Jane Craggs review
Nurturing yoga holidays in the UK, France & India
The Quick Read: Jane Craggs’s extensive experience of different types of therapeutic yoga means that her yoga holidays are all designed to nurture body and soul, whether they are holistic yoga retreats or her signature ‘yoga experiences’. She teaches therapeutic and specialist classes in Manchester in the UK, and runs retreats in UK, France, Morocco and India on her own or with her colleague, Louise Tanner, with whom she runs Svastha Yoga Manchester. Laid back, calm and down-to-earth, Jane’s teaching is careful and respectful of each body, and she is refreshingly committed to meditation, chanting and yogic philosophy as well as classical yoga asanas – if you like your yoga more gung-ho and extreme, this probably isn’t for you.
More on the yoga holidays: Yoga holidays with Jane Craggs range from relaxing weekend retreats to longer more full-on yoga experiences. She chooses all her venues carefully, aiming to provide a holistic experience rather than just a holiday with yoga tacked on. She prefers venues that are ethically run and which benefit their local communities in some way.
In the UK: Jane’s weekend retreats at the Hollowford Centre, Derbyshire are very much an opportunity to relax and retreat from a hectic daily life and include morning yoga sessions and evening pranayama and relaxation as well as periods of silence every day. Food is healthy vegetarian and additional therapies (including reflexology, Ayurvedic facial massage) are available at £25 per session. These retreats run twice a year in March and November. Read a word from the queen on her class with Jane.
In France: Jane’s French retreats run at the lovely Les Passeroses, a perfect venue for cultivating peace and steadiness. A lovingly restored farmhouse located in rolling countryside with boutique-style rooms, it also has an outdoor swimming pool, an inspiring garden and lots of quiet spaces for contemplation or rest. Jane’s schedule will consist of twice daily yoga classes taught by Jane and her fellow teacher Louise Tanner, with time set aside for ayurvedic lifestyle consultations and ayurvedic therapies. You’ll also get a one to one yoga session when you will be given a personalised yoga practice to take home with you. Expect delicious ayurvedic food served three times a day, a chai and a snack every afternoon, and plenty of time to explore the surroundings or just rest. This holiday won’t suit those who want a high-octane yoga experience, for the practice is nurturing and reconnecting, and you’ll deliberately have plenty of free time.
Jane’s Moroccan and Himalayan trips provide a fuller experience. Her Moroccan Yoga Adventures are a mix of yoga retreat and cultural trip which takes in some of the local Berber culture and uses the stillness and tranquillity of the Atlas mountains to enhance the yoga practice. So there are some treks into the local mountains, and cultural workshops with the local Berber people. These are aimed at those who want to deepen their practice and really focus on using the powerful mountain energy. Food is vegetarian or vegan and participants are encouraged to abstain from alcohol in order to get the greatest benefits from their yoga practice.
The Holy Himalayan Adventures are even more spiritual in focus. They take place at Dunagiri, a retreat in the remote state of Uttarakhand which was mentioned in the classic book Autobiography of a Yogi – to this day renunciates can be found living in the caves around the retreat. As well as twice daily yoga and meditation with Jane, you’ll be able to visit local holy sites, meet local yogis and learn more about the local people and their culture. There is twice daily yoga practice on the terrace (sharing space with leopards and eagles). Sattvic vegetarian meals are designed and prepared with love and much awareness, and the trip coincides with the festival of Navaratri, aka the nine nights of the Goddess, and you’ll be served three satvic vegetarian meals a day.
More on the yoga: Jane specialises in Svastha yoga, which is a slower practice than many other types of yoga. A lot of time is spent on the detail of the breath and on how to use the body in a healthy and beneficial way. The ultimate aim is for someone to be more fully in their body, with their breath and more able to control their mind. Asanas are taken slowly with a lot of emphasis on correct form, and working to each person’s own body, rather than on perfection and achievement. There is an emphasis on pranayama throughout a class and on integrating it with movement and using it to release and de-stress. Jane’s teaching is clear and thorough so those attending become more in touch with their own body. Participants are encouraged to use whatever props they need and to work within their own capabilities.
Jane Cragg’s yoga classes: Jane teaches classes in Manchester at a variety of locations including Yoga Rooms in Chorlton and the Buddhist Centre in Manchester. There are a range of classes for different levels and she also runs a number of specialist therapeutic classes for people with chronic fatigue/ME as well as a “yoga for healthy backs” class.
Jane’s training: Jane was initially trained in the classical yoga style, followed by training with the British Wheel of Yoga and with Donna Farhi in 2005 where she learned a lot restorative work. She continued training with AG and Indra Mohan in India and continues to train with them both on a yearly basis. She is also training in Yoga Therapy with Ganesh Mohan and is undertaking online study of the Yoga Sutras with the Mohans. She has completed an Ayurvedic Studies certificate and Ayurvedic Therapist Training in India.
Fellow yogis: People come to Jane’s classes and retreats for a range of reasons, and from all over the world. Whilst her therapeutic classes are targeted at those with specific issues, her more general classes and retreats are aimed at people of all levels. Her yoga experiences are particularly aimed at those yogis wishing to gain a deeper understanding of the asanas, pranayama and of the yoga way of life in general – they often attract existing students. Those with various health problems are also well catered for in her specialist classes and on retreats. Jane’s approach means that she considers every one present and tailors each class appropriately.
What’s queenly: Jane has a calm and caring presence which comes across in all her instructions, her classes are relaxing and restorative and she tailors everything, taking into account every participant’s capabilities and needs. We love that her retreat locations are chosen for ethical reasons as well as generally being restful places to visit.
What’s lowly: If you’re coming from a more vigorous or flowing practice, Jane’s teaching may take some patience to get used to. Students who prefer a yoga style that’s more energetic may not find Jane’s teaching appealing.
Reviewed by Ruth Rosselson
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