So, last weekend I went on retreat.

The Oxford dictionary kindly supplied this definition of the word retreat:

“Withdraw to a Quiet or Secluded Place.”

I did just that, travelling to the stunning Hawkwood College in deepest rural Gloucestershire.  But why?  Is this not a little self indulgent?  Possibly – but

as women, the retreat process is built into our natural rhythm and is essential to our physical, mental and emotional health


View from my bedroom window on retreat at Hawkwood

Please note I am not suggesting men do not also benefit from retreat. But the retreat I chose was “Womb Wisdom” with two teachers who have been inspiring me personally and professionally over the past four years:  Uma Dinsmore-Tuli and Alexandra Pope.  Through their teachings I have learned how to work with rather than against the rhythm of my monthly cycle and have begun the journey in supporting other women to do the same.   I have recorded my personal journey in my earlier blog, How I Became Woman Centred – when I first met Uma I was exhausted in part, I believe, due to a contraceptive injection that was suppressing my cycle.  With our monthly ebb and flow of hormones, the time as we enter menstruation is our monthly, in-built “retreat”.  Our attention moves inwards and we separate from the world – of course we have our stuff to still be getting on with, but there is a definite drop in energy and sense of separateness.  If, at this time, we can pay ourselves a little attention and take some rest, this can re-energise us for the coming month.  It is time for deep reflection and learning as part of the creative cycle.  If we force ourselves to carry on, over-riding the call of mother nature, we can head for burnout.   Retreat can take many forms – 15 minutes with a cup of tea; an hour or a few hours at a yoga class or workshop; a weekend retreat; a three month stay in a yoga ashram.  You may have your own retreats and rituals.

If you would like to explore these ideas more in your own life, try my Inner Seasons workshop on 22nd February, details on the website – here we will examine the cycle in more detail, using supportive yoga, to explore how we can harness greater energy and creativity through attention to the cycle.  For a full retreat, join us from 12th – 14th June at Parcevall Hall in the Yorkshire Dales for a refreshing and inspiring weekend of yoga.  Contact me for more info.

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