Thoughts on the world, homeopathy, mindfulness and food...
A collection of blog posts - feel free to respond with your thoughts and comments - I love to have feedback - thank you!
We thought it might be nice for people who were interested in coming along to our rustic retreat to hear a little more about each of us involved so we sat down and had a chat with each other. Sophie is travelling up from London to teach yoga and so we spoke to her by skype whereas Sarah and I live close by. We have a beautiful friend Aless who took the images of Sarah and I in and around the area around where we live, and images of Sophie are from her time training in yoga in Bali and travelling around the world.
Em interviews Sarah:
What are you aiming to bring to the retreat?
I’m hoping to be a part of opening people’s creativity, to help people explore their feelings through being in nature, story and crafts.
Where does your love of nature come from?
I grew up in an isolated, rural place so spent my whole childhood playing out in the local woods – it was my second home. That’s where I made a connection with the plant and animal worlds. I always wanted to be a marine biologist but that faded away. When I had the opportunity after having my daughter I re-connected with myself, and my love of nature returned.
How important is it for you to spend time outside every day?
It’s very important. Nature is my temple and it’s where I feel free – and love to see all the small details and beauty everyday. It makes you realise what’s real and what isn’t and keeps you very present. For me that’s where that sense of freedom comes from.
What does your everyday work life look like?
It’s a blend of working with children, running my own forest school and going into schools working with a afull range of children from mainstream to those with special needs. I work with communities developing community wildlife gardens as nurturing spaces and alongside that I develop story trails that link to the history and feeling of the land. I also run workshops on therapeutic story work which are used for counsellors and teachers.
How long have you been involved in woodland therapy?
I’ve been involved in it now for about 10 years – it started by me volunteering and going to places like the National Trust and I had a lot of interest in nurturing people’s creativity through the woodland. I began to realise I could work with this as a therapeutic thing and explored crafts, fires, and the shamanic world of plant medicines. It’s evolved over the last 10 years exploring all these and more.
Why is mindfulness important to you?
From my early 20s I’ve practiced meditation, it’s always been a part of my daily life. It’s a keep part of my life and has been for over 25 years, without it I don’t feel I would have copied with the life I’ve led. It helps me to manage everyday life and to see the bigger picture.
Sarah interviews Em
How does mindfulness play a part in your life?
From being a child I could feel a sense of joy in small things, probably especially in the natural world. Mindfulness as a more formal practice began for me in 2012 coming out of a relationship I decided to have a year dedicated to exploring life and doing different things. It was a life changing year and I learnt to knit, crochet, took pole dancing classes, started barefoot running, open water swimming, re-started cycling (I’d not done it since a teen). Mindfulness was right at the start of the year, and January was devoted to an online course in it, so it’s gone since then for me, and I studied it more so over the following years, doing therapeutic training and practice as a therapist and supervisor, qualifying in 2015 and been working with it with clients since then.
Personally, I have a gratitude practice which is important to me and when I wake I walk through the things I’m grateful for, as well as including mindfulness practice into my daily life where I can. It may be walking the dog through the woods or marvelling at the bubbles whilst I’m washing up.
Part of the retreat is around vegan and raw foods – explain to me what that means and why have you chosen it for the retreat?
For myself, experimentation with food was a part of my 2012 year of exploration and realised much more the health benefits of a whole food, plant based diet as the time went on. In February 2013 I went fully raw vegan for 6 months and loved it – I felt great and had lots of energy I swam a 2 mile race in Windermere and did my first (and so far only) triathlon. More importantly, I re-experienced the joy of creating food, which I realised I hadn’t really had for a long time.
For me, eating raw (food is unheated, or occasionally gently heated) means the food is more alive, bursting with energy, instead of what can sometimes be dead, denatured foods. Eating lightly, including some juices, can allow our bodies to heal as there is less energy directed for digestion and more for other vital tasks. I think for the retreat this the perfect time to explore this and hopefully we will have some time to re-connect with food and how this affects our mood also.
I love facilitating raw food workshops and find people often explore their stories around food, many of which have been a conscious or unconscious part of our lives for many years, sometimes from childhood.
Lastly, what made you become a homeopath?
Initially I wanted to be a vet, so I suppose I was always interested in the caring professions, but it took until I was filling in my UCAS form for university for me to realise that I was more interested in people, and switched to studying Psychology and Neuroscience. My horse had been cured of an ‘incurable’ disease when I was 15 years old so there had been a bit of interest, though at the time I guess I was too much into the idea of being a conventional vet, then in the end an equine acupuncturist, to explore that much. I sought advice from a homeopath for headaches and skin issues, and had a first aid kit which I took travelling and doled out nux vom for hangovers, arnica for bruising and silica for splinters etc as well as a few remedies for food poisoning. During my degree I had studied a diploma in reflexology and some work with reiki and briefly explored the idea of homeopathy but learnt that I was too young to study it (at that stage there was a recommendation you were over 21 and I wasn’t at the time).
Coming out of a relationship (spot a theme?) my mum sent me to my homeopath (I was in a bit of a mess) and there processing lots of stuff it was her that suggested I study homeopathy. It was like coming home. Working with people on a day to day basis is a gift and I’m privileged to do it. Later into my career I introduced food work and mindfulness to working with clients and it’s my feeling that the combination works really well.
Em interviews Sophie
Tell us about yoga and you – how did you discover it?
I discovered yoga whilst at university in Chester. With deadlines looming and admittedly a little stressed I decided to go along to my local leisure centre and attend my very first Hatha yoga class. I’d heard a lot about yoga but didn’t really know what to expect. After the class I felt calmer with more peace of mind. I’d never given my body so much TLC. I was always busy doing something. It felt great to dedicate time to myself. I remember feeling slightly bemused walking home with a grin on my face. Intrigued at what the practise had to offer, I went every few weeks, eventually every three days, then I got hooked and now yoga isn’t just a practise – it’s a way of life.
What inspired you to become a teacher of yoga?
My teacher - Emily Kuser. Whilst traveling after university I took one of Emily’s classes at the Yoga Barn in Bali. She opened the class asking people to partner up with the person next to them. The numbers in the class were odd so I ended up partnering up with Emily (which made my experience much more intense). She asked one person in the pair to go first and speak continuously for five minutes whist the other person did not speak at all, just remained eye contact and actively listened. If you haven’t done this activity before, or even if you have done it a million times. It can reveal a lot. At first, it felt awkward and I didn’t know what to speak about but low and behold things that were troubling me just came pooring out of my mouth. I ended up in tears having never had someone listen so openly and intently. Her presence is so captivating, without even speaking a word you can feel so much love, compassion and support. I’ve always been known to speak my mind but in that moment I felt so raw and with suppressed emotions. In that moment I realised there was so much more to yoga than I originally thought.
I vowed to come back and train to teach with her one day. Two years later, I did.
What would you say the benefits are?
Peace of mind, flexibility, strength, mental clarity, reduced stress and anxiety, self confidence.
There are SO many benefits 38 of them can be found right here: https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/count-yoga-38-ways-yoga-keeps-fit
How do you think people can incorporate it easily into their daily life?
Have a little wiggle and a stretch in the morning or dance in your room. Whatever feels good. You don’t have to practise for a whole hour every single day. 15 minutes is long enough just get your body moving. I used to beat myself up for not practising for a whole hour in the morning, it’s the same with meditation but then I found everything just grounded to a halt and I didn’t do anything. Now I get up and wiggle/stretch – I find the morning is best as it sets me up for the day. Then if I’m not working I try to go to a class once a week in the evening or most likely at the weekend.
Weekend classes are great as you can go with your friends and have brunch after – there is no better way to start a Saturday/Sunday!
Do get in touch if you have any questions for any of us or about the retreat in general.
Sarah, Em and Sophie x
I'm a Homeopath working in the Skipton (North Yorkshire) area. I am also able to offer food intolerance testing using Kinesiology and advice around diet and lifestyle.