The Natural Retreat in Richmond was a great place to hold a Forest Bath session and I was very excited that Kelly had asked me along to run a Forest Bathing session during her Spring yoga workshop.
High up on a hill in the Yorkshire dales with stunning natural views as far as the eye can see was the sight I was greeted with when Kelly showed me the location, my excitement was obvious! I spent a little time up there alone before the day of the workshop to get my bearings and plan my invitations. I was delighted with what I discovered, a wild woodland path that meandered its way through a beautiful, mature woodland of mostly Pine and larch - perfect!
I found a little way into the wood an area that lent itself to several bivouacs built by previous woodland lovers. A few benches also lined the track. I spent some time sitting, listening, looking and thinking about the area i was in, its natural beauty and some of the species of plant and animal that I became aware of. I held gratitude for the eco-system that I had entered and gave thanks for this peaceful environment. I pondered over some invitations that I might offer to people, I prefer to invite rather than insist as i am simply holding space for others to connect whether it be with nature, with themselves or with others. I left calm, happy and excited all at the same time.
The day of the workshop came and we weren't disappointed with the weather nature provided. A wonderful sunrise to start the day, clear skies and a crisp, freshness to the air. The group were a wonderful mix of lovely ladies all brimming with excitement for the morning ahead. The yoga with Kelly was a wonderful start and Kelly’s obvious passion for what she does is contagious. I found myself joining in gentle yoga poses that were familiar and greatly missed, I have had many months off my own yoga practice.
The time came for the Forest Bath and I could sense a puzzling feeling throughout the group ‘what was this crazy tree hugging hippy going to make them do!?’. I thought it best to start with an explanation that started something like ‘I am not mad, there really are benefits for us being mindful and spending time in nature!’. The first thing I was drawn to was the wonderful view and that gazing upon a beautiful, natural view like that really can make us feel calmer.
We walked purposefully together down towards the entrance of the woodland, the braver of the bunch even sampled some forged delights on the way. We shook ourselves off and entered the wood. My first invitation was a listening exercise, one that I would time for them and they could listen in any way they chose comfortably to do. To my delight everyone felt comfortable to do this. The peace and calm that fell over the group after this simple invite was amazing.
We carried on with our short woodland walk and gave thanks as we left. I decided that on the way back to the retreat as the weather was fine and the grass was inviting that a spot of ‘Earthing’ may be just the thing before lunch! Shoes and socks were removed and grass and soil were caressed by our feet. With curious steps we made our way back for lunch feeling fresh and very much alive!
Lunch was a social affair with great food and greater conversation, there was a real air of Spring within the group. The workshop came to a close with Kelly’s relaxation session, the perfect ending to a perfect morning!
Everyone left with a smile on their face, a spring in their step and an aura of calm. I would like to thank all the lovely ladies that took part in my Forest bath, for their enthusiasm and spirit. A thank you also needs to go to the Natural Retreat at Richmond for their facilities and their obvious care for the natural environment.
For Kelly - thank you so much for giving me the space and the opportunity, you are an amazing Yogi - you will be pleased to know that I have fallen back into my yoga routine with ease. I look forward to working with you again soon.