A couple of weekends back, I spent a lovely relaxing few days at Florence House in Seaford, on the Sussex coast. Along with Yoga and Pilates classes, there was tasty home-cooked vegetarian food, hours spent reading my Kindle, and plenty of walks along the clifftops and pebbled peach in the sunshine.
My friend and I had booked the Relax and Restore Retreat with Sally Parkes Yoga, and it definitely lived up to it’s name!
It was an easy train journey from East Croydon to Seaford, changing at Lewes, followed by a short taxi ride to Florence House. On arrival we were shown to our room in the spacious house, before joining the other participants – there were about 15 of us – for the first class of the weekend, an invigorating Hatha Yoga session.
An hour and a half later, we sat down to our first meal – I must admit I didn’t know what to expect from the solely vegetarian menu, but the food over the whole 3 days was amazing! Our first night we enjoyed shepherdess pie, made with lentils and sweet potato mash, followed by toffee apple crumble and vanilla custard. We returned to the yoga practise room for a candlelit Yoga Nidra– yoga sleep – with a guided meditation and lavender scented eye pillows, which almost left me drifting off after a stressful week at work.
|Massages were held in the library
Saturday morning Jo and I woke early and headed downstairs for Dynamic Wake-Up Yoga, which started the day off perfectly. I felt refreshed and alert after the 90minute class although I will admit I struggled a little not eating anything beforehand- my stomach was rumbling by the end of the session! Fortunately breakfast was just as tasty as dinner the night before with boiled eggs, bagels, toast and jams, fruit, granola and yoghurt.
|Reading outside in the sunshine
The morning was spent relaxing in the gardens with my Kindle, before heading inside to enjoy a 60minute Deep Tissue Massage by a visiting local masseuse. She worked out the knots in my body from running Brighton Half, and spending every day sitting at a desk, and I felt so wonderfully relaxed afterwards I enjoyed a short nap before lunch.
In the afternoon Jo and I headed up onto the clifftop and walked what must have been about 4-5miles in total, over Seaford Head to the Seven Sisters viewpoint. This area of the coastline is part of the South Downs National Park, comprising 280 hectares of chalk cliffs, meandering river valleys and open chalk grassland.
|Rocking some tree pose!
There were plenty of other walkers out enjoying the sunshine, although we managed to snap some fun yoga shots in between the people!
We made our way down to the beach for a look at the waves, before heading back to Florence House for our 6pm Restorative Yoga session. This class used props, and involved holding poses for several minutes to fully relax into them and allow the body to gain the maximum benefit.
Dinner was mushroom stroganoff with cashews, and aromatic rice, followed by the “Pavlova of Love“, an amazing dessert creation of meringue, cream and berries shaped into a heart! I slept so well that night after the sea air, relaxing yoga and good food!
Sunday came all to quickly, and we again started off the day with our Dynamic Wake-Up Yoga, followed by breakfast. Jo and I walked into Seaford to have a nose around- it was small, and with it being Sunday pretty much everything was closed.
We strolled along the promenade by the shingle beach and enjoyed hot chocolates at the beach cafe in the sunshine.
|Hot chocolate on the beach
Our last class of the weekend was a midday Pilates session, using resistance bands to work our core and get a sweat on before it was time to think about packing up. Lunch was jacket potatoes with bean chilli (and leftover pavlova!) and I relaxed for a short while reading, and managed to finish my book, before Jo and I got a taxi back to the station to head home.
I can highly recommend the Sally Parkes Relax and Restore Retreat, and am already thinking about booking another yoga weekend away!
The classes were beginner friendly, with modifications and different levels given depending on how much you wanted to push yourself that day. I loved the relaxation at the end of each session with blankets, eye pillows and guided meditations, including readings from a book. Sally and Paula, the two instructors, were friendly and helpful, providing all necessary mats and props so you just had to turn up and take part!
|Our group of yogis 🙂
The food was awesome as I mentioned, with a wide selection of teas, coffee and hot chocolate available at all times, as well as a fruit bowl and biscuit box! I’d worried after hearing stories of some retreats with no mobile phones, no talking, no caffeine, and juice detoxes, but the environment wasn’t restrictive at all, in fact incredibly welcoming. The house itself was lovely. It had a walled garden which captured the sun and became warm and peaceful to relax in, as well as a larger garden out the back – which we had a view of out of our bedroom window- with some bizarre looking trees!
Our room was huge, with plenty of storage space and comfortable beds, and although the bathrooms were shared I didn’t experience any issues trying to use them, and we had towels provided.
Downstairs the yoga practise room was long and light, with patio doors looking out onto the garden, and there was a lounge area with wood-burning fireplace and plenty of yoga magazines to read!
The next Relax and Restore Retreats are 10th-12th July, and 13th-15th November priced at £337 per person, and Sally also offers retreats in other locations as well. It was an amazing few days, a great relaxed first yoga retreat experience with plenty of time in between classes for whatever you wanted to do- whether that was walking, reading or simply sleeping! A proper escape from the City and the stress of 9-5, and I loved being beside the sea and allowing my mind and body to just take a break from it all.
Have you ever been on a Yoga Retreat?