Updated: Apr 17
Our resident retreat photographer Lizzie Churchill wrote this blog piece on her experience at our first ever Yoga & Wild Swim retreat in September 2018, here's what she had to say about her experience with us.
As a fan of yoga, swimming and the beach it didn’t take me long to make a decision about joining The Salt Sisterhood on their Yoga & Wild Swim retreat
in September as a guest and photographer but I honestly wasn’t prepared for just how in love with all three I was. With an itinerary that would have us in the sea for 8am, morning and evening yoga practice, insane meals cooked for us three times a day and a group of the most wonderful ladies, it was a slight shock re-adjusting myself to my ‘normal’ routine after a few days and I only live 10 minutes from the retreat house! However, it wasn’t just the secluded location that took me away from the norm, it was the people I was around, the conversations we had, private shoreline to swim from, the quaint beaches we visited, the calm of our routine and above all our decision to be mindful. During our daily practice Lauren asked us to focus our energy and thoughts towards ‘looking after ourselves’, ‘balance’ and being ‘brave’. Not only did these three elements resonate with me on the retreat as we threw ourselves into the water each day, nurturing our minds and bodies but they’ve become practices that have well and truly stuck with me since leaving. I often now remind myself these focus points and believe if we all consciously weave these thoughts into our daily routines we can only benefit from them.
So why a Yoga & Swim retreat? Well, I cannot think of a better way to promote and demonstrate improved wellbeing than to surround yourself with good company, wild swimming, a healthy diet and mindful yoga. I often speak about my love of the sea and how being in, on, or by the sea is like an escape and I’d never really thought about why that was. I guess I didn’t really think I needed a reason, it just always had been and always will be how I feel but during our retreat Lauren recommended a book that has well and truly amazed me; Blue Mind is an incredible body of scientific research that proves our mental and physical health is directly effected by the water.
“Water can give us energy, whether it’s hydraulic, hydration, the tonic effect of cold water splashed on the face, or the mental refreshment that comes from the gentle rhythmic sensation of hearing waves lapping a shore. We know instinctively that being by the water makes us healthier, happier, reduces stress and brings us peace.” - Wallace J. Nichols
Submerging myself into the sea at any given opportunity during this retreat, absorbing as much water therapy that I could I can genuinely say it was easier than I thought to jump in and embrace the cold - and my goodness it really does leave you feeling incredible after. On my first day with the retreat team we sat with chai tea and bliss ball post-afternoon swim and took the time to reflect on how it made us feel. ‘Invigorating’ was an immediate thought as well as ‘clear’ and ‘refreshed’. However it isn’t just the water that can have a positive and healing effect on us which is why this retreat makes so much sense; yoga tied into our daily routine effortlessly too as we focused on ‘self-care’ and ‘balance’. It had been literally months since I’d last done a yoga class so I was really looking forward to checking in with my body and really stretching out (having had problems with my right elbow and wrist due to work (yup!)). This is where yoga became another saving grace for me as we balanced out our bodies working evenly through both sides. Lauren described the left side of our body as Ida nadi - the feminine, calm and lunar side with our right side being Pingala nadi - the masculine energy symbolised with the sun. During our class we attempted to bridge the gap between the two, encouraging both to work together in harmony; and for myself in particular to give my masculine side a rest as the control, work and stress had cleary been too much. (arm issues on my right side!)
On my last evening I participated in Yoga Nidra, a form of yogic sleep which leaves you drifting just between being awake and well…asleep. A state in which the body is so completely relaxed you almost ‘drop out’ of consciousness as your body becomes so heavy and free you simply slip into the deepest know form of mediation and WHAT a strange sensation it was. I can’t really describe it other than ‘hovering’ above sleep but feeling so utterly relaxed I may as well have been - it’s a complete cleanse of any tension and worry!
With our minds clear and our bodies revitalised it was only fair that our guts were looked after too as our fuel and energy for the week - and boy, it did not disappoint! Joining us we had two top female chefs Jo & Tess who’s nutrition and flavour knowledge is outstanding. Everything was completely handmade from locally sourced, fresh fruit and veg which meant there was a constant mouth watering aroma from the kitchen as they worked throughout the day to provide us with breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as tea for our day trips and coffee on tap. We had soup, kitchari, porridge, salads, polenta, fruits, fresh bread each morning….I could go on…but luckily I have photos too.
I cannot reccomend a week away like this enough and I genuinely believe everyone neeeeeeds this in their life. Since leaving our bubble (this is now what it’s known as) in the East Wing, I’ve realised how effective just a few days away from ‘life’ was for me. I’ve never felt as detached from everything as I did then which as crazy as that sounds, is true. We stayed in a house tucked away on the Helford, lived in a small group for a week, sat around the table together each day to eat, discuss and plan, travelled to quiet, isolated spots where we barely saw anyone and emerged ourselves in self-care. What’s not to love.
Thanks again SO much to Lauren, Tess, Jo and all of the incredible retreat-ers, I miss you all. x
Visit Lizzie's photography website here: http://lizziechurchill.com/