Secretly, I was looking to get away from it all. Looking to clear my head and reconnect with myself. Tune in with my heart and find stability and strength within. That’s when lovely Lauren had sent me an email informing me that she would host a retreat in southern France. The theme was Alchemy of the Heart , an “immersion aimed at guiding you home the inner sanctuary of the heart”. Exactly what I needed…
I had booked my flight right away and could not wait for what turned out to be a magical experience. But let me start from the beginning…
Accommodation & Food
The accomodation for this retreat was a beautiful 12th century château with a mesmerizing view on the pyrenees. The tree-lined walk up to the château left all of us in awe already. And at latest by taking the first steps into the home for the upcoming days and settling into the room, I was fully in love with it. A spacious and minimalist interior with great attention to detail that invites you to quiet down and relax.
Next stop: the kitchen. The retreat included three organic and plant-based meals for the day and snacks in between. We have been blessed with an incredible chef, Louise! She has nourished us so incredibly well and was considerate of everyone’s dietary choices and restrictions. We were served everything from porridge, smoothies over to tarte, cucumber soup, poké bowls and crumble and chocolate pralinées. Pure deliciousness.
Having heard from Lauren herself about this magical retreat and knowing about her deep love and passion for the teachings of yoga, I knew that no matter what, I could be certain that I was about to practice some truly inspiring teachers.
Lauren, Lucy & Rose
Lauren is surrounded by a truly inspiring energy and vibe that has made me curious from the first time I met her in Copenhagen. First, Lauren shared much of her own experiences and thoughts around the path of yoga on her holistic living blog Raise Your Beat. Today you can soak in all of Lauren’s inspirations and find out when she is teaching where on her website: laurenlee.yoga
Before heading to the retreat, I didn’t know Lucybut it only took until the very first class with her that I was fully drawn into her teachings of strong, yet sweet asana classes, guided meditations and pranayama practices. I had never really practiced pranayama outside a guided yoga class but her clear guidance allowed me to explore and experience the power of the practice.
Rose had studied and practiced yoga for the past 50 years and to me has been a magical source of wisdom. Everyday from 3-5pm she had shared her deep knowledge around yoga philosophy with us. She allowed me to dive deep into the teachings of yoga and meditation in a very easeful and accessible way – with lots of laughter and smiles.
The schedule of the retreat was thoughtfully put together by the dear teachers. I felt that they have been very considerate of the overall mood and energy of the group. Often, they had asked for feedback and tried to include requests from the group – which made the retreat experience even more personal. The rough outline of the day looked something like this:
6:00 – 7:00 AM: Meditation & Pranayama with Lauren/Lucy
7:00 – 9:00 AM: Asana Practice with Lauren/Lucy
Breakfast & Lunch
3:00 – 5:00 PM: Philosophy with Rose under the wisdom tree
5:00 – 6:30 PM: Asana with Lauren/Lucy
8:30 – 9:30 PM: Homa Healing Fire Ceremony with Rose
Inbetween the sessions, we are free to explore the area, journal, rest, relax and simply enjoy. I spent most of my free time by the pool, connecting with fellow yogis and exploring the surrounding vinyards and mountains.
I don’t even know where to start… it has been an overwhelmingly beautiful and magical experience. Everything from accommodation, food, community and the teachings and practice of yoga in all its forms and shapes has been incredible.
Coming back to the theme of the Alchemy of the Heart, I have found the time and space to truly reconnect with my heart and its longings. Tried to listen to what I truly need and want and find ways to manifest that in my life. More so, I have gained strength, trust and faith that there is nothing I need to accomplish, complete, achieve or do before I can follow my path. Rather, everything that I am seeking lies within me. Through the practice of yoga, especially throughout this retreat, I can work on strengthening the courage and let go of that fear. The retreat allowed me to let go of so many layers of fear, anxiety and insecurity. This hashas brought forth so much more joy and ease and the necessary energy to move closer to what truly serves me – step by step.
A completely new experience to me has been the Agni Hotra, the healing fire ceremony that we held every other night. Rose has done an incredible job in helping me understand some of the philosophy of Yoga. This included the underlying powers of rituals. Something I will never forget…
In terms of practical insights I gained, I thinkthat the practice of pranayama has been a new but fruitful experience for me. I believe that the power of the breath lies far beyond what I have experienced so far. I will definitely take the teachings fron Lauren and Lucy with me and continue my journey on this path.
These lines have already brought up so many great memories about this retreat – for which I am incredibly grateful. Knowing Lauren, I was certain that it was going to be a lovely retreat. This, all of this, however has exceeded my imagination by far and for this I am grateful to Lauren, Lucy and Rose but equally important to anyone of the fellow participants who have shared this experience with me.
Special thanks to Satu Touru (@loftescape) who has captured some of the most beautiful moments of this retreat.
Love & Light,