2010 Event Reviews

Domus Mariae Weekend - November 2010
Domus Mariae Remedial Event - October 2010
Domus Mariae Weekend - June 2010
Haybergill Remedial Event - May 2010
Highgate House Day of Yoga - April 2010
Domus Mariae Weekend - January 2010

Domus Mariae Weekend November 2010

It was my first yoga weekend and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was quickly made to feel welcome when on arrival I met a group of ladies who had been several times before. They introduced themselves and handed me a cup of tea – a good start I think.

Domus Mariae provided a nurturing environment with comfortable rooms, great and plentiful food and hospitable staff who make you feel very welcome. They catered for special diets as well as providing an array of refreshments.

The majority of people who attended had been to Ickwell Bury where the yoga courses were run in the past so there were reunions and lots of stories about the time they had enjoyed there. I am pleased that they have worked to ensure the spirit of Ickwell Bury lives on and that others such as myself can enjoy yoga weekends.

There were a surprising number of yoga teachers on the weekend which when I heard assumed that I may not be able to do some of the postures. This was not the case, however, because what became clear was that those attending had the experience of making yoga accessible to all irrespective of their age and health status. Alternative postures were always suggested to make sure everyone could join in at their own level.

Each day started with a morning stretch and then mid morning there was a longer yoga session followed by meditation. Other activities were also organised which you could choose to join in if you wanted too. Some sessions were lead by visiting yoga teachers who shared their practice and by so doing provided a varied and interesting experience for us.

I had a lovely relaxing weekend and made new friends. I very much look forward to my next yoga weekend.

Julie Bolan

Remedial/Therapeutic Residential, Domus Mariae 10th-15th October 2010

It was so good to see old friends again when I arrived at Domus Mariae on Sunday afternoon, and to meet new ones at the evening meal in the dining room. After dinner we met up for a warm welcome from Helena and June and a nice relaxation to get us all in the mood for the week ahead.

The following morning, after breakfast, Helena held a yoga session which was just what the doctor ordered! It was relaxing and stretched me as much as I was able and felt comfortable doing, and after a well earned cup of tea we had a soothing relaxation session. After lunch we had a Hatha & Ashtanga Yoga (Patanjali’s 8 limbs of yoga) and nostril breathing discussion and demonstrations, which were very interesting. We then had a couple of hours free and after dinner we had a session on Yoga Nidra with Ineke, who had travelled from the Netherlands for our course.

This was the typical routine for our week at Domus Mariae, with insightful sessions from Sannyasi Mahamani (Carol Smith), more yoga sessions from Helena, a talk on Chakras and relaxation from Deborah and even a demonstration of Dowsing from our friend Jenny one evening.

I also took advantage of the glorious grounds and gardens and had a walk round them early one morning to wake me up. In such a quiet location you can really unwind and relax.

It was a sad day when Friday arrived and I was packing to go home, but not before a last yoga and relaxation session. I know I am unable to attend the next weekend course in November, but will be counting the days until I can visit Domus Mariae again.

Denise Powell

Remedial/Therapeutic Residential, Domus Mariae 10th-15th October 2010

I am writing this while sitting on the ferry back home after five really nice days at Domus Mariae with the Remedial Yoga group.

Exactly nine years ago I left Ickwell Bury where I had lived as a residential yoga teacher for fourteen months. I bought a year ticket in London and left for India to see if I could find a higher path of yoga - which I found five years later in Holland! I only went back to The Bury a few times as I became too busy setting up a Yoga and Massage Practice in the south of Holland (Zeeland).

There was always a feeling of homesickness for England and the beautiful work I had done at The Bury, and to the lovely people I met there. I continued as a YHET member and was look forward to receiving the magazine which is kindly sent to me four times a year. When I saw that there was a Remedial course at Domus Mariae in Essex I decided to go to England as a helper again. So I phoned June and asked her if that was possible. I came by car and was able to bring my massage table which was much appreciated.

I have no words to explain how impressed I am by the good work that June and Helena are doing for the Trust. It felt so good to be back. I was so excited to go and to discover that half of the group were people I know from The Bury. The programme is about the same as it was at The Yoga for Health Foundation except for the early morning yoga. One morning I tried to organize a walk on the grounds of the convent. Strangely enough I found out that they all had to wash their hair that same morning! Denise turned up so we walked in the garden and did some Energization Exercises which I do every morning myself.

I also had the honour to do a yoga session and the meditation before lunch. It was very inspiring to help with the yoga sessions that Helena Read took and enjoyed the workshop with Maha Mani and Deborah. But I am mostly touched by the sincerity and the attitude of the group and also the efforts they make to do yoga so full of attention. To me they are real yogis.

On the last evening we looked at some DVDs which were made at Ickwell Bury. It was very nice to see them but also made us realize that they were only a memory. We now have the feeling that the work of the Trust is growing, and the location at Domus Mariae is perfect for the seed to grow.

Many thanks to the group, the YHET Trust and especially to June. I find it amazing what she is doing, teaching, organizing and the work that is not visible to us.

I hope to see some of you next year as I will come again in June.

Namaste to you all.

Ineke Visser (Holland)

Domus Mariae Weekend June 2010

On the first weekend in June I went on my first YHET weekend at Domus Mariae in Chigwell. We were too late for dinner after a slightly extended journey but arrived in time for the introductory session.

I woke very early on Saturday morning and had time to enjoy a quiet wander around the gardens of the convent before the early morning stretch with Greg Shore. Breakfast was taken with the other guests on our floor and lunch gave us an opportunity to get to know our neighbours. This was followed by a session with Bill Feeney which I really enjoyed whilst Gill took the gentle session. After tea break we met in the hall for meditation.

After lunch we all attended the AGM. It was interesting to meet the trustees and encouraging to hear positive news of the trust. After tea at 4 o'clock Bill and Gill took another session guiding us through a pranayama practice, introduced to Bill by Dr Vassant Ladd. After dinner we were treated to some great entertainment provided by a couple of local musicians including sing-a-long, a selection of instruments and a range of musical styles.

On Sunday the early session was taken by Helena Read and after breakfast I found the time to walk the labyrinth in the gardens. Les Hummel took the morning session and Heather Mackness took the alternative session, followed by meditation and dinner.

The accommodation was clean and comfortable, the atmosphere friendly and relaxed, and the gardens spacious and I would recommend a weekend at Domus Mariae to those who have not yet been. It was lovely to see some familiar faces again and good to meet new ones and I look forward to returning in February.

Jenny Watson

Remedial Yoga for MS and Allied Conditions Residential, Haybergill, Cumbria, May 2010

I was somewhat apprehensive that afternoon as I drove up the M6 towards Penrith - What had I let myself in for? What would the accommodation be like? - and although I had met Mags (Ward) and June (Skeggs) before, I was going to spend five days with people I didn’t know. I wasn’t too worried about the actual Yoga that we’d be doing as I had been once, many years ago, to Ickwell Bury and once with a friend to a YHET weekend at Staverton Park. I also attend Sue Lee’s weekly classes, Yoga for People with MS (Yoga for PwMS )

However as soon as I arrived at Haybergill I was greeted and welcomed by Judith (Bridge) in such a warm and friendly way that I immediately felt that everything was going to be OK. Judith introduced me to Jen who was to be to my roommate and others who had already arrived and I immediately felt that I was among friends so could relax and begin to enjoy myself. That first evening we settled in, getting to know one another over a meal, those who knew each other renewing their friendships. Then an introductory talk and time to relax before bed.

The Haybergill Centre, to give it its proper name, “is an eco-friendly venue with level, full disabled access throughout”. Each en-suite bedroom on the ground floor is fully accessible with its own level access shower wet room which has non-slip flooring and appropriate, well positioned grab rails. It is situated in peaceful woodland in the beautiful Eden Valley in Cumbria, on the edge of the Lake District, well away from the busy A66, between the towns of Appleby and Kirkby Stephen.

Haybergill is run by Maggie and Mick and their team of helpers, who did all they could to ensure that we were comfortable and that everything ran smoothly. They provided us with wonderful food, the buffet style table groaning at each meal. The menus were essentially vegetarian but consideration was given to those of us who find it difficult to exist without meat and fish, and I was full of admiration for the way in which they coped with the requirements of those on a special diet, all were catered for. Biscuits and tray bakes (some gluten-free) appeared every afternoon and they even came up with a surprise cake for one of the group who had a birthday during our stay. They also cater for the local wildlife and though we didn’t see many birds it was a delight to see the two red squirrels who came frequently to feed from the containers of peanuts positioned outside the dining room windows.

There were twelve of us with MS with differing  degrees of disability, some in wheelchairs, some had a carer or helper with them and some required the use of a hoist to get down to and up from the floor. For the uninitiated who may be reading this, Yoga for PwMS is mostly done in a horizontal position, standing is not a good idea. Those who wished to made an early 7.00 am start with their own Yoga practice but the group sessions started after our breakfast had settled. We were led and encouraged by Deborah Hopkinson, Chair of the YHET, an inspiring Yoga teacher who repeated the routines each day so that they would become familiar enough for us to continue to practice them at home. After the Yoga Deborah led us through Relaxation and the sessions ended with a short Meditation.

We had some free time in the afternoons and later for those who were interested there were talks by visiting speakers on Healing through Dowsing; Relaxation with Singing Bowls; and Deborah explained Pranayama, the art of Yoga Breathing.

There was another Yoga session each evening, including one of Yoga Nidra, after which those who wished could stay and chat before making our way to our beds.

I have called this a Retreat as I felt that for these few days we were away from the strains and stresses of our everyday lives. But this wasn’t simply ‘me time’, I felt that we were all there to help and strengthen each other, to learn from one another and to be encouraged by the example of others. During this time two local people gave up their time to come and be of assistance to the less able and to relieve their carer/helpers which in itself was inspirational.

Over the years I have found that the practice of Yoga has helped me to manage my MS as my disability has increased, the gentle stretching and twisting helping to keep my muscles toned. I feel it helps with control of my bladder, helps me to deal with MS fatigue and my posture is improved. I am more at ease in myself, better able to concentrate and I have learnt how to relax. This in turn enables me to switch off when I want to sleep.

I would like to thank again everyone who worked hard to make these few days such a success; naming especially Judith who had done a great deal of the organising beforehand and quietly kept an eye on us all and Deborah who was so patient with us as we did our best to follow her routines.

This was my first time at Haybergill but I do hope it won’t be the last. I have already made a note that all being well there will be another course in May 2011.

Pat Guy

Highgate House Day of Yoga, Creaton, Northants, 17th April 2010

On the 17th of April I attended my first Yoga retreat day held by YHET at Highgate House, Northampton. I knew from my greeting the night before by the staff of the hotel that it was going to be a good day.  The warmth and friendliness of the hotel staff continued into the yoga day when I met with the organisers who were so friendly and accommodating. At 07:30 I was registered and was very quickly made to feel welcome. I went into the optional morning stretch and came out feeling great and set up for the day.

We then joined the other participants for a brilliant buffet breakfast, which really showed the level to which YHET and the hotel had communicated with one another. There was food supplied for all types of dietary requirement so everyone could feel included. This is a big thing for me due to having Ulcerative Colitis.

After the gorgeous breakfast we had a short and concise introduction to the day, which allowed us to move straight into the first session with Ellen Lee, "Renewing the Connection with the Soul". What a wonderful session this turned out to be for me. I went in not really knowing what to expect, however, it was very enlightening. We worked in discussion groups and were set the very interesting task to define what is meant by 'soul'. All the groups came up with different ideas and opinions. My group had a great discussion on where the soul may go after death and how yoga nourishes the soul for many of them. Another group defined it as 'Undefinable but always present', and another group pondered whether bad/evil people have a soul.

After this very interesting discussion we moved on to the notion of the connection between us all, and the power of touch to strengthen these connections. Those who were happy to do so took it in turns in our groups to lay down in the middle of the circle and the rest of the group laid their hands on, or in close proximity to, that person, quietly and unthinking. This was a very hard task for me as I am someone who does not like being touched, but due to the friendly and warm atmosphere I felt I could overcome that boundary.

After a short tea break came a Dru style meditation. This was a different experience for me and one I think people would have to try to fully understand. This style of meditation seemed very much focused on the chakras, visualisation and energy.

This meditation flowed nicely into a buffet lunch which everyone had the pleasure to enjoy in the beautiful grounds and weather.

Following lunch we went into the concurrent sessions. I chose to do "A Taster of Dru Style Yoga" with Diane Eardley and "Refresh, Relax and Re-energise" with Jacqui Barnett.

“Dru” means 'Still Point' and Dru Yoga seemed to me to be a mixture of movements, energy, visualisation and prana. It seemed to be yoga with a sprinkle of Tai Chi and dance. I personally liked the activation exercises, but due to my lack of rhythm, I didn't feel a connection with this style of yoga.

Following a short break fur tea in the sunshine, I went back in for Jacqui Barnett's session. This I found fun and exciting, possibly because it was very close to the yoga I have already practiced and maybe because it was more traditional. I learnt how to better hold asanas, move in and out of them without causing long term problems. I also enjoyed the session being split into mini flows rather than one long flow.

All the teachers were amazing and friendly and made my day feel really warm and happy. It was a great way to spend my birthday.

In conclusion, I have learnt, the soul is ever present and undefinable; I can be touched and it isn't a problem; I really don't have a sense of rhythm; YHET are a lovely lunch of people; Yoga weekends are good fun; some of my asanas need greater attention and that much yoga in one day, makes my hips ache the following day!

Thank you, Namaste and Om Shanti - David Bridle

“Nurturing, Embracing, Inspiring” - The YHET strap line is so true.

I arrived at Domus Mariae on Friday afternoon and was greeted by very helpful ladies there. I could immediately feel the serene and calm atmosphere and was allocated a nice cosy and simple room on the second floor. The pre-dinner Stretch and Relaxation session was very relaxing and welcoming. It was obvious that lots of ladies knew each other and were used to the set up of these weekends but they didn’t hesitate in introducing themselves and befriending me. At the sumptuous dinner I learned more about my fellow students. Every one of them had a story to tell and inspired me to re-evaluate my thinking and plan a course of action to try and overcome the health difficulties I was experiencing.

Unfortunately I was not able to rise early enough on Saturday or Sunday to attend the early morning stretch but after breakfast on Saturday Tim Francis held a gentle/remedial yoga session which was well attended. I realised that I could not join in the lessons fully, but students and teachers alike continuously encouraged everyone to participate just as much as they could.

After a drinks break mid morning there was a short meditation session. This again was something I had not practised before but after 30 minutes it was obvious what a powerful tool this is and I should practice it more. Following a delicious lunch we had sessions with Ellen Lee constructing and deconstructing a Mandala and luckily Marian took some pictures to remind me just what a beautiful experience it was.

After a short break it was dinner time. More food – again a 3 or 4 course homemade feast! – and long discussions during which I was inspired more and more to move onwards and upwards. Following dinner the group had a fantastic session with Len in a chanting and movement session, involving musical instruments from around the globe. To me the group was not 20 individuals participating but one person, all contributing to the sound and, those who could, moving with the rhythms of the session.

On Sunday morning Marian held a words & music session before breakfast which again was relaxing and uplifting then Martine held a gentle and remedial yoga session which was lovely before our final meditation with Julie, and after lunch we left for home.

All in all the weekend has truly changed my outlook on things. I got some fantastic advice and am already taking steps to review my diet, change my sedentary lifestyle and reduce the stress in my life. I can’t wait until the next YHET event and look forward to seeing some friends there and practising more yoga, meditation and other fun things we did.




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