How a five day Kundalini retreat in a quintessentially English farm in the countryside village of Frome became an extraordinary journey of shamanistic rituals, yoga & insightful transformation.
Written by François Correia
ow would it be to stay at a farm in the depths of the British countryside for a five day yoga retreat? I was slightly nervous as I had these thoughts. It would be my first experience of the sorts and although I had been practicing yoga for a little while, a retreat sounded like a rather structured commitment. I often travel in a more unplanned, ‘see what happens’ kind of way. Would I be ready for a total immersion? Little did I know that I would be embarking in one of the most remarkable journeys I had ever experienced – only 2 hours by train from London.
Leaving London’s Waterloo station couldn’t have been timed more perfectly – the sunny day seemed like a perfect excuse to get away from the fast pace of the big city and into the peace of countryside. The train journey would cut through beautiful scenery, rolling hills of linseed crops in bloom, fields with cattle and sheep and quaint little villages on the way as well as big imposing period buildings – the route takes you via Salisbury and its famous cathedral.
I was heading to Frome, a quaint little location in Somerset, also one of the most pristine and picturesque countryside areas in England boasting important National Trust sites & gardens. Once there, I would stay at 42 Acres, a secluded farm in a charming valley.
42 Acres was envisioned by entrepreneur, traveler and sustainable crusader Lara Tabatznik – who co-founded the farm with her environmentalist brother Seth. Her dream was to create a space where sustainability of the mind and the land would flourish together.
The beautiful restored farm counts with 8 luxurious bedrooms, a three-bedroom cottage and of course 42 acres of lush fields. The main house is decorated in muted tones where the furniture and design elements were carefully curated to inspire those around. From a ‘Be Here Now’ neon light feature, wooden sculptures and fair-trade elements such as decorative objects, weaved straw baskets and rugs, 42 Acres also pleases the creative eye. The property also counts with a barn converted into an art gallery and a wi-fi room – carefully placed outside the property for those who need their social media fix.
To sustainably showcase the approach of the project, reclaimed wood was used as much as possible to outfit the interiors of the property while solar panels and biomass solely generate the energy for the farm.
Upon my quick analysis of the surroundings, I realized that 42 Acres would be perfect for the retreat I would be joining – a Kundalini yoga retreat organized by the inclusive Breath Of Life Clinic from London Mayfair.
The Breath of Life Clinic is the holistic endeavor of founder Sam Kankanamage, an osteopath and acupuncturist whose health business has deep social and educational purposes. Although the clinic is located in one of the most prestigious addresses in London, the approach of its founder and his team is one of inclusion – Sam was trained by the famous acupuncturist Anton Jayasuriya, a legendary Sri Lankan doctor who reputably treated a million people free of charge. This ethos would be felt throughout the retreat.
The yoga & shamanistic practice would be lead by Maren Lander, the superstar Kundalini teacher of London’s yoga scene. Having heard a lot about her, nothing would prepare me for her sheer energy and kindness. There would be no hiding from her grace – in a very vigorous but welcoming way she would guide the whole group, 19 of us, through the practice – divided into the four elements of earth, fire, water and air.
Practice started at 6:00 am with yoga and there would be connections to ‘mother earth’, nature walks and exercises, ecstatic dance, mantra & meditations and a fire and cocoa ceremonies – ritualistically sending your wishes with offerings of fragrant wood, moss and flowers in a bonfire, stargazing through the night, all leading to an enchanting experience.
The Breath of Life’s retreat team also counts with a supporting yoga teacher, an osteopath and a masseuse – acupuncture, osteopathy and massage treatments would be offered in between practices. There would also be plenty of time for long walks or rest.
Food was entirely vegetarian with vegan options – an endless array of Sri Lankan staples such as lentil soups, rice cake, cashew nuts curries, beans and exotic fruits and vegetables. All following the Ayurvedic principles of food combination and body types or doshas. Teas and drinks would also be catered for detoxing and cleansing.
Towards the end of my week on the retreat I started to feel that wonderful sensation when something extraordinarily good had just happened – often times this feeling is a good sign of unforgettable journeys. If at the beginning I was anxious about the experience, towards the end I would be missing the eclectic group of guests, from all walks of life and different parts of the world.
For someone who has traveled the world, I could never have imagined that by the end of my 5 days this would turn out to be the greatest journey I had ever embarked – the journey one takes within.
Breath of Life organizes regular retreats in England, Ibiza and Sri Lanka.
42 Acres hosts various retreats throughout the year.