I've been on three yoga retreats in the last twelve months. All of them bringing new experiences to the table which I'll talk about in future posts :)
My most recent retreat took place last weekend in Oxfordshire with one of my favourite yoga teachers, Steffy White.
It was a three day "Manifesting your Dreams" retreat taking place at a time when the hustle and bustle of Christmas ends and people reevaluate/refocus on the coming months.
We stayed in a massive (humongous!) house filled with character and plenty of space to chill by yourself or sit by big fires and chat to other yogis. I arrived at 3pm on the Friday and dropped my stuff off to my room, where we each got a rose quartz (crystal for manifesting and love), some palo santo (holy wood from South America, smells amazing and great for cleaning spaces) and a little notebook to jot down our thoughts.
We had our first yoga class at 4.30pm followed by an delicious dinner cooked by the amazing chef, Something from Sarah.
Afterwards we had an opening ceremony which was really special. Forming a circle in our beautiful practice room, we all introduced ourselves and said why we were at the retreat. My reason for being there was that I loved the idea of going to a retreat in January, a time of year that may seem uninspiring post the Christmas cheer, and having the opportunity to concentrate on hopes and dreams for 2017. The fact that the retreat was a long weekend in England was perfect too as I only had to take a day off work and travel 40 minutes on the train. The clincher for me, of course, was that the retreat was led by Steffy.
Steffy's yoga is something else. I've been going to her classes and workshops for over a year now and really connect with her style of teaching. She's playful, energetic and just so approachable in and out of class. Not only that but Steffy drops in little nuggets of insight and inspiration, woven into conversation so effortlessly that you can't help but digest and take it with you long after the class ends. She'll break down a seemingly impossible pose and talk about her yoga journey - assuring everyone that she is not super human and worked really hard to crack her inversions. Something that is really reassuring when you constantly see yogis nailing the trickiest of poses on Instagram etc. Her authenticity is super refreshing and a reason that I was so excited to go on this retreat.
It was my first time sharing a room at a retreat so I was curious to see how this would pan out. I packed earplugs (in case of snoring and just generally not being used to sharing a room) and an eye mask to make sure I slept well! I needn't have worried, the bedrooms were so big that even though I was in a three person room it felt really spacious. The girls I shared with were lovely too and I genuinely just conked out every night by 10.30pm.
On the Saturday, after our dynamic class and wonderful breakfast, I took advantage of the house's many, many bathrooms with huge bathtubs and indulged in a long bath while reading Carrie Fisher's book The Princess Diarists.
The wonderful thing about the retreat was that there was a real emphasis on doing what felt right for your body. We had free time from 11am-4pm on the Saturday. I had planned on taking a walk around the grounds and getting some ice countryside... but felt so lovely and chilled after my bath that I lay down on my bed and accidentally napped for over an hour!
With it being a long weekend retreat there definitely was a more chilled vibe to a weeklong retreat - most people were heading straight back to work on the Monday so having downtime/naps/massages/walks was encouraged.
We then did an amazing inversion workshop on Saturday afternoon where I worked on my pincha. It's so lovely to step away from regular classes and break down these poses, hearing different tips and tricks to get you upside down. We also partnered up to do some inversion exercises and really understand how the body feels to be in these poses.
To top the day off, we did a yin class followed by a gong bath which left me feeling wonderfully light and spaced out. This was my third time doing a gong bath and the sensation is really something else. Your whole body feels these vibrations entering and moving through your body. For me, after about 3 minutes I felt lulled into a sense of calm. Why 3 minutes? Well, every time I've had a gong bath I initially feel a slight sense of adrenaline rush through my body and I feel slightly too 'awake' or 'buzzy'. This feeling always disappears very quickly and I just put it down to my body adjusting to the sounds and vibrations in the room.
I felt like I was in the place between sleep and consciousness - not quite dreaming but not quite awake. It's hard to explain quite how it feels but it's a pretty unique experience!
On Sunday we had our final dynamic practice at 8am followed by a beautiful breakfast. I then had a magical massage by Fern Trelfa which was the icing on the cake on this beautiful retreat. Fern is such a wonderful soul and a really special therapist. I left the treatment room and floated into our final yin class before our goodbyes.
A truly magical weekend.
"Perhaps we should love ourselves so fiercely that when others see us, they know exactly how it is done"