The Zest Life, Lake District, England
Lakeside yoga and relaxation in Georgian comfort
Best for: Yogis of all levels looking to decompress
Not for: Detox-seekers or those who want a strict regime
Takes up to 16 guests
The Zest Life offers a 2-night unpretentious yoga and relaxation weekend twice a year in a dramatic lakeside setting at Silverholme Manor on the shores of Lake Windermere. Come in November to charge your batteries before the onslaught of the festive season, or in March as a chance to shake off the winter chill. The elegant Georgian manor house provides cosy comfort, while its converted coach house is a perfect, intimately lit space for yoga and meditation. With vibrant and plentiful food, and beautiful lakeside walks, this is a place to feel treated and restored.
Touches that create a cocoon of warmth and comfort, with a roaring fire in the afternoon, scented candles, fresh flowers and locally sourced artisanal toiletries, as well as the beautiful balms and lavender-scented eye pillows provided for yogic relaxation.
The manor house is kept to a high standard of comfort, but is missing the sense of style and flair that would make the retreat feel truly 5-star lavish. Also, it’s not easy to get a single room – if you’re travelling alone, you’ll need to pay a single supplement.
Your stay combines yoga, guided meditation and relaxation with bracing lake and hillside walks, pampering massage, and the chance to unwind in comfortable surroundings.
Laura Bell, the founder of The Zest Life, incorporates a variety of styles into her teaching, to provide a range over the course of the four classes running across the weekend. The hour-long evening classes might focus on pregnancy yoga-inspired flow, or yin yoga; the 90-minute morning practice is stronger and more dynamic. The morning yoga class incorporates a ten-minute guided meditation, which is a gentle introduction to the benefits of mindful stillness.
Each morning after breakfast there is a stunning, easy walk in the dramatic surrounding countryside, with views of snow-capped peaks and sailboats bobbing across still waters. The house also backs onto a field with grazing sheep, and remarkable lake views, so there’s ample opportunity to enjoy the setting.
Consider booking slightly later if you’re travelling alone and keen to have a bedroom to yourself – the retreat will likely be more flexible when they have a clear idea of their occupancy. Rain is more than likely, so pack sturdy walking boots and waterproofs. Bring slip-on shoes to cross to and from the yoga shala, and some indoor slippers for lounging.
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When to Go
The weather in March tends to be fresh and bright, and if you’re keen on wild swimming, it would probably be the best time to try it. In November you can expect some frost, a perfect excuse to curl up in front of the fire.
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The cooked food is vegan, with less orthodox additions available (butter, cow’s milk, eggs), and is intended to inspire a healthy diet without privation.
Breakfast is served in the bright kitchen extension, boasting a panoramic view of the lake. The table is laden with tea, coffee (the real stuff and decaf), toast, butter and boiled eggs, and you can help yourself to majestic millet and quinoa porridge (bejewelled with pomegranate seeds and coconut), homemade granola, yoghurt, fresh fruit salad, muesli, toasted almond flakes and seeds.
Lunch and dinner are taken in the more formal dining room, at a grand wooden table. Lunch might include crudités, abundant salads bursting with colour, root vegetables, hummus, roasted pea relish and toasted wholemeal pitta. For dinner there are flavoursome vegan curries, aromatic rice, citrus-accented greens, and spiced stewed fruits or fresh mango with chocolate drizzle for dessert.
All day you can help yourself to hot water, fresh lemon and ginger, teas and coffee. At 4pm chef Raul unveils a marvellous vegan cake. There are readily replenished bowls of fresh fruit and jugs of citrus-infused cold water all day, too.
Silverholme Manor is billed as an eco-friendly manor house, with a biomass boiler and rainwater toilets.
Silverholme Manor, Graythwaite, Ulverston
Transfer time from airport: 2 hours
Transfer time from station: 30 mins