I’ve just come back from a weekend yoga retreat, an opportunity to take some time away from everyday life for a wonderful weekend of yoga and friendship
The retreat was organised and run by Debbie Avery, my inspiring yoga teacher with whom I trained, and was hosted by Marina and Stuart, the welcoming owners of the beautiful Symondsdown House near Axminster in Devon. When I arrived, I only knew Debbie, so spent two days getting to know a charming group of ladies, all of whom either currently practise (or have previously practised) yoga with Debbie.
As well as some excellent yoga sessions, it was also a chance to catch up, make connections, share ideas and, for me, to learn from a more experienced teacher.
The weather was kind, particularly on the day we arrived. We were able to take some of our practice outside into the garden and, rather than imagining the sun, it was there in person for our sun salutations on Friday afternoon. Over the weekend, our practice included vinyasa flow yoga, mantra (chanting) and different breathing practices all weaved together with various aspects of yoga philosophy.
By starting each day with qigong on the grass, wet with morning dew, we allowed our bodies to wake up gently, whilst integrating our breathing with focused intention. Despite, and indeed because of, the concentration required, we laughed a great deal when we found it so easy to lose the focus that is needed. It really goes to prove how beneficial it really is in calming the body and the mind!
The whole weekend was a relaxing and positive experience and I appreciate I was fortunate to be able to go. However, on a regular basis, it’s not always possible to get away for a day or so whenever we would like for lots of reasons – family, work, other commitments, money, etc – but I do think that we are all able, if we so choose, to find some time in our lives – even if it is only for a short period, a hour or so perhaps – to focus on ourselves, to nurture our bodies and minds, to recharge our batteries and care for our health and wellbeing. By looking after ourselves, we are better able to fulfil our responsibilities in life, to help us care for others or do whatever it is we want to do in our lives.
Practising yoga helps me look after myself. Yoga’s been helping people do this for thousands of years. If you haven’t tried it yet, perhaps you might like to.
© Sarah Swan (August 2016)