There are a few questions every yogi who has an interest in retreats has in mind. We asked some of these inquiries to Virginia Compton, founder of Holistic Yoga Sangha and retreat facilitator to help you understand what to expect from such an experience and get the best out of it.
Why go on retreat?
A retreat is an opportunity to step away from the world and usual daily routines in order to gain a sense of inner calm, peace and true well-being. When on retreat you are away from all the responsibilities you have in your daily life, have the time to focus on yourself, and are free to rest when you experience tiredness. A retreat can also help you to think about your life and incorporate a regular Yoga and/or meditation practice into your daily routine will help you to feel calmer and more focused, reduce stress and make life feel a whole lot easier.
What happens on retreat?
All retreats vary, I will tell you about our retreats with Holistic Yoga Sangha that we currently host, as well as some exciting plans we have for the future!
We incorporate Yoga (posture as well as breath and energy work and Yoga Nidra), Ayurveda (the science of life, the ancient Indian physical health system) and Mindfulness (meditation and mindfulness exercises) within our retreats.
They also vary in length; we have a Healthy Living in Dartmoor Retreat this August that incorporates mindfulness and is four nights in duration, and a week Luxury Yoga Retreat in Andalusia, Spain this September. We can also accommodate two-night retreats or longer and personalised retreats to suit everyone’s need.
On our retreats, we encourage you to join all the sessions to get the most from the experience and enjoy your stay with us. We rise early (6 am) for a morning practice of Yoga to cleanse and warm the body at the dawn of the day. After a healthy breakfast, there is a short break, followed by a longer morning practice. On our Yoga retreats, this is more physical, while on the focused mindfulness retreats the practice will include this aspect as well.
A delicious lunch is then followed by some free time. We want you to nurture yourself totally, and we will do everything possible to help this process. Massage is available in house (so you can have a nap in your room afterwards!) or walk in the surrounding beautiful countryside and fresh Devon air! We have another practice in the late afternoon before supper and further time together in the evening.
The practices are traditionally structured around the time of day, so as the day goes on we become more introspective and relaxed. This concept follows the Ayurvedic times, as does our diet, with the main meal at lunchtime when our digestive fire (agni) is at its strongest, and a light supper which will be easy to digest so we can all sleep well! Food is all locally sourced and cooked on site, with fresh vegetable from local farms, to get as much ‘Prana’ (energy) as possible from our food as well as from the Yoga and our beautiful surroundings. We love to include information on the diet, some tips on healthy cookery and are beginning to include more practical cookery sessions for you all to enjoy and learn! There are sweet (healthy and sugar-free) treats and fruit for you to snack on as well as a milky night time drink. In every aspect of our practice, we aim to be totally holistic; we are happy to cater for individual needs and we encourage you to consider how fortunate you are to be able to look after ourselves in this way.
How does the accommodation work?
The accommodation is generally in a shared room with one other person. We try to match people together as well as we can, and we have found over the years that the groups of people who come along are just amazing! We all arrive as relative strangers and leave as firm friends for life. There is plenty of time and space for you to be alone if you need to and this is respected. The whole process over a few days is one of growing, learning, sharing and being totally compassionate towards one another. Often people return to our retreats many times over, and we have built up a lovely community over the last few years.
Is it possible to come with a smaller group and have some individual attention?
In my private practice, I work with people on a one to one basis using Yoga Therapy and Ayurveda. I can see that this makes a massive impact on people and feel that if you could experience this in a supported environment, it could make a real difference to your whole life. In 2017 I will be offering retreats for small groups (for example just four people) which will incorporate some private Yoga and holistic health sessions as well as sessions of mindfulness, nutrition coaching and Ayurvedic therapies. I’ll share more information about this exciting project very soon.
What is your experience as a retreat facilitator?
I feel incredibly passionate about how the retreats are structured and managed. I have experienced several retreats as a participant myself since starting Yoga in 2003 and waited many years before putting together what I felt were all the ‘best bits’ of all the retreats I had benefitted from, to create this unique experience. I incorporate the principles of Ayurveda as well as Yoga and Mindfulness and bring over 25 years of experience in working in health and wellness to hosting the groups and helping people to work through their individual experiences. I know that it is essential to feel safe and nurtured when on retreat, to be able to have some quiet time, and also to share some laughter and fun. I work with a fantastic team including a chef, a massage therapist and a mindfulness tutor as well as a nutritional coach, all of whom will have a significant impact on your experience. I love it when people arrive and begin to settle; then I see them relax and truly become themselves. No expectations, no pressure, nowhere to be, nothing to do, just breathe.
Virginia Compton teaches Yoga classes and workshops, leads retreats and offers massage therapy at various lovely venues in Devon and abroad, sharing her passion for the Holistic Yoga lifestyle. She incorporates the Yoga teachings as well as Ayurveda, using a physical Hatha Yoga practice, breathing (pranayama) and meditation as well as massage therapies and healthy vegetarian cookery to enhance the whole life experience.
Her focus is on the psychological as well as the physical effects of Yoga, using this therapeutically within Yoga classes or on a one to one basis. Her classes are sometimes challenging but always a balanced practice with room for individuals to explore their capabilities and to work within their limitations. Her motto is “I want you to fall in love with Yoga as a practice, a philosophy, a lifestyle” and her passion is sharing the ancient philosophies and benefits of Yoga and Ayurveda to help others finding peace of mind and well-being in a holistic way in the modern world.
Don’t hesitate to get in contact with firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot on the Healthy Living in Dartmoor Retreat or on the Luxury Yoga Retreat in Andalusia held by Virginia.