Yoga and Wellness Retreat with Elaine Vaughn.
We'd all like to be able to embark on regular yoga retreats, right? Achieve that balance between our work, families and our mind and bodies that everyone knows would be so beneficial. But its not easy to consistently take seven days + out of our hectic schedules to relax and unwind, which is where the new yoga and wellness retreat at the historic 15th century Spread Eagle Hotel in Midhurst, West Sussex has got things exactly right.
At a manageable two days and one night the mini retreat is a bid to restore and relax through breath work and yoga, located just an hour and a half outside of London in the beautiful landscape of the South Downs. Hosted by the likeable and knowledgeable Elaine Vaughn (a qualified yoga teacher and wellness coach) you can also expect a whistle-stop tour through the benefits of juicing, a raw diet and meditation.
Yoga sessions take place in the hotels Polo room which is light and spacious. Elaine provides all aids such as mats, blocks, straps, towels, blankets, eye masks and water, and with mediation music playing in the background the atmosphere is serene and nurturing. The first hours session of restorative yoga focuses on the importance of effective breathing and incorporates a gentle series of opening up postures. The postures are manageable and suitable for all levels of yoga, and after the session I felt instantly calmer and clearer- if a little light-headed after all the deep breathing....
After yoga, you can meander downstairs to the hotels small but perfectly formed Scandinavian inspired spa. I was in the perfect state of mind to enjoy a leisurely swim and a relax in the jacuzzi (even in the October rain the view from the indoor jacuzzi over a quintessentially English garden was pretty joyous). The spa is also home to a sauna, steam room and three treatment rooms, and after putting the former to good use I enjoyed a 25 minute rejuvenating full leg dry brush, exfoliation and massage.
Pre-dinner, Elaine discusses the importance of balance with the group (we were all pleased to hear we could still indulge a bit in our quests for wellness) and whilst she advocates the benefits of eating raw and juicing understands that it's tricky to incorporate into everyone's daily life. It's all about baby steps. So a quick natter about Nutri-Bullets and one green juice later, and we were ready to take that advice on board and indulge in the hotel's dinner menu.
Dinner options were traditionally English. Mushroom raviolo (delicious), venison, sea bream and various cuts of steak were all highlights- all locally sourced. Followed up by a glass of red and the best part of a cheese board, I was tucked up in my four-poster bed in the luxurious Queens Suite before 10pm enjoying the novelty of falling asleep in the quiet of the countryside.
Day two's morning begins (minus hangover) with a bright and early session of mediation. This was for 30 minutes and concentrated solely on the flow of breath through the body. As someone who does yoga on a regular basis I found this to be the perfect partner to my practice. I felt energised post session and ready to throw myself into a final dynamic hour-long class.This had a faster pace, incorporating standing postures and flow movements, although still perfectly accessible for beginners, and as we lay in our final Shavasana I felt more relaxed and mindful than I had in a long time. All in less than 48hrs.
Words: Melanie Wilkinson
£299 per person, fully inclusive