You Can’t Beat a Bit of Bath

A combination of two GPS systems, two printed map routes, one full size map book, four pairs of eyes, words of encouragement to Jaqui’s car and maybe a few too many u-turns got us to the Bath country house for our Bodacious Bonfire Yoga weekend.

The journey from London was fuelled by celery sticks, carrots and peppers (expertly prepared by Roxy’s other half) and yummy cake (thank you Noras) and a lot of girlish excitement.  We were met with warm chai and cake on arrival which left us  suitably refreshed for a gentle evening practice.  But cake was not the order of the evening, but of the weekend! This was a yoga weekend that was defined by good food and a lot of eating.

It was great to stretch out the cramps and aches from the car journey, and get acquainted with the yoga studio – but we only had time for a quick hour and a little bit of flying before getting ready for supper.  After showering and settling in we ate pumpkin soup and freshly baked bread, and ended the evening feeling very content!

Saturday commenced with meditation at 9:00 followed by class at 9.30, a very reasonable start time indeed.  The yoga throughout the day was great; a fast paced start to get warmed up that was later capitalised by by inversions and Acroyoga.  Headstands, handstands and forearm balances were all worked on, as well as inversions balancing on people’s backs and in between their knees!  It sounds strange, but looks great!  And some more flying which I really enjoyed.

We also focused on standing balances and arm balances: for example practicing going from bakasana into tripod headstand.  As usual – it’s all about the core!  Ooouch!

Between morning and afternoon classes we ate (a lot!), dozed (only a little!) and cuddled up with the very fluffy cat Flicker, and enjoyed saunas.  Those who like it hot (Vaclav!) were very happy to be in charge of the water bucket and we soon warmed up our winter bodies for the afternoon session.

Saturday evening was a really nice night – we had intended to go to a Fireworks display,  but it was cold and dark; we were in the middle of nowhere and quite happy to be just there, after all we were full, sleepy and spent. So with little enthusiasm for fireworks we decided to play board games!  We settled on Cranium – a team game involving trivia and word / spelling questions as well as drawing, charades, singing / humming and modelling things in clay.  This is what Saturday nights are made for. Seeing fellow yogis jump around like Michael Flatly (Chris), trying to mime a parrot (Stefane) and humming ABBA’s Dancing Queen or Sister Sledge’s We Are Family (Shahana) caused me to laugh to the point of exhaustion. Without a doubt our evening Craniun frolics warmed us more than a Bonfire ever could.

Sunday started with a massage for me, great relief for a stretched shoulder I had been nursing all week.  I love massages and to have one so easily and as part of the weekend was very welcome!

The rest of the day was spent doing lots of yoga puncutated with eating and sauna.  A bit of crazy impromptu dancing to the Black Eyed Peas I Gotta Feeling warmed us up for the penultimate yoga session before we unwound with partner massage, our final workshop. We finished the weekend with another big delicious feast. It was hard to leave; the weekend went so quickly, but felt like were there for days and days, and the thought of returning to work on the Monday was hard to deal with.  The best thing about leaving was looking forward to the returning.

By Natalie Smith

Mainly Cloudy

This year I had the opportunity to offer Acroyoga at Buddhafield. This established cultural festival is organised by the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order and takes it roots from the Mahayana tradition.  Held in July, this 5 day event is celebrated  in the beautiful coppice woodland of  the Somerset countryside.

I also had the privilege of a teaching partner, Tobias Frank – a wonderful Acroyoga teacher from Cologne; we were both full of anticipation and apprehension for what the Festival had in store: poised to enjoy, to learn and to meet. So with the spirit of adventure, a bell tent, some handstand blocks and chalk at the ready we made our way.

After a long drive to the West country we arrived but by the looks of it, grey clouds had followed us all the way from London.  Unfortunately I prepared for every possibility, except that of rain in Devon in July. And as it turned out not passing rain clouds, but constant rain. Embrace it, we did. Me, booted with wellies and Tobia with flip flops, we commandeered some wheel barrows and trundled our effects through the mud tracks of the undulating hills and erected the tent under the grey canopy of the steadfast Nimbostratus. With such wet conditions, the on site sauna became an even more grateful and fond delight. As the days went on, the rain persevered and my poor tentmanship cracked under duress. Folly number 1: forgetting to tuck the edges under the ground sheet. Result: wet bedding! Folly number 2: not maintaining the integrity of  the guy ropes. Result: No tent top! The hardship and realities of camping were sent to test us, but it did  not dampen our spirit – everyday we had the chance to share the blessings of Acroyoga to a warm, playful and receptive community; an honour which I would gladly volunteer again and again and again.

By Jaqui Wan

Darling Yoga Buds of May

The invitation came from a fellow classmate to join the spring yoga retreat near Udine, Italy. I had no hesitations in going after following Jacqui’s weekly class for over two years. The chance to experience five days of immersive practice under her guidance in an idyllic location away from the noise and bright lights of London could not be overlooked.

Relationships developed quickly in such an atmosphere as we were absorbed in yoga and Italian lifestyle; gelato, sunshine, meals on the veranda, yoga by the lake – what a wonderful setting! Over five hours of yoga per day gave me a chance to experience new postures and also try out Jaqui’s speciality; Acroyoga.

My body may have ached after the first day, but was re-energised by the fourth nearly feeling renewed and ready to tackle my London life style. I think everyone could do with these experiences in life.

By Roxanne Degarie

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