Going on a yoga retreat sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? Lots of stretching, breathing, meditating, chilling, eating nice food and coming back feeling super relaxed (and smug). But if you’ve ever tried to go on one, you’ll know they’re not cheap and can be a tad stressful to organise. So what if I told you that you could go on a yoga retreat without leaving London, in fact, without stepping foot outside Hackney? Now that’s way easier.
Yoga teacher Carolina Smilas has her Yoga East practice inside the Round Chapel in Clapton and realised that you should be able to get all the benefits of a yoga retreat in a day. I joined her for her first one last week. I’m no yoga bunny – my downward facing dog is a bitch to get in to and as for meditating, forget it. But I donned my yoga gear and left my reservations at the door.
You’re greeted with a handmade juice before taking a silent walk down to Hackney Marshes where you spend the rest of the day. Walking in collective silence is surprisingly relaxing with no pressure to make small talk or comment on the weather.
Once we arrived at our leafy riverside spot, we did an invigorating yoga class followed by a long meditation. That was followed by a healthy but tasty lunch and then we all just lolled about in the sun. In the afternoon, we attempted a hilarious hula hooping class with House of Hoop which was surprisingly hard-going on the abs. Then more yoga and meditating before we begrudgingly floated back to civilisation.
After all that stretching, breathing, nature, wind, sun, not knowing what time it was (or checking my phone) and general good vibes, I felt like a brand new woman after only six hours romping about in a field in Hackney. It has to be said, I was a very sleepy woman – but apparently that feeling is called being ‘relaxed’. Who knew.
Carolina’s next Yoga Detox Day Retreats are on Sept 6, 13 and 27. And if you do want to leave the city, she’s hosting one in Marrakech September 21-26. Find out the latest details at facebook.com/yoga.room.395.
By Sonya Barber