2011 event reviews

Domus Mariae Weekend - November 2011
Domus Mariae Remedial Residential - November 2011
Highgate House Day of Yoga - April 2011

Domus Mariae Weekend - February 2011

Domus Mariae Residential Weekend, 11th-13th November 2011


Yoga at Domus Mariae

I set off early on Saturday morning for the Domus Mariae convent in Chigwell looking forward to a bit of ‘me’ time. A warm welcome awaited me from the other participants, some of whom were returning from an early morning stroll of the convent grounds.

After a cup of coffee we were all ready for a stretching session with Martine Harvey. It was good to spend time practicing some of the basic positions but from an alternative angle. I think everyone learnt something new. The morning sessions ended as always with meditation, this year led by Sue Low. Then lunch. This year the food was of the same high standard with the highlight for me and my table companions; rice pudding and custard and the chance to swap yoga reminiscences.

Two sessions followed lunch. Chanting, led by Jill Cook and Chris Bindley. Some of the group were reticent about chanting in public but after a quick chant of the two times table we didn’t look back. The final session was taken by the double act of Joy Frame and Julia Nicoll whom many of us remembered from Ickwell Bury. Did you know that Joy’s nickname at Ickwell Bury was Herr Flick? We remembered why by the end of the session!

The day had flown by and I was sorry to leave without tackling the evening session of circle dancing as a meditation. If you have the opportunity to attend one of these yoga weekends - take it,  you will be pleased you did.

See you there next year!


Domus Mariae Residential Weekend, 11th-13th November 2011

I arrived at Domus Mariae on a grey misty afternoon but was greeted with friendly sunny smiles.

I had a varied, interesting and stimulating yogic weekend plus fabulous food and after a gorgeous Sunday lunch left for home with uplifted spirit and the bonus of a clear blue sky.

'What more could you wish for?'

Ann Schooling


Domus Mariae Residential Weekend, 11th-13th November 2011

Yoga at Domus Mariae

Dear Helena and June,

I want to thank you for all your hard work that you put in to make last weekend such a success and so enjoyable for all of us who just turned up and reaped all the benefits. I thought every session and every meal was 100% fantastic. I loved the Circle Dancing, although I would have liked a couple of more cheerful tunes!

I am not a vegetarian but thought the Chef did a remarkable job to make so many delicious variations of meals. However, the lamb and pork joints were pretty yummy too when they were served up for Sunday Lunch!!!!!

Thank you, and everyone else involved, who did so much for us.

May I come again please?

Gill Dilley xxxxx


Domus Mariae Residential Weekend, 11th-13th November 2011

5-Star Yoga Weekend at “Domus Mariae”

Domus Mariae group photo

This is just to put on record how much I enjoyed the weekend. As a first-timer to this event, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, although my cousin, with whom I came, has attended three or four times – so I really didn’t have too many reservations!

Well, it all lived up to expectations with Domus Mariae being the ideal venue for such a Yoga weekend. The grounds and buildings are beautifully kept and there is a real sense of tranquillity throughout, seeming to keep out the noise, hustle and bustle of the day-to-day world. All the facilities are first-class, from the single comfortable bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms to sitting rooms on each floor.

And as for the meals: the Chef and Dining Staff really went to town to provide an excellent and imaginative variety of vegetarian food. I could quite happily forego meat if I could be served this quality on a permanent basis!

I have only just returned to Yoga after quite a few years and found the weekend the ideal reintroduction. All the sessions were most enjoyable and the general Yoga sessions quite ‘do-able’, as we were encouraged to work at our own individual levels. All the people taking sessions were most kind and helpful. The chanting and meditation sessions (as individual sessions) were quite new to me

and I found them most relaxing and in a way quite moving, giving one the time to leave behind outside influences and go calmly into oneself.

The whole weekend was pervaded by a sense of joy, calm and kindness provided by you organisers, the teachers and those of us attending.

Please book me in to return next year!!

With very best wishes,

Anesta Atkins


Domus Mariae Residential Weekend, 11th-13th November 2011

Many thanks for yet again an excellent weekend. I found everything most enjoyable and the yoga sessions were aimed at just the right level. I would also be most grateful if you could pass on my thanks to the staff at the convent dining room for excellent service and the chef for a superb variety of meals. Even though I'm not vegetarian, thoroughly enjoyed the inventiveness of the chef. Top marks all round!!!!

Looking forward to seeing you at future yoga week-ends.

Jo Gluck

Domus Mariae Remedial Residential, 6th-11th November 2011

Five days at Domus Mariae were a very pleasant experience which resulted in my returning home with much more energy.

A big thank you is due to Helena Read, Ineke Visser, June Skeggs and Mary Leonard for the 10.00 am yoga sessions which together with the excellent company and tasty, nutritious and plentiful food made the whole stay very worthwhile.

I left with many lovely memories, including Helena Schmitt’s playing Mozart specially for me, pushing Debbie’s wheelchair twice and getting slightly out of breath for the first time in many years, the whole of the last evening but particularly Mary's sharing of Sea Fever by John Masefield and its special significance for her, the warm, friendly atmosphere and the beauty and peace of the gardens. My one regret was that I didn't spend more time in the garden. That's for next time!

I can warmly recommend Domus Mariae and its welcoming atmosphere to those of you who will not yet have spent some yoga time there. I would like to take this opportunity to thank June, Helena Read and everyone involved for all their hard work in organising the November 2011 five day residential therapeutic yoga course.

Anna Russell


Domus Mariae Remedial Residential, 6th-11th November 2011

Arrival Sunday afternoon for a calming and peaceful introduction in the hall. We stored our yoga equipment in the hall we were to use for our yoga practice and Yoga 5 Day Remedial Therapeutic Course at Domus Mariae at Woodford Bridge, in Essex.

After introductions we all retired to our rooms. The room was on the second floor, but a lift is available to get all to their rooms. My room was immaculately clean and ready for my use. It was sparse but perfect for my bedroom needs. At the end of the hall were kitchenette facilities for drinks and breakfast.

What a wonderful opportunity to wake up and go to the hall and do my personal practice without any of the burdens from home. These daily practices without distractions have allowed me to develop my practice and allow work on class plans for my yoga students.

Each Morning at 10.00am to 11.30am we had a led yoga practice taking consideration of the differing Multiple Sclerosis problems and adapted with those considerations in mind. I knew I was lucky to be more able bodied than some, but my little extra needs were gently dealt with. My hands are weak and I could not hold the knees in position for certain poses and they soon came to support me. Even though my core is strong enough to give support, that would have not provided the benefits the asana was supposed to give. Both Ineke Visser and the helper Mary Leonard helped me during our daily practice to ensure I practiced properly and got the full benefit. It was greatly appreciated.

At noon we settled into a comfortable position and were guided into a twenty minute meditation with Ineke. By Friday I was consciously aware of how much more settled I was in myself, simply by taking a twenty minute quiet time to meditate and focus on my breath.

The meditation was immediately followed by lunch, that took into account everyone’s dietary needs (and for a group of 9 there were many variations!) and they produced a delicious lunchtime meal. After lunch until 3.30pm, it was our own free time. I personally took the opportunity to take a nap, after the mandatory mobile call to husband from the room.

The theme of this retreat was nutrition, especially considering Ayurveda. A new subject to me, we did a test on my Dosha and Gunas and apparently I am rajasic Kapha. It was interesting and kind of scary how a simple test can pin down the elements of who I am. There are special diets that support the type of person you are but, I definitely need to digest the information before I change the food I choose to digest. It is quite empowering to think I could actually take some control over this nuisance that is Multiple Sclerosis with a simple change to my diet. I am looking into an alternative to dairy products. Apparently there has been a lot of study into how dairy has a detrimental effort on people with Multiple Sclerosis, although I think it could be the population as a whole. Lots of homework for me, and perhaps share with the family at home.

Great Grandfather and Grandaughter

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive
I wish you enough pain
So the smallest joys in life appear much bigger
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess
I wish enough hellos to get you through the final goodbye.

I must admit to missing out on most of the evening talks – my MS ensured I took to my bed early. Thursday night, however, I was more rested – just in time to go home. It was a calm moment to share music, poems, stories that were important to us. To the right is a picture of my Dad holding my Grandaughter on the day she was born. Above is the poem “I wish you enough..” and below an extract from “Yogi’s Prayer” I shared from Mukanda Stiles “Structural Yoga Theraphy”

May everyone know a life of joy
May everyone have a life of health
May everyone only see the good in the world
May everyone soon be released from Pain

I am almost a fully qualified yoga teacher, only needing to do two more observed interviews then I will be able to help others in the MS community.

Karen Mascoll

Highgate House Day of Yoga, April 16th 2011


Our first yoga session at 5.30 on the Friday afternoon, was calming and meditative – just what was needed after a long, and for some, stressful journey to get there. Dinner that evening was most enjoyable. The food and service were both very good, and we made many new friends.

Saturday morning introduction to the day

The yoga sessions on Saturday were enjoyable and our tutors made sure that we knew that we should only do what was within our own abilities, so that no-one felt under pressure to do too much. The day was entitled “Breath is Life, Life is Breath”, and all the sessions on Saturday took this as their starting point.

After an early morning stretch class and a good breakfast, our first session was with Tracy Gent “Exploring some fundamentals of Prayanama”. This session encouraged us to look at, to understand and then improve our breathing through a series of different practices. This definitely worked and there was a lot to remember, so we were very pleased to be given a written sheet to support our practice at home.

View from the hotel through mid morning mist

Mehul Shah led a meditation session after our coffee break. Through visualisation he led us into a relaxing, gentle meditation and in the warm sunny room surrounded by new friends this was a comforting and renewing practice. Both sessions in the morning gave us the chance to experience aspects of yoga that we do not always have time to practice in our classes, except in short bursts.

After a buffet lunch (very good – it was so good it was difficult not to eat too much and destroy any chance of coping with a ‘dynamic’ yoga session after lunch) one of us joined the session with Beryl Whiting, and the other a gentle yoga session with Jacqui Barnett.

Beryl’s was a dynamic yoga session and it was supportive and appropriately challenging. In parts. Jacqui’s session continued with the theme of breathing techniques, some of which were new to some of the participants.

After afternoon tea, one of us decided to face the final challenge of “Sun Salutations with Breath Awareness” led by Mehul Shah. This was held in a bright sunny room and the practice was carried out facing the sun. This, with the quiet support of Mehul, encouraged tired bodies to Salute the Sun with joy.

The last Gentle Session with Martine Harvey allowed those of us with less stamina to wind down gently to the end of the day.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay – we were blessed with warm sunny weather – it was well organised, we met really nice friendly people, the food was delicious, the hotel comfortable, and the staff were friendly and efficient. We both came away with a feeling of well being and peace and we enjoyed it so much that we have both put next year’s dates in our diaries – 30th March to 1st April – a whole weekend! Hope to see you there!

Jo Fradley, Vivien Reffin


Highgate House Day of Yoga, April 16th 2011

This was the buffet counter at lunch - there was another
counter serving hot food!

I just wanted to let you know how much my friend Eileen and I enjoyed your yoga day at Highgate House. It was a day which did not disappoint in any way at all. We arrived in time for the early morning session at 8.00 am which was a lovely start to the day. The food was marvellous, the surroundings plush and the weather, hot and sunny. We met some lovely people and were introduced to new variations on old postures. We didn't want the day to end but after stocking up with all that positive energy, we felt great and in fact, 2 weeks later, I can still feel the benefits.

Eileen and I loved our day and have been telling everyone about it. Thank you so much and I will definitely attend other YHET events.

Val Lowden, Northampton


Highgate House Day of Yoga, April 16th 2011

Highgate House is set in the gently rolling hills of the Northamptonshire countryside. It is an excellent backdrop to a day of yoga. Alternatively, if like us, you have to travel a considerable distance the special deal on a weekend stay is splendid value. The rooms are airy and comfortable. At breakfast there is a wide range of cereals, fruits and yoghurts on offer as well as the option of a full English breakfast. The service is friendly and efficient.

The Coote Room used for yoga provides plenty of space to spread ourselves and can be partitioned to provide two separate working areas. A swimming pool and gym facilities are available for those with the energy to spare and a fifteen minute walk round the perimeter of the grounds provides a gentle stroll for those seeking something more leisurely. All in all, a first class choice for a yoga venue. This year was our third weekend stay at Highgate House. We have enjoyed them all and are looking forward to the next.

Bernard & Jenny McHugh

Domus Mariae Weekend, February 4th-6th, 2011

Our thanks to Jill Cook for providing the first review of a YHET event in poem form!


On a Friday in February my Yoga Mat and me
Set out for a weekend at Domus Mariae
As I drove through the gates I sensed a feeling of ease
And began instantly absorbing the calm and the peace.

A warm welcome awaited – and the first person I saw
Was Carla whom I hadn’t seen for a long time before.
We were greeted by June – who gave us the “info”
Then Helena guided a gentle session as an intro.

I soon felt at home in my comfortable room
And the wonderful food – more than I should “consume”
Vegetarian dishes and soups and much more
Followed by cakes, puds and pies and fresh fruits galore

After dinner on Friday – was “getting to know” one another
By choosing three objects that belonged to an other
Then finding these persons and exchanging brief facts
Got the tongue muscles working and helped us relax

Marian and Chris led us as each day slowly dawned
And we sleepily combined wonderful stretches and yawned
They each gently prepared us for the rest of each day
To enjoy different practices in our own preferred way.

A questionnaire from Bill Feeney asked us to decide
Whether our body was heavy, skinny or wide
Our lips, were they cracked, thin, or smooth and full
Was our hair thin and sparse, or perhaps “none at all.

Discovering our “Dosha” – whatever our type 
We adjusted our postures to make them “just right”.
Then an evening of sound encouraged by Ellen Lee
Rounded off a wonderful day, just brilliantly.

Sunday morning started quiet and reflective
With Words and Music which we each had selected.
A reading from Greg – accompanied by Pooh
On a theme of “Friendship” - thought provoking too.

Julie Collis encouraged us to stride wide and strong
Hip opening postures that made your legs feel quite long
Which prepared us for sitting in quiet meditation
Followed by another lunch and mouth-watering temptation.

A final lunch on Sunday – brought a close to the days
With memories of a weekend shared in so many ways 
Spending such time sharing yoga, love and peace
Allowed me to experience so much enjoyment and release

Thanks to you all - members both “old and new”
And to the dedicated organisers for all that you do.
I am a new member who’s already “hooked”
And opening my cheque book so November is booked.

Love, Peace, Thanks, Hari Om, Jill Cook



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