Yoga & sushi on a wellbeing weekend with Jiva Healing
‘It’s easy to de-stress with Jiva Healing, and the food is just the start of it’
My King and I are tucking into a plate of vegan sushi in the expansive kitchen of a converted 17th century water mill. The seaweed wraps of brown rice, raw pepper and carrot taste unexpectedly delicious, thanks to a mean dressing of tahini, tamari and orange. Sushi isn’t something I’d usually associate with a health retreat, but we’re in the capable hands of our hosts, nutritionist Rebecca Andrist, and her business parter Melissa, who is half Japanese, half English and knows how to make veggies and grains taste damn good.
It’s easy to de-stress here, and the food is just the start of it. Our Farrow & Ball bedroom is calm and uncluttered, with large windows, a just-firm-enough bed and a vase of orange roses from the garden atop a wooden dresser. At the heart of the house is an inspiring high-beamed yoga space, with underfloor heating and three sets of French windows overlooking a brook strewn with lili pads. The air is infused with the fragrance of over-sized lilies, a welcome change to incense. And we’re in a quiet Wiltshire hamlet, with 10 acres of meadows and gardens to enjoy. Best of all we can relax with a clear conscience, for the retreat is run entirely on renewable energy, superbly insulated, has water efficiency measures such as low volume flush toilets and a budding organic garden that provides the retreat with some of its own veg.
We’re here on a bespoke weekend to replenish. On our first morning we’re effectively stretched out and re-balanced by a yoga class with former dancer Teresa Montano, who is also a bodyworker and lives on site. After a flat and easy walk along a nearby canal, we then have an unpreachy and realistic refresher session on green living with Mel. A nap and another delicious supper follows – lentil and beetroot humous, asparagus and sunflower seed salad, quinoa with walnut oil. Later Ralf Marzen, founder of Still Point Meditation & Therapy Centre in London, sets us up for a good sleep with a meditation.
Sunday morning is a tranquil start – I sit with a ginger tea watching willow trees drape the water through one of the Mill’s giant windows. Then, a wake-up yoga session with talented yogini, chef and ‘consciousness coach’ Louise Ramsden. Over brunch we get recipe tips and nutritional advice from nutritionist Rebecca Andrist, then Mel takes an uplifting ‘happiness class’ that touches on Buddhism, neuroscience and quantum physics. To ease my brain, I enjoy the highlight of my stay – a superb 1.5 hours-worth of de-knotting thai massage with Ralf.
As well as being multi-talented, everyone Mel and Rebecca source for their retreats is down to earth, easy to be with and mellow enough to leave us alone when we need. When we say goodbye, clutching a little book of recipes, we feel like we’ve been at an (albeit very healthy) house party with friends.
Since my visit, this eco-friendly haven has been turned into a private eco school for Melissa’s children and others in the area and Jiva Healing uses another, equally lovely venue in Devon instead for its weekends.
© Queen of Retreats. A version of this review was first published in The Guardian.