Brogan Driscoll Headshot

Switching Off To Switch On At Sacred Mastery Yoga Retreat

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My name is Brogan and I am a technology addict.

Not only do I sit at my desk in front of a computer for the most part of Monday through to Friday, but even when up and about I keep my smartphone embedded in my right hand - you know the type: too busy tweeting, texting, emailing or scrolling through Instagram to look where I’m going, and invariably bumping into everyone along the way.

As a result of this incessant attachment to anything with a screen, my mind and body are in dire need of an MOT. I’m 25 but my back feels closer to an 80-year-old’s and - for those lucky enough to witness one of my moodswings - I have the emotions of a hormonal teenager.

woman phone walking

Although I know a digital detox is just the antidote my mind and body needs, the very thought of switching off makes me feel uneasy. Being unreachable or unable to reach others is something I dread - in fact it is something I have regular nightmares about. No joke.

Besides the odd moment spent sat on a remote beach somewhere exotic, the only time I feel calm and able to realign myself nowadays is through yoga - an hour or so on a rectangular mat, a few times week.

So switching off completely and swapping the hustle and bustle of London for a weekend yoga retreat and a lot of TLC, is just what the doctor ordered.

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My fears that I'm diving headfirst into a cult of insular vegan hippie yogis are completely blown aside on arrival, when I'm greeted by a room of warm, normal-looking women (and a few men).

The majority of those at the centre travel alone and so slipping into any conversation is easy - we laugh (a lot), talk, drink wine and exchange stories. But unlike a regular chat down the local boozer, our common ground is wellbeing: embracing yoga as a lifestyle (not just a class at the local gym) and becoming a better version of ourselves.

Another stark difference for me is the sense of engagement: no one is checking their phones, they are long-forgotten, tucked away in a bag somewhere. As a result everyone is living in the present - including myself.

But the company, of course, is only part of the experience.

Ashtanga yoga is largely seen as the modern-day form of classical Indian yoga, from which other forms of yoga, such as power yoga, are derived.

It follows a rigid sequence of postures and movement - enabling self-practise from beginners level - and the key is to synchronise movement with breath.

The primary series (there are three in total) is designed to detoxify and align the body. But there is nothing primary about this series believe me - completing the first sequence takes some people up to ten years of regular practise to complete says teacher Joey Miles. (Who, for the record, is the most flexible man I have ever seen in my life.)

ashtanga yoga

The benefits of regular practise is evident from the supple bodies and rosy-cheeked faces around me.

"Yoga has given me the energy of a 20-year-old, the heart rate of an athlete and a body of someone half my age," says Sally Griffyn, founder of Sacred Mastery Yoga and the evidence is all around.

Mothers, career women, some both, some neither, everyone is grounded, calming and full of optimism.

Switching off to switch on seems to be the way forward. I just hope I can stick to it once I get back to my regular lifestyle and to a place serving wifi.

Find out more about Sacred Mastery Yoga and their other retreats here

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