St Nectans Glen, Cornwall
by Alison Steedman
So, you may or may not know that us at Yoga Local took 10 of our lovely Yogis down to Cornwall on a Winter Wellness Retreat last weekend. Which (if I do say so myself) was a raging success! A long weekend full of nutritious food, Yoga, Meditation, wellness, and waterfalls is just what the doctor ordered, and I think everyone who came along reaped the rewards of a little ‘me time’.
My mother Josie, who is the founder and owner of Yoga Local, had visions of creating a beautiful community around her business. She wanted to create a space that wasn’t just about doing Yoga for exercise, but doing it for overall improved wellness of the body and the mind… and how can you do that without the support of a community behind you? So, she came up with the idea of taking her members away on retreats, that way they have the opportunity to know each other outside of the studio and can come back feeling more a part of something than when they left.
St Nectans Glen is a place Josie discovered and just knew she had to share it with her Yogis, and I can see why! This year was my first time accompanying my mum on the retreat and I was 1000% not disappointed when I saw the place, I mean, if you are looking for an escape this is the place to be… the only way to access the retreat is by taking a 30min walk through the woodlands beside a stream that flows from St Nectans waterfall. It couldn’t be more secluded, which is brilliant for a peaceful retreat but terrible if you want internet connection!
Anyway… I’ll give you a little journey through each day of the retreat…
RETREAT DAY 1
The first day of the retreat started off to a very early morning as we wanted to beat the traffic on our journey down to Cornwall. So, everybody was up and met at the studio for 7am to load onto the minibus and set off! This year, everyone decided to take the journey down together on the minibus, which was brilliant because it meant we were all starting the trip off together and arriving at the retreat together.
The trip there went a lot quicker than I was expecting and our designated driver (my dad) did a fab job of getting us there safe and sound, although there was one road that he decided to take during the end of the journey that had everyone on the edge of their seats! As you probably know, Cornwall has some questionable roads, and a minibus isn’t the best vehicle to take the scenic route… but my adventurous father decides it will be a brilliant idea to take the bus down a narrow one-way road! As you can imagine everybody was gripping onto their seats for dear life… however it was a beautiful route, and we all came out the other end perfectly fine. Though I think it’s safe to say he will stick to the main roads next time!
Because the journey went so smoothly, we arrived in Cornwall earlier than we expected… so of course we took the opportunity to have a little excursion. We decided to head to Boscastle (a place just around the corner from the retreat) to grab some proper Cornish pasties, hot drinks and have a walk down past the stream and to the ocean. I had a hot bacon, leek and cheese pasty which was to DIE for and was the perfect company on the walk to the sea. This place was really beautiful, and it was such a treat because it was a spontaneous addition to the trip.
After a while at Boscastle we headed to the retreat! Now there are no public roads or parking up at the retreat, so we had to park at the nearest car park and walk 30mins through nature to get there. I was so relieved to hear that staff from the retreat collect your bags and take them up for you, I really thought I was going to have to drag my luggage on that walk with me! So, while we were taking a beautiful stroll up to the retreat our bags were being collected and taken up to our accommodation, fab!
The walk we took follows a stream that flows from the waterfall at St Nectan’s Glen, the closer you get to the retreat the louder you can hear the waterfall as it’s practically on the front doorstep of the accommodation. As you can imagine, when we got to the top and reached the accommodation everybody was ready to curl up on the couches… and we did! The staff were brilliant and already had cake ready for us when we got there, so after getting settled in our rooms we had hot drinks and delicious cake to recover from the long journey.
After a short while to relax, the program for the retreat started! We headed to the Yoga studio (which was right next to the accommodation) for some demonstrations of how to use some Ayurvedic tools such as tongue scrapers and Neti pots. This was followed by a Yoga Nidra session, which had a lot of us tired Yogi’s snoring! As soon as we were done with this, dinner was served, we all got together round the table and enjoyed some delicious vegetarian food (with a couple of glasses of wine on the side). Dinner actually turned out to be one of the best parts of the retreat for me, everyone relaxed and let loose resulting in some hilarious conversations as the nights went on…
Now I do consider myself a bit of an early bird (most days) but getting up at 6am after a late-night drinking wine is never easy… though it was for sure worth it. You’re probably wondering why we would be up so early when we are supposed to be on holiday! Well, we had access to the waterfall when the public didn’t, so we took full advantage of this and had our morning meditation on the rocks beside the waterfall. It was an amazing way to start the day, if only I could live around the corner from a waterfall I would do it every day.
From the waterfall meditation we all headed to the studio for our morning Yoga, I have never been in the position to be able to get up, meditate and practice Yoga before starting my day. I have to say it makes you feel so energised and awake, making the day ahead so much more enjoyable. That was one wonderful thing about the retreat, you have the time carved out in the day to do things like this and slow down so you can enjoy yourself.
The Saturday of the retreat was a day packed with information. I had created a course on our app ‘The Yoga Local Hug Club’ to give everyone resources to go through in their own time to make it easier to take in all the information. As this is a winter wellness retreat, this day was used to introduce Ayurveda to everyone and explain how it can help you improve your wellness. We went through what Ayurveda is, the Doshas, how to know your Dosha and what you need to do to keep yourself balanced. Josie prepared some presentations on Ayurveda using her knowledge from the Perfect Health course she did with the Chopra centre. This was a bit of a studying day for everyone and some really got into the content and went further onto reading books and researching what they had been introduced to.
The evening Yoga was also based on the Doshas and was a balancing practice, as everyone had just learnt about the Doshas and what it means to balance them we were all so into this practice. The vibe of the room was insane, and you could tell everyone was practicing with intention, it really opened my eyes to how much your Yoga practice can be amplified even with just a small understanding of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Josie did a beautiful job of connecting the practice to the content and giving us the means to create such a beautiful energy in the studio.
Dinner came around again super quickly, as we came out of the studio the table was set and the wine was poured! Everyone was sharing their experiences and how this knew knowledge has opened their minds, another evening of wonderful conversation with awesome people.
Another early morning venturing down to the waterfall for some meditation. I’ll have to admit, I didn’t join in this time I was knackered from the day before and wanted a bit of extra sleep and a shower. A few of us stayed at the house that morning and sat and enjoyed a hot drink whilst the others did their meditation. Following this we had our morning Yoga practice which built upon the class the morning before, adding mantras to the poses giving us a more focused practice.
It was a bit miserable on the Sunday, so we were contemplating what to do as this is the designated day for an excursion. Luckily, nobody was too bothered about the weather and were all happy to get some waterproofs on and take a hike! It was as if the universe sided with us that day because as soon as we were ready to head out of the door the sun was shining and the rain had stopped, it looked like it would be the perfect day for a walk after all! We decided to follow the stream from the waterfall all the way to where it meets the ocean, we then met the minibus at the car park and took a short drive to Tintagel where we had another short walk to the beach. It was a gorgeous day, and the scenery was amazing, I’ve never felt more like I was in a virtual reality than when I was taking the route from the waterfall down to the ocean. It was STUNNING!
Whilst we were at Tintagel, we had time to explore the beach and the town and do a bit of shopping, people got fudge, pasties, crystals and even some St Nectan’s reusable coffee cups that they could bring home to use at our lovely studio brew bar. Of course, when taking excursions there’s always one who must get lost! The lovely Alison couldn’t find her way back to the minibus after exploring Tintagel, so Josie was set off on a hunt to find her… luckily it didn’t take too long to get her back to the bus but unfortunately for her this became a continued joke that she probably won’t live down!
After arriving back at the retreat, we had some chill out time before Yoga. This practice was about identifying negativity and releasing it. After practice we did a short meditation aiming to focus on anything we would want to release, we then wrote this on a piece of paper and took it up to the fire pit so we could burn it and hopefully release some of that bad stuff. This was a very heart-warming experience as you could feel how emotional everyone felt about what they were trying to release, some people shared what they wrote, and we bonded over the similarities in our own obstacles. It was hugs all around and was so wonderful to see everyone forming friendship.
Dinner was again set up and ready for us when we were finished at the fire pit, and we had another delicious meal. Naturally, the wine was flowing more than usual as we took advantage of the last evening we would have together. As well as this it was the last opportunity, I would get to have a late-night dip in the waterfall! One of the ladies (Kimmy) had been taking a dip every morning after meditation, so she took the reins and myself, Debi and Josie followed her lead. It was absolutely a bucket list thing for me, and I am so glad I did it, it’s a memory I’ll cherish. Of course, it was frickin freezing! But when the accommodation is so close that doesn’t matter because in a few minutes you can hop in a steamy shower. It’s safe to say I slept well after that day!
RETREAT LAST DAY
The last morning was another early one, and this time everyone decided to come down to the waterfall for the meditation… nobody wanted to waste the last opportunity. There was a final Yoga practice before we had to pack up and head to the minibus. We had one last walk from the retreat, beside the stream to the car park. And then we were off! I grabbed some video testimonials from everyone on the walk down and they had such lovely things to say about the experience, I am so proud of what my mum has been able to accomplish and the way she is affecting peoples lives.
We arrived back at the studio around 6ish and everyone said their goodbyes, people were planning what classes they would be doing and when they would see each other again. So, it looks like the mission of building a community through our retreats is being accomplished!
Overall, the experience was brilliant, and I believe everyone who came enjoyed it and took something away from it. Being in nature, waking up to a waterfall, daily Yoga/meditation, Ayurvedic techniques, it all added up to a full and nourishing long weekend that everyone should find time to do at least once.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading! Maybe I’ve inspired you to take some ‘me time’ and give a retreat a go… if so, have a chat with myself or Josie, we already have next year’s retreat in the making!