Diary of a Day on a Yoga Retreat

Thursday, August 14



5:30 am: I am woken by the sound of singing outside my door, it's time for morning meditation and being woken by a song instead of an alarm clock is wonderful. After quickly getting dressed into my all white clothes as is customarily worn by Integral yogi's and brushing my teeth; I walk down to the converted old stone building. The walk takes ten minutes and is gorgeous.  The fields are a lush green and there is a low misty haze between myself and the rising sun that is lifting at about the same rate as the golden ball of light is. We are sleeping in the farmhouse at Radford Mill Organic Farm, and spending the day at the 'Yoga Studio' which is also on the Farm and has a large kitchen attached to it.

6:00 - 7:00 am: Morning meditation and pranayama (breathing exercises).  Thankfully I am getting used to the silence that we have been in since last night and my mind is no longer assaulting me with it's usual nonsense.  Instead I'm feeling that my mind is allowing me stretches of a few minutes of interrupted lightness and peace.  I really do hope that one day I am able to sit down and 'meditate' for a solid stretch of time, for me this remains and ongoing project. Interrupted often by my legs going numb and a little tingly, and me needing to make a position changes as quietly as possible! Just as I feel I'm starting to really zone out, our teacher Padma sounds an 'Om' to signal the end of meditation. and it's time for our Physical practice.

7:00-8:30 am: Hatha Yoga Class. The Integral Yoga class has a big emphasis on the meditative and restorative aspect of Yoga, I often wish that our classes were more active. Today's class is more physically demanding and I LOVE it! Doing a headstand with the sun streaming onto my face through the floor to ceiling windows feels quite magical.

8:30-9:30 am: It's breakfast time and I'm struck again by how much more flavour I
am able to find in my muesli and fruit when eating mindfully in silence.

9:30am: Padma Om's and announces that the silence that we have been keeping since the evening before may now be broken and although I've tolerated the silence better this time than I ever have before, I'm relieved to be speaking again!

After breakfast we have a catch up about who will be preparing the evening meal and decide that we don't need to shop today as the vegetarian meals that we have all prepared and bought along will suffice for today.  We do need some salad things for lunch though and it's a pleasure to be able to buy some freshly picked tomatoes and basil from the farm workers that have been grown organically on the farm!

10:30-12:00: I have prepared a workshop on the Pelvic Floor which I teach to the rest of our group.  It seems to go quite well and there are many giggles when I pass around the tampon shaped pelvic floor strengthening weights!

12:00-12:30 : Meditation in the garden for some of the group whilst the karma yogi's prepare lunch.

1pm: After the meal prayer, lunch is served.

2 - 3pm: We go back into the studio and lie down on our yoga mats and snuggle down with blankets. It's one of my favourite parts of the day, Yoga Nidra.  Padma talks us a through a guided relaxation and we slip into that wonderful space of conscious sleep. Some of the group do fall fast asleep and are given away by their snores!

3:00 - 3:30 pm: Tea time.

3:30 - 5:30pm: It's time for our afternoon program and we have a guest speaker who educates us on the power of the feminine life force called Shakti.

5:30 - 6 pm: We prepare the final bits of dinner as I've been on Dinner duty so left the Shakti workshop early.

6pm -7pm: Delicious dinner.

7:00 - 8:30 pm: Our evening program is lead by the wonderful Tim Chalice chanting and playing beautiful music, for us to sing along with him to, known in yoga as Kirtan.

8:30 - 9:00 pm: Evening Meditation which finishes with us entering into silence.

9:00 pm We walk back up to the farmhouse and I shower before bed and then try and find a spot in the house with enough phone signal to text Pete good night.  I haven't had a hint of any 3g signal for days and it's good to have a break from the internet!

I loved my Yoga retreat last week with my teacher Padma and incredibly didn't have any major meltdowns this time! Being in silence and spending so much time in quiet meditation soon awakens any fears or regrets that you may have lingering in the depths of your mind. The first retreat that I ever went on left me sweating and freaking out as I lay in bed as I convinced myself that I was dying of cancer!

You need to go on a retreat.  It will challenge you and scare you and you will shed at least a few tears.

And if you are used to drinking coffee you will very likely have a gigantic headache from the caffeine withdrawal too!

But you will be stronger as and happier as a result of it.

And you will meet some of the most genuine, kind and caring people in the world.

And you need Yoga in your life, but if you read this blog then you knew that already :)

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