Kindred Spirit Magazine - Retreat Guide 2017

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Retreat Guide Your guide to some of the best retreats in Britain and abroad for relaxation, healing, enlightenment and spiritual living, with selected reviews

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KINDREDSPIRIT 2017 Retreat Guide



mingled and swelled, rising to a crescendo in the wonderful acoustics of the domed atrium of Sharpham, it became highly emotional. And this was reflected in the mindfulness discussions which at times also became very emotional as we grew to trust the safety and sanctity of the group. Singing is inclusive and fun, irrespective of ability, and bonds and friendships form very quickly. Believe it or not, we became a cohesive group almost overnight.


Most of the group in the glorious grounds

MINDFULNESS AND SINGING RETREAT Claire Gillman travels to the Sharpham Trust for some natural voice singing and mindfulness


t first glance, mindfulness and singing may seem like an odd combination but, after spending three days in the splendid scenery and isolation of Sharpham House, near Totnes in Devon, mindfully walking, eating and meditating as well as raising our voices to the heavens in joyous devotional song, I know better. It is in fact the perfect combination. Sharpham is a beautiful setting for a retreat laying as it does among the rolling hills and overlooking the river Dart. It has an excellent and well-deserved reputation for its three and five day mindfulness retreats and has recently introduced the dual themed retreats that I attended.

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Our Mindfulness practice was led by Lynne Roberts with sessions before breakfast, after breakfast and in the evening. There was a good mix among the retreatants of those who were new to mindfulness, those who wanted to reconnect with a daily routine and those who just wanted to slow down and were principally attracted by the singing theme – all of us, irrespective of experience or motivation, got a great deal from the mindfulness sessions, I would say. Lynne has a reassuring, eloquent manner and made the sessions both interesting and relaxing. There was a mix of led meditations, some were discussions on mindfulness and others were practical exercises both indoors and outdoors in the beautiful grounds of the house. There was also a guided mindful walk for those who fancied. Lynne was also able to show her fun side as she joined in with all the singing sessions too, readily admitting that she was a rank beginner when it came to singing.


Roz Walker led the singing sessions, and once again there was a fair spread of abilities and experience among the retreatants. Roz is an.experienced natural voice teacher, leading two community choirs in the locality. She had a wide range of easy to learn devotional songs and chants from all around the world that we sang in three or four part harmonies or rounds. It was a revelation to me that within a few days, this random assortment of people who had never sung together before – indeed some had never sung in a group before – could sound so stunningly gorgeous; immodest of me, I know, but it’s true. We sounded amazing. Yet more importantly was the way the singing made me feel. It was utterly joyful as waves of sound washed over me and reverberated through me. And it soon dawned on me that singing is mindfulness personified. I was totally in the moment, absorbed in something I loved – the perfect mindful practice. As our voices

The practicalities of the retreat run smoothly. There are 17 bedrooms – some grand, some smaller, all comfortable, with single occupancy to facilitate the silence that reigned from 9pm to 9am each day. Initially, taking breakfast together in silence struck some as odd but it soon became a companionable silence that we all grew to enjoy and welcome. Sharpham encourage retreatants to turn off or limit mobile phone use during their stay and to keep laptops/ tablets disconnected from the Internet – harder for some than others but the wisdom and benefits of which most of us recognised. One of the aspects that I liked about Sharpham is that all those attending the course were expected to put their names on the rota for vegetable preparation and washing up duties and you stripped your bed at the end of the stay and remade it for the next incumbents. Strange as it sounds,

Tutors Roz Walker (left) and Lynne Roberts

A round-up of some of the best retreats in Britain

I enjoyed getting involved and somehow felt more invested in the wonderful vegetarian meals we ate having chopped veg from the garden that morning. The kitchen and support staff are wonderfully friendly and supportive and often came to listen in to our singing sessions. There is good walking to be done in the area, an award-winning vineyard and cheese farm a stone’s throw away which is well worth a visit and the Sharpham Meadow Natural Burial Ground is closeby too. However, not many of us wanted to venture far from the cocooned sanctuary of Sharpham. Our routine of mindful practice and joyful singing was uplifting, engrossing and restorative in the extreme. In fact, re-entry to the real world was rather a shock to the system. Mindfulness and singing are a great combination and I will be back.



Dartington, Near Totnes, Devon TQ9 7LJ 01803 226127


VITAL DETOX RETREAT Wick Lane, Glastonbury, Somerset BA6 8JW

A friendly and expert retreat environment in which you will have the chance to let go of anything that is holding you back, physically or emotionally.

HAWKWOOD COLLEGE Painswick Old Road, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL6 7QW

Hawkwood is an ethical centre in the Cotswolds specialising in the Arts, Wellbeing, Spirituality and Sustainability. Events and courses throughout the year and of course, our Summer Rest-ival 17-21 July.

•BIRTHCREATION PREGNANCY AND PARENTS RETREATS Nurturing Pregnancy, Mother and Couple retreats or Day workshops, Fear release, Hypnobirthing. A time to slow down and connect, to explore, play and learn, in a nurturing and inspiring setting.

MIDDLE PICCADILLY Healing Centre, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 5LW

Rural retreat offering a peaceful restorative environment, outstanding freshly prepared food and gifted therapists whose expertise and intuitive abilities ensure that you will receive exactly what you need from your stay.

GAIA HOUSE West Ogwell, Newton Abbot, Devon, TQ12 6EW

Singing outdoors is liberating and fun

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Offers silent meditation retreats in the Buddhist tradition. » 45

2017 Retreat Guide KINDRED SPIRIT

KINDREDSPIRIT 2017 Retreat Guide

EARTH SPIRIT CENTRE Dundon, Somerton Somerset, TA11 6PE

Lying within the ‘temenos’ (sacred enclosure) of Avalon, the Earth Spirit Centre offers workshops, courses, seminars and retreats.


Middle Piccadilly, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 5LW

Shamanka is dedicated to the recovery of women’s shamanism & ancient mysteries.



SHARPHAM HOUSE Ashprington, Totnes, Devon, UK, TQ9 7UT

Connectomg people with nature and foster mindfulness and well-being through our programme of retreats, mindfulness courses, outdoor learning and the arts.

WHITE EAGLE LODGE New Lands, Brewells Lane, Liss, Hampshire GU33 7HY

Holds a variety of 5-day retreats, residential courses and events throughout the year.

GAUNTS HOUSE Petersham Ln, Gaunts, Wimborne, Dorset BH21 4JQ

A wide range of retreats from spirit release and regression to meditation and gong master training.

KARUNA DETOX RETREATS Newhouse Farm, Witheridge, Near Tiverton, Devon EX16 8QB

Ranging from yoga detox and fertility detox to colonic detox and raw food detox.

THE BODY RETREAT Nr Taunton, Somerset

Running weight loss, Stress re-set and Detox retreats.

AMCHARA HEALTH RETREATS Bindon Coutry House, Langford Budville, Wellington TA21 0RU

Seven day detox retreats cleansing mind, soul and body with Yoga, Tai Chi, Meditation, Massage, Juice Fasting & Raw Food Nutrition.

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Nr Torquay, Devon

A flexible detox programme, based on Richard Anderson’s colon cleanse, offering a holistic healing and supported body cleanse retreat.


Are you concerned about location? Do you feel you need sunshine, or would you like the adventure of the jungle, or a glorious country garden? Perhaps none of this is relevant if you have the right teachers and programme.


Perfect for recovery from stress, bereavement, a long illness or any other state of health fragility, and offering yoga and other retreats.


Yoga teacher, Jay Diamond gives simple tips to choosing your next spiritual retreat


s a yoga and meditation teacher I’ve both attended and held retreats. A good week away, or even a weekend can really help you plug back in to your spiritual practice, help you build good habits and reconnect to inner peace. There are so many gorgeous retreats to choose from both locally and abroad, if you only choose one retreat this year, how will you know which one is best for you? Follow my five simple tips for an aligned and delicious experience.


Consider do you want to learn, or do you want to relax?

It’s definitely possible to do both, but if you’ve recently been through a difficult time you may want to look at a retreat with a very gentle programme where participation is loose and optional. This gives you plenty of time for rest, solitude, book reading and if you’re lucky, sunbathing. Alternatively, you may want something with a schedule that sends you home with memories of new experiences, transformational moments and spiritual breakthroughs. An immersion type of experience can be beneficial for assisting you in keeping good habits when you get home. On our retreats, we like to offer a healthy and interesting schedule, but with plenty of free time for relaxation.

Nr. Cranborne Chase, Somerset & South-west Turkey


Rustic or Luxury?

And everything in between. You can pay thousands for 5* luxury or a couple of hundred for a weekend in a low key location in a shared dorm. There is no right or wrong, just what you want, your budget, and if the programme is what you want. Some of the most expensive retreats do not necessarily have the best teachers, especially if they are in big hotels. Boutique, unique retreats often offer interesting programmes with teachers from all over the world. Don’t be afraid to ask who the retreat leaders are, and check out their social media profiles, or ask for a bio to see if they are a good fit for you.


Beginners or advanced?

Don’t be afraid to ask about the intensity of any classes, and whether they are suitable for beginners. If you need something more challenging don’t feel bad about finding something better suited to your needs - this is your retreat after all.




Great food can be an added bonus to your retreat experience. Some retreats may have their own raw chef, celebrated Italian cook or promise all organic. In others, food is not at all a feature; the focus is more on the programme and spiritual practice, especially in an ashram-type retreat. If you have any dietary needs, you must let the retreat leaders know before booking. If you just turn up expecting to be catered to, you could be sadly disappointed otherwise.

Malcolm Stern shares his detox journey


n January this year I decided to break my usual full on work cycle and create some quality healing time for myself. Kamalaya in Thailand for me seemed to stand head and shoulders above the rest, Firstly there was an impression of a grounded spirituality about the place and secondly this was not an extreme detox programme. The participants are encouraged to eat three meals a day. Thirdly the environment was stunningly beautiful.


I had opted to do an eight day comprehensive detox. This involved an initial consultation with a naturopath, where everything I needed to know was explained. The diet, though simple, was tasty and nourishing. All animal products, sugars, grains and processed foods are excluded, still leaving a large variety of tantalising foods to be sampled and healthy juices and coconut milk to be drunk alongside an excellent supplement regime of vitamins and minerals. Then there is a programme of treatments that run alongside the diet. My programme included three colonics, Lymph drainage massage , traditional Thai massage, an oil massage and a daily

30 minute Infra red Sauna. There are other less intense programmes on offer which can be designed to your needs. For the first couple of days I sat on a table by myself at mealtimes, but there is a communal table, which I joined thereafter and was delighted to meet so many interesting people from all over the world. Life began to settle into a gentle healing rhythm and by the midpoint of my stay, I was experiencing the pleasure of living life at a pace I’d long forgotten. There were a range of classes, meditations and yoga sessions and a private beach to lie and dream on.


After the nine days I spent there, I came away feeling a real sense of renewal and refreshment that even now three weeks later feels very alive in me. My blood pressure has lowered; I am noticing when I start to become an adrenaline fuelled lunatic again and feel years younger. It was such a gift to myself to take time out from London mania and to be seduced back to health. The word that stands out for me when I think of Kamalaya is impeccability. It’s not cheap but everything is included. I will long remember its grace and beauty with deep gratitude. Malcolm Stern is a psychotherapist and co-founder and co-director of Alternatives at St James’s Church Piccadilly, London. Kamalaya, Koh Samui. Low season room rates start from £140 single/£173 per night (meals not included). Airport transfers £32 each way. Prices include initial Wellness consultation and use of yoga/fitness facilities plus scheduled holistic activities

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COME AND JOIN US We have a yoga, meditation and wellness retreat in September in Portugal with great workshops yet plenty of free time. Have a peep!

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Cleanse and purify your body and mind while relaxing in peaceful natural surroundings.

THE DEEP PAUSE Waterloo Farm, Cornwall

The Deep Pause gives you space and time you need to just be. There are no demands. No responsibilities. Nothing you need to do, and no one you need to be there for.

THE RAW RETREAT Darkes Farm, Polyphant, Cornwall

Health retreats, weight loss and wellbeing, cleansing juice detoxes and Reboot retreats.

CLEANSING RETREATS The Roman Way, Glastonbury, Somerset BA6 8AD

Continuous six-day residential programmes for cleansing the colon, liver and lymphatic system.


Transformational programme for women to help you heal emotional wounds, connect with your femininity, build your confidence and reclaim your sensuality/sexuality.

FAIRFIELD HOUSE 51 Long Street, Williton, Nr Taunton, Somerset

Vitality detox, a silent retreat of Osho active meditations and Mindfulness or a mindful cooking retreat.


Cotna Barton, Gorran Churchtown, Cornwall PL26 6LG

Solitary spiritual retreats where you can get off the wheel... in a straw bale barn or yurt.

HEALING WATERS RETREAT The Sanctuary, 1 The Roman Way, Glastonbury, Somerset BA6 8AB

A quiet space to reflect, connect with your divine essence and to heal, body mind and soul. Supported healing with 3 types of retreat. » 47

2017 Retreat Guide KINDRED SPIRIT

KINDREDSPIRIT 2017 Retreat Guide

South, South-east and East Anglia HEALTHY LIVING RETREATS Brooklands Barn, nr Arundel, Sussex

Experience the difference that de-stressing and eating fabulous food can make to your everyday life.

WITHERSDEN HALL Popsal Lane Wingham Canterbury Kent. CT3 1AT

Small, friendly courses for like-minded people. Retreats range from sophrology to mindful self-compassion.

INNER GUIDANCE RETREAT Hill Farm, Lavenham, Suffolk

Luxury transformational retreats, delivering a five star service with prices including all sessions, food, drinks and luxury accommodation.

SIMPLY HEALING Hill House Lane, Rudgwick, West Sussex RH12 3BD

Specialising in serious Detox Diets, Weight Loss and Fertility Boosting Juice Programmes.

LIGHTHOUSE RETREAT CENTRE 99 Marine Parade, BN11 3QF, Worthing

Run by the Brahma Kumaris, explore deepest insights into the true nature of your being.

A HAVEN OF PEACE Ellie Blair visits a gem of a retreat on the north coast of Scotland


ithout hesitation I returned to the land of my birth for a five day retreat stay at the wonderful Newbold House situated in Forres on the North East Coast of Scotland. A short journey to the village of Findhorn and a close connection with the world famous Findhorn Community, Newbold has been providing sanctuary, healing, respite, and the experience of Community Living for 30 years. The house is run by a residential community of members and volunteers dedicated to sustainable living, wellbeing, education, and open non judgemental spirituality. It was evident upon arrival that it may not be difficult to shed it all and let go in a safe and nurturing environment. All of the rooms are light and spacious with beautiful views of the gardens and surrounding woodland. They can accommodate your needs with single, double, triple, and quadruple rooms.

The Organic gardens play a major role in the overall picture at Newbold. Bees are kept for conservation and of course for amazing honey, and a group of very happy chickens provide the eggs. An incredible variety of fruit and vegetables are grown which will virtually go from the ground to the dining table. The dining room has a wonderful view over the front gardens (magical at any time of day). All other food is locally sourced and is predominantly vegetarian with vegan options. Sustainably sourced fish or meat is also served once a week. I found every meal to be creatively and lovingly prepared, delicious, and nutritious. There will be an opportunity for you to bring forth your cooking skills and help out in the kitchen if you’d like to. Food waste is kept to a minimum and all organic materials are composted. There are lots of lovely quiet spaces in the house for reflection, sharing, reading, chatting with fellow guests and staff. The Music Room has a nice range of musical instruments and random playing can sometimes be heard. Your personal choice of how you will spend your time there will be honoured.

MANGREEN SPIRITUAL RETREATS Mangreen, Swardeston, Norwich NR14 8DD

A great way to integrate into the Newbold experience in and out of the house would be to arrange a Tailored Retreat. This allows some structure to your day while including time and space to just “be”. The surrounding area, The Moray Coast, has been named one of the most beautiful and unspoiled coastlines by National Geographic Magazine so it’s possible to take in the majestic beauty and nature of this region as part of your programme. There will be many choices offered for your tailored retreat and here are just a few: A wide range of therapies including, Massage, Reiki, Reflexology, and the unique Esalen Massage – a wonderfully relaxing treatment done by the in-house certified practitioner – intended to leave the recipient feeling whole, integrated, and deeply relaxed. Highly recommended. Short sessions helping in the organic garden or learning about bee and hen keeping. Supported Journaling, Writing, Drawing. Yoga, Mindfulness, Meditation. Shamanism. In the great outdoors it’s possible

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The Manor House, West Lexham, Norfolk PE32 2QN

to do Forest, River, or Beach Walks with an experienced guide. Wild food foraging, wildlife tracking, bird language and deep nature connection practices. Boat trips offer seal, seabird, and dolphin watching. The venue can be hired for mini-conferences, courses, classes, and workshops. There are some beautiful rooms that can be used for these events. There is a lovely Christmas Programme available with different length of stay options. For those of you who still need access to the outside world there is wireless broadband throughout the house. There is more, so much more to learn about Newbold House and the kind of experiences you could have there. I have come away feeling rested, recuperated, nurtured, and cared for. An inspiring environment being lovingly sustained by heart-centred people. It is a very special place indeed.

Would you like the time to rediscover you in a safe place? Three night residential Retreat for women just like you.

Unique workshp and retreat venue with accommodation ranging from bell tents and tree houses to a barn with en-suite bedrooms.


THE ABBEY RETREAT CENTRE The Abbey, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4AF

Offering three retreat days monthly providing a suitable environment for quiet and contemplation, self-renewal and relaxation.

HOLLAND HOUSE Main Street, Cropthorne, Pershore WR10 3NB

Providing hospitality as a retreat house since Mrs Holland gifted the house and grounds to the Bishop of Worcester in 1946.

HEARTSPRING RETREATS Berrybush, 11 Woodside, Stroud GL5 1PL


(Left) Writing, drawing and supported journalling are encouraged. Newbold House lies close to beautiful, deserted beaches

East Pallant House, Chichester, PO19 1TR

Providing a caring, deeply nurturing, empathic heart-centred space for you to find your way.

THE CLOVER MILL Cradley, Malvern, Worcestershire, WR13 5NR

Rebalance your body, mind and spirit with nurturing Ayurvedic techniques and gentle yoga whilst being immersed in nature.



123 Ferrers Avenue, Tutbury, Staffs DE13 9JJ

Choose from a five-day Rejuvenation Retreat or a ten-day Panchakarma Retreat.

Nuneham Park, Nuneham Courtenay, Oxon, OX44 9PG

Meditation Retreat (Inner Peace, Inner Power) provides guidance in meditation.


BREATHING SPACE Heath Priory, Staithe Road, Hickling Broad, Norfolk NR12 0YJ


A place for women on their own or with friends to come and relax, just ‘Breathe’ and feel the stresses of everyday life fall away.

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With its own Sanctuary Light Centre and mystical stone circle, Mangreen is a spiritual oasis for reflection, healing and renewal.


Ballalheaney, Andreas Road, Andreas, Isle of Man

Helping individuals understand and learn about themselves and further their own personal development, Brightlife is a world away from the pressures of everyday life; a haven for the soul. » o printed on 100% recycled paper 49

2017 Retreat Guide KINDRED SPIRIT


MINDFUL LIVING RETREATS Various locations around the country

Mindfulness retreats for those suffering with cancer.


Photo: amanda ricciardi

Supporting spiritual seekers from different religions and none. Teaching the healing arts, spirituality, wellbeing and right relationship. Caroline with her dog Foosa, rescued from the meat trade

Rebecca Cook samples a spiritual dog retreat


hen I first stumbled across this retreat online, I was immediately drawn to it. I didn’thave a clue what to expect, and I went with a completely open-mind.


During the retreat we did group meditation twice a day. Something you would think to be impossible with the dogs and to start with some of the dogs (mine being the main culprit) were unsettled. By the end of the retreat though, it was as if they had been doing this all their lives and they were all so chilled. My dog, Booboo, loved it and it took ages for her to come round after a meditation, just lying and watching, which was in itself a minor miracle. The most amazing meditation for me was when I met my spirit animal. I wasn’t very hopeful about it ‘working’ for me as I was very much a beginner in meditation, but he came. The most beautiful raggedy old hare. The best thing is that I feel he is always with me now and that we have connected. There were talks, as well as the chance to practice many other topics such as scent work, grounding, spiral work, balancing and dog nutrition, all of which were fascinating. We also had the opportunity to have a one to one with Caroline which was quite emotional for some of us. I took a lot of useful information away from these talks and had quite a few eye-opening moments, where I suddenly saw aspects of myself clearly for the first time in many years.

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The afternoons were left for us to do whatever we wanted to do. Many participants went for dog walks in the stunning Welsh countryside, or just had some chill time. The whole experience for me though was so overwhelming, I felt I needed processing time and spent a lot of my free time with Boo in my room, thinking about everything, practicing spiral work on her, and having some sensational afternoon naps. I cannot possibly miss out the food. Oh the food! It was all vegetarian, with vegans completely catered for too. Freshly home cooked, from proper ingredients by the lovely Elaine, who is an awesome cook. Having recently gone vegetarian myself, it inspired me to try more when I got home. The accommodation is just lovely, very comfortable and they fully cater for the dogs, covering up all the sofas so the pooches can be as comfy as the humans and letting the dogs stay in your room. Also all the others on the retreat were amazing. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet like-minded people and not be considered odd. Since the retreat, my highly strung little Booboo has become a much more relaxed and happy dog, even my sceptical husband has had to admit this. I am myself also less highly strung and more relaxed. In fact, I have started painting again, something which I haven’t done in ten years. I feel like I have been unblocked and set free. Caroline Griffith is a pioneer of spiritual dog training and advocate of natural and holistic approaches to diet and lifestyle for your dog, and author of The Best Dog Diet Ever.



THE GRANGE The Grange, Grange Road, Ellesmere, Shropshire,

Mindfulness & meditation retreats for women.

STILLPOINTS RETREATS Elterwater Park, Ambleside, Lake District, Cumbria LA22 9NP

Spiritual retreats and silent retreats run all year.


HEALTHY HOME RETREAT •NrTHE Skipton, Yorkshire Dales Beautiful haven for family gatherings, peace-seekers & retreats. Big Yoga room. 6 Bedrooms, sleeps 12+. All natural interior, sacred space.

THE WELLNESS TREE RETREAT •Irton Manor Country Estate, North York Moors, Yorkshire YO12 4RW

Be guided through an “incredible” five star wellbeing programme, de-stress and experience ultimate relaxation. Early bird discounts available.

THURSTHOUSE FARM Ripponden, Sowerby Bridge, Halifax, North Yorkshire HX6 4NN

Relaxation and tranquillity with a health studio.

RAW HORIZONS Split Farthing Hall, Bagby, Thirsk N Yorks YO7 2AF

A women only wellbeing retreat where you can find peace, clarity and inspiration.

ESSENTIAL AYURVEDA 10-12 Fen Rd, Halton Holegate, Spilsby PE23 5PF

Ayurvedic treatments take you on a journey of re-discovery of your own innate wisdom. » 51

2017 Retreat Guide KINDRED SPIRIT

KINDREDSPIRIT 2017 Retreat Guide needs of each student, and allowing us to bend deeper into a posture, overcome limitations, or realise our body’s limits. She is attentive and makes sure to let us know that the practice can be adapted for anyone with health issues.



111 St Leonards Road, Forres, Scotland, IV36 2RE

Newbold House is a venue dedicated to natural and holistic wellbeing, spirituality and sustainability based in the Highlands of Scotland.


FINDHORN The Park, Findhorn, Forres, Scotland IV36 3TZ

Discovering consciousness and ways to create a positive and sustainable future.

TOUCHWOOD HOUSE 29 Island Bank Rd, Inverness, Scotland IV2 4QS

Residential courses in witchcraft plus meditation and spiritual awareness courses.

COACH HOUSE RETREAT CENTRE Kilmuir, North Kessock, Inverness, IV1 3ZG

Individual retreats and quiet space for your own reflection.

GARDEN COTTAGE RETREAT Orchard and Apple House, Kilgraston, Perthshire

A sacred space, a place for silence, prayer and for contemplating the experience of God in life.

PENNINGHAME PROCESS Penninghame, Newton Stewart, Dumfries and Galloway DG8 6RD

Courses on the relationships in your early environment.

LENDRICK LODGE Brig O’tur, Callander, Stirlingshire, Scotland, FK17 8HR

Shamanic retreats and Sundoor programmes.


TRIGONOS Plas Baladeulyn, Nantlle, Caernarfon, Gwynedd

Giving you the resources, freedom and support needed to achieve your objectives.

SEREN RETREATS Gower Peninsula (15 Minutes from Swansea)

Ayurvedic retreats to transform stress into vitality.

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LOVE YOGA HEALING Lucia Garavaglia travels to Warwickshire for a weekend of yoga, Ayurveda and meditation


espite my initial scepticism about arriving at a busy hotel – Walton Hall, a grade II listed, 16th century building set in stunning Warwickshire countryside – I am relieved once my yoga teacher, Shama Sara Palmer, founder of Love Yoga Healing, shows me to the tranquil practice room. I fully appreciate the location; I hear the persistent sound of blissful ancient Vedic chants playing in the background, filling the room with a sense of mystic peacefulness which resonates in the surrounding silence of this side of the building. I relax instantly. I have a good feeling, and know then that this is what I’ve been looking for. I discover later that chanting is one of the meditation techniques used by Shama through the whole weekend of yoga, Ayurveda and meditation. Bakti yoga – the yoga of devotion is a fundamental part of her training and personal practice and her voice is the main instrument she uses during her meditations. Throughout the weekend retreat she brings this in, incorporating an opening and closing devotional

prayer into our busy daily schedule, and inviting us to note our thoughts and self enquires.


Upon arrival, I receive a clear schedule for a full daily programme of yoga and theory classes. There are two yoga practices daily, pranayama exercises and two meditations, one in the morning and a wonderful candlelight meditation in the evening – highly recommended. The yoga practice is simple and accessible to beginners yet effective and graceful. The classes are a combination of Hatha, Yin and Restorative yoga, starting with gentle stretches and alternating dynamic exercises with relaxation techniques the whole time. After only three days, I am impressed with the striking progress seen in some of the other participants’ practice. Shama is able to push her students’ limits with a meditative and varied practice. I love the way she connects with everyone on a personal level, being caring and careful to the

Shama trained following the Sivananda tradition, and as a Yoga and Ayurveda therapist. The combination of these traditions, her fine attention to individual needs, and the ability to bring these studies and practices together is what makes the weekend valuable and exciting. The focus of the weekend is to attune to the Autumn season and to learn how to incorporate Ayurvedic knowledge into a yoga practice when back home, using the five points of yoga – proper exercise, proper diet, proper breathing, proper relaxation, positive thinking and meditation – accordingly to every season of the year. So, not only exercise, but there’s an overview on a healthier way to take care of the self, and a bit of theory for beginners, enough to bring it to the practical level. Ayurveda advice is to maintain balance, health and wellbeing through each season by adapting to the specific Ayurvedic type (Dosha) of the season, hence the Hatha yoga classes included restorative sequences specifically to energise the body, mind and spirit. Ayurveda-inspired seasonalbalancing foods are an integral part of my weekend experience, and the lunch

and dinner breaks are also a good opportunity to talk to Shama and the other energetic women in the group. Yoga and Ayurveda are supportive, complementary and essential. I find her sound understanding of how to adapt a diet to suit a particular body-type informative and refreshing. Months later, I still enjoy cooking some of the recipes that Shama shared. Shama’s Yoga, Ayurveda and Meditation retreat offers a pause from the frenetic pace of the world, to take time to go deeper into yourself. At the same time it is set in an accessible location (about 20 minutes driving from Stratford-upon-Avon), which gives plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area during the afternoon break. I would recommend a visit to Compton Verney; with its art collection, breath-taking architecture and landscaped park, this art gallery is one of England’s hidden gems. Spa facilities are also available at Walton Hall, but it is advisable to book these upon arrival. If you would like to attune to the rhythm of the season and experience a yoga practice that delves into yoga philosophy, tapping into the Ayurvedic knowledge, Shama’s Love Yoga Healing retreat is for you. Love Yoga Retreats are held in the UK and abroad. For your chance to win a place on a Love Yoga Retreat in Cyprus in September, turn to page 54.

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PATH OF LOVE RETREATS Buckland Hall, Bwlch, Brecon Beacons, LD3 7JJ

An intensive, loving and liberating process to realize your full human and spiritual potential.

MINDFULNESS IN NATURE Trigonos, Plas Baladeulyn, Nantlle, Caernarfon,

Mindfulness retreats in the natural world.

CARIAD RETREATS •Sanctuaries & Spas in South Wales & Beyond Shift your ‘self’ from stuck to sparkling and create clarity for your life’s path with empowering energy tools.

Further afield

HEALING TREE RETREATS •Coolbagh Clashmore Co Waterford Eire P36 VK31 Personal and group retreats tailor-made for you at a time of your choosing in a tranquil, healing setting. Offering Yoga, Meditation, Shamanism, NLP, Healing as desired.

RAW LOVE AWAKENING •Castara Retreats, Castara, Tobago, Trinidad & Tobago, Caribbean

Seven-day spiritual retreats to nurture your body, inspire your mind, and awaken you soul. Kundalini Yoga, Nia, Meditation, Coaching, Raw Food Nutrition.

BOTONERA RETREAT •Calle Botonera 23, Famara, Lanzarote B&B with Pure Massage, Detox, Art Therapy and Walking Holidays. By the beach in Famara, Lanzarote. Contact Susan and Len for more info on.

YOGA EVOLUTION CENTRE •Amieira, Oleiros, Castelo Branco, Portugal Visit the Yoga evolution healing centre, practice ashtanga, yin, dynamic, hatha, shamanic and mindfulness meditation. Details found on our website.

YOGI LTD •41ADVENTURE - 43 Portland Road, Hove, BN3 5DQ Vedic chanting is one of the meditation techniques used on the retreat, as well as a candlelit meditation (above)

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Established in 2007 - now with 50 retreats a year in: UK, French Alps summer and winter, Sri Lanka, Santorini and Morocco. KS 53