I’m just back from a very powerful retreat weekend in the Yorkshire Dales with a group of fabulous women. Here’s what a couple of them had to say:
“The retreat made me feel truly nurtured and nourished, in the company of lovely, supportive, open, strong women. On leaving I took with me a profound sense of how uplifting the support of strong women can be, a sense of having topped up my own inner reserves, having managed a head stand for the first time ever helps to carry the feeling of “keep trying and you can make it work” off the mat (as Alison puts it!) and some small but clear objectives towards finding time to care for myself in a busy life, and to perhaps channel my vulnerability to good use. I felt like it was a lovely warm, nurturing hug for the soul.”
“Alison’s retreats are amazing. I have just returned from my fourth one in the Yorkshire Dales with her. They are so supportive and nurturing and Alison really holds the space well for us. There is always a range of yoga from gentle breathing practices to dynamic yoga and of course the fabulously relaxing Yoga Nidra! I always return home feeling truly nourished.”
Most of them had done yoga with me before, many had been on retreat with me before, but for some it was the first time, and no previous yoga or retreat experience is necessary. It felt amazing and I wanted to share it with you all and give you some insight into what we do and what makes a retreat weekend so special. There are a few good ingredients:
- A stunning location away from “real life”
- Comfortable rooms for a really good sleep
- ENORMOUS baths for wallowing in
- Nourishing food to make you feel loved – and BONUS you don’t have to prepare it yourself! Or wash up!
- Like-minded company. The retreats attract groups of women who gel brilliantly and become friends through the shared experiences
- Time and space just for you, nothing and no-one else to think about
- Lots of yoga, relaxation and meditation to support the process
- Time in silence
Process?? Hmm yes, there is definitely a process, a flow maybe, to a retreat experience. You begin with the separation from your daily life; this can feel a little strange, and I hold you safely through it with grounding practices and intention setting exercises so you are clear on what you want to get out of your precious retreat time, what you want to let go of and what you want to invite in. By lunchtime on Saturday you have truly surrendered to the retreat experience and are deeply relaxed, the creative juices are flowing and you are dreaming into the changes you want to make when you get home so you can stay in balance. By the end of Saturday you feel like a new person, revitalised and bursting with ideas. On Sunday we pin down your insights into a clear action plan to take home, inviting in new ways of being that feel more like you, and also some ideas for transitioning gently back into “real life”. A Facebook group offers you support afterwards as you continue your journey. A longer retreat, such as the week I am leading in Portugal next year, gives you chance to separate more fully from daily life (for me there is no greater sensation of leaving it all behind than that awesome moment the plane wheels lift off the runway!), spend longer in that deep retreat experience, completely letting go of being busy, exhausted and stressed. This could be an opportunity to invite bigger changes, to reshape your life, or simply to rest and return with new energy and zest.
You’ll note I put “real life” in inverted commas. While there is definitely a step out of the ordinary routine on retreat, my approach is very pragmatic and I will always bring you back to: what do you want in your life now, who are you, where are you headed next. And I will make sure you go home secure in your next steps and with a plan for re-entry into the atmosphere of your daily existence. So it’s not quite pure escapism, but pretty close.