2012 Event Reviews

Domus Mariae Remedial Residential - November 2012
Domus Mariae Weekend - June 2012
Highgate House Yoga Weekend - March 2012

Domus Mariae CPD Weekend - February 2012


Domus Mariae Remedial Residential, November 2012

For me, the magic of my week at Domus Mariae starts as soon as I book the event. Then it is a countdown to the glorious day when I am driving down for my treat “retreat” away!

As soon as I arrived on 4th November there were friends to greet me, friends it was so good to see again, and also other guests who were to become friends. Our tutor was Ineke again, which was excellent.

My week started with the feeling of relaxation immediately, and after a wonderful meditation and relaxation we had the usual filling, homemade dinner, followed by a great catch-up with the others. After a wonderful night sleep my week’s routine was set, - yoga after breakfast each day, a great lunch, a couple of hours rest and then relaxation again. Our evenings varied from candle meditation, a great fun quiz night (which our team won, thanks to Mary!!), to breathing exercises and poems, stories or words to share. Friends brought readings etc and also CDs which held their ‘special’ tunes and this was a nice, thoughtful evening.

One afternoon I went for a walk in the gardens and, as last time, it was so peaceful and relaxing; plenty of time to just sit and reflect on whatever troubles or stresses you have left behind for a few days. One of the best things for me (after the yoga, relaxation, meditation etc etc) was simply to talk to my friends. It is amazing how knowledgeable these ladies are; in general conversations they can suggest a whole raft of solutions for various problems we may have just learned to live with - problems physicians, medical consultants and a whole range of medical ‘experts’ may have just written off. Of course the choice is yours whether to heed their advice or not, but I believe in them every time! It is nice too to just talk to someone different, who will listen to you and understand what you are going through. Patience is another virtue they have.

Ineke had written a varied and interesting programme for the week, and again, I participated in various practises which were new to me. At all times you are encouraged to do just WHAT you can, WHEN you can, and importantly IF YOU WANT TO. There is never any pressure to ‘keep up’ with the tutor or other residents. That is one of the many great things about Domus Mariae – you work at your own pace, and with help from the tutor, or other attendees.

Friday came way too soon for me, and it was time to head home. I said a sad farewell to my friends, but I know I will meet them again soon – in April 2013 actually, in Highgate House in Northamptonshire.

Denise Powell


Domus Mariae Remedial Residential, November 2012


A week away with YHET ....

Back at Domus Mariae

in Peace, and Quiet and Calm.

Whilst outside life goes rushing by,

it causes me no harm.


Every day relaxations

are priceless, that’s no doubt.

Instead of usually speeding through

my life, completing nought.


With my tutors and dear friends

I’m able to be myself.

I can stop or start when I need –

troubles left on the shelf.


I do feel so much better

for a stay of Yoga and Rest.

My family sees a different me;

it does bring out my best.


Denise Powell



Domus Mariae Residential, June 2012


I was lucky enough to have the chance to spend the weekend at Domus Mariae with my yoga teacher Ann Schooling.

My room was clean, the bed comfortable and I had views of the surrounding countryside.

The gardens and grounds of the convent had a tranquility about them, so many places to sit and read or to be in the peacefulness of the gardens.

The meals were lovely, so much choice, you need never be hungry.

The people in the group were very friendly. It was as though they were old friends of mine meeting up for the weekend.

I enjoyed all the yoga classes, which I went to, finding new positions and movements.

I was able to freely ask about things I was not sure about and given advice which I took on board.

I felt sad after lunch on Sunday to be leaving my new friends but I will meet up with them when I go again in November.

A lovely weekend.

Linda Dawes

Highgate House Yoga Weekend, 30th March - 1st April 2012

Janusirsasana balancing variation at Highgate House

I had previously attended yoga weekends at Domus Mariae and a couple of yoga days at Highgate House, but was pleased to find that this year the Highgate House event had been extended to a weekend also. I arrived late during dinner on the Friday evening (missing the afternoon welcome and yoga session) and the staff could not have been more welcoming, bringing me 3 delicious courses in quick succession, whilst everyone else finished their meals and I caught up with old friends. My room was pleasant and spacious, with separate bath and shower en-suite.

The theme for the weekend was “Finding Balance” which was very apt for me with my rather busy life with four kids, a job at a hospice and work with a swimming club, including preparing a swimmer for the Olympics!

After dinner, there was a group session about what constituted balance - the four groups showed a good diversity of ideas between us.

I confess I cannot tell you about early morning sessions on either day as I took the extremely rare opportunity of having a lie-in!

After a lovely breakfast chosen from an extensive range, I participated in the morning yoga session with Mehul Shah. This was enjoyably challenging and included clever ways to approach different postures, including ‘the crow’.

Meditation to Tim Francis’ dulcet tones chilled us before lunch.

After another lovely meal, we had an afternoon talk exploring how different postures balance each other with the lovely Martine Harvey.

Then it was time for a gentle late afternoon yoga practise with the inimitable Tim Francis, using the balancing effects of sound. I missed Miti Shah’s meditation, but everyone was full of smiles at the subsequent feast of dinner; then a sound sleep was next!

Sunday morning after checking out, we enjoyed a yoga session with the ever-smiling Jacqui Barnett- it’s always fascinating to experience every teacher’s individual take on postures and ended with a discussion on differences in ‘the crow’ from the previous day.

Meditation with Miti Shah was enlightening and calming to prepare us for departure after lunch – which many ate outside in the sun.

All-in-all a lovely oasis of peace from a busy life, and a thoroughly indulgent recharge of my batteries, I look forward to the next weekend I am able to escape to.

Sue Eddy


Highgate House Yoga Weekend, 30th March - 1st April 2012

Highgate House, seated twist

Being comparatively new to Yoga, I really did not know what to expect of this weekend, but I need not have worried since everyone was so friendly and helpful.

The accommodation was very comfortable and wanted for nothing, the food was extremely good, and the staff at the hotel were welcoming and friendly.

Before we left for the weekend we were sent, by email, a program of events and details of what each session would consist of, highlighting stronger or more relaxing experiences. This was useful since I could see what was happening throughout the weekend and decide which yoga sessions would be suitable for me. The weekend was about ‘balance’ for mind and body. 

During all the sessions there was emphasis on doing what was right for you and your body, mind and spirit, making all the sessions relaxing and non worrying for a new person like me.

Each day started with an early morning stretch which I enjoyed greatly followed by a hearty breakfast with many choices of food. We then went on the session we had chosen, in my case Body Wisdom with Martine Harvey, followed by coffee or tea, then a second shorter session  meditation with Tim Francis, before lunch. In both these sessions I experienced new and thought provoking ideas about Yoga. Again lunch consisted of many choices of food all excellent.

The afternoon was similar to the morning but I decided to take some free time and I went for a swim in the hotel pool. Following this I experienced my first concept of meditation and then chanting and began to understand their meaning and effect on the mind and body.

The evening meal was as I had now come to expect, excellent. During all the meals and breaks there was plenty of time to meet with and enjoy the company of the other Yoga enthusiasts, I discovered that people came with a whole range of experiences in Yoga and some of them new to Yoga, like myself.

Sunday morning continued in the same relaxing way, and after lunch we all said our goodbyes.

I left with a new enthusiasm and understanding of Yoga, I had brought a second hand Yoga book, many of which were on offer, to read to gain more knowledge for my practice. We also had some handouts to remind us of sessions for our future Yoga thoughts and practice.

I shall certainly attend next year, and this time I will take with me a writing material so that I can make notes after each session to help me remember for my subsequent practice.

Pauline Moore

Highgate House Yoga Weekend, 30th March - 1st April 2012

Highgate House - breath work

Personal opinion; I had a good time, NO a great time – NO a wonderful time, am still on a high.

All those hugs, great. It’s lovely meeting old friends, even better making new ones, great to see new young faces coming to swell the throng. I am so grateful to Jenny and Bernard for the lift, giving me the change to be a part of something special.

The venue is super and the food even more so (must make a stronger effort to slim on my return home). All special diets are well catered for, with variety. The staff are lovely and it’s nice to be so spoilt.

Planning the weekend programme must have been gone over so many times for it to run so smoothly – congratulations. It would be unfair to single out any one session; they all had a part to play and it all came together so well. Everyone was catered for in terms of ability, taste, variety, light and shade, all embellishing the theme for the weekend - balance. So an old hand could be refreshed and a new shoot empowered.

Quite a task well done to all Ally. I was reminded to “Be Here Now” at one point in a session, I would like to be there now, but if I was a boat I couldn’t stay in harbour all the time because that wasn’t what I was made for. So I must be happy at home but remember the weekend with joy.

Love and Hugs,

Mavis Turver

P.S. Look forward to another sail next year!

P.P.S. Just a suggestion – what about including something on colour?


Domus Mariae CPD Weekend, February 3rd-5th 2012

February 2012 Domus Mariae CPD event

On Friday, 3rd February a group of sixteen yoga teachers, some having travelled by car for several hours, attended Domus Mariae Convent in Essex for a CPD weekend.

Those who did not attend missed an excellent CPD event, conducted by Sannyasi Mahamani (Carol Smith). Those who have worked with Carol before will already be aware of her commitment to sharing her knowledge in such an enthusiastic and inspiring way.

ANATOMY TUTORIAL: Anatomy cannot be altered – you cannot change the number of vertebrae comprising the spine (surgery excepted)…… but to revise is beneficial and Carol made emphasis that those suffering Herniated Disc SHOULD practice Locust and Cobra (but no body weight being taken by the hands). However, forward bends are contra-indicated. Carol advised that these were the recommendations of Dr. D. Dongaonkar with whom she studied in India and proceeded to lead the group through his recommended basic sequence, which included; spinal rocking, single leg lift (45°), Navasana (although more a canoe than a dinghy), Ardha Matsyendrasana and Vrajrasana (to stretch the Femoral nerve) as stretching the muscle through, or alongside which a nerve flows will stretch the nerve. Kapalabhati Pranayama was also part of this sequence.

The pose I found interesting was simple yet quite subtle; it was called Side Roll (no Sanskrit) – bring both knees to chest, clasp hands around shins then roll slowly, with control, towards the side but STOP before actually touching the ground…… hover at this point for a moment and then slowly return, with a gentle roll, back to centre. What muscles do you use? My students had great fun with this – some being too cavalier and so rolling straight over and then understanding abdominal control is necessary for that brief halt and slow roll back to centre. And now we understand why Dr. Dongaonkar included abdominal strengthening Kapalabhati in his sequence.

STRESS MANAGEMENT TUTORIAL: commenced with the question “What is Stress?”My notes indicate the group quickly gave twelve answers. Carol listed the “Phases of Intensity of Stress”:-

Psyche symptoms; Irritable, Hyper-active, Excess Anxiety, Fear, Insomnia

Psychosomatic; Hypertension, Palpitations, Fidgeting movements, Tics

Somatic; Now manifest as an ailment: Hyperacidity Organic Stomach ulcers, Heart problems, Lung problems, Diabetes

At times of stress our bodies will “collapse” at our weakest point (rather like a dam when it bursts at its weakest point when under severe pressure). So we too all have our genetic weakest point. It all makes such sense. I am sure we all know of families where IBS is a problem, or skin problems, or breathing problems. Much also depends on whether you are a Type A personality.

To counteract stress we practiced Carol’s 7 Poses and three Relaxations; INSTANT RELAXATION, QUICK RELAXATION & DEEP RELAXATION:

All poses are done very, very slowly, with eyes closed also involving chanting the sound “Ah” in various postures. There was almost excitement in the feedback, several people advising that, with the eyes closed and moving so, so slowly, they found it difficult to assess how near they were to the floor when forward bending. This was a very relaxing session, yet so easily executed.

THE AUTOGENIC TUTORIAL: A self-contained, self-help session of nine short sentences, each sentence repeated three times which can be practiced either sitting in a chair or lying down. The nine sentences comprise one sequence; this sequence is then repeated three times, with a centring stretch in between each repetition. The whole practice takes no more than fifteen minutes. What a gem of a practice, which lowers blood pressure and boosts the immune system. It is advised to practice three times daily for six weeks = forty-five minutes a day, in fifteen minute portions.

So……. I am now switching off my laptop for fifteen minutes of “ME TIME”.

With my grateful thanks to Sannyasi Mahamani’s teachings and for the numerous detailed handouts.

Thanks also to the staff at Domus Mariae and all the YHET organisers.


Chris Bindley


Domus Mariae CPD Weekend, February 3rd-5th 2012

Grounds at Domus Mariae in the snow

I do love to add to my knowledge and looked forward to meeting up with other Ickwell Bury teachers. The articles in the YHET magazine did encourage me to visit Domus Mariae, which is why I am writing about my experience. I had concerns about the journey, but I upped my meditation and with good planning for the journey and a soupçon of courage, off I set. It also helped to have a coffee break visiting a friend on the way.

What a lovely surprise! The convent, buildings and gardens are beautiful. My room was immaculate, as were the bathrooms. The convent staff were helpful and friendly. The food was delicious.

The CPD weekend was well balanced, useful and interesting. Carol Smith is an excellent teacher. Any time away from home, i.e. the phone, paperwork and the endless list of things to do always renews my energies and I do love being with Ickwell Bury people. The musical evening was great and very uplifting.

So the whole weekend was a lovely adventure. The snow was beautiful too and added a bit of sparkle to the time away.

My thanks to June Skeggs, Paul Blissett, Helena Read and Carol Smith. I could see a lot of work had gone into ensuring the weekend ran smoothly.

om shanti

Carol Nettleton





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