Vicky Hood may be about to give birth but that doesn’t stop her more than executing extreme yoga moves.
Or moves that seem extreme to us beginners on her one-day Yoga Retreat within the calming cream walls of Seaham Hall.
Looking at bendy, supple Vicky, you just know that childbirth is going to be a doddle and when baby day comes she’ll be looking just as perky as the Duchess of Cambridge did hours after giving birth, only minus the army of on-hand royal stylists.
Vicky is here to get our energy flowing, our joints mobilised and our minds alert.
This is the first one-day Yoga Retreat at Seaham Hall and among its participants are the beginners, the ‘give it a go’ and the very accomplished yoga practitioners who have joined us from Vicky’s regular classes.
Such a cliché, but boy do they make it all look so easy.
The day is designed to offer an insight into yoga practice and Vicky is a very good advert for it. She has a huge knowledge and experience, having been a fitness instructor before setting up Sunderland Yoga Studio.
She’s an advanced Pilates instructor and one of a select group who possess an Advanced 500hr Sivananda Yoga Instructor qualification. She has travelled extensively to further her yoga experience at retreats and has an interest in post-natal yoga and injury preventing, non-forceful Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga.
The morning session starts with group introductions, it’s a very friendly crowd, and a drink and some little fruit bowls to make us feel virtuous on a Sunday morning.
In a couple of hours we will be diving in to mid-morning snacks of less healthy but nevertheless delicious baked focaccia with tomatoes and herbs.
The morning yoga session sees us start with sun salutations and strengthening asanas to get the body moving. It is liberating opening yourself up, stretching and bending, taking meaningful ‘stop and think about it’ breaths and just thinking about what you are doing.
On retreats like this, the benefit is as much about the ‘me-time’, the escape from the usual routine and doing something for yourself. Everyone on the course agrees with that; from the mum with a new baby getting away with her own mum to the health professional escaping from the paperwork and busy diary.
The yoga session is from 9.30 to 11 and includes a lie-back relaxation session and awareness breathing. Lying on the floor doing nothing because you’re told to really should be on prescription.
We then shoot off to the Serenity Spa and get to grips with the plunge pools, steam rooms and outdoor hot-tub before the treatment included in the package which is a back and shoulder massage or a facial. I went for the neck-unknotting massage which was the perfect mix with the yoga, good body shake-out and de-stress.
Lunch in the Ozone restaurant within the spa was light and lovely and full of wellbeing enrichment. Starters of confit duck pancake rolls then a light Thai prawn curry were light but satisfying, full of flavour – and just some water to drink, how good were we being? Didn’t want to undo all the hard work.
More spa time to be had then back to the grand ballroom which was our yoga base with its snazzy and colourful yoga mats.
The second section was slower-paced with more time to think about stretching, breathing and developing techniques learned in the morning.
I have to say that for a novice, this session was tiring though Vicky is great at directing you to the right moves and stretches for your ability.
The meditation at the end of the session, based on what’s called a yoga Nidra meditation was superb, a great way to end a Sunday and prepare you for the rigours of a working week.
The yoga retreat days are £200 including a treatment, spa use, meals, snacks and tuition and are planned thoughout the year.
Find out more and soothe your soul by calling Serenity Spa | 0191 516 1400 | seaham-hall.com