Updated: Dec 9, 2020
Best yoga retreats in the world are those that encourage further study and deeper new friendship(s), and this is just what happens on our retreats in the UK.
Summary of our Shiva Shakti Retreat at Gayles Farm
Om Saha Na – Vavatu
Saha Nau Bhunaktu
Saha Viiryam Kara vaa vahaii
Tejasvina vaditamastu mavid vishaavahaii
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
Translation: May the Supreme protect us Both (the Teacher and the Student). May (Ishvara) nourish us Both. May we Work Together with Energy & Vigor. May our Study be Enlightening and not give rise to Hostility.
Meditation on top of the Seven Sisters. Sometimes we do not have to travel far to make far-reaching experiences.
Just coming back from my last shiva shakti retreat in West Sussex, UK and 10 days down the line I am still buzzing and full of joy and rich experiences. 12 totally different women from different countries and with different ages came together to spend a weekend together in a beautiful area, close to the Seven Sisters cliffs.
Despite the different age groups and origins, there was a huge connection between us all, and we enjoyed learning from each other and evolving, and some even re-mapping their life.
Nobody was left behind, everybody was caring and loving, and everybody was important in this group. New friendships were made, and self-inquiry started to take on new forms in wanting to study and read more about the ancient science of thoughts and philosophy, that is, yoga. As we spent time together, we learned about the 7 main chakras using specific postures, affirmations, chants, actions, and stories.
Here a few things we learned on this weekend:
Some principles of how to enjoy a ‘physical yoga session’:
1. Flow fluidly and enjoy your movement as a self-giving loving massage, bend less, stretch less, and feel and enjoy more the loving flow of communication in your body. Yoga is a connection, and this connection takes place in the first instance with yourself, to learn what is “good” for you and how you treat and respect yourself.
2. Breathe naturally, and by naturally, I mean, let your diaphragm move. However, you feel that certain postures activate your abdomen, you should still be able to breathe into that place lightly. Over breathing leads to temporarily feeling more flexible and kind of high, but in the long term, the benefits of natural breath will outweigh this.
Move from your core without hardening your core unnecessary too much.
Move actively from your core.
Self – inquiry (we talked about the root cause of all suffering, which in yoga is called avidya (ignorance)
Incorrect comprehension exists because:
Asmita (ego) I am right, I am the best.
Raga (attachment) I like, I want
Dvesa (aversion) I dislike and old impressions that exist within us (experiences)
Abhinivesah (fear of death, uncertainty, doubts, judgment)
Meditation as a means to transcend the mind. The cobra feeling: a mental bearing down on a subject. Hood flaring to block distractions.
Challenge for the next 21 days:
Write a journal and note down three things you are grateful for and practice one kind action (a kind action could be to call somebody and ask them how they are or write them a little note that you are thinking about them, even thus you are busy in your daily life). You could help an older person to carry a bag, help somebody getting out of the bus or smile and give some good energy to a stranger).
Chakras (energy wheels or vortexes) 7 chakras and the seven sisters retreat
7 main chakras along the spine
Root Chakra: root place
Body: feel, legs
Asana: standing poses to gain strength and a grounding foundation
Relationship: family, home, work, boss, career
Affirmative Statement: I am grounded
Possible chakra deficiency symptoms: feeling uprooted, living more in your head, “survival crisis.”
Excessiveness: greed, hoarding, attempting to ground yourself through excessive eating habits and weight.
This is the base chakra, the root of our existence. We must have a feeling of “our secure place” in this world and especially if people fear for their basic existence and are not able to provide the basic needs for themselves and their family further spiritual evolution is much more challenging. You need to have a roof over your head, be warm and have food to live (see a blog I wrote).
Favourite Resting Place, to dwell in your own abode
Body: hips, pelvis
Asana: hip opener, forward bends
Relationship: sexual, creative relationships
Obstacle: Sorrow, Envy
Affirmative Statement: I am flowing
Possible chakra deficiency or excessiveness symptoms: feeling overly emotional, resistance to change, lack or overly expressing sexual needs, being out of touch, poor boundaries
Navel chakra: Jewel in the city, our lustrous gem
Obstacle: anger, depression
Relationships: others we have hurt
Affirmative: I am empowering
Possible chakra deficiency symptoms: no will power to continue.
This chakra is where our deep belly laughter occurs (jumping the gate becomes easy !!), get-up-and-go attitude, warmth, ease, and the vitality we receive from performing seva (selfless service). However, too much emphasis on power versus reclaiming our power, emphasis on status recognition, and anger may be a sign of an excessiveness in this part. Any digestive problems (e.g. eating disorders) could be a manifestation of imbalance in this chakra.
Heart Chakra: “unstruck.”
Organs: thymus, heart
Body: Chest, arms, hands, mid-back
Relationship: others who have hurt you
Keyword: Love, compassion
Affirmative Statement: I am loving
Deficiency may express itself in shyness, lack of enthusiasm for life, and lack of joy. People who overly analyze can easily cut themselves off from this important connection with the heart centre. We often forget to love ourselves and give love out until we may suddenly feel empty. We have to learn to nurture ourselves from this source of love. This means that sometimes we need to slow down and take from our own nourishment.
Throat Chakra: poison removing (all the life experiences manifest here)
Organs: thyroid, ears, larynx
Body: throat, neck
Asana: shoulder stand, plough, fish
Relationship: to yourself
Affirmative Statement: I am expressing
This is where we find our inner truth and communicate it to the outer world. Writing a journal or poems, singing can help to find this voice to express ourselves. Jaw and neck tensions are signs that something is occurring in this area of our wellbeing. Excessiveness might express itself in the inability to listen to others.
Third Eye Chakra: command centre
Organs: pituitary gland
Asana: child’s pose
Relationship: guru, teachers
Affirmative Statement: I am envisioning
To find a vision inside ourselves, the withdrawing of the senses (such as in Yoga Nidra) can help us. This withdrawing of the senses is necessary to achieve further experience in meditation.
Crown Chakra: thousand-petaled lotus
Subtle nervous system
Body: above head, aura
Affirmative Statement: I am
Loving Kindness Meditation
May I be happy, may I be well
May I be safe
May I be peaceful and at ease
Going for a walk
We also learnt about two ancient books the Sutras and the Bhagavad Ghita. We learnt some useful advice from our ancient sisters and brothers and overall discussed what attachment and non-attachment mean.
I hope you enjoyed a summary and I hope I will see you on one of the next retreats.
Shared learned experiences people wrote down:
"Shared experiences, book recommendations and discovering people from other creative backgrounds."
"Slowing down, going with the flow, accepting people as they are and being able to stay neutral or positive towards everyone I met"
"I’ve loved the enthusiasm, positive energy you created among the group. Thanks for sharing Tips on how to protect knees and Joints, you don’t learn that in a normal yoga class at the gym. Keep smiling; it’s contagious."
"I’ve learned everything! Yoga is more about philosophy than movement. Brilliant teaching and inspiring."
"Lovely, peaceful and relaxing weekend, beautiful venue. I got energy and joy, thank you."
"Met lovely people and learned to be kind to my body and learned to bend less and protect joints. Enjoyed the weekend, Claudia you give a lot to class, all appreciated very much."
"Sense of self through the awareness of my body via your lovely soul and knowledge of yoga. Thanks"
"Thank you! I really enjoyed the weekend, and your approach to the teaching of yoga, which I feel is positive and accepted of all and differences, strength and individualized."
"I learned that we are all on our path and suffer, but with love and joy and mutual understanding and care we can mindfully overcome this pain and do "good" (opposite of being self-centred). To connect with like-minded people, the shakti is strong."
"A real sense of feeling a part of something very special."