Rejuvenate, relax, restore: the restorative retreat experience
Our local yogi Gem Hansen is offering you the chance to try something new this November (and now February 2023) with her Restorative Retreat
It is so easy to consider the winter as a time of hibernation and holding back. With the nights drawing in and the cold weather looming, it is not uncommon to find yourself feeling unmotivated or overwhelmed by the upcoming festive season (or in the new year!).
However, it can also be a period of exploration, self reflection and great personal growth if you know where to look. Our local yogi Gem Hansen is offering you the chance to try something new this November, and February 2023, with her Restorative Retreat.
We spoke to her about the retreat and what participants can expect from a weekend of Restoration...
What inspired the theme of this retreat?
I have been inspired to offer restorative yoga in an immersive format for the last few years and am thrilled to see it materialise, because Restorative yoga is a stillness practice, contrary - yet complementary - to movement practices that are normally associated with the general use of the term 'yoga'. I am interested in offering a full spectrum of practice on Tresco's calendar (rather than just dynamic flow yoga classes) as a way of honouring the entirety of yoga's expressions.
Life ought to be a delicate balance of movement and stillness, work and rest. However, more often than not, our modern lifestyles require us to be active and productive. Restorative yoga provides the yin to the yang, the repose that balances our habitual momentum.
Restorative yoga is supported postures with soft props and an introduction to finding more space in your mind so as to access meditative awareness. In stillness we deepen our presence towards abiding calm. It is only in this place of quietude and pause that we can access the union of our whole being.
A historical meaning of yoga is as a vehicle which connects us more deeply with Nature, in one sense offering a pathway to follow the wisdom of the seasons. Winter as a time of hibernation, suggests we withdraw, rejuvenate and repair. I hope to create a cosy, safe environment to allow for retreat participants to unravel, unwind and nourish themselves in this period of nest and rest.
Restorative yoga practices deeply relax your body and still your mind, physical patterns in musculature and tissue are released to improve flexibility and mobility. This style of yoga is interoceptive and introspective and largely improves our capacity for healing physically and emotionally.
How does it differ from other retreats you've offered?
Firstly, this retreat is held in November and February so we will harness the quiet energy of winter and have a great opportunity to seek solace on the island of Tresco out of season. Solitude is very valuable as part of our human experience and provides a landscape of silence where we can lose the constant chatter of our minds and rediscover our ability to replenish ourselves from within, becoming more reliant on instinct over the habit of outsourcing for information on our well-being.
Secondly, this retreat welcomes guests with no previous yoga experience; including those who might have had recent illness or injury, beginners to yoga and meditation in this style, pregnant women, seniors, or anyone who may be grieving or suffering emotional upheaval. This practice teaches us to be very gentle in the way we relate to ourselves and to be with ourselves in compassionate presence rather than as a quest to better ourselves.
Thirdly, this is a very affordable retreat and an opportunity for luxury on a remote island. It is a wonderful experience to share with a partner or friend (rooms are for double occupancy though rates available for non-participating guests). I would love for some island residents on Scilly to see this an opportunity for an island hop at the end of the season and to enjoy the best of Tresco - complete with newly refurbished accommodation at the New Inn and plenty of time to relax in the sea view studio at the Flying Boat and use the Tresco Island Spa.
"This retreats welcomes guests with no previous yoga experience; including those who might have had recent illness or injury, beginners to yoga and meditation in this style, pregnant women, seniors, or anyone who may be grieving or suffering emotional upheaval"
What are the benefits of a winter break?
The darker seasons let us draw inward to reconnect with our inner light. I would express it simply as a time to stop and soothe. It is when we can consciously slow down so that we can feel more whole again. An energetic recalibration allows for us to emerge feeling lighter and brighter. Shorter days in this season indicate that we ought to lose the quest for efficiency and accomplishment and prioritise patience. This is the art of perseverance towards mindfulness: to become more wakeful, open and in full participation with the moment.
What makes Tresco an ideal retreat space?
Tresco will offer us sheltered woodland walks as well as stunning seascapes, surrounding us with autumnal golden colours and empty beaches to explore. The island is large enough to lose yourself in its intricate pathways but small enough to allow for a feeling of containment in true sanctuary. There is nothing comparable to an island in terms of escapism and enchantment.
Then the New Inn provides the ultimate comfort: a traditional pub by the sea. Relax by the log burner in the residents lounge or mingle in the driftwood bar, serving food with a Tresco twist. The Flying Boat studio - where the yoga sessions will be held - is just a few minutes walk along from New Grimsby Harbour. It is a tranquil and beautiful space which will be set up with bolsters, cushions and blankets and lit up with candles and decorative lamps for each practice of Restorative Yoga and Yoga Nidra.
"There is nothing comparable to an island in terms of escapism and enchantment"