When I moved to Kingston earlier this year, I began following local businesses in my new neighbourhood on Instagram. While I was scrolling, I came across the lovely Krish from My OsteoPATH to Wellness (@myosteopathtowellness_fitness). I immediately felt drawn to Krish’s feed and found her posts really inspiring.
In October, Krish held a socially distanced Wellness Retreat in conjunction with another local business, Spiral Tea (@spiral_tea). The photo’s from the event looked fantastic, and I dropped Krish a DM and asked her to let me know the next time she was arranging a retreat.
A few weeks ago, Krish contacted me to let me know she was running another retreat with Francesca from Spiral Tea, but this time, due to lockdown, it would be held online. I reserved a place straight away. Brain told me I couldn’t afford it. Heart said, don’t be silly, you deserve this.
The Wellness Retreat, which was set up especially for women, would consist of Pranayama breath work, Vinyasa Yoga Flow, a Healing Herb Tea Ceremony, Group Reiki Healing, and a Heart Opening Meditation.
I had to make a payment of £34, and sent over my address so that Spiral Tea could send me the tea which we would be using for the healing herb tea ceremony.
I’ve been interested in reiki for a while and was really excited to experience the group reiki healing session. My mum is attuned to reiki level 2 and when I had food poisoning in India earlier this year, she used reiki from the comfort of her home in the UK, to help relieve my symptoms whilst I was doubled over in pain in Goa. I always knew reiki was powerful, but from this moment, my interest in reiki heightened.
As for the yoga session, this was probably the bit I was least looking forward to. Before I moved to London I attended a weekly yoga class. Somehow I managed to over stretch one week, and ended up pulling my left pectoral muscle! I was left in agony, and ended up in A&E! Every time I moved, pain shot through me like a lightening bolt! In the end it took a course of co-codamol and diclofenac, but my pectoral muscle has never been quite the same since.
The retreat, which took place last Sunday, was scheduled to run from 3pm-6pm. Francesca had hand-delivered my tea the week before (it turns out she lives not far from me!), so all that was left to do was to create a nice relaxed atmosphere in my lounge. I lit some candles and incense, threw a throw down on the floor (I haven’t practiced yoga for so long I no longer own a yoga mat so I had to make do with the throw!), and surrounded myself with cushions and blankets.
After a minor hiccup with being sent the incorrect Zoom link, we were ready to begin.
There were around 5 of us who had booked onto the retreat in addition to Krish and Francesca. As this was a wellbeing retreat and not a social, we had been informed beforehand that we would need to keep our microphone’s muted throughout the session so there was no pressure to make small talk. Although this was great for a virtual session, I would love to attend one of their retreats in the flesh so I could get to meet and interact with some more likeminded people.
For those of you who may be new to yoga and meditation, I’ve included a summary below of each technique we used (thank you to Krish for supplying me with the names of the exercises after the retreat – I had to resist the urge to write detailed notes during the retreat so I could experience the exercises to the max!):
Pranayama originated in India over 6000 years ago. It was recognised that animals who had a slower breathing rate, lived longer than those who had a shallow, more rapid breathing rate. It became clear that there were also huge benefits to human beings when they began to breathe at a slower rate, including much improved mental health.
Below is a brief summary of the pranayama breathwork techniques we used. For further information on how and when to perform these exercises, click on the hyperlink within each summary.
Bhastrika is a technique used to energise the body and to clear the mind. It is also thought to be able to help those who are trying to lose weight.
Anulom Vilom is a type of controlled breathing whereby you close one nostril with your thumb whilst you inhale, and then close the other nostril to exhale, and then reverse the practice. This technique is used to relieve stress and to improve breathing and circulation. There are also some claims that Anulom Vilom helps to improve the skin, something I’m keen to test as with the recent stresses of redundancy my skin has flared up nicely.
Bhramari Pranayama, the final breathing technique we used, is commonly known as the ‘bee breath’ due to the sounds you make when you exhale. It’s a technique which is used to relieve tension and stress and also helps to clear the mind.
Vinyasa Yoga Flow
Vinyasa Yoga flow is a type of yoga where you move smoothly from one pose to the next without stopping or pausing in between. There is no original founder of Vinyasa Yoga, it doesn’t have a rigid structure and is more freestyle than many other types of yoga practice. Each of the poses are linked by using the breath. Not only is it a fantastic way to improve your balance and stability, it also gives you a really good cardio-vascular work out too.
The yoga poses we moved through during the retreat were:
- Cat and cow
- Extended child’s pose
- Thread the needle
- Downward dog
- Warrior 1
- Pigeon pose
- Spinal twist
If you are new to yoga, I would suggest popping the above poses into a search engine, as there are multiple guides which take you through the poses – YouTube is also a particularly good resource.
Healing Herb Tea Ceremony
Whilst Krish led the breathwork and yoga part of the retreat, Francesca took over for the second half, where we started with the healing herb tea ceremony. What was really nice about this whole experience, was the fact the date of the retreat coincided with the lunar eclipse which gave the whole retreat an added degree of spirituality, and that was particularly felt during the tea ceremony.
The tea which Francesca had dropped around prior to the retreat was a specially made emotional healing tea. Francesca’s ceremonial teas are all hand blended and reiki charged before being delivered. The emotional healing blend consisted of linden, hawthorn, rose, and calendula.
Before the tea ceremony began, we took a short break to enable us to heat our kettles and to prepare our tea. We then settled back down to watch Francesca carry out the ceremony.
During the ceremony, the ritual involved heating a pot of water, adding this to a teapot where the loose tea was waiting patiently, before being poured into into 3 separate cups. With gentle, soothing meditation music on the in the background, we then joined together as Francesca drank from her cup, so we were all drinking our tea in sync with each other. She refilled the tea pot 5 times and throughout, we were joined together by our tea drinking.
This was a slightly surreal experience as this was more about watching the ceremony than doing, but there was something incredibly powerful about the synchronised drinking of the tea.
Group Reiki Healing
After the tea ceremony, we were then asked to get warm and comfortable whilst we prepared for the group reiki healing. I leaned back on my bean bag chair for this one and covered myself in a blanket. I have to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what happened next. Francesca had warned us we were likely to fall asleep, and I did just that. All I remember is feeling the heat from the healing in the top of my chest area, and after that I don’t remember too much until the healing was over.
Heart Opening Meditation
After the reiki healing, we then moved into the final session of the day, a heart opening meditation. Lasting for around 20 minutes, Francesca used a sound bowl and guided us through the meditation.
Before I knew it, the retreat was over. Three hours had passed by in a flash. It was lovely to connect with Krish and Francesca who I had interacted with a lot in the lead up to the retreat, and it lovely to spend some quality time focusing on me and my wellbeing.
I wonder how the retreat would’ve been if we had all been there in the flesh. Even though this one was held virtually, it had a really beautiful effect on me. I almost felt like I was levitating for the rest of the evening, and when I finally went to bed, I had the best sleep I’ve had in ages.
Both Krish and Francesca were fantastic hosts and made us all feel relaxed and at ease. It didn’t matter how experienced or inexperienced we were at the activities, they were both there to guide us through each of the rituals from start to finish.
This is the first of their retreats I’ve been on, and I will definitely be looking out for more in the new year.
Have you ever been on a wellness retreat, in person or online? What was it like for you?