The first time I became aware of the &Sister retreats it was a cold, dark Thursday. My week had steadily been getting worse; I had been travelling loads, was rundown, stressed and feeling more and more desperate. I googled retreats and stumbled across them. It sounded like just what I needed.
I’m now sitting here 9months on and have just finished my third. Each in a completely different period of my life, each with different teachers and each unique. Each one perfect.
So rewind back to my first with Mischa. I was a little apprehensive, had been practicing yoga for a while, thought I was relatively fit but it was still stepping into an unknown.
From the minute you open the door at Poundon House you are transported somewhere else; the beautiful surroundings, the gorgeous aromas of calming oils and candles, the warmth of the fire- it hits all the senses.
Mischa took us on a journey through India with beautiful flows, chanting and hypnotic music energising each and every practice. Her classes were tough and testing but one of the joys of a retreat as opposed to a regular class is the space and time to not only push yourself but sit in stillness. It was a complete range of people but in such a unique and spiritual place, you bond instantly. Long walks out with the dogs, glorious baths and the most generous of gift bags – I felt pampered and rejuvenated.
Flash forward half a year and I was feeling isolated, worn down and really unhappy with myself. I suddenly remembered I’d booked in another retreat – bootcamp & bend. I was instantly terrified- worried about my fitness, worried about new people, worried about everything. I was also just recovering from a bout of flu and was convinced I should cancel. Cue panic phone call to the lovely Nat, who couldn’t have eased my mind more, encouraging me to do what I could
So off I go again, and struggle through the first yoga class (with a blocked up nose making breathing more difficult) but felt a bit pathetic. So pathetic in fact, that I watched the first bootcamp class from my bedroom, too scared of failure to participate! But this is where the magic of &Sister kicks in. Yet another group of lovely people put all those worries to one side, encouraging, motivating and just being there to talk.
Whilst feeling ill, having the most fabulous meals prepared also didn’t hurt! Sophie is an absolute genius – every meal has multiple courses, all vegan, so full of flavour, filling and just so thoughtfully put together. If any of you haven’t tried one of Sophie’s raspberry peanut butter cups, you haven’t lived – that in itself is reason enough to go on a Poundon retreat!
Anyway back to Bootcamp and Bend. I finally do a bootcamp class (with the rest of the group rather than in my bedroom!) and find out that Brit has to be one of the kindest (how is she so lovely yet so tough?!) instructors I have ever had. She made everyone feel good and stretched everyone to their limits- no mean feat with such a range of abilities!
The combo of Sophie and Brit was amazing. The classes fed into each other, meaning if one was particularly tough, the other would heal. Evening time by the fire, discussing our choices and our values was incredibly useful and there was even a cheeky cocktail thrown in! The balance of bootcamp and yoga was perfect – anyone who needs a reboot or a kickstart after a dreary couple of months should sign up.
And then lovely Charlie. Having just quit my job (&Sister have pretty much been a crutch for my way past this year!) I was in need of somewhere to to relax and think about things, sit and chat through thoughts and ideas, with a bit of a challenge to energise my mind. I couldn’t have found anything more perfect. A mix of Yin Yoga and challenging flow sequences allowed me space but also to push myself. With yet another group of open, funny and kind people it was such a relaxing, thought provoking couple of days. Charlie’s classes are the perfect amount of fun, challenging and peaceful; I couldn’t recommend highly enough.
I honestly could write pages about the experiences I’ve had at Poundon House; through a really difficult period I’ve been calmed, enthused and inspired by varying groups of people. I’m off to do my yoga teacher training over Christmas and New Year, something I would never have dreamed of – the journey with &Sister has stopped my self doubt from cancelling and given me more focus.
Walks in the country mixed with baths, massages and glorious yoga – an &Sister retreat is an antidote to our usual hectic lives. Alicia, Natalie and everyone else couldn’t do more to give you the perfect experience – Poundon House has a special sort of magic that even unicorns don’t have (!), one that I will never, ever forget.