Glastonbury and the Goddess

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It almost broke me, but at the same time it re-ignited my passion for womb yoga, and eased the Goddess back into my life, when I attended Uma Dinsmore-Tuli’s yoga workshop on fertility and menstruation in London recently.

It was perhaps a little ridiculous of me to book a day trip to London. The 7am red-eye flight to Gatwick will challenge most people, but when you have a 2-year old who likes to breastfeed during the night, well it was always going to be a little crazy getting up at 5.15am.

The fact we then spent the next 3 hours on the plane sat at Guernsey airport, due to fog in Gatwick, did not help matters. I was very aware of the Reiki principles of “do not anger” and “do not worry”, but this didn’t really ease my frustration. Fortunately, Paula, a sea swimming friend and yoga student, was working on the plane and reminded me that even getting frustrated was a waste of energy. She is right!

I decided that if the pilot had not managed to sort us a slot by 10.30am, I would bail on the whole ridiculous idea of a day trip to north London. There was beautiful sunny weather in Guernsey and I quite liked the idea of a swim in the sea, followed by a lovely and long yoga practice and a Yoga Nidra, with the children already being cared for by my lovely family.  Typically, the Captain got the all clear at 10.30am and that was that, we were soon airborne.

There followed a rush as I traipsed my way up to Angel, via the slow train to London Bridge, making it to the Life Centre, just before lunch. Typical! I felt a bit sorry for myself initially, there’s nothing worse than walking into a workshop extremely late, hot and dishevelled, but the chocolate on offer helped to lift my spirits and Planet Organic is located next door and they sell really yummy food.

The afternoon passed in a blur, with a 15-minute Yoga Nidra, a couple of hip circles and chatter about well, menstruation and fertility! I am sure I must have learned something new, but I have to be honest in saying that what I learned the most, was the fact I already know a lot about menstruation and fertility, having ‘worked’ and embodied elements of both in my own life over the years.

Eating disorders and excessive yoga practising play havoc with the menstrual cycle as I have discovered, cysts on ovaries also has an impact.  So I have been aware of the menstrual cycle for a while now, although I admit that it is wasn’t until a few years ago that I properly started to honour my cycle and notice how it is continuously guiding me. 

Of course I have first-hand experience of fertility issues too, and have written a book about this called Dancing with the Moon. I appreciate that my approach to fertility may not work for every woman, but I do sincerely believe that yoga can make a huge difference, and I wholeheartedly agree with Uma that the one thing that will help women with both fertility and menstrual issues is to practice Yoga Nidra daily. 

It was a long way to travel to recognise what I already know, but it was uplifting and inspiring to spend time with Uma all the same. She is extremely passionate about yoga for women in the form of womb yoga and of the healing and supportive benefits of Yoga Nidra (on which she leads trainings and is currently writing a book). Uma is also inspiring in that she stands truly in her power and is not afraid to speak her truth. 

I agree with much of what she says and know from my own experience that the practices work.  I totally agree with her especially when she says that most women are full of rage when they realise that the menstrual cycle is something to be embraced – this was a first for many of the women in the room, at least from what I could gather from their questioning, and I respected the manner in which Uma held the space for them to explore and begin the process of shifting their perspective on menstruation to something that is positive and to be honoured.

She also tried to raise awareness on the manner in which women don’t always question what they allow into their vaginas, something that played heavily on me during IVF and all the transvaginal ultrasound. She also echoed my own concerns about cervical smears and the benefit, if any, to be derived from these – this is becoming an increasingly talked about topic and I would urge you to do the research, and really check into your body wisdom. 

This really, is what Uma is trying to achieve – empowering women to check into their body wisdom and listen.i had a sense that Uma is juggling a number of balls at the moment, and yet the practices, especially the Yoga Nidra sustain her. She wouldn’t be able to do all she does otherwise. It’s her balance.

The day trip tipped my already tipped balance though! After a few months of juggling a number of balls, my passion for womb yoga and the Goddess may have been reinstilled, but there was a price to pay as exhaustion loomed! Fortunately, we had a family trip to Glastonbury booked for a few days later, and this couldn’t have arrived at a better timing. 

 2019 has been full-on so far.  It was perhaps ambitious of me to learn Ayurveda and Sanskrit this year, what with a young family but I had hoped that by giving up the finance job at Christmas, I may have had more time on my hands. No! My time now is spent dashing backwards and forwards from Elijah’s school. The downside of our unconscious and unintended ‘attachment’ approach to parenting, has resulted in attached children, to the extent that Elijah suffers with separation anxiety and has to come home for lunch each day.

Still, there have been positives to come from this.  I have started teaching yoga to the reception year children at his school, and I get to read to Elijah and some of his class in the library each week. I’m also getting fitter now that we’ve bought the bike trailer, to ease the amount of time spent in the car!

 All of this, however, with the yoga and the Reiki attunements of late as I attempt to do my bit to share my passion for both (and maybe help to make this world a better place to live), has made for a busy start to the year, and one in which I forgot somehow of the Goddess and all that she does to support us lovely ladies especially. So while Uma reminded me, it was our trip to Glastonbury that cemented the Goddess back in my life again – and what a relief!

In Glastonbury, well Baltonsborough to be exact, about 3 miles from the town itself, we were gifted with the opportunity to stay in a beautiful 100-year old house set on a couple of acres and owned by the lovely and welcoming in-laws of Olga, the lady who prepares all the yummy food on my Glastonbury retreats. 

The family were away on holiday so we had the place to ourselves, in exchange for Ewan pruning some of their trees.  There were views of the Tor in the distance, and the most beautiful and abundant birds visiting the bird table each day (we think a woodpecker visited, but neither of us are bird experts!). This place was a tonic for the soul and the boys just loved all the space to play and the outdoor toys and the trampoline.  

This was all enhanced for me, as Ewan being the wonderful partner he is, and appreciating my need for some ‘filling up’ as the cup was half full, looked after the boys on his own for an hour or so each day so I could enjoy all that Glastonbury had to offer. Usually I am teaching and holding space for others when we visit, so it was a treat to be able to truly receive instead (I always receive when in Glastonbury as it is the town that continuously gives, but you know what I mean!).

I fulfilled a dream of finally attending a full moon event at the Goddess Temple in town, and here I was treated to a crystal bowl sound bath with a lovely lady who was visiting town from Chicago.  I just love the sound of crystal singing bowls and I was transported right back to my first sound bath, over ten years ago now, in Byron, where we floated to the sound of these bowls.  I still have the CD somewhere; there’s nothing quite so rejuvenating for the soul.

The next day, I managed to make an evening class (an absolute treat when you have small children) held at the Goddess House and involving an hour of yoga and the harp. Amazing! If there’s anyone on Guernsey who plays the harp and would like to accompany me at a yoga class, then please let me know! It was an exquisite experience and divinely orchestrated as the pregnant lady who taught the class, Rebekah, had also been in London last week training with Uma (how we love a coincidence after Reiki attunements!) so the class was womb-yoga influenced and familiar to me in its approach. 

 Despite all these wonderful sessions, I was still feeling a little out of sorts the next day (a healing crisis from the last Reiki attunement I now realise), and so I booked a last minute appointment for an aromatherapy massage at the Goddess House. Unbeknown to me at the time of booking, the lady, Anna, is also a Reiki Master (you got to love a coincidence) as well as being a Priestess of Avalon. Anna invited the Lady of Avalon into the session, and I have to say this was a noticeable turning point for me.

How had I forgotten the Goddess?

I blame reading too many yogic texts, which I truly respect, but have a feeling are very masculine in energy and approach. Where are the yogic texts for women raising children?!

The energy of the Goddess permeates Glastonbury. She is everywhere. The town is filled with Priestesses and Witches and women trying to find their way. It’s a healing place I have no doubt, because the Lady of Avalon holds you well. The land itself is infused with her energy, you can’t help but drop into that space within yourself.

On our last day, I finally got to visit Shekinah Yoga Retreat Centre (used to be an ashram) where I joined Rebekah for a womb-yoga fuelled class, set to beautiful music and in the lovely yoga space that has been infused with the energy of years of practice and kirtan. I felt truly nourished. I also felt as if I had finally made a yoga connection in the town itself and am keen to return again – there’s kirtan at Shekinah each Friday evening, which I’m keen to one day attend. 

We then took our second pilgrimage up to the top of the Tor, Elijah rebelling against the flow, and finding his own steep way to the top. Back down again at the bottom of the Tor, Ewan and I cooled down with a nude dip in the White Spring.  Being in this dark cavern with candles providing limited light always has a positive effect on both of us. The water feels so clean, as if we are literally washing away negativity and emerging renewed and refreshed again – like coming out of the womb perhaps! Even Elijah has grown to appreciate this space and enjoys collecting the water from the spring, which is far nicer in taste that the iron red water from Chalice Wells across the road.

I left Glastonbury a little heavy hearted the next day simply because I love the energy of this place, the supposed heart chakra of the world, where I have made some really lovely connections. Still, I left knowing that we will be returning again in May for the Glastonbury yoga & wellbeing retreat, and that the energy of the Goddess returns back to Guernsey with me, in my heart (and in my womb), and having rewoven herself – fortunately – back into my life - I am grateful to the moon and the stars for orchestrating this, and for reminding me not to forget again!

If you’re feeling in need of some nourishment then I really encourage you to check out the free Yoga Nidras on my website, but also on www.yoganidranetwork.org, Uma has some wonderful ones on there. Also perhaps try out the practices detailed in Uma’s amazing book Yoni Shakti, which is available on Amazon. You might also book a trip to Glastonbury, you can stay at Shekinah Yoga Retreat Centre, which is just below the Tor, or perhaps join me on one of my Glastonbury Yoga & Wellbeing Retreats at Lower Coxbridge House – I’m biased but this is an incredible spot and the Goddess invites herself along to help hold the space; you can’t help but leave feeling touched by her energy! 

I’ll write more on both menstruation and fertility another time. But if you are experiencing issues with either, then do practice Yoga Nidra as often as you can (there’s one on the website for menstruation and fertility) and start charting your cycle. Make a note of how you feel at each stage and check what is going on with the moon cycle. Also try out the free yoga videos on the website for yoga for menstruation and yoga for fertility and see what happens if you practice these regularly for a whole month. Really get to know your body!

Thank you to Olga and the Parkers and to Ewan and the boys. Thank you also to Anna, Rebekah and the Lady of Avalon. and to the Goddess of the Moon for shining her light on the shadows.

Love Emma x

Emma DespresComment