Relaxed, recharged, and energised…
I arrived early on Friday afternoon feeling nervous on the one hand and excited on the other ready to set up for the Back to Nature Yoga Retreat.
I received a warm welcome from the lovely Helen, the venue owner of The Gathering Fields.
Firstly I unpacked, then I made my bed in the cosy bunk barn; which sleeps 8-10 people in cosy little 2 bed pods.
Then to the Yoga barn, where I made the final preps for the guests to arrive. Lighting the wood fire, heating the water for a refreshing cuppa, and laying the table with fresh fruit and vegan banana loaf and cookies.
From 4pm, the guests began to arrive; unpacking and settling in chatting amongst each other; taking in the surroundings.
We started with a gentle yoga session; I usually use music in my classes, although this is often to drown out the sound of something distracting; however, there was definitely nothing bothersome here and no need for music, it was so tranquil.
We began in Savasana only to hear the sounds of the birds singing, the wind howling, the fire crackling, and the sound of our breath. This was definitely a wow moment, the first of many to come…
After the Yoga, we topped up on more tea and cake, always an essential part of any retreat.
We then ventured back to the bunk barn while Helen was setting up for the Sound bath.
After a short while; excited, we returned into the Yoga barn to be met with a pleasing aroma of sage and all the yogic instruments laid in the centre of the room.
We all found a spot to lie and wrapped ourselves in blankets all snug and cosy.
We all received a mug of mugwort tea to start the sound journey. It is estimated that the wise and wily Indians have been using mugwort in their healing and ritual practices for thousands of years, where it is known as the ‘dream sage’. They use the herb to promote good dreams, which they consider an essential aspect of normal human functioning!
So what happens when you take this herb?
Simply put, you can expect to feel relaxed and calm, ready to drift off into a dreamy state with yogic sound.
Mugwort is renowned for its effects on dreaming – even potential lucid dreaming. Which is the perfect state of being to enhance a Sound Bath.
Something magical happened to me while lying on the floor, it was as though I was floating above my body weightless and free, I had no idea where the sounds were coming from, I felt my body soften, and I let go, a release of some kind was apparent.
After the sound bath, I rose and ventured on to the wet earthy grass with my bare feet, and took in all around me present and at peace in the moment.
Upon returning to the Yoga barn, some of the others were topping up their Mugwort tea to delve deeper into a dreamy sound state.
We chatted for a while before heading to the sleeping quarters for a restful nights sleep.
Dawn broke, day 2 had arrived; boy I was excited.
Fresh coffee, and then time for breakfast; and wow it was impressive. We sat around the country table, the atmosphere was chilled and relaxed.
Helen arrived placing the breakfast dishes upon the table, baked garden rhubarb with ginger orange and apple. Toasted almonds with granola and coconut yoghurt. We tucked in indulging in the array of flavours.
All our meals on the retreat are Ayurvedic (“Ayurveda” for short) is one of the world’s oldest holistic (“whole-body”) healing systems. It was developed more than 3,000 years ago in India.
An Ayurvedic diet is an eating plan that provides guidelines for when you eat, what you eat, and how you eat to boost your health, prevent or manage disease, and maintain wellness. If you follow an Ayurvedic diet, you’ll eat primarily whole or minimally processed foods and practice mindful eating rituals.
After breakfast had settled, it was time for another yoga practice, this time, a Vinyasa flow. Moving our body in unison with the breath, letting go of our judgements and allowing us to be present and accept and love ourselves precisely as we were.
Here is a little affirmation for you…
“I love and accept myself exactly as I am.”
The end of the Asana practice closed, and everyone snuggled in blankets for a relaxing Savasana, to be honest, I did not want it to end, as I was so at peace in the surroundings, lost in nature, lost in the moment.
The rest of the day entailed a delicious lunch of Agni, a cleansing soup with a garden green salad. We curiously chatted around the table about the ingredients and their benefits, interested to learn more about Ayurvedic food.
Dinner settled, and it was time for a relaxing hip opening Yin Yoga practice. Yin yoga stretches and targets both the deep connective tissues between the muscles and the fascia throughout the body. The aim is to increase circulation in the joints and improve flexibility as the poses stretch and exercise the bone and joint areas. It also helps us to regulate the body’s flow of energy.
Yin Yoga Can Help Us Release Deeply-held Trauma. Much of the trauma we carry is held not just in the mind, but also in the body itself, most specifically in these deep connective tissues. Just as Yin never exists without Yang, trauma never exists without healing. When you allow the muscles to relax and our physical and emotional attention to focus on the body’s deep connective tissue, we can begin to release this trauma and access the healing that is our natural state. Yin yoga can work in much the same way as acupressure, and Thai massage by helping access and release the old stories that our cells are holding. When we can listen to these deeply-held memories without blame or judgment, we create a space for learning and for healing.
A teacher once told me a simple quote, “The issues are in the tissues”, and this is oh so true.
It was time for ‘tea’ (its a northern expression for what southerners call dinner, however, I’m digressing) Dinner/tea whatever you like to call it. It was a delicious Chickpea Butternut Spinach Curry.
The salad was Lady’s Mantle Lovage Gota Kola Sweet Cicely and Chive with Geranium flowers.
Outside the fire was lit for fun and laughter sat in a circle on the logs, we played random guessing games, and the vibes were high. We sipped cacau and laughed in the barn.
The sun began to set, and the land of nod was calling; sweet dreams and thank you for a beautiful Saturday.
On Sunday we had 7 more guests arriving to join us for the day.
It was a 6.30am start with Sun Salutations, not everyone managed to do this practice as it was early, which is what I expected.
We flowed with our breath and our Asanas, with the Ashtanga primary series standing sequence, the room got quite heated, the energy lifted. Then everyone melted again into Savasana.
Another delicious breakfast followed off by an Anahata Bowl, chia quinoa cardamom porridge with strawberries blueberries and kiwi. A table of 15, new faces, new connections, heaps of smiles, and chitter chatter amongst all.
Quietly, my heart was smiling, so grateful for everything I was seeing in front of my eyes.
Then came Creative Flow and Yoga play, an unconventional yoga session, as everyone was blindfolded.
We explored our bodies, we stood, we sat, we balanced, we fell, we laughed, and we laughed some more. Being blindfolded allows you to let go of judgement and comparisons and just be, be ‘you’.
Yoga play and games galore, circles of fun, patterns and formations, partner balances, trust and a group massage to end. I love these sessions and host them regularly, every workshop is different and never the same.
Some of us ventured outdoors, while a few stayed to chill out in the barn.
Wellies and raincoats on, it was our first time feeding Rosie and Peggy the pet pigs. The roars of laughter and smiles, seeing them eagerly jump for the sticks of celery, a splash of mud here and there, but all good fun.
Through the fields, we walked, and in the distance, we thought we saw a lifeless sheep; the image struck my heart, and we were all very concerned.
Upon closer inspection, we saw a little flicker of movement, her baby lambs waiting patiently by her side, one of the yogis, Emma, told us that they need assisting to stand if they tip. So quickly Lella and Sean the sheep savers were to the rescue. The sheep was up, hold on ‘noooo’, she fell back down again, another little push and she was off, a little wobbly on her legs, but alas alive and well.
The day was drawing to a close, ending with everyone back in the barn.
We gathered in a circle, got comfy on cushions, and chanted Om Namah Shivaya. Chanting the mantra also purifies your rationalising process, which improves your physiological as well as intellectual well-being. The mantra is used as a means to call your higher self. … The Shiva Mantra: I Honor The Divinity Within Myself … Om Namah Shivaya.
“Om Namah Shivaya, I honour my true self.”
We then sat in peace, to the sounds of the Tibetan meditation bowls, played by myself and accompanied by the wonderful Eddie.
Om Shanti, Shanti Shanti…
The Retreat drew to a close. I am genuinely grateful for each and every moment, for all the beautiful people that gifted their presence, to Helen for all the amazing food, and to mother Gaia for taking care of all life on her.
To be a human being is an honour, and we offer thanksgiving for all the gifts of life.
Mother Earth, we thank you for giving us everything we need. Thank you, deep blue waters around Mother Earth, for you are the force that takes thirst away from all living things. We give thanks to the green grasses that feel so good against our bare feet, and for the cool beauty, you bring to Mother Earth’s floor.
Thank you, good foods from Mother Earth, for making us happy when we are hungry. Fruits and berries, we thank you for your colour and sweetness. We are all thankful for the medicinal herbs healing us when we are sick.
Thank you, all the animals in the world; for keeping our precious forests clean. All the trees in the world, we are thankful for all the shade and warmth you give us. Thank you, all the birds in the world, for singing your beautiful songs for all to enjoy. We give thanks to you, gentle Four Winds, for bringing clean air for us to breathe from all directions.
Thank you, thunder for bringing rain to help all living things grow. Sun, we send thanks for shining your light and warming Mother Earth. Thank you, Moon, for growing full every month to light the darkness for children. We give thanks, twinkling stars, for making the night sky so beautiful.
Spirit Protectors of our past and present, we thank you for showing us ways to live in peace and harmony with one another. And most of all, thank you, Great Spirit, for giving us all these wonderful gifts, so we will be happy and healthy every day and every night.
Source: Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message; Chief Jake Swamp
𝓙𝓾𝓼𝓽 𝓜𝓲𝓶𝓲 ♡
We will be adding additional workshops 3-4 each day, including early mindful silent mornings, Yoga, meditation, Ashtanga, Yin, arm balance and creative workshops, Yoga Nidra, an Ayurvedic journey, plant meditation, sound bath and Satsang around the campfire, and walks in nature.
Additional massage and holistic therapies on request. And of course, everything is optional.
We have only 10 places available this time; sharing in the quaint rustic bunk barn.
So please get in touch ASAP to book…
Here is an example of a day at Retreat Yourself
6.30am – 8am – Morning Yoga and Meditation Practice
8.30am – Ayurvedic Breakfast
11am – 12.30pm Creative / Play / Yin Workshop
1pm – Ayurvedic Lunch
2pm – Afternoon Workshop / Ayurvedic journey and plant meditation /countryside walk.
5pm – 6pm Meditation / Yoga Nidra
6.30pm – Ayurvedic Tea
7.30pm – Sound Bath / Satsang around the campfire.
The price includes all workshops, all food and shared accommodation in the bunk barn.
*8 x bunk beds / 2 camp beds
- Additional Massage and Therapies booked in Advance (subject to availability)
In our guests’ words…
“It was great to do something different from what I would typically do in a yoga class. I loved the blindfold and the creative play parts of the class. I’ve been feeling some anxiety lately, and it helped so much with that, being blindfolded enabled me to not think about what everyone else was doing and to just listen to my own body, and the couple/group parts really helped me to feel more comfortable with myself and other people, and your words really resonated with me.”
“Yoga with a blindfold and chanting 🙂 the food was fabulous and the peaceful location.”
“Such a lovely venue, plus Helen’s food was excellent. Incredible sound bath too. I think the retreat was very unique. Thank you, Mimi,😀
I can’t wait for the next one!!”
“It was excellent from the beginning to the end. Loved every minute of it.”