Retreating to the magical island of Herm


Us four Es love going on retreat, and we love nothing more than retreating to Herm, because it's so easy, it's a simple 20 minute boat journey, plus there is something very magical about Herm.

Each retreat is wonderful in its own way - certainly the last Glastonbury and Goa retreats were just amazing - but sometimes the stars and moons align and this Herm retreat was one of the more enjoyable Herm retreats I've run over the last nine years.

Like Ewan and I, the children get a high off the energy. There's something special about bringing together a group of like minded individuals with a common purpose of practising yoga and raising their vibration over the weekend, enhanced by the energy of the place.

This is the other thing of course - retreats generally take place at very special places in the world, and the collective energy of place and the people who attend, makes for a very uplifting, healing and enlivening mix. That's certainly how I felt by the end of the weekend - uplifted and enlivened.

Usually my Mum comes and helps me over the Herm weekend, as there is a lot to set-up, organise and manage, but she was poorly unfortunately.  Luckily my brother, Ross, is visiting from Australia so he came along with me instead.  I enjoyed spending time with him on my own on the Friday and we set up in good time so we could walk and practice (he too is a yoga teacher, although he's more so a meditation avid these days).

Everyone else arrived on the 4pm boat on the Friday and were welcomed this time by Julie and Paul who are the new staff in the White House hotel - I'm very grateful for all their help over the weekend, this was a new experience for us as in the past the staff have just left us to it and not always been quite so helpful.

Class that evening was grounding and balancing, bringing everyone to Earth, and establishing intentions for the weekend ahead. Dinner was taken in the Mermaid, the new chef doing us proud with some yummy vegan and gluten free food over the weekend.

Saturday begins early for some of us with a sea swim at 7am.  I missed it this year as Eben was still asleep, but Ewan went and joined the other ten swimmers and I watched from the warmth of our room instead.


Then followed tea and snacks if wanted, beside the roaring fire, and then into class, connecting us more fully with our hearts, before brunch.  Thereafter the day can pass in a whizz of activity for some, or more gently for others.  We offer a number of things to do, some for free like joining JP Máce for a run, or Judy Porter for a guided walk around the island, and other involving additional cost like joining Sophie Fuller for her nutrition workshop, making jewellery with Athene Sholl, Reiki with Emily Trebert, massage with Kelly Harvey, reflexology with Jo Pederson, and/or Shen with Jo Henton.

So while some do zoom around filling their day with running, walking and treatments, others take a more leisurely approach and chill out and slow down instead.  The weather improved throughout the day and while I got a little wet on a late morning walk with Steph (my amazing web designer, photographer and videographer), by the afternoon the sun as shining brightly, which is always a bonus on retreat.

I joined a few of the ladies for an impromptu sea swim (well dip really) after their run, and checked in on everyone to see that all was well, before enjoying my own practice in the peace and quiet of the room, while my Dad and sister-in-law (who both came over for the day) looked after the children.  This for me is bliss - quiet space in the middle of a retreat to catch my breath, tap into the magical retreat energy and then rest!


Some joined me late afternoon for Bhajans.  This is essentially devotional singing and as I am not gifted with the ability to play any musical instruments, we sang along to music, Deva Premal's rendition of the Gayatri Mantra (my favourite mantra and my favourite singer) being the highlight.  I'm currently studying Vedic chanting and while my teacher would be a little appalled at the laziness of pronunciation while singing, there is still something very healing, heart opening and joyful in the sound of the mantra, however it is delivered, after all intention counts for a lot.

We played around with a few crystals too, while chanting, and then sat in silence absorbing the effects, some of us feeling the energy moving in and around us and some also experiencing a greater connection to the heart (crystals in hand, I love sitting with crystals, especially in my meditations and Yoga Nidra).  I certainly felt heart opened and joyful after the Gayatri mantra, it never fails to send a shiver down my spine - more light entering the world with us chanting it together like that.

Class followed and this was a deep stretch one, to connect more fully with the breath, into the body and into resistance, and attempting to be present to, and notice sensation. I for one, love a good deep stretch, especially into the hips!  I caught myself at one point staring out at the views of the sunset, it was stunning, and managed a quick few photos, before continuing with the teaching!


In theory this class set us up nicely for the thirty minute meditation session led by Ross.  I thoroughly enjoyed this, the opportunity to sit, and be guided by someone else.  For others it was a challenge to remain sitting for so long, but there was always the opportunity to lie down - and after all, this is one of the reasons for practicing asana; so we can sit more comfortably. 

This followed with a Yoga Nidra, as was the case on the evening class on the Friday, to encourage rest and rejuvenation and also an opportunity to further expand awareness. Yoga Nidra is certainly one of my favourite practices and I try to incorporate it into my life every other day if not more if I can, as it has so many benefits on so many different levels, especially with the activity of life these days, it's good to slow things down and activate the parasympathetic nervous system.

Saturday evening was another yummy meal, and then I got to enjoy some quiet time with the boys asleep while Ewan stayed in the pub with some of the others! I worked of course, planning the next Herm retreat while I was in the zone! Needless to say sleep came easily once the lights were out - there's something soothing about the sound of the sea and the birds on Herm. 

Sunday morning Ewan and I both joined the swim, taking it in turns to hold Eben, while Elijah hung out with uncle Katie (as he calls her, my sister in law who had stayed the night to help with the children). This was more of a dip really, but enough to feel cleansed by the marvellously cold sea! Class that morning was one of centring and fun, and testing limitations body and mind. Laughter is encouraged of course - yoga is a light-hearted practice and should bring joy. We finished with a lovely relaxation, my amazing adjuster-helped, Vicki, and I, going around the room and giving everyone a little bit of Reiki. 

Then that was that.  

I had a tear in my eye as I thanked everyone for joining me one the weekend, and I felt emotional for a good half an hour afterwards as Ewan, Vicki and I rushed around packing everything up, before joining everyone else in the Mermaid for our brunch. It had been a good retreat for me at least!

Back home, the fun really began, unpacking all the stuff that we took with us for the weekend.  Ugh! Still many hands create light work and with it being Mummy's Day, Ewan took the boys off with his Mum and sister so that I could finish the packing in peace before  enjoying some quiet time to get onto my mat to stretch out, before resting to a Yoga Nidra, and sitting, coming back to earth and wafting burning sage around myself (into my aura to cleanse the energy of others picked up over the weekend). I even had time to soak in an oil infused bath, while reading a book.  Bliss!

I was hyper for a good twenty-four hours after the retreat, as it was rather an expansive experience.  This is often what happens when you go on retreat - the combination of all the practices and the environment creates an energetic shift and we become lighter and the world becomes brighter and things can shift.

Then of course we go through  period of contraction, which can be very uncomfortable for some, as we come back to Earth a but and maybe find that things that used to feel OK, really don't feel OK now - sometimes we see more clearly through the illusion, or into the shadows, and that can be uncomfortable as we realise that we can no longer ignore something that is no longer working in our lives. The same can happen after the Reiki attunements.

There's a marvellous quote I came across in a book I'm reading (Buddha's Brain) about this, "On the path of awakening, it’s natural to experience some upheaval, dark nights of the soul, or unnerving groundlessness when the foundation of old beliefs falls away.  At these times your refuge will catch you and help you ride out the storm”.

My refuge is my home, my family and my practice, and that's where I'm at...I'm retreating a little this week with my brother, before I head off to see my Ayurvedic doctor on Saturday for a Panchakarma, a few days ahead of the Spring Equinox (an ideal time for cleansing and doing some inner work) and join my brother for a night at Gatwick before he heads off to Australia.  It's been a busy time with the book and the retreat...but I'm already looking forward to the Easter offerings and the Glastonbury retreat, woo hoo!

Love xxxx




Bailiwick Express ...Dancing with the Moon...


Bailiwick Express ...Dancing with the Moon...

My new book Dancing with the Moon has been featured on an article on the Bailiwick Express.

I didn't even know Bailiwick Express existed until today.  Thank you to my school friend, Jess, for helping to spread the word. 

Click here to read...

We just came back from a fabulous retreat on Herm. Us four Es love retreating, which is just as well as I have a few more lined up this year.  For us it's a family thing and while that brings with it it's complications it also brings lots of joy. More to follow. xxx




Menstruation...blood on the mat!

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It's funny, I'd never thought of it like that, but a friend was saying how menstruation is in the field.  I got what she meant, only that I'd not come across this concept of the field before, and actually it made a lot of sense. 

I've been menstruating for a long old while now, since I was 13 years old in fact, but it's only in recent years that I've become conscious of the spiritual significance and insight that comes from awareness of the menstrual cycle. I wish someone had told me when I was 13, wow, how life would have been so different!

Still, we have the life we have based on what we know and our choices in any moment and so I'm grateful at least now, for this awareness. 

Menstruation is without a doubt, in the field. A few weeks ago I was surprised to find menstruation being talked about on Radio 4.  Then just this week, it was talked about on EastEnders (yes I know, I watch EastEnders, I admit it, it's the only thing I watch on TV, and yes even my family think that's pretty crazy!), and that's when I realised certainly something might just be happening...

So this week I found myself talking about menstruation on a podcast chat with Michelle Johansen.  She was saying how a friend of her's had mentioned how she's not on her game for a week of the month, when she's menstruating.  And I responded by saying how silly it all is, that women think like that. 

The truth is that the week of each month that you're menstruating is a big deal. It's the time when you might retreat and have your most amazing insights. It's certainly not a time to be embarrassed about, or to try to pretend it is not happening, or, even worse, be peeved about it.

Admittedly the whole bleeding thing can be a touch challenging.  I get that. As it happened I started bleeding about an hour after talking to Michelle yesterday, on the eve of the full moon, so a day earlier than usual.  This morning I was teaching yoga.

If the truth be told, I was all over the place before the class.  My youngest son barely slept last night due to an ear infection and was hanging out on my chest most of the night, and the child care (parents) are all sick, so the children came in the car to drop me off at yoga, and of course we were running late. 

I was not my usual grounded and prepared self (I was planned however!), and it didn't help that I had my period.  I don't like to use anything other than pads as I don't like to disrupt the apana energy, the downward flow of energy, it needs to flow right. This does mean, however, that you need a particular type of pad, and sadly the eco ones I've tried just don't do it, they leak all over the place.

It was a snow day, the day I started bleeding and I didn't have anything in the house as it caught me a day earlier than expected, so beautiful E strode out into the snow and bought me some super huge pads from the local chemist.  It was one of these super beauties, I wore to yoga this morning. Sadly even though it was a non-eco friendly and supposedly super-absorbent one, it leaked!

Yep, what I thought was a worst nightmare came true as there I was sitting on my mat demonstrating something and all of a sudden I felt the blood rush down, as it does, and I hoped the pad had absorbed it, but just had this feeling.

Without thinking about the blood situation I got up and wandered around the room, checking alignment and glanced towards my mat (positioned in the middle of the strange-shaped room I teach in) and was rather concerned to find that there was blood on it.  Yikes!  Yep, the blood had seemed through my pad, onto my pants, though my leggings and onto the mat.

I rushed back to my mat and thought about turning it over and then figured that would give it away so maybe I should just sit on it, and then I felt a bit trapped, so I thought maybe I should mention it to the ladies, we were all ladies after all, but then I just felt a bit vulnerable I was exhausted as it was and a bit out of sorts with the moon, so I kind of sat on my mat awkwardly, and tried to keep it hidden!

It was interesting. Menstruation is in my field, I talk about it in class, I ask women to be compassionate to it. And yet here I was embarrassed by it, because it was so bloody obvious, quite literally! And I giggled because at this time of the month, all I really want to do, and absolutely what I encourage ladies to do, is retreat!

But this is life.  This is the reality of life. It goes on.  So yes, while the idea of taking a week out each month to bleed and be with the women, as they did in the red tent, sounds amazing, it's not a reality when you have a job and children and people who depend on you. The best you can hope for is the opportunity to sit on your yoga mat when the children have gone to bed before either falling asleep to a Yoga Nidra or getting into bed and trying to sleep there instead. 

I did both last night as it happens.  I did a very gentle 20 minute yoga practice, before falling asleep to what I'm sure was a lovely Yoga Nidra and then made an effort to sleep, before being woken hourly by my nipple-sucking, energy draining and yet ever so cute and beautiful son, go figure!

I advise all menstruating women  to read "Code Red' By Lisa Lister.  It's a fab book to help you connect more fully with your menstrual cycle and your inner wisdom. I only wish this book had been around when I was 13! Admittedly the language is a bit challenging at times, and even I have a limit to the amount of "SHE" references I can deal with, but the fundamental info is interesting and empowering.

Certainly when we're menstruating I feel we naturally want to retreat away and so we should. Personally, I experience greater insight at this point in the cycle. Then we have this increasing energy until ovulation and with that we have more energy for the outward world, and more interest for it too.  Then we ovulate, hoorah for that, and feel fabulous, before the waning down towards menstruation.

When I was younger, I was lucky if I had any idea where I was in my cycle, let alone what each part of it meant (beyond the irritation of PMS and menstruation).

Now I know.  Since I've had the children, I bleed on the full moon.  I struggle with this a bit if truth be told, because the full moon is all about being full and this is generally the time for ovulating, when the eggs are reflective of the fullness of the moon, literally ripe and full of light; fruitful. But instead I'm like the fruit ripen instead and spoilt.

So this means that ordinarily, when the moon is new and full of new potential, when a lot of women are bleeding into new beginnings, having just had the darkness of the pre-menstrual phase with the dark moon (before the new moon), I'm ovulating.  

It's all back to front and I could get an ego trip off it, because it is said that women who have their bleed aligned with the full moon are healers and high priestesses...I'll take that thank you very much!  I guess it could also mean that we've passed the fertile and child creating state, maybe!

Anyhow the point is, menstruation is only going to get bigger - if EE have mentioned it, it has to, surely! And the other point is, we need to embrace it right, all parts of it, and yes if we can retreat with it, then retreat. If that's not possible, then let's try honour it somehow, and you know, if you bleed on your yoga mat, then maybe be OK with that, it's kind of cool - although she says that and her yoga mat is in the washing machine, ha ha!

We're human. 

Love x










Dancing with the Moon - my first published book!


Dancing with the Moon - my first published book!


So, here it is. My book, published and available for purchase through Amazon, in both paperback and e-book; there's a link below. I wrote it, because I am really hoping that it may help others who also experience fertility issues and go through IVF. So too, those who experience complications during pregnancy, and don't have the birth they intended. It may also be helpful to new mums who find it incredibly hard adjusting to Motherhood.

I'm incredibly grateful to lots of people for making my dreams reality, not least in birthing two beautiful healthy boys Earthside, but for bringing this book out into the world. It's not been easy achieving these dreams, but I'm grateful for the challenges, and for the opportunity to grow and expand as a result of both. I love you moon!

Please do share the link to the book with anyone you feel may benefit. IVF can be such a lonely journey and I hope this brings company and comfort.Thank you!

Love Emma xés-ebook/dp/B079Y763ZF/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519502830&sr=8-1&keywords=Emma+Despres


Yoga, the coil and menstruation


Yoga, the coil and menstruation

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I was asked a very valid question recently about women practicing yoga with a coil and what they should and shouldn't do. Uma is my inspiration for answering this, and I would encourage you, if you have a coil, to watch this short video

I've also been asked a number of times the reason I give options for women who are menstruating.  My answer is because when you're menstruating, really you need to take things gently - I'm impressed you're even at class.  At this time of the month often what our body needs is deep rest, darkness, stillness and the opportunity to truly tap into our womb wisdom. This is a time to get down on the Earth and get into yourself.

If you do come to class, I encourage you to be particularly gentle with yourself and this is the reason for the options.  Of course there are always options, if you're ovulating, maybe you want to practice a different way, if you're menopausal then maybe you want to practice by a window and take some time off to cool down, if you're lactating then maybe you need to rest more frequently than others and avoid lying on your front with your breasts pressing to the ground.

I'm a woman, I bleed, I breastfeed, I ovulate, I'm still technically post-natal (for two years after birth), I've been pregnant a few times, I've had two Caesarean sections and IVF. I bring this experience with me into class and share as much as I can. We're all different though, so I encourage you to check in to your own bodies and your own body wisdom and adjust the practice as you choose.

For many years I ignored my body wisdom and I resented my monthly bleed as it made practicing yoga more challenging as I would be tired and there was the small problem of bleeding to consider.  I just kept practicing as I practised the rest of my monthly cycle - in a masculine and yang way as I didn't know that there was another way.

I ended up with menstrual problems. My periods stopped essentially.  I then found out I had cysts on my ovaries.  This is a whole other story but I set out to heal myself and part of that healing was learning about womb wisdom and the need to honour my body and respect it's monthly cycle and to tap into the wisdom that it provides.

I've been deeply inspired by Uma Dinsmore-Tuli and am full of huge and massive respect for her speaking her truth and walking her talk and being a shining light to us wild yoginis.

So I know from experience, how important it is to respect whatever stage of life we're going through, and especially our menstrual cycle. In Ayurveda (of which I am a huge fan), there are five energies (or pranas) and one of these is called Apana. Apana is a downward moving energy, which is involved in excretion, urination, ejaculation and menstruation. 

So I encourage menstruating women to avoid the inversions, such as headstand and shoulder stand, which reverses the natural downward flow of apana upon which menstruation relies. I also encourage them to avoid deep twists, certainly in the first couple of days of menstruation, maybe after then it feels good to do a deep twist.  

I would also avoid poses like bow and or anything that presses on the lower belly.  I don't even like to practice steamed forward bends where my lower tummy makes contact with my legs, I much prefer legs apart if I'm folding forward during this time. basically i feel it's important to keep the practice gentle and give the womb lots of space and nurturing energy.  Reiki hands on the lower belly is essential if you're Reiki attuned!

I've got a free video coming out soon on yoga for menstruation so keep an eye out if this interests you.

I'd also encourage any menstruating woman to read "Code Red" by Lisa Lister.  It's an inspiring book, which teaches you all about the menstrual cycle in a really accessible way. She's funny! It's inspired many women with whom I've shared it, and it certainly helped me to re-align my menstrual cycle with the moon post baby and drop a little more deeply into womb wisdom and the cyclical nature of being a woman.

With love and gratitude!