Herm Yoga & Wellbeing retreat
What an amazing weekend! I know I am biased but it truly was a very special weekend on Herm for the annual Be inspired Yoga & Wellbeing weekend.
It all began on Friday morning really when E, Judy and I were travelling over to Herm on the Trident boat. E, who had been standing out the back of the boat, came rushing into to Judy and I to tell us that a pod of dolphins were following the boat. Oh my gosh, I have never seen so many dolphins and certainly never in Guernsey before. What a treat. There was one swimming very close to the boat and jumping in and out of the wake. What a joy, talk about being on a high before the weekend even really got going!
Herm is as lovely as ever. Some trees have been lost in front of the conservatory, which is shame, but does mean that the views are even better than you used to be from the light and spacious Yoga space in the conservatory of the White House Hotel. E and I spent a few hours setting up for the retreat with the staff in the Hotel doing a great job of helping to make sure everything was ready for the arrival of the attendees at 4.30pm.
This was meant to be the Spring retreat but it did indeed feel more like winter with those high winds and lower temperatures of late. The radiators were turned right up in the conservatory, but I must admit it was a little chilly that first day. Mind you with a brisk walk around the Island you soon warm up - what a joy to walk the whole island without seeing another soul, all those Springtime flowers and the wonderful views of the brightly coloured Shell beach and Belvoir Bay - I thijnk there must be a special light on Herm as the sea always looks so blue and the sand so yellow!
So the party of attendees arrived on at Rosaire Steps at 4.30pm, all ready for a weekend of Yoga and wellbeing. We were at full capacity this time, it made a difference too, all that energy in one room, wonderful! Everyone settled into their rooms, all refurbished for the new season ahead, before meeting for tea and snacks in front of the fire before the first class in the conservatory of the White House.
That first class is always a little strange as people are a little nervous about their practice and wondering if they will cope with a weekend of Yoga. Plus of course no one wants to go at the front despite the fact it offers the most fantastic views of the East coast of Guernsey and is much warmer by the radiators. Still no one needed to have worried and over the weekend everyone moved to different places in the room to share the views.
The first class was active and a little dynamic with a led Yoga Nidra at the end. Sadly the temperature had dropped significantly in the room by then and with strong winds causing a door to bang repeatedly, it was certainly a challenging way to end the day! Still, any Herm retreat really does encourage one to go with the flow of things, which is never a bad thing!
That evening we were treated to some wonderful food created by the new chef in the Mermaid. With many dietary requirements, he had safely opted for two vegan dishes of roasted peppers and rice and a vegetable and chickpea hot pot with lots of steamed vegetables, salad and breads. Desert included a choice of fruits salad, yogurts, sticky toffee pudding and a fruit crumble. Yum!
It was an early night for us and an early rise for E and I the next morning, 5am to be exact so that by class we had lit the fire, prepared the tea and snacks and I had managed a practice all on my own in that lovely Yoga space, nice and warm now. The first session of pranayama and meditation was sadly not so warm but we soon warmed up with a flowing class, focusing on opening the heart and backbends to further encourage a sense of love, joy and compassion and face those fears that backbending bring out in us.
Class was followed by brunch with cereals and fresh and dried fruit, yoghurts, a variety of bread and a choice of cooked eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes. There was certainly enough food to keep you going all day!
Saturday was very much an opportunity for people do as much or as little as they liked. Sadly the first boat from Guernsey was cancelled, which meant that the practitioners could not come over until lunchtime, causing a bit of chaos to the treatment schedule, but as I have already mentioned, one has to learn to go with the flow on Herm and this is exactly what everyone did. Thankfully some dropped out so that we were able to accommodate those who were really looking forward to their treatments and walk 'n' talk sessions.
A huge thank you to Hayley Le Marquand for her holistic massage, to Christine Shepherd for her reflexology, to Jo Henton for her Reiki hands and Michelle Johansen for her walk 'n' talk sessions. I am really very grateful to all of you for coming over and helping me out. x
JP Macé very kindly led a run at 12pm and then saved the day with his partner Debbie by leading the 2.30pm walk that E was not able to do due to his bad back. Thank you to both of you, very much appreciated.
The sun shone for us too. It seemed all the sun salutations had done some good! What a treat as it looked so unlikely in the morning but lo and behold E and I managed a walk in the sunshine and even saw a rainbow too!
So with treatments, sessions, running and walking on offer there was lots for attendees to do, but there was aslo the opportunity for them to chill by the fire and have a chat, read books and/or take an afternoon nap.
There was also the opportunity to join the chanting class and I was amazed how many people did exactly that. I love chanting and it was great to be able to do this with others for a change as it really does create such an uplifting energy not only within one's own system but within the Yoga space itself. We chanted "Om Mani Padme Hum", "Hare Hare Om Namah", "Hare Krishna, Hare Rama" and the incredibly beautiful "Gayatri Mantra". Thankfully I was not the only one who felt incredibly floaty thereafter!!
Needless to say the chanting set us up perfectly for the final class of the day. It was gentle in nature and rather introspective, the room was lovely and warm and with the sun setting in the distance over Guernsey it was a special way to end the day. Even more so now that the door was not banging during Yoga Nidra!!!
That evening we were treated to another feast, a sweet potato crumble or a Thai vegan curry with brown rice, salad, steamed vegetables and bread on the side. This was followed by yet more sticky toffee pudding, fruit crumble and fresh fruit salad for the vegan ones amongst us. Yum, yum!
Some drank wine, some didn't, some read their angel cards, some didn't. It really was very much a do as you like weekend, everyone getting on well together with great camaraderie and lots of laughter and good memories I suspect. For E and I it was certainly another early night!
The Sunday morning dawned wet and windy once more, so morning tea and snacks beside the fire was welcoming. After the Pranayama and meditation, with all that Brahmari vibration, we enjoyed a fun final Yoga class. To me Yoga should be a joyful and light-hearted experience so we practiced lots of different asana that encouraged laughter and a sense of play. I suspect many were surprised to see themselves in asana they do not practice so regularly and others will no doubt be inspired to continue practicing. It was lovely to see so many "birds of paradise" in the room, in all their various guises!!
Brunch followed and then that was it, we were back on the boat to Guernsey, no dolphins this time though, only fond memories of the weekend. It had all past in a flash, and before I knew we were saying goodbye to each other and I must admit while I felt very elated , I also felt a tinge of sadness that it was all over and we were all going our separate ways.
Thank you so very, very much to all of you who attended, for those of you who travelled that extra distance from Jersey and the UK, for all of you making the weekend so very special and magical for me. Thank you also to my Mum for helping with all the organising and to E for helping out over the weekend. Thank you to Sion and Linda and the team in the White House and to Tom and his team in the Mermaid on Herm. Truly the weekend would not have been the same without all of you sharing your energy as you did x
With much gratitude and love