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First Weekend Yoga Retreat

Cows returning to pasture after milking at Bore Place farm yoga retreat

I had no idea what to expect from a weekend yoga retreat. I had refrained from booking for many years now; always nervous about whether I would fit in, whether I would enjoy it, whether I would get enough out of it to justify the spend, but I needn’t have worried at all. For me, there was no specific need to chill out or relax, (the old me may have needed that some years ago, but these days there is very little that stresses me to the point that a good walk outdoors won’t fix.) I guess I went for a break from work, a change of scene, some healthy food, and of course some concentrated time for yoga. I got all these things and more. Met some fascinating people and had some very interesting chats and despite sleeping through a large proportion of two of the yoga sessions, I left feeling uplifted, positive, and smiling.

Aims and achievements

I was the first to arrive, keen to get my bearings, walk the grounds with my camera, and settle in before meeting new people. Despite my previous customer-facing career and the hosting/guiding work I do in Africa, I am still quite nervous about meeting new people. My shyness is not traditional in that I don’t go quiet or shrink into the background, in fact quite the opposite. I am more nervous about taking over a conversation, interrupting people or saying something inappropriate and being misconstrued – all things I am often guilty of and desperately trying to stop. I was adamant I was going to use my ears and mouth in the proportions mother nature provided me with and to talk only half as much as I listened. On reflection, I’m not sure I really managed it, but I certainly learnt a lot about the lives of the various members of the group over the course of the weekend and came away with some great memories and a sense of achievement.

The Venue: Bore Place Farm

For me, I would describe our yoga retreat venue as a beautiful old manor house estate and farm, set in stunning English countryside, where the cows bring themselves in to be milked twice a day and the farm shop is the most modern I have ever seen. Bore Place describes itself as;

“A 500-acre regeneratively managed historic estate, just an hour from London. Our focus is on organic farming and regenerative land management whilst supporting people to live happy, fulfilling, and sustainable lives.”

Our yoga group took over the large barn and the Old Stable block which included all our rooms, a beautifully sunlit kitchen, and a living room that had been turned into a massage studio for the weekend.

Highlights: Aurora borealis, bats, birds and beasties.

For the first time I can remember, the northern lights were clearly visible with the naked eye from the South of England and although most of us missed it having gone to bed early, there was a lady in the group who managed to see them and capture a stunning image of pinks and greens above the barn. Why is me missing them a highlight?  Well, with reports that the magnetic activity would be strong again the second night, we lit the campfire and sat chatting all things bats until darkness arrived.  

This fireside chat, accompanied by hot chocolate, popcorn, and the anticipation of seeing the aurora was a magical evening of laughter and connection. Unfortunately, we still didn’t see anything, but without the possibility, I’m certain we would not have stayed up so long.

Immersion in nature

As well as attending various yoga sessions and finally understanding what a “sound bath” is all about, I also spent some time with my camera wandering the farmyard and its surrounding meadows, capturing everything from cuckoo spit to cows.

I see nature photography as a walking meditation – taken at both dawn and dusk which I truly treasured. The quietest part of the day was when everyone else was either still sleeping or busy with after-dinner chat. I watched hares playing in the meadow, followed red kites and herons flying overhead, and tracked butterflies settling down for the evening in the apple orchard.

The weather helped enormously, being warm and sunny with clear skies and little wind. Although I am back at work today, I am still appreciating moments from the weekend as they echo in my mind. I can highly recommend a yoga retreat, or any retreat that involves taking time out to clear your mind, put down the phone, and stop scrolling the socials – it’s the best tonic in today’s crazy world.

Kate Anderson Yoga and Isis Du Jour

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