A Day Retreat Of Yoga

It’s glorious, sunny Sunday. The weekend has been the warmest so far this year and with temperatures around 23’C the sunglasses are out and we are happily wearing short sleeves.

Ali picks me up just in her sports-wagon (nice change to the usual kids-wagon aka people carrier) and just after 9am we are off for a day of yoga retreat. We’ve been looking forward to it for weeks – not only the prospect of a ‘day off’ away from kids and family seems exciting as it is (we love them dearly btw but sometimes it’s nice for mums to have a break!) but a girls day out on a glorious, sunny day doing yoga seems ideal to kick-start the spring.

 

yoga villageWe’ve arrived in a picture-perfect village of Axbridge, Somerset surrounded by Mendip hills (near Cheddar Gorge). Idyllic landscapes, little river, charming, old stone-built cottages and farms. Our yoga retreat takes place in the village hall which is another charming stone-built building with little bell tower on top of the roof. Upon entry into the hall we are greeted by a big smile from Emma who runs our yoga classes which we tend to attend twice a week.

yoga budha Big, spacious room is warm and welcoming. The sunlight is pouring into the room and floods it with gold light. It is a beautiful, sunny day, the birds are singing and I can see large bamboo trees dancing in the wind just outside the window. The hall is lovely and the building looks very old with thick stone walls, church-like recessed windows and vaulted ceiling exposing beautiful wooden structure of the roof with all the beams and rafters. We can smell the gentle and warm scent of the essential oils vapour. The room has a lovely set up for the practise with Hindu wall hangings around the room and a little Buddha altar made for the occasion.

 

The wooden floor is filled with mats and people sitting on them casually drinking cups of herbal tea. People are chatting while settling in on their mats before the practise begins. Relaxing music in the background. It’s around 20 of us. We find Sarena in the kitchen where she starts some food preparation for lunch and pours us a cup of tea. After a chat and a cuppa we settle on our mats ready for yoga.

Emma has a wonderful voice which guides us through the practice. The way she describes the pose changes just resonates in you effortlessly so you don’t have to think too much and the practise just floats smoothly. We change the poses warming up, stretching and relaxing. Somewhat I’m thankful that it is not one of those ‘hard core’/ advanced level sessions which I sometimes attend. No head stands attempts today but quite warming and relaxing practise. The session comes to a close with a sound of a bell which echoes through my body and brings me back to the room and Namaste.

 

We take a break to have an Ayurvedic tea and take in some rays of sunshine outside while looking at the Mendip hills surrounding the village.

yoga tea

 

yoga7Morning Mantra Practice to clear, balance and strengthen is something totally new to us. Coming to it with an open mind and no expectations we are open for this new experience. We all seat in the circle and chant in ‘call & response’ repeating after Sarena. The chanting is based on repeating sing-song tones. It creates vibrations that start around my nose, cheek bones and then spread in waves around my body as I take a breath in between one chant and the next one. It is a warmly pleasing sensation that I can feel in my internal organs. As we have paper hand-outs to help us follow new words which are in Sanskrit language, the chanting has a positive impact on body and mind. As I focus on intonation of our chants, my head clears, all thoughts drift away, everything seems distant and I focus on breathing. The melodies of the chants, despite originating from ancient India sound so familiar which takes me by a surprise. It reminds me of the intonation chanting done by priests in Catholic Church during the mass. When I listen with my eyes closed I could have been in an ancient temple in Norway, India or in Medieval Rome. This only shows how much different religious rituals have in common and how sound is used in different spiritual traditions around the world.

An hour session of chanting is drawn to a close by a sound of a bell which resonates within me and as the sound waves spread through my body, I feel quite unusual sensation of calm, peace and joy.

 

kichariNow the lunch smells good and it’s time to set up the tables, chat and mingle with other people while the lunch is served. It’s an Ayurvedic, Indian inspired cuisine of sweet potato and chick peas curry with mango chutney and Kichari rice.The meal just hit the spot perfectly – it was tasty, light and refreshing.

Check out the recipe and find out more about Ayurvedic healing here: http://birchmoon.co.uk/healing-art-aurveda/

 

ayuvedic

With the maps hand-out of the local area it’s time for a walk and tackle those picturesque Mendip Hills. We had few possible walks marked on the map and we were adamant to take some good pictures from the top of the hill.  I haven’t really measure the time but I think it took us around 30-40 minutes to reach the peak at which point I thought I was going to die and spit my lungs out…It seemed like a very steep and long incline! The view was pretty amazing although it was a hazy day so we didn’t see as much as we would like to. In the heat of the sun and with a little breeze on top of the hill we took a little rest on the grass to take in the view.

yoga mend

mendip 2yoga down hill

It was time to go down which was more pleasurable as we paid more attention to the views around. You could just see the nature waking to life after the stagnation of winter.As Ali fancied a little rest and some tea before the next session I went for another shorter walk across the village and along the Old River Axe.

yoga river

 

Afternoon Mantra Practise was heart centred for nourishment and nurturing and was another great session of chanting which brought to us mindfulness and relaxation with a sound.

Sarena has a lovely melody in her voice and it seemed as the chanting came quite naturally to everyone and it has a beautiful sound to it. With my eyes closed once again I felt as if I was in some ancient temple.

 

yoga 11yoga class

Restoration Yoga was something different. We haven’t tired it before. Much slower and even more relaxing to usual yoga session where positions are arranged with a support of yoga bolsters which are big and quite heavy rolls like pillows filled with grain. The poses are held for a longer period of time.

yoga8But the deep relaxation afterwards was from another world and that will be something that I will be raving on about for some time. It was extremely relaxing experience and the one that I haven’t encountered before to such a strong degree. The first thoughts that come to mind is to describe it as a mix of beautiful, natural high and a something heading towards an out of body experience… Yeah, I actually can’t believe that being a sceptic, I’m actually writing this but it’s the closest way of describing it. With the relaxing music in the background, Emma took us on a little journey around different places in the world. Despite not being able to move due to being in a similar state when you are just before drifting off to sleep, you felt as if you really were lying on the sand on a hot beach with sun rays directly on you and feeling the heat. Moment later we were on a top of a cold mountain taking it the views of a snowy peaks. But the weirdest experience was the sensation as if your body was an empty shell and you were a little, tiny ball of gold light inside it moving from the finger tips to your thigh bone and just moving around the empty shell of your body… Then there was the sensation as if your whole body was as light as a feather and floating few inches above the ground. This was followed by a sensation as if your body was lying on a plank of wood which was shifting to one side and it just felt as if you are really on some sort of table and you are going to fell of it… As it usually happens just after the relaxation which follows the usual yoga practice, few people fell asleep and a little snoring which I could hear resulted with a mini eruption of giggles but I had to fight hard not to make a sound not to disrupt others. In the end Emma brought us back to the room making us more aware of our breathing and our body. The practise concluded with sitting up straight and Namaste.

I found the Day Yoga Retreat extremely relaxing and enjoyable. We had the most glorious spring weather with warm temperatures and sun shining, idyllic setting and most lovely teachers. Both yoga practice and mantra chanting was beautiful and I had a fabulous time with my friend as well as meeting and chatting to other people.

 

yoga my adventure

My adventure with yoga started just nearly year ago when a friend recommended it to me as a nice addition to my weight loss training. I was running nearly every day, eating healthy to shift some post-baby weight but I felt that I needed something extra. Yeah, different people mentioned yoga before, they even showed me some yoga poses etc which could help me with my back problems but I had to attend my first classes to get hooked and I’ve been a big fan of yoga since.

As Emma my yoga teacher says: Take from the practice what you need.

 

yoga4You can get into yoga on many different levels. You can use it as a fantastic form of exercise which definitely helps with weight loss, toning up your body, flexibility but it will also help you with your back problems.

It is also fantastic way of energising your body, clearing your mind, reducing stress and making you feel a happier person.

Few reasons why yoga works for me:

  • It tones your body -after 2 months I’ve seen a noticeable difference
  • It keeps my back problems at bay when I’m practising regularly
  • It gives me higher energy levels with to deep relaxation and no problems with insomnia

 

 

I often find that people who haven’t tired yoga like to pigeon-hole people who do yoga as perhaps a bit with a bit of a ‘hippy’ vibe and I must admit that I wasn’t too sure about it either but it works for me. There is an actual science behind the yoga if you are interested to read a bit more: http://upliftconnect.com/watch-science-behind-yoga/

 

For wonderful yoga classes in Somerset area please visit:

http://www.doyoga.co.uk/ or https://www.facebook.com/doyoga.co.uk/

For great Mantra Chanting workshops as well as Positive Psychology Life Coaching, cross-cultural sound and music therapy and meditation in Somerset area please visit:

http://birchmoon.co.uk/ or https://www.facebook.com/BirchMoonLifeCoaching/

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9 thoughts on “A Day Retreat Of Yoga

  1. I’ve been doing yoga for 9 years now but only ever attended classes… Makes me want to leave the big smoke aka London and come to Sommerset for a yoga weekend! Will check out that website if they have anything on in Summer

    P.S. That picture of hedges in that village made me giggle 😉

    1. Somerset is beautiful and I can’t reccomend highly enough visiting this part of England. Please check out the links provided in the article to yoga and chanting classes / day retreats in this area 🙂

      P.S. Those hedges make everyone giggle – I just couldn’t stop myslef not to put this picture 😉

  2. Great article and well written again – I felt like I was there while reading and I want to do yoga and chant now!

  3. I’m going for my first day yoga retreat this weekend! 😀 Hope it is as good as you described your one 🙂 My one is near Greenwich Park in London so crossing fingers for a sunny weekend.

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