


An opportunity came to work with a very different landscape. We were asked to house sit for a lady in Spain, quite close to Malaga. During those 7 months my partner and I followed the Artists Way, a book that guides you through a journey of creative exercises. The house was called Las Tinajas, The Pots, with stunning 360 degrees of mountain views. In this pot we were held through winter and I gave time to my creativity. Whilst my work has always been beautifully creative, it became such a part of me that I gave little time to who I am outside of Inner Smile Nurture. The Artists Way gave me an opportunity to crack the egg and look at myself as an individual. Who am I? What do I need? Where am I going? Why? Am I making choices based on what I value?

At this time I chose to use the name ‘Maya Gayle’. In Portugal 2013 when practising yoga this name came to me in a wave. As I sat in meditation at Jai and Sofia’s house in Ericeira I felt an arising peace in life being an illusion. An illusion that I create, it was with this realisation that I embodied the name Maya.  This name is a reminder of who I am, an ancient being older than time.

Devine grace

I was nervous to share my chosen name with friends and family, thinking they might judge or feel it disrespectful of my past given name. Frances Lewis helped me with merging this experience by using ‘Maya Gayle’ in an email response. Now most of my friends happily call me Maya, some find this more difficult to adjust to & so call me Gayle. I happily embody both of these names. I also still feel a strong connection to my surname ‘Fletcher’ and even more so when practicing archery here in the mountains. “Fletcher” is an old name for someone who makes arrows.

Fletcher "arrow maker"

Whilst at Las Tinajas my partner Alex also took on a different name, Felix Rey, meaning Happy King. Around the time when his father passed away on New Years Eve this name was gifted to him by a friend. His father Nomad, also had many names through his life.  Nomad was a wonderful yogi and always shared the sun in his heart. For many yogis changing name is part of their life journey, in exploring self mastery and becoming Kings and Queens of our nations of one.

It feels that Felix and Maya are guardians as we move into adult life, gently encouraging Gayle and Alex to unlearn preconceptions. Maya holds hands with Gayle and helps me to step into taking responsibility for this life. The name Maya reminds me that there is a sense greater than life, wholesome and infinite. Gayle grounds me in experience and gifts love to all my friends and teachers. Maya Gayle is just a name and not really representative of who I am, I respond to it in conversation. Just as learning a new language, any object can have multiple names yet it still has the form, this form can be perceived in many ways at the same time by differing minds. The same mind can gift a different perspective of this object in any given moment, such is the dream of existence.


During this time in Las Tinajas we regularly visited our friend who lives in Yegen, a small mountain village in Andalucia. She has given Felix and I a most amazing gift, approximately four acres of land to live and work with in Yegen. Surrounded by the Alpujarras mountain range it is one of the most biodiverse lands in Europe. The landscape is quite incredibly supported by the irrigation channels created by the Moors. The water travels from snow that gathers on the mountain peaks, pure spring water. Clear air, pure water and fertile earth, of course we jumped at the chance to be with natures gifts.

As we packed up in the Uk this past summer I felt huge layers of clearing. It was an emotional time and as we were packing I felt a lot of fear and resistance. As we hugged my parents ready to leave I acknowledged the leap I was making. I am the little bird finally flying the Swindon nest. I cried deeply, as I imagine it maybe like for those who marry, the symbology of the father giving away his daughter felt very real in this moment. My Dad cried, one of the few times I have seen his tears, as I write tears again return to me. I felt so supported and such love and trust handed to us from my parents, they gave us two horse shoes, also a symbol of this change.

Typhoon's gifts

We travelled on the ferry with our converted ambulance and a yurt ready to set up on the land in Yegen. Now living here we are getting to know the local villagers and learning the language. The population of Yegen is rapidly decreasing as the youth go to work in cities, we bring youthful enthusiasm back to this area of stunning beauty. Without people to maintain the water systems the Alpujarras will return to desert. Climate change may see it that way regardless. The region has been inhabited for over 10,000 years and well managed can maintain fertile lands for all of natures inhabitants to thrive.

In choosing to live more closely with nature and leaving much of what I know behind, I have everything to learn. In the not knowing and accepting being a fool, I am vulnerable in this venture.  I regularly feel fear, in fact savasana (corpse pose) is often feeling more like gripping to a rock face rather than the blissful surrender I’ve known in the past. This will change, as all things in time. I trust in the greater spirit to guide me and I step slowly in surrender, palms open with tears in my eyes.

What are we doing in Spain?

Here in Yegen we are steadily growing a food and medicine garden, living yoga, simply and in tune with natures rhythms.

In Autumn I naturally deepen my pranayama (breathing practice) and invite aloe vera to cleanse my system. There will be an article about seasonal yoga practice in my October blog at www.innersmilenurture.com

I am steadily researching venues to host some regular yoga classes and workshops, for now classes are available in the natural park with beautiful mountain views. In time I aim to offer yoga classes in Spanish too.

Research is in progress for us to grow and create aromatherapy essential oils, this will take some time. For now “Message in a Bottle” prescription blends are made to order.

Yoga for gardeners is something I’m discovering, easing the lower back, shoulders, and hands. I’ve been surprised that my hands can ache from pulling weeds!

Thanks to Gerald Jones, a yoga student from Swindon, we are learning about wonderful water harvesting technology that could help us to have a lesser impact in living with our environment.

How can you be involved?

You can come for a holiday to Yegen, it’s one of the most beautiful hiking routes in the world. Come for a camping visit to help out with gardening and building. Or you can stay in a holiday apartment in the village and still come to play on the land.

During your stay you can book yoga classes and massage therapy with me.

You can mail order “Message in a Bottle” aromatherapy blends for yourself or gifts by emailing me at : innersmilenurture@gmail.com

In May 2015 I have hired a gorgeous venue in Lanjaron to host a yoga retreat “Yoga for Nurturing the Wild Within” Full details for this are on my website listed below. If you book before December then you can receive a half price massage with me for during the retreat.

Join my mailing list for newsletters, follow my blog and Facebook at :  www.innersmilenurture.com

You can also make a donation to support our project. Donations help us towards creating a medicine garden and building a holistic space for yoga, dance, therapy, women’s circles, music and community sharing. We are naturally getting involved in helping with animal welfare in the local area.

You can email us at innersmilenurture@gmail.com for details to donate through Paypal or Bacs payments.
Keep in touch, I’d love to hear from you.
Email : innersmilenurture@gmail.com
With love and bright wishes,

Maya Gayle