Jiva Healing, England
Restful healthy cooking, eating and juice fasting weekends at a beautifully converted mill in Wiltshire
Jiva retreats at Littleton Mill are all weekend retreats and run on a few weekends over the year.
Twin or double room, with shared bath: from £325 pp sharing a room and bathroom, or £375 pp sharing an ensuite. Single supplement £160. Includes all meals, room, and yoga classes. Treatments cost £55 per hour or £75 for 1.5 hours.
Best for: Novice retreaters and anyone who wants a slow-paced nourishing weekend break
Not for: Anyone who is after a heavily scheduled programme or looking for spa-like facilities
In a nutshell: Hosted by Canadian nutritionist Rebecca Andrist, Jiva Healing run affordable and accessible weekend group retreats based at an eco-friendly and comfortable 17th century converted water mill near Trowbridge in Wiltshire. The Creative Cooking, Conscious Eating and Yoga Retreat weekends include all-levels yoga classes, cooking demos, nutrition talks and plenty of free time to enjoy the mill's restful atmosphere and rural surrounds, and there are occasional juice fast breaks if you want a stronger detox. Add on a treatment to aid de-stressing.
Unlike other retreat hosts who might prefer to keep their recipes under wraps or try and sell you a book, Rebecca is happy to share recipes from all her food and juices consumed over the weekend plus some tried and tested favourites, leaving you with a great resource to start making healthy changes to your diet.
Littleton is a great venue, but as it’s someone’s home, it doesn’t have all the mod-cons of a hotel, such as hairdryers for each room. A more hands-on element to the cooking workshops would have been good.
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You'll get two cooking demonstrations on a creative cookery weekend, showing you how to make some accessible, tasty and healthy plant-based dishes such as white bean and beetroot dip and a vegetable curried hummus dip. The sessions are an especially good way of showing you how to get creative in the kitchen with assorted vegetables and leftovers.There's also an hour-long nutrition talk giving you some guidance on what changes to make to keep up a healthy and nutritious diet going forward (such as giving up calorie counting and looking at nutrients consumed instead). Juicing weekends also include nutrition talks.
The yoga sessions take place in the huge open-plan first floor room, with natural light coming in from three sides. There is a class on Friday night, one before breakfast on both mornings, and an early evening class on Saturday.All of the yoga is gentle and accessible for all levels, with an emphasis on slowing down and switching on the body's rest and digest system, rather than on pushing your body to its limit, and sessions include around a ten minute meditation, some pranayama (breathing) and a decent length relaxation at the end.Hatha teacher Amy McFarling led the yoga when we visited, but Jiva Healing uses other teachers depending on availability, always picking teachers who lead a slower, gentler practice.
There are guided meditations included in all the yoga sessions. You will also be introduced to the idea of mindful eating during the course of the weekend. Mindful eating simply means focusing all your attention on the act of eating, using all of the body's senses, and being present as much as possible, to help your body digest, your mind appreciate the food and your psyche prevent you from over-eating.
Food is cleansing on all retreats here, but Jiva Healing also offers dedicated juice fast weekends sometimes as a short detox for the mind and body, helping you eliminate toxins and allowing your system to rebalance. They include one coffee (self-administered) enema a day. Alongside the gentle yoga, you'll give your body a well-earned rest, and kick in the body's important rest and digest system.
There are options to add on treatments during your stay, offered by local or visiting therapists, with a focus on massages of all kinds, from holistic to Ayurvedic, to help your body wind down and relax.
Littleton Mill's rural location means that you can enjoy the Wiltshire countryside without leaving the grounds, listening to birdsong in the garden, or taking a short walk to the canal and following the paths that meander around the woods.
Bedrooms: There are just five bedrooms at the Mill, set over two floors, and painted in muted, calming colours. All have views over the water or the grounds, and are minimally but comfortably furnished, with high quality prints on the walls and interesting books on the shelves. Two of the bedrooms are ensuite ñ the rest share bathrooms.
Studio: Mini Mill is a self-contained studio in the grounds provides additional accommodation. It has a galleried double bed accessed by a ladder, and a sofa bed, as well as a fully equipped kitchen and shower room.
Other spaces to be: There’s a tree house in the grounds if you fancy squirrelling yourself away. If you’d like to venture further afield, there are easy, gentle walks close to the house, along the Kennet and Avon canal and in the woods next to the canal.
Other places to stay: You can also choose to stay offsite at a local B&B, paying just for the food and classes. Rebecca can recommend individual B&Bs, which include Newhouse Farm, a former Victorian farmhouse set in five acres of gardens and meadows a few minutes by car (rooms from £60 per night) or the simpler Antonia House, five minutes away by car (rooms from £35 per night).
Bring your own toiletries and hairdryer (or just let your hair dry naturally), and some indoor slippers or socks as the house has a shoes-off policy and the floors can get a little cold.
When to Go
Spring and Summer time are pretty times for the garden at the mill, and the warmer temperatures make walking by the canal a joy. Winter is a great time to cosy up, replenish and boost your immune system before any traditional festivities.
All meals are served in the mill’s spacious and light kitchen around a traditional farmhouse table with long benches along each side.Food on the healthy eating weekend is free from meat, dairy, gluten and refined sugar, with a strong emphasis on fruit and vegetables in season, rather than filling you up on grains, and there is plenty of it, ensuring that you won’t go hungry.
Meals might include home made breakfast bars and a smoothie for breakfast, a tasty grain-free lasagne for lunch, with two or three side dishes including salad, and energy balls for dessert. On the juicing weekend, you’ll be getting freshly made fruit and vegetable juices or broths to help your body gently detox. Both weekends also have plenty of herb teas on hand to make sure you stay hydrated. It is, of course, an alcohol and caffeine free weekend.
The mill was built highly sustainably, with brilliant insulation, and it has a hydropower generator to generate electricity alongside a wood-pellet heating system. Rebecca prefers to use organic and in-season fruits and vegetables wherever possible, and the house recycles as much as possible.
Littleton, Trowbridge, Wiltshire
Train station: Westbury or Chippenham
Transfer time: 1 hour from Bristol airport 15 minutes from the train station