Wednesday

Self Care // A Yoga Retreat with Liberty Wellbeing

At the beginning of Winter late last year, I was whisked away to the beautiful Chilston Park, hidden away in the middle of the countryside in Lenham, Kent.
Sunday afternoon, it was frosty and our breath was icy cold but the moment we arrived in the grand foyer of the luxury hotel and laid our chilly eyes on the toasty fire and grand twinkly Christmas tree that welcomed us, we were instantly warmed.

I was fortunate to be invited along to Liberty Wellbeing's "Restore and Reconnect" yoga retreat and even more fortunate to invite a friend. I jumped at the chance to ask my best friend, who lives right next door but who I don't get to see an awful lot (waving at the kitchen window does not count!). What better way to catch up with your best than by chatting over colouring in and sipping tea together after mindful meditation.
After a warm welcome from Jennie, founder of Liberty Wellbeing, and Catherine, general manager of the beautiful hotel, we sat cosied up in the coach house with tea and a pile of mindful colouring sheets. Bonding by a flickering fire pretending to crackle on the television screen, surrounded by twinkly fairy lights we all put our phones away and relaxed.
Shortly after, we had a feast of vegan food in the hotel's library where we chatted some more and enjoyed dishes of food I had never ever tried but loved. We filled every small space in our tummies with delicious healthy foods and chocolate chia pudding and regretfully needed a lie down. However, we met the gorgeous Hannah for some 'Yoga for Sleep' and thankfully to aid digestion and it is safe to say I earned my rest that evening! I haven't practised yoga in years, since before Olive! (Pre-natal yoga was my ultimate favourite kind of yoga!).
Suz and I went up to our luxurious rooms and were greeted with a pretend flickering fire of our own. We changed into our pyjamas as soon as we got there and I popped the kettle on. We put a Himalayan clay mask on our tired but relaxed faces and sipped chamomile tea whilst chatting about this afternoon's activities. 
Not long after, Suz retreated to her room, which was opposite mine, neighbours... (Along with the general vibe of the cosy hotel, it felt like we brought a little bit of home with us). Massaging my soothing lavender sleep balm into my temples, I climbed into bed with Larry the lamb.
After a slightly restless night sleep (I think I missed home a little), my alarm gently buzzed at around 0530am and I woke to the subtle noises of bird song and slightly louder duck quacks!
I made myself a hot cup of strong breakfast tea and showered myself awake. A sleepy Suz knocked at my door and we made our way to the coach house for our first mindfulness meditation session with Jennie at 0630.
This was the part of the retreat that I was looking forward to the most. I have been desperate to learn how to meditate and I was so not disappointed.
Snuggled up in cosy blankets, I didn't want to get up but after our thirty minutes of mindfulness our tummies told us it was breakfast time.
In the converted stable we sat in booths chatting about life, motherhood, careers, yoga and Christmas. Nibbling at quinoa porridge, fresh fruit, chickpea pancakes and endless cups of tea.
At 0930 we had our morning yoga session with Hannah. 'Strengthen & Energise the Body', and that we did! It felt so good to exercise myself and focusing on what my body needed more of and less of. Pushing myself into stretches and creating a little sweat... the good kind. Hannah is the only yoga teacher I think I will ever have, you know you have found a good one when she knows what to do to push you (And of course Pre-natal yoga with Hannah was everything!!).
Hannah worked her magical yogi skills on us and then it was time for a nap. We were given over an hour of free time for reading, wandering, napping, whatever we pleased and Suz and I just looked at eachother and knew that we both yearned for a nap. So off we we went to our separate rooms, snuggled down for a nap. It was short but sweet.

At 1230, lunch was held in the converted stable of the coach house and it was my most favourite meal yet. Sweet potato and butternut squash soup, mixed leaf salad, coquette and pepper salad, broccoli and toasted sesame seed salad, lentil and spinach stew with roasted onion with a gluten free bread roll. Delicious. I washed it all down with a cup of peppermint tea and went for a rainy wander around the exquisite grounds of the hotel.
The hotel, a historic country house, is just ever so stunning, and the grounds that surround it are beautiful. Watching the swans elegantly glide across the water of the large lake, the ducks dipping their heads and sticking their little webbed feet in the air, I just felt so calming and free. I felt relaxed for sure but I also felt gratitude. Gratitude for such beautiful surroundings on my door step, gratitude for being able to have some time to focus on just me for a change, and gratitude for being given such a wonderful opportunity to be there in such a zen like atmosphere with lovely people.
We wandered around the grounds gasping at the beautiful scenery and talking about the historic building before going back to the coach house for more tea and some colouring in.
At 1430 it was time for 'Balancing the Chakra System with the Breath' with Sally Ann. Another part of the retreat that I was really looking forward to. The Chakra fascinates me. I love how colours and energies are linked to different parts of our bodies. Sally Ann taught us different ways to channel our energies by using different breathing techniques that are suitable for each Chakra. We also practised pair work where both Suz and I felt complete relaxation, focusing on the breath, and oddly breathing in sync.
We retreated to the stables for more tea and chatted to Sally Ann about her work, Chakras and discussed our thought trails from the workshop.
After consuming a vegan coconut bite and too many cups of herbal tea we retreated back to the room for our 'Full Restorative Yoga Nidra'. Sally Ann briefly explained the workshop whilst we got warm and comfortable in 'Savasana' position - The Corpse pose! Yoga Nidra is the deepest possible state of relaxation but with full complete consciousness. It was the strangest experience of my life. I genuinely felt like I had an outer body experience, it was amazing. Lying completely still but using my thought alone kept me awake but kept me relaxed enough not to move. As I said it was so very strange and we all said we were freezing afterwards (very much like a corpse?!!). But it was probably the most, fully relaxed I have been, ever. I loved it.
We all enjoyed some free time (more mindful colouring and chatting) before having dinner at 1800. Carrot and coriander soup in teacups, Endive, sesame and red quinoa salad, chickpea and bean cassoulet with sweet potato and olive oil mash. More gluten free bread rolls with butter (my non vegan moment!) filled me satisfyingly. My favourite part was the coconut pavlova with raspberries, it was so light and subtle. I could have had two!
Suz and I felt pretty tired... after a long day of relaxing! But we were up so early and decided to have an early night. Saying our goodnight's to everyone, we went up to our little private quarters, changed into our pyjamas and cosy jumpers and chatted for hours. We ordered room service, deciding that we were craving cheese... shared a croque monsieur and fries and talked about life, Christmas, futures and plans. It was the best night in a long time. It was lovely to reconnect with my best after a few busy months or so.
Reminding ourselves that we were up early and will be the next day too, I went back to my room and packed my bag ready for the morning and snuggled up into my giant double bed. My bedroom was so cosy, I looked up at the beams in the ceiling and the crooked windows and felt like I was back at my childhood home. Being looked after, getting my bed turned down, being fed such delicious healthy foods and feeling less of a busy mother and feeling more like a relaxed child in someone else's care. It was a feeling I didn't realise I had missed.

My alarm buzzed again just after 5. I slept so unbelievably well, so much so that I woke in the same position I had fallen asleep in. In a curled up ball reminiscent of my little Olive.
I put the kettle on and jumped in the shower and pulled my comfy clothes on. I got ready, packed my bag with the last of my things, grabbed my cup of breakfast tea, and gave my room a glance and with a slightly disappointed sigh I left.
Suz and I hauled our weekend bags down to the coach house for one last mindfulness meditation session with Jennie.
It was life changing.
I had the most special moment in that last session with Jennie. I got teary eyed and emotional as I was carried away with my thoughts and into a deep meditative state...
"May I live well, may I live peacefully, may I live at ease and with kindness".
I had had the best time and leaving on such an emotionally positive moment, I was just feeling so uplifted. There was another half day planned of breakfast, 'Integrating your Yoga Journey' with Hannah, followed by a 'Relaxation Sound Bath' and lunch. However Suz had to drive back for work and I just missed Olive too much so decided to go back with her. It had felt like such a poignant time to leave with me feeling so "restored" and "reconnected" with myself. I hadn't fully appreciated how the retreat would make me feel and it genuinely worked. It took the pressure of Christmas and the busy-ness that the festivities would bring away from me. I had completely washed away the negativity that sticks to my skin every so often. I had a new outlook of positivity and calmness about me. I should have booked an afternoon massage because that would have just put the cherry on top of my brilliant calming mood. Although the huge cuddle from Olive was more than enough for me (cries!).

I will definitely be booking myself into another wellness retreat in the near future. Especially when I'm feeling like I'm needing to be looked after as well as a huge dose of relaxation. I was made to feel so at home at Chilston Park and I couldn't imagine a better place for the well thought out retreats that Liberty Wellbeing host. It was the perfect marriage of luxury, comfort and wellness.

There are more retreats planned for this year too. So if you fancy a little restorative getaway in a beautiful hotel in the middle of the countryside then take a look here... including "Introduction to Yoga & Mindfulness" at the beginning of February and a special Mothers Day retreat "Mother & Daughter Experience" which both sound SO tempting.
If you fancy treating yourself to some time out to focus on you and your wellbeing I honestly feel like some time away from your usual day to day tasks, meditation and yoga is the way to do it. We need to give ourselves time to just stop sometimes. Even if it means leaving the organisation to others.

Liberty Wellbeing // libertywellbeing.info

3 comments:

  1. Awww you look so cosy being in bed cuddle your little sheep (I think it a sheep!). This look and sound so relaxing and very peaceful. I would love to do a yoga retreat one year. xx

    www.annanuttall.com

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  2. This looks so lovely. Something like this would be amazing as I'm definitely in need of some relaxation time. I have had a look but think I'll have to save first.

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  3. This is a stunning location and sounds like you had an amazing time too. I'm jealous of the amount of sleep you got!

    Mel ✨
    http://meleaglestone.co.uk
    @meleaglestone

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