Yoga Retreat with Steve Avian at Fountains Court Holistic Hotel
Practising Wuji on the beach
Feeling the sand beneath my feet
Sun, Moon and Stars,
Washing the dragons face.
Debi Wolf Reeves 14/10/12
Hubby and I booked onto a Yoga Retreat at the Fountains Court Holistic Hotel in Scarborough, hosted by my wonderful Yoga Teacher, Steve Avian, see http://www.shamayoga.org.uk. I knew it would be a wonderful weekend, as Steve has taught me so much over the past few years, since I earned my diploma with him in 2008. He is a wonderfully gentle teacher, who really encourages you to reach your limits and beyond. His knowledge of the Yogic texts, history and beliefs is endless. We also checked out the hotel online and thought that it looked really lovely.
I had been wanting to go on a Yoga Retreat all year and this was my opportunity. I am so glad we went!
The hotel is very easy to find and it is stunning! Beautiful rooms (if a little noisy as the boiler was located in our bathroom, so sleeping on the first night was quite difficult), we had the Emerald Room. The facilities were lovely, with a Sauna, various treatment rooms, a lovely, comfortable lounge, a conservatory at the front, facing east, a lounge and large dining room, a lovely studio and even gardens. And Helen, the owner, is a fabulous hostess and cook! Yummy vegetarian food all weekend, including a wonderful home made apple and rhubarb fool.
We arrived on the Friday afternoon, and decided to go for a walk along the beach front. The hotel is situated in the quieter and less commercial North Bay of Scarborough and is virtually next door to Peasholm Park. The tide was on it’s way out and the skies were sunny and blue, but the temperature was quite low. We walked along the front and went up to the Scalby Mill and crossed over the Beck onto the headland and walked along the cliff. We watched as the sun started to lower itself to the western horizon and headed back to get ready for dinner. The husband decided to get himself some chips at the local chippy as we were not sure what to expect for dinner, with the hotel being vegetarian. I, on the other hand was looking forward to it.
Fellow students and friends gathered for a lovely buffet and then for a meditation session in the peaceful studio. Steve took us through the micro cosmic orbit, which is one of my favourite meditations as it activates all of the seven major chakra’s. It is a Taoist Qi gong or Taoist Yoga Qi meditation that focuses energy from each Chakra point down the front of the body and up the spine and over the crown, beginning at the Solar Plexus or Manipura Chakra, around the navel, working down and back around with the breath. Breathing in while moving the energy up the back and breathing out while the energy flows down the front. It is quite a tricky meditation to perform as various energies can be evoked, some which we may not wish to deal with. This weekend has led me to deal with some long dormant, in fact, quite deeply buried emotions; and for this, I am thankful, if filled with a little trepidation.
The next morning, our first class was Wuji Qi Gong, or Tai Chi for Enlightenment, also known as Primordial Qi gong. This is a Tai Chi flow, as taught by Michael Winn. After going through the flow a number of times, it was time for breakfast and then, seeing as the weather was so beautiful, we headed off to the beach to practice some more Wuji and of course, some Yoga.
The sky was blue and today, the wind had stopped blowing, so we could practice barefoot on the sand. It was such a powerful practice. I could really feel the energy flowing within my body, from the sea and sand. We also had a number of spectators gathered around, hopefully, the enjoyed our practise! For me, the practice on the beach was the highlight of the weekend. Especially working with such a large group of wonderful people.
Afterwards, we had some free time and my husband wanted to try out the local skate park, which, I must say, was pretty awesome and even had a bowl! Fish and chips came next, totally ruining my diet but, it had to be done! Then, we took a visit to the castle. What incredible views from up there! Wow! As we had such limited time, we didn’t have long enough to look around the whole place or read all of the history of the place, but we did manage to practise some more Yoga. One lady thought I was a statue lol!
The afternoons Yoga session was very grounding and very strong. It didn’t seem to be at the time, but once we had all finished, I could certainly feel it in my body and muscles. The evening meal, was once again delicious and this time, we were treated to a curry and some lovely fresh pineapple for dessert. Meditation followed and this time we practised Tratak, which is a Yogic Kryia, used to aid in cleansing the eyes. This meditation involves gazing at a candle, preferably without blinking. This is rather difficult as your eyes begin to sting and then water. When you feel you are ready, you can gently close your eyes and try to “see” the after image of the flame in your minds eye and hold it central. It is a wonderful meditation and something that I regularly teach and practise myself.
We also practised “soul gazing”. This is a little more intense than candle gazing as it involves gazing into another’s eyes. This can be quite revealing and also terrifying. One of the other participants had quite a scary experience while gazing into my eyes while one participant viewed me as an elephant. Hmmmmm, I’m not sure what to think of that! But it was an eye opener to say the least.
It was then time to try out the infra-red sauna, which was deliciously warm and really helped to calm down my shoulder and back. I have been suffering with back problems for a while now, in the thoracic region and this wonderful sauna helped immensely – it also helped me to have a good nights sleep.
The following morning, we had Tai Chi practice again and the hubby decided to go for another skate at the park. After breakfast, it was the final Yoga class of the weekend and once again, we were put through our paces with Steve! He is a phenomenal and inspirational teacher and for anyone who would like to become a Yoga Teacher, I strongly recommend you try one of his classes. His knowledge of the ancient Yogic texts and philosophies is vast and he draws on this into his lessons. A true Guru!
We then had a little more free time and decided to take a walk around Peasholm Park. What a beautiful park it is, filled with squirrels and falling autumn leaves. Lunch followed; a delicious home made tomato and carrot soup, with wraps and lovely chocolate muffins for dessert. Again, there went my diet.
The weekend closed with a final meditation, Vipasana, an ancient Buddhist breath awareness meditation. I must say, that for me, this was a very difficult one. I battled to clear my mind and focus on the breath. Monkey Chatter was spinning around and my third eye was strongly beckoning me. And so, I allowed myself to go with the flow of my 6th Chakra. I was shown a keyhole. At first, I felt that this related to a new doorway opening for me in the future. On reflection, I realise that this was to do with issues from my past that I have been holding onto. It is now time for me to release them and let them go.
All in all, this weekend was just what I needed for my body, mind and spirit. Would I attend again/ Most definitely!
Debi Wolf Reeves