Value Your Mind Retreats, England
Reset body and mind with a cosseting weekend fix of yoga, journaling, walks and good food
Best for: Those looking to take time out, just to “be”, to chill and practise yoga in the comfort and company of a small intimate group with a casual laid back vibe.
Not for: Those wanting spa like pampering, smart interiors, to have lots of their own space or spend much time alone.
These 3 night retreats at a cosy, relaxed Dorset barn a 15 minute drive from the wild and beautiful Jurassic Coast are a perfect way to take a step back and inject a short sharp shot of reason, calm and acceptance into your life without breaking the bank or having to take much time out of your schedule, be it to work or look after family. You can expect excellent yoga, journalling, mindfulness, walks, nourishing food and to be beautifully looked after by qualified mental health practitioner and advanced Yoga alliance registered instructor, meditation teacher and therapist Natalie Kealy.
The yoga on this retreat was really special. Nathalie is a wonderful teacher who manages to accommodate everyone from beginners to more experienced yogis with a really thorough practice that goes through all the asanas and seems to repeat nothing from class to class so that by the end you feel you have had the full treatment! The yoga space is a treat: beautiful, warm, lit with fairy lights.There were eye pillows, bolsters and essential oils too. A sensual treat.
The barn is small and guests share two simple bathrooms which isn’t ideal if you like your privacy and don’t want to have to wait your turn. There’s one room downstairs with a shower ensuite, so book that room way in advance if it would suit you better. The proximity of the rooms and thin walls also means you can sometimes hear others in the room next to you.
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Over the course of the weekend you will have a variety of morning and evening yoga practices, group journaling sessions and the opportunity to go on local walks and indulge in a holistic massage.
There are a total of three ninety minute yoga classes over the course of the weekend all taught by retreat host and founder Nathalie, a qualified mental health practitioner and advanced Yoga alliance registered instructor, meditation teacher and therapist. She has an abundance of experience and wide range of qualifications and this really shows. She’s a fantastic teacher, soft and calm of touch, who makes sure the class is perfectly tailored to suit all levels of experience. You will also be able to experience a variety of carefully planned yoga styles from vinyasa flow to yin. Mindfulness forms a part of the yoga classes whether in the form of meditation before the movement begins or breathing practises at the end of the class. On the first night there is also twenty minutes of Yoga Nidra, which is intended to help aid sleep.
On your bed when you arrive is a Moleskine notebook. This is your journal for the weekend and at various times you are asked to fulfill written tasks which include: stream of consciousness journaling (writing continually for around twenty minutes, an outpouring of all that is in your mind); thinking through when you can find pauses in your daily life going forward; reflecting on what you have gained from the weekend; and outlining what you are going to take away from the retreat. This can be done in the privacy of your room or with the group snuggled around the fireplace with tea and a flapjack!
On the Saturday after yoga and both before and after lunch guests have the chance to explore the local area. There are walks directly from the barn but it’s recommended to drive to the nearby Market town of Bridport (10 minutes) or the coast (10-15 minutes) where you can walk for miles along the rugged cliffs and sandy beaches.
Local therapist Kim Watson offers treatments throughout the weekend at an affordable extra cost. After an initial consultation she provides holistic massage to address the physical, mental and emotional body. She uses deep and soft tissue techniques, and warm bamboo sticks to help release tension and stress.
Bedrooms: Atrim Gore is an 18th Century farm cottage and stables restored into a six bedroom house and sleeping a total of 12. You can either opt for a room with double bed for one or two people or with two single beds to share with a friend. Only one room downstairs has a shower ensuite – the rest share two simple bathrooms with white washed walls, a loo and sink – one has a shower and bath, one has a bath and a hand held shower.
The small and cosy rooms have wooden panel flooring in either brown, white or light blue, white walls and exposed wooden beams. It’s a homey somewhat beach cottage feel: the windows in some are round porter cabin style. They are furnished simply but elegantly with wooden cupboards, chairs or small bookshelves and beds covered with brightly coloured throws and cushions.
Other places to stay: There is also a beautiful wooden beamed attic room and two bathrooms in Atrim Barn next door to the main house. The host, chef and massage therapist sleep here and the large room is used as a yoga shala.
Be sure to take the time to go walking along the Jurassic Coast. It’s wild and beautiful and well worth it. To that end it’s a good idea to travel there in a car, as that gives you the freedom to explore alone, but if you don’t you could hop in with someone else or get a taxi. Don’t forget to take your own toiletries, as nothing on that front is provided except a basic shower gel.
When to Go
Retreats are generally in February and October so this is for you if you don’t mind taking a chance on unpredictable British weather and enjoy snuggling in by the fire or setting off for more autumnal and wintery walks.
You eat your meals around the large wooden table at the back of the sitting room, which fits 12 perfectly. Food is prepared with the most enormous amount of love and care by the wonderful Ritu, a qualified Ayurvedic nutritionist, and meals are designed to balance and calm the body and digestive system, so you’ll have nothing too cold or too spicy, and there’s an emphasis on the warm and nourishing.
Breakfast, served with large pots of fresh lemon and ginger or fennel tea, was bircher muesli on the Saturday and wonderfully flavoured shakshuka with salads for Sunday brunch. For lunches and suppers the table is always heaving with colourful vegetarian fare (vegan on request): bowls of flavoursome dahl, vibrant vegetable curries, and a salad of either kale, spinach and lettuce dressed in tahini dressing or carrot, ginger and sesame seeds.
Drinks with meals include tap water served warm or at room temperature, teas, and on the first night, the local apple juice. Throughout the day a selection of organic herbal teas are laid out next to the kettle in the kitchen for guests to help themselves. There’s no caffeine, but no rules are strict, so you could bring your own.
They make a notable effort to recycle everything that can be, with a line of labelled bins in a larder in the kitchen, and all waste food is composted. Nathalie runs what she calls her ‘Give Back Initiative’: 2% of the profits from each place sold goes to a mental health charity. The elective charity changes every year – this year it was SANE.
Atrim Gore, Atrim Lane, Broadoak, Nr Bridport, DTX 5PX