This past weekend, I was lucky enough to spend time with Meghan Currie on her first UK retreat in Glastonbury, Somerset. Promising a “revitalising weekend of yoga, healing waters, detoxifying sweats and restorative nature”, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – and with a feeling of throwing myself into the deep end, I booked myself in a few weeks before – waiting to see what I’d discover.
Needless to say – it was an incredible weekend, which I was so glad to take part in. I’m still processing so much of what went on, and feeling the slow unfurling effects of all the learning that happened over a few short days. Here’s a review of my experience of “Twinkling Doorways”.
We arrived late Friday afternoon, pulling into the Somerset countryside after a not-so-fun drive (M5, I’m looking at you!) and soon after arrival, we were shown to our various rooms to briefly settle down. The retreat was being held at the Earth Spirit Centre – an exceptionally beautiful eco-space in the countryside, and we got to discover just how lovely it was over the weekend.
Before hitting the ground running with a yoga class with Meghan, an initial opening circle gave everyone the time to introduce themselves to each other – and how they got there. And for most of us, it was a pretty similar story – enchanted by Meghan’s breath-taking Youtube videos, we were drawn to see what we could learn from her.
For many of the retreatants, it was also a welcome moment to turn inwards and look after themselves. With many of the participants being yoga teachers themselves, it felt like a much-needed opportunity to work on their own practice for a change. And for those like me (ie. non teachers!) it was a time to get truly inspired.
The opening circle was also a chance to start to get to know Meghan a little more – something we’d all do further over the weekend.
It’s hard to know what to expect – especially in a social media climate populated by Youtube and Instagram celebs who hold a huge amount of influence and power over how we view and process things. It’s easy to form preconceptions – especially someone such as Meghan, who demonstrates such impressive and beautiful physical acts in her own videos. But I think we were all delighted to meet a teacher who managed to be both grounded and assertive, but also playful, charming and wonderfully genuine and warm - and with a pretty dirty sense of humour! - qualities you don't always get to see on other end of a Youtube vid.
Our first class on Friday was a restorative session, which was a great opportunity to work out all the kinks from travelling. Also – some of the longest savasanas I have ever enjoyed – super soothing!
After class and a delicious dinner, we got to relax a little more and discuss the weekend’s itinerary – which left us with lots to anticipate...
The weekend proper started off with a proper power yoga session with Meghan – around three hours in total. Working towards lots of handstands and partner work, it was certainly challenging – and there was plenty to learn.
It was also great to experience Meghan’s structuring of her class – plenty of power, but also a natural opportunity to pause, take stock, absorb and think about what was going on. While the thought of a three hour class might sound terrifying and seriously gruelling, she maintained a lovely balance throughout. I’m pretty sure a lot of us felt like we could have carried on later – rumbling bellies aside!
We were free to do whatever we liked over the afternoon – with a bonfire and a meditation session with Sally Griffyn of Sacred Mastery Yoga later in the evening. This moved us on to the second aspect of the retreat – the more “shamanic” side of things.
Sally introduced herself and her own shamanic interests and background, which was fascinating to learn about. We also got to know a little more about Jan – the lovely lady who led a conscious breathing practice – something formerly known as “rebirthing” - in a hot tub.
After dinner, we walked up in a procession up to the bonfire – which itself was a preparation for the next big shamanic event of the retreat – a sweat lodge, to be held on Sunday. It was gorgeous just to hang out together beside the flickering flames, telling stories and watching the incredibly clear night sky spread overhead.
Sometime after midnight, the last few stragglers left the fire to die away. Feeling utterly wide awake though, I thought it was a prime time to check out Jan’s hot tub experience. Never having done anything like it before, it was really something quite memorable and intimate. But still feeling totally awake afterwards, I spent much of the wee hours staring spellbound at the stars overhead in the garden. Sacred Mastery Yoga’s own photographer, Andre, was also out – capturing the view of the Milky Way and the constellation of Scorpio.
(Side note – Andre – please reach out – I want to see those incredible photos!)
Sunday morning was another kick-ass session with Meghan – more inversions and arm balances to play with. This was followed by a trip into Glastonbury to see the Tor, Chalice Well Gardens and a sprint around town – before hustling back for another much needed Yin yoga session. After surviving on 3 hours’ sleep the previous nights, I’m pretty sure I dozed off pleasantly in that one…
Then it was sweat lodge time. For anyone who has never experienced it before, it’s well worth taking the chance to do so if the opportunity presents itself. Whatever your personal beliefs, it is definitely a unique and pretty incredible thing to go through. I won’t expand in detail as I think for many people there, it was a really humbling and intimate encounter, one that many of us will remember for a long time.
Also – I slept like a log afterwards. Bliss!
As the last day of the retreat, there was a pang of sadness at everything drawing to a close. But still – one last power-packed class with Meghan!
Our last class was possibly my favourite – lots of playing at pressing up into handstands, laughter, and seeing Meghan’s own beautiful practice in action. This was so utterly captivating and it felt like a privilege to have been witness to it. But more than just the impressive nature of her physical practice – the deeply spiritual aspect of it was self-evident, and it left us all awed and very much moved.
It was also wonderful to hear Meghan talk about her own views on her own views on her practice, and the impact of social media upon yoga too. It can feel intimidating and demoralising – especially when you’re in a climate of constant ego-driven competitiveness, and you lose much of the heart of the practice in the process.
While it’s important to acknowledge the power and opportunities offered up by these channels – inspiring a lot of people to challenge themselves and discover something new – it felt so refreshing to hear someone approach them with a degree of restraint and caution, too.
In all, the whole experience brings to mind a quote from Dr Roger Walsh that another teacher mentioned to me – “to advance, I retreat!” And that was definite the takeaway point of it all for me. There were plenty of challenges – being one of the few non-yoga teachers there, it certainly brought up a degree of self-doubt and anxiety – but that also made it a great chance to learn as much as possible. And I loved every second of it.
Find out more:
You can find out more about Meghan Currie’s upcoming dates on her continued tour and other activities on her site and social media. It’s also worth checking out her Cody App tutorials to get a taste of her great teaching style.
Meghan is also going to be at the first UK Yoga Festival - Yoga Connects - later this July. It sounds like it’s going to be an awesome experience – 3 days of some of the best teachers in the world, in a beautiful setting, gorgeous food, music and people! What more could you want?? Check out the different package options and get booking, people!