Dance & Yoga Retreat Article – A review of Mindbodyretreat – As Featured in Om Yoga & Lifestyle Magazine Dec’17 issue.
Dance-phobic Natalie Hammond visits the first MindBodyRetreat in Cornwall for a celebration of all things yoga, wellness and…dance. Here, she tells OM she loved every bit of it
“But that’s so self-indulgent,” was my reply when asked if I’d like to book onto a yoga retreat. For someone who doesn’t have any children or anything overly stressful to worry about, I wasn’t sure if I was at the stage in my life where a ‘retreat’ was necessary. Or so I thought. I work hard at a busy creative agency and like most people, rush around from one day to the next, working my way through various to do lists and deadlines. I’m definitely a busy person but I’d hardly say I was in need of an escape. Sure, a weekend of yoga, dance, meditation and incredible food sounded appealing, but could I really justify a whole weekend away – on me?
Lisa Stephens is a dance and yoga Instructor who trained in classical ballet and has danced, choreographed and instructed her way around the world for over 15 years. She’s so qualified it’s impossible to find a discipline she hasn’t mastered yet (and if you do, it’s likely to be on her list!). Having set up Mindbodydance in 2016, she runs classes all over Cornwall for all ages and has grown a big following of dance and fitness enthusiasts. Mindbodydance was born from her love of yoga and dance and the wonderful mix of these two disciplines: the grounding and meditative effects of yoga with the uplifting and expressive benefits of dance. “It’s the perfect physical and emotional journey,” she tells me. And, for me, here lies issue number two: dancing!
Yoga, TRX, kettlebells, spinning, pilates, boxercise…I’ve taken part in every weird and wonderful class but when you say the ‘D word’, I start sweating and think of an uncoordinated pigeon (aka: me!). Not only was I debating a whole weekend away on myself, but one which included self-torture…sorry…dancing! I booked…
Taking the plunge
Arriving at Caradoc of Tregardock on the Friday evening, I was greeted with the most incredible seascape view, stunning barn-house and wonderful people. Lisa left perfectly wrapped parcels with Cornish goodies on each of our beds with handwritten messages welcoming us to her retreat. B Skincare Lip balm, Trevarno soap and a bar from The Raw Chocolate Pie Company. Already winning.
Meeting the other ladies, it was immediately clear that we were in for a memorable weekend. From all over the country, of different ages and backgrounds, we were removed from our busy lives and brought together in this beautiful part of north Cornwall. Never before have I experienced such a ‘sisterhood’ of empowering and supportive women ready to embark on a weekend of self-love and nourishment for the soul.
We started with an evening De-Stress and Unwind Yoga Class with Leigh Cooper, a yoga and fitness instructor based in Newquay. All classes took place in a separate studio just across the lawn, with its own log burner which was always warm and glowing for us. Leigh had a voice like syrup and an aura of pure positivity and calm, leading us into powerful stretches for the shoulders and hips.
Dinner was a grapefruit, artichoke and Cornish Yarg Salad, Crispy Topped Hake followed by peaches, raspberries and mint in Prosecco. Who said a retreat weekend was all wheatgrass and water?
Every morning we were presented with fresh breakfast smoothies followed by a class; Morning Stretch, Tone and Balance, Detox and Uplifting Yoga. A truly wonderful way to start the day, Lisa’s ability to connect with every one of her class members was remarkable. With many of us not having tried the disciplines before, we were coached, encouraged and supported through our practice – our confidence grew and our minds relaxed.
We were joined by holistic massage and Reiki therapist Kelly Kennedy who gave treatments on request to fit around the classes and the weekend’s activities. She had the most wonderful, calming presence and we felt like different people when we left her.
Breakfast brunch was always a joyous occasion. Poached egg and spinach on sourdough toast, a Mexican breakfast bowl of tomatoes, beans, egg, avocado with crème fraîche and a coconut milk porridge with berries and seeds. A huge rustic table meant for long and leisurely dining experiences and we spent much of our time sat around talking and laughing. Lisa’s mum and aunty were our licensed caterers and with their Italian heritage, were two pocket rockets in the kitchen. Nothing was too much trouble and their food was out of this world. All organic and sourced locally, we enjoyed freshly baked bread, incredible seafood, edible flowers and the most incredible raw peanut butter cake (we spent a full 10 seconds in silence, communicating its deliciousness with our eyes only so we didn’t miss a second of its gooey glory).
Free time was as restful or active as you liked. Some of us sat reading by the log fires, had a snooze or walked down to Tregardock beach with a guide or independently. It was your choice; ultimate freedom to sit or stroll, rest or run or simply do nothing. It’s so refreshing to relax and not feel guilty about it.
Lisa’s Bodyballet class was both challenging and calming. Inspired by ballet techniques, great for toning, strengthening and stretching, my thighs and calves needed every minute of it. The gong meditation with sound healer, Sue Johnson, closed the day on Sunday and was a truly incredible experience. While laid out on a mat under a blanket, unusual instruments were played around the room – it was an out-of-body experience as various sounds reverberated through me.
So, shall we talk about the ‘D word’? I belly-laughed, I was out of time, I was uncoordinated, I looked like a pigeon. But it was amazing. What felt like the quickest class of all, we danced our way through Bollywood, Swing and Flamenco, for an endorphin-inducing rush of footloose fun. Totally immersing of the body and mind, we left the studio as if we’d eaten a share pack of Skittles.
A deeply spiritual experience and intensely healing for the body and mind, our group of 10 ladies who had never met before, now had lifelong friends and a real connection. In an unfamiliar environment, you’re given a new perspective and appreciation for life and mindful moments. Phones were for camera-use only, inboxes were unopened and Facebook forgotten.
I thought I wasn’t at the ‘retreat’ stage in my life, but I was wrong. No matter what age you are or where you’re at, always make time to explore and look after your inner ‘you’. Taking time to devote yourself to self-care is not selfish; it’s the opposite. You can’t pour from an empty cup…take care of yourself first. Amen to that.
For more details, or to book on to a dance and yoga retreat, click HERE
Written by Creative Consultant & Copywriter Natalie Hammond