Though my preference is usually to spend Sunday sleeping in and then lazing about my house in a decidedly sloth-like fashion, I was happily up and out yesterday as I made my way to east London in pursuit of a different type of relaxation.
(Apologies in advance for the phone pics!)
When Lululemon Instagrammed about yoga teacher Steffy White‘s urban day retreats I was intrigued by the idea of experiencing a yoga retreat without having to leave London. I started following Steffy and as soon as she posted about March’s retreat I booked in for 5 hours of retreat fun:
12-1.30PM: Dynamic Yoga
1.30pm – 1.45pm: Replenish and hydrate
1.45-2.30pm: Inversion workshop
2.30pm – 3.30pm: Sound AND MORE with a special guest
3.30-5pm: Yin yoga and deep relaxation
The schedule looked a bit intense (that’s a LOT of yoga in one go!) but, being honest, the promise of a gift bag and deep relaxation was really all it took to sell me.
Arriving at the studio in Hackney, Steffy greeted us warmly and encouraged us to grab a mat while she finished her prep.
We started with dynamic yoga (which is all about movement and flow) and in no time at all the room started feeling warm and my limbs started to shake. Steffy has a fun, engaging energy as a teacher though and she was great about talking us through the poses so that everyone felt inspired and could fully engage no matter their experience or skill level.
Following the first practice and a rest we moved on to inversions. Working in partners or groups we practiced headstands and handstands and I was thrilled to be able to get into both positions (with help, but still!) and hold them. They weren’t what you would term a ‘long hold’ but to be able to do any sort of freestanding inversion for any length of time is a win in my book!
The class got a bit giddy and louder as everyone attempted the different poses and we ended up running long because people’s energies had skyrocketed – the natural result of all that blood rushing to our heads!
We took a break and conversation turned to what to expect from the next section of the day – a ‘Gong Bath’. You’re probably asking what a Gong Bath is (I definitely did!) so here’s what the interwebs say:
‘A gong bath is a form of sound therapy where the gong is played in a therapeutic way to bring about healing; this can be done as a one to one or group treatment. The term bath comes from the fact that you are bathed in sound waves.’
It all sounded very new age but as I’m intrigued by the idea of meditation in general (do any of you have the Headspace App? Is it worth the cost?) I was open to seeing where the music would take me. I was also very up for an hour of lying comfortably after all that bending, stretching and inverting!
We all got cosy on our mats and the music began. I can’t say that I went into a full meditative state and I don’t think I fell asleep (though other people definitely did, as evidenced by the different degrees of snoring that could be heard around the room) but I did enjoy the quiet nature of shutting my eyes and relaxing onto the mat.
Opening my eyes again an hour later was a bit jarring but I grabbed a snack from my tote bag of goodies and mentally prepared for one last yoga push. The last section of the class was yin yoga which is all about dedicating time to each pose in order to allow your body to really sink into it and tension to be released. Though you’re not moving, I find this form of yoga more challenging because it takes a different, more difficult strength to hold the poses. I tried my best to keep still but sometimes you need to stretch in order to keep from (feeling like you’re about to start) breaking.
With one last savasana (corpse pose – my fave) we were done and I headed home. A really fun Sunday and a perfect mini-break from life!