2015 Event Reviews

Domus Mariae CPD Weekend,  Subtle Energy - February 2015
Highgate House Yoga Weekend - April 2015
Domus Mariae Residential Weekend & AGM - June 2015
CSMV Wantage CPD Weekend, Mental Health in Yoga - September 2015
Domus Mariae Residential Weekend - November 2015

Domus Mariae CPD Weekend on the Subtle Energies of Inner Yoga, February 2015

I was lucky enough to have attended last year’s Subtle Energies of Inner Yoga part one, which was also delivered by Tracy, and as soon as the course details were published for this year I booked immediately, and I am very glad I did. I had also told my sister, who is about to start a yoga teacher training, about the weekend and she also managed to attend. I know that she found the weekend beneficial and enjoyable.

The venue is easily accessible and near to where we live in North London, although once you have arrived it feels miles away from anywhere, the ground and buildings are so peaceful. The rooms arranged over three floors are cosy, warm and spotlessly clean and the vegetarian home cooked food is wonderful.

We started our weekend at 5pm with a gentle stretching class which was very welcome after a long week at work and a busy Friday afternoon drive.

After dinner in the first session Tracy revisited the work done in part one of the course, refreshing those who had attended, and informing those who had not. From session one Tracy led the course in her calm, quiet wonderful voice, starting with the perception of light before our closed eyes, moving into a whole body scan, then becoming aware of each part of our bodies and linking with that part of the body. If we could not link with a part of the body then we asked ourselves why? Was there a block in that part of the body, if so then was the reason for the block obvious such a trauma or not? Tracy finished our session on Friday evening with a Yoga Nidra which was a perfect end to my day.

With the work on the Saturday in a “subtle” exercise, I found that I was holding tension in a specific part of my neck area. I had not consciously realised this and found it with the subtle energy work. My breathing and the movement in this area was, in Tracy’s words, “paradoxical” or contradictory to the way it should be, although I could feel and sense that all the other nearby points in the neck area were working correctly. So by working on this one point for a time I eventually got the breathing and movement correct and today everything in this area is still tension free. This was a practice that I had never used before and it was a great benefit to me as I am sure it was to everyone in the group. Let me mention the group at this point, a kind caring inclusive group of yogis whose company I immensely enjoyed.

Saturday evening ended with working with sound energies through bija mantras and AUM, which I found was powerful work. On Sunday, we experienced nadis and nadi shuddhi pranayama, again Tracy’s knowledgeable ways of working is unique to anything else I have ever experienced on acourse, and we all found different pathways through her skilled direction.

This review is just my own personal impressions of a small part of the work we practised over the weekend, and for me it was wonderful to, through Tracy’s guidance, physically experience practices that I had only read about, this giving me new understanding.

I hopefully look forward to there being a part three Subtle Energies of Yoga next February, and recommend that you book it too!

Jackie Arnold

Highgate House Yoga Weekend - April 2015

I have just attended my first weekend event with YHET and Highgate House and have returned feeling recharged, refreshed and happy.

The tutors were all knowledgable and approachable and I found that I learnt new techniques as well as being able to undertake fulfilling practice.

The whole environment was friendly, the hotel and staff really helped to add to the mood for the event, and every attendee was kind and welcoming.

I would also make particular comment about the agenda being well balanced meaning that people of all abilities could attend and benefit.

Thanks for a great weekend.

Paula Farrow

Domus Mariae Residential Weekend & AGM - June 2015

My friends and I arrived at Domus Mariae on Friday afternoon, really looking forward to our weekend. It was a lovely sunny day and we had just driven from various places near Southend on Sea, along the busy A127. As soon as we had driven into the Convent grounds, we all felt that sense of peace, a little like Ickwell Bury.
After settling into our rooms and a cup of tea, we were able to attend an hour of stretching and relaxation with Paul Blissett, which was just what everyone needed. Then off to the dining room for an enjoyable evening meal, with the tables all laid out beautifully and a warm welcome from the lovely staff. The evening finished with a short getting to know one another session because everybody was tired and ready for bed. It already felt as though we were beginning to merge into a very friendly group.

The early morning session taken on Saturday by Marion Parmenter was well attended. Music was played as we gently stretched, breathed and moved into some gentle but effective postures. One we especially enjoyed was a sequence of movements to the music from the film Chariots of Fire, a gentler version of Surya Namaskara, the Sun Prayer. There were further Yoga teachings held on Saturday taken by Ellen Lee, a new teacher to me, but her calm, encouraging style was so enjoyable I really wish that I could attend her CPD weekend later this year. The AGM was carried through very efficiently and swiftly, in the shortest possible time! So, we had some time to enjoy the lovely gardens in the sunshine. The evening on Saturday finished with games and lots of laughter. It was called Yoga Boga (the yoga of fun), which Ellen assured us was real but which none of us had heard of before.

Sunday’s teachings were taken by new teachers to me and my friends, with Monika Mathieu taking the early morning stretch, and Julie Collis taking the later one. Both very interesting teachers with their own individual approaches. This was what made the weekend even more enjoyable because having practised Yoga for many years, it was great to meet all very different thoughts and ideas. There were gentle remedial sessions also available, taken by Tim Francis and Eileen Nash, and to take us back to Ickwell Bury, the meditations at 12 noon were perfect.

The weekend came to a close after lunch on Sunday and as we said our farewells, none of us really wanted it to end. Although I'm sure that we all went home feeling happy, refreshed and renewed from spending a wonderful weekend, in such a peaceful place and with such warm friendly people.

Many thanks to all the organisers and the lovely people at Domus Mariae.

Patricia Buck

Domus Mariae Residential Weekend & AGM - June 2015

My First Yoga Weekend

Vicky, our yoga teacher, drove us to Chigwell from the Isle of Wight leaving on the 11.30am boat. This was to be my first venture to a yoga weekend - the other three had been before and enjoyed the experience.

We arrived spot on 4.00pm! Our rooms were all on the same floor which was particularly nice for me as I have a hopeless sense of direction and felt I could have easily got lost.

My first impression was of friendliness. Most arriving had been before and were pleased to see familiar faces. My next impression was of our accommodation. Everything was very clean. We all had a room to ourselves and, although it was simple, I did not feel at any time that my room was lacking in any way. Also on our floor there was a single toilet and two shower rooms. There was a very neat kitchen where we could prepare our own breakfasts from a large selection of cereals, teas, breads etc, and most tastes were catered for and you could help yourself at any time.

The main meals were taken downstairs in the dining room and the friendly staff there also catered well for their visitor’s differing tastes and requirements. I have to say here that you would not starve and that everything was spotless with fresh linen table cloths and very comfortable chairs.

The yoga itself - which is after all why we went - started at 5.00pm with a session of Gentle Yoga. Throughout the weekend there was always a choice of classes. I found it all relatively gentle with the emphasis on "Listening to your body", with the various teachers always giving alternatives to make any exercise a little easier, or a little more difficult, to suit your personal taste. If you didn't want to attend a class you didn't have too.

It was quite a busy time. I endeavoured to attend all the classes but did miss one on the second day when Jackie (one of our party) and I took a little walk outside the grounds and stumbled on Chigwell Garden Centre.

The grounds of the Convent are also very peaceful and relaxing with flowers and trees, garden seats here and there, and two summer houses for damper days. One evening we saw a fox run across the lawn.

If you are reading this, have some knowledge of yoga, and have wondered what such a weekend would be like, I can highly recommend that you "give it a go".

I met some really friendly people (there were also two men in our class) who I hope will greet me next time I go. I enjoyed classes by different, very experienced teachers, good accommodation, good food that I didn't have to cook, and peaceful surroundings.

WHAT is there to stop YOU?

Kay Brinton

CSMV Wantage CPD Weekend - Mental Health in Yoga, September 2015

This was the third CPD weekend that I have done with YHET and the second one at Wantage in Oxford. The venue, a large convent is on the outskirts of Wantage and a 10 minute walk to the town centre. It is very peaceful in lovely grounds. The rooms are cosy and very warm with tea and coffee making facilities on each floor. The meals were simple and delicious. This is a lovely venue to get to for those of us living in the South although people had come from all over the country.

Like quite a few others who attended I was attracted to the course because I have a family member with a mental health condition, my son and daughter in law are also psychiatric nurses, and I was interested to learn how Yoga could support those with mental illness.

The tutor, Ellen Lee, has taught Yoga for twenty-two years and apart from her general classes, training teachers and running retreats and workshops, she has been teaching two classes a week in a small private hospital that specialises in mental health conditions for eighteen years, some clients also come through the NHS.

At our first session on the Friday evening we got into groups of three and we each had to talk in turn for five minutes, the other two listened but were not allowed to comment or say anything. We then came together again as a group and in our threes we told the others something of what we had learnt about each other. This was an exercise in listening, as Ellen explained listening is the most important thing we can do for someone who is mentally unwell, not to feel you have to say things to make them feel better but to be there and meet people where they are, not where you want them to be or need them to be. One thing I found very useful was that Ellen felt that it is very important to consider the difference between yoga for mental health and yoga in mental health because there is an important difference. There are no set techniques, no particular script or style of teaching Yoga in mental health and you are not offering a cure. Ellen said that she might have one person, none or six and it varied on each session, some she would see once, others for longer periods, some might cry all the time, others wander in and out, they might scream or sleep throughout and say that it was the best sleep they had had for years. So it seems what you do is offer a safe, quiet, non-threatening space for them.

We covered so much over the weekend; conditions and disorders you may come across and their current definitions, What is mental Health? What is Yoga? What is Mind? The place of Asana and Body-work in mental health classes, Ellen took us through how she teaches her sessions, also the breath and its value, pointing out that a lot of people do not even know how they breathe in and out and challenged us to try and explain that to someone. Ellen also taught the early morning sessions which were just for us, wonderful.

I have been teaching Yoga for thirty-three years but I felt that it was one of the best and most informative weekends that I have been on. I am not sure at this stage of my teaching that I would want to teach yoga in mental health, but as Ellen pointed out it is also about our own mental health. With the excellent handouts that she gave us and the books she recommended (I have bought them all), I felt that the weekend gave me a lot of food for thought about life in general and how you interact with others, our students and in daily life. 

Pauline Newton-Webb

 Domus Mariae Residential Weekend, November 2015

November 2015, Domus Mariae, Essex - behind the scenes various housekeeping problems with central heating and no water in several bedrooms, coupled with staff away, so our thanks must go to Ann and her remaining team, who pulled together so that most of those attending our YHET weekend retreat were unaware of these issues. 

Front of House began with the usual format of a post-journey Stretch and Relax session and after dinner a very unusual quiz, by way of introducing ourselves to others in the group.

Saturday early morning session, taken by Marian Parmenter was well attended, with several requests for the sequence Marian practices every morning. Heather Mackness took the general Saturday morning session, with several standing postures, which were then joined to form a flowing vinyasa.  Heather’s bright and cheery attitude encouraging us to take on board postures which might be a little challenging.

Les Hummel took the Remedial group and continued the after lunch session explaining the Yamas and Niyamas. The remainder of Saturday afternoon was spent with Heather and Les teaching partner work, students being offered the opportunity of working alone if they preferred.  There was plenty of opportunity to liaise with your partner while Heather and Les were busy advising modifications and adjustments.

The facilitator for our planned evening session was unable to attend, but Geordie Greg stepped in to Save the Day (or rather the evening) and delivered poetry as only Greg can (Pam Ayres must look to her laurels) with accompanying anecdotes, and jokes. The group surprised themselves in being able to produce an acceptable rendition of various olde songs, interspersed with Greg’s next comical poem. So, Saturday was over……… several were more than ready for their bed, while others preferred to have a chat and catch up with friends not seen for some time.

Local fireworks were sounding off (7th Nov) and a fox in the grounds of Domus Mariae was screeching in competition: in fact fireworks were still being set off (BANG, BANG, BANG) at 6.00am Sunday morning!!!

Helena Read took the gentle, early morning session – which is always less well attended than early Saturday  sessions and Marian followed later with Words and Music in which she read two inspiring verses (both authors unknown) – once again various requests for copies.

The General session on Sunday was taken by Phil Ansty (while Gill took the Remedial).  Phil’s relaxed style, delivered with his quiet humour, masks the focus required, as following his instructions we flowed from one pose into another, actually working quite deeply. Interspersed between postures were minutes of seated meditation, bringing us into the moment. 

Timewise 4.00pm Friday – 2.00pm Sunday is not that long, but by attending all the yoga sessions offered, it is possible to connect with group consciousness and slip into that special space where the physical body (and its occupant) can exist with a relaxed and peaceful attitude. 

My thanks to all involved – it was a holistic weekend 


Chris Bindley

Domus Mariae Residential Weekend, November 2015

As this was our first yoga weekend, my hubby and I were unsure of what to expect, although we need not have worried as we were made to feel very welcome from the moment we arrived. 

We had suffered a heavy traffic, rainy Friday evening journey and arrived somewhat harassed, but were shown to our room and then joined in the evening gentle stretch - and the outside world just faded then disappeared.

The room was very tidy and clean, as was the shower room and kitchen at the end of the corridor. The yoga sessions were varied and suitably challenging, with each teacher bringing their own abilities and style. This was especially interesting for me, as I'm looking to study teacher training, and valued the diversity of approach.

Hubby, on the other hand, suffers from an arthritic hip and was heartened by the courage and 'can do' demeanour of YHET, as epitomised by the fellow attendees of the event.

Tracy and Steve Dunwell

Domus Mariae Residential Weekend, November 2015

This was my third visit to Domus Marie and I just wanted to say what an amazing weekend I had. So lovely to see friends and make new ones too.

The yoga sessions were absolutely lovely with Chris, Marian and Helena making our first session when we arrived, and our morning stretches so enjoyable.

The general session led by Les, Heather, Phil and Gill really were amazing I loved every minute, so good to feel stretched, happy and relaxed.

Saturday evening was hilarious with Greg's entertainment and he even turned us into a choir!!! So thank you to everyone for making my weekend one of the best ever.

Roll on next year.

Ann Bacon


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