Grounding for Mental Health

 

When I’m struggling with my mental health, when my mind is in overdrive, and my nervous system has tripped me into “high alert”, I put my feet in the sand, and I walk.

It only took me around 40 years to realise that this was the answer for me. I always was a late bloomer! (More about that later in the week..).

Now I’ve learned there is science behind it too, but I just know from how it feels that it has a magical effect.

As it would happen, today was one those days. My head was a in a muddle, and my to-do list was getting longer and longer. I couldn’t even think what to write about, and if you know me at all, it’s not that often I don’t have anything to say.

I knew that I had to get out of my head and into my body.

For it is in the body that the wisdom lies. Our body was our first home, and when we go back to it, that’s where we can feel safe, where we can trust again.

Ironically, the body is also the place we go to heal our “body image issues”. For it is not the body that is the problem, it is our thinking around it.

The way to stop our negative thinking around it is to go into it, and to place it into it’s natural habitat – the Earth.

When it’s you and nature, have you noticed you’re really not bothered about your body?

I remember when I was in Lombok, and it was me, a bikini, boardshorts, a moped, a surfboard, and not much else. I never gave a second thought to what shape I was in.

Yet when I returned to the UK, and I was surrounded by images of so-called “perfection”, 8 foot, size 4 mannequins in shop windows, selling a dream that wasn’t real, my insecurities soon returned. In the changing rooms, I was wondering why the clothes in the window didn’t look like that on me.

I remember thinking how ridiculous it was. I had a normal body, if anything, in pretty good nick, and yet there I was feeling “less than” after weeks of not giving a hoot.

So I know now that I need to avoid all of that nonsense as much as possible and go back to what’s real…

What’s real is going back to nature, accepting my body as it is, and where I am now. With my feet in the sand, the sun on my skin, and getting out of my busy mind.

A few weeks ago, I stood up in front of 150 people with only little shorts on. This time last year, I was leaner, skinnier than I am now, but I was way more insecure and I couldn’t have done that with the same confidence, where I did not think once about whether I had a yoga teacher’s body.

That’s because this time around I did not have the voice in my head that told me I wasn’t ok as I was. (If I’m feeling brave enough, I’ll share why later in the week!)

BIGGER AND BETTER

Bigger and Better this year…

When we aren’t grounded, that voice can take over, but when we put our feet into the Earth, we get out into nature, and preferably on our own when we need to, that’s when we learn to observe those voices, question them, ask them if they are true. Eventually we just let them go…

At some point we forget the projections of others, the expectations of the modern world, the unrealistic images of a perfection that doesn’t exist, and we go back into our first home, and it’s OK.

 

mental health awareness week day 1

SUP SAIL YOGA – A Croatian Adventure Retreat

 

 

 

Come Sail With Us!

Enjoy the adventure of a lifetime in Mother Nature’s abundant playground!

Living on aboard a magnificent 51ft yacht, you will be part of a crew of 8 like-minded souls, exploring the beautiful Croatian islands, stopping off for some paddleboarding, yoga and meditation in some of the most beautiful spots that nature has to offer.

The Crew

Under the guidance of Captain Nathan Williams, a fun-loving Master Mariner and owner of GoXperience, you will be learning the ropes, and experiencing first-hand what it’s like to live onboard, put all hands on deck and muck in to make some nutritious meals to enjoy on deck whilst watching the sunset.

 

 

 

 

With many years working at Sea you can rest assured your safety and enjoyment are at the forefront of his thoughts.

Nathan is joined by Yoga Teacher and Wellness Expert Gillie Sutherland, who as well as land-based yoga, also teaches Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga. Gillie will be taking you out of the boards, so you can not only master paddle-boarding, but also learn to do yoga on the board, which is the ultimate blend of fun and relaxation, an experience not to be missed.

 

 

 

WHAT TO EXPECT

There will also be sessions on the beaches, combining yoga, mindfulness and meditation, drinking into the sea air, and enjoying all the health benefits of being out in nature. Sessions are appropriate for beginners as well as the more experienced. all levels, ages and abilities are catered for, although it helps if you love the water!

As a passionate health foodie, with a love of fresh seasonal produce and natural ingredients, Gillie will also be helping create some delicious and nutritious meals to enjoy onboard.

Part of the onboard experience is living and dining together, and the times of year we have chosen are perfect for eating out on deck, making the most of the balmy evening sunsets, re-living the day’s magic moments, and doing a bit of star-gazing (over a glass of chilled wine if you wish!).

Gillie’s ethos is that “the closer you are to nature, the healthier you are“, and this applies to exercise, food and lifestyle factors such as sleep (which is usually of great quality on a boat!.

She will be sharing some of her knowledge and expertise throughout the trip, so that some of the healthful effects you experience whilst on your holiday, you can take back with you and put into your everyday life.

GETTING THERE

With easy flights from Bristol, and only 15 minutes to the marina where you will join the yacht, this is an easy and accessible way to jump onboard a life-changing experience for 4 days (you also have the option of tagging an inland stay in Split at the end of the holiday).

We have dates allocated for these trips, however, if you have a group of 6 people who would like to come together, either as a celebration, a corporate event, or just a fun group holiday then please get in contact and we will see if we can accommodate you on those dates.

LIVING ONBOARD

The Yacht is a Gib-Sea 51, she has 5 double cabins, each with it’s own en-suite. She is big, comfortable and great for exploring Croatia and a very capable platform for a safe and enjoyable adventure on the water.

Although the cabins are shared, this is all part of the onboard experience, and the cabins can be made into doubles or twins, depending if you’re there as a couple or a single (we will assign your sleeping arrangements appropriately so that you feel comfortable. All cabins have their own en-suite bathrooms.

The yacht is based in Marina Kastela, with Captain Nathan onboard, near the famous city of Split in Croatia. Centrally located along the amazing coast line and perfectly situated to head North or South. Croatia has 1247 Islands to explore and we can tailor your experience to suit you, and of course weather conditions.

For these trips, we use the latest and best equipment. For Paddle Boarding Yoga we use Reds 10′ 8″ inflatable boards, with amazing stability. They are perfect not only for yoga but for the beginner and expert paddler alike to use for amazing mini adventures .

Also, as part of the yacht’s equipment, we have a large tender (small boat) for getting ashore and snorkelling equipment for everyone to enjoy and use at their leisure.

TYPICAL ITINERARY

Although we may need to “adjust our sails” according to the weather conditions, a typical day would involve some yoga, food, sailing to a beautiful location, getting on the paddleboards, doing more yoga and meditation, swimming, snorkelling, more food, and a good night’s sleep!

Here’s a typical itinerary though to give you an idea of what to expect:

Fly from Bristol airport ( or any other UK airport which flies into Split)

Bristol flights leave at 6.15am and get into Split at 9.50am

It is a short taxi ride to the Marina Kastela, where you will come onboard and settle in and get your tour and safety briefing.

We will sail to the island of Hvar and moor up around Staligrad, where we will get the boards out and enjoy some Sunset SUP Yoga, followed by a wind-down and meditation on the beach.

Dinner will be on the boat, settling in for the night, and enjoying an early bed ready for the following day’s adventures.

The following days on the boat will start with Sunrise Yoga, followed by a leisurely nutritious brunch onboard, before setting sail to find a quiet spot for some SUP action, snorkelling and swimming before lunch.

Most evenings we will dine onboard, and we will shop and menu plan in advance to ensure all dietary requirements are catered for. It’s an “all hands on deck” scenario with everyone mucking in with food prep and clearing up, but that’s all part of boating life.

On the last day, we will take our flights in the morning back from Split, after a breakfast with our crew mates, and be home in the UK by lunchtime, feeling refreshed and revitalised.

COST:

MINI ADVENTURE

£550 per person

4 night’s onboard the yacht

May 30th – June 3rd 2019 **** LAST MINUTE DEAL FOR £395 PER PERSON 2 SPACES LEFT

July 15th – 18th 2019

3 nights for £495 4 spaces left

July 25th – 28th 2019 FULLY BOOKED

 

** NB Secure your place now with a £150 deposit

Included:

Accommodation on the boat in a shared cabin
Sailing Instruction
Two yoga and meditation sessions per day
Minimum 2 Stand Up Paddleboard sessions, although there will be free time for you to take a board and explore on your own
Good times and good people guaranteed!

Extras:

Flights  are not included, however, flights are available at time of writing from Bristol airport for around £130 for May trip.
For food, we all put in a kitty, and decide what we’d like to get as a group, and along with mooring fees, this usually adds up to no more than 80 euros.
If there is then anything particular you would like to bring or buy when you arrive, the choice is there.
NB Due to restriction of numbers, we only have 6 places for guests onboard at any time, we recommend early booking to reserve your place. The earlier you book, the cheaper the flight, so if you’ve nearly decided then get in touch as soon as possible with any final questions or just how to book, and we can get the ball rolling!

Come join the crew! We’d love to have you onboard.

For more information and for details how to book email gilliesutherland@me.com

SUP SAIL YOGA 2019

– a 3 night adventure on a yacht around the islands of Croatia

 

Thursday 30th May – Sunday 2nd June 2019 SPACES AVAILABLE

Thursday 25th July – Sunday 28th July 2019   SPACES AVAILABLE

 

Thursday 5th September –  Sunday 8th September  2019 FULLY BOOKED

Details here 

 

***NB I can take groups of 6 people on dates to suit you! Email me for details

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoga At The Castle

BIG NEWS!!!!  This is Flow Yoga Devon’s new venue!

candlelit

We are so excited to announce the most exciting venue yet for Flow Yoga Devon. Powderham Castle is steeped in history, the magical family home of the Earl and Countess of Devon.

Yoga lovers Charlie and AJ have generously offered the Grand Dining Hall to host classes for the community, so that members of the public can enjoy this wonderful healing art in the most atmospheric of settings.

Together we will be embracing the colder seasons by boosting the “hygge” quotient throughout the class. If you’ve not heard of hygge, it is the Danish term for “the art of creating intimacy in everyday settings”, or “cosiness” to put it more simply.

So the fire will be roaring, in the evenings we will be lighting the candles, and we will be enjoying blankets and lavender eye pillows to really make you feel like you’re being pampered.

candlelit-3

The aim of these classes is to make yoga accessible for all. We want people to feel comfortable that they are not going to be pushed beyond their limits, or compete with others, but rather find the joy and the healing that is available when you learn to use the breath to connect your body and your mind, and discover just how good you can feel when you give yourself the space.

Come and join us, and experience some yoga magic in this special place.

When:

Initially the classes will run for 6 weeks from 7th November until 17th December 2017.

Mondays 6.45 – 8pm Yoga by Candlelight

Set in the atmospheric dining room of Powderham Castle, the mood will be set to “cosy”, whilst we enjoy an escape from our busy lives and discover the healing benefits of yoga on the body and mind.

To book click here

Wednesdays 9.30 – 10.45am Flow Yoga

This class is all about balance, energising yet relaxing, strengthening and lengthening, challenge and rest, all you need for a healthy, happy body. Spend the morning at the castle, meet new like-minded people, and be inspired to feel good.

Numbers are limited to ensure quality and safety throughout the class, and this also means that all levels are welcome, as modifications can be given for special conditions*.

*To be discussed with the teacher prior to the class.

To book click here

Who:

Classes will be run by Gillie Sutherland of Flow Yoga Devon. Gillie has 25 years of experience in the field of wellbeing, and holds a degree in Physical Education as well as qualifications in ashtanga, hatha and aerial yoga, and fitness pilates. She lived and studied in India for a year before setting up Flow Yoga, and she is also a columnist for the Express and Echo as their expert on health and wellness.

Gillie creates a unique experience combining her scientific and spiritual knowledge, with a relaxed and fun element, making it accessible for those new to yoga as well as the more experienced.

Cost:

£30 for 4 classes if paying upfront. To purchase a block of 4 classes click here https://bookeo.com/behappyfit/prepaid.
You can then book which classes you would like to attend. If booking forst 4 weeks, and you use them all, your final week is free.

Drop-in classes are £9 per person and subject to availability.

candlelit-2

YOGA and SUP Retreat 2016

YOGA and SUP Retreat

4

The Best of Both Worlds in The Algarve this October

 If you believe that life is about balance – between rest and movement, fun and relaxation, challenge and recovery, land and sea – then this could be for you.

 Join me and other like-minded souls for a 7 day retreat by the stunning beaches and islands of the Algarve just as it’s starting to get cold over here again.

25    7    6  18

October is the perfect time in Portugal – plenty of sunshine, mild enough to do yoga outside, and the sea is warmer than at other times of year, so perfect for watersports.

Set in the Butterfly House retreat, offering boutique accommodation, a swimming pool and a tranquil rural setting, we will be staying just on the edge of Ria Formosa Nature Park with its sand dunes and estuary, and only 20 minutes from Faro airport.

RiaFormosa_7maravilhas

Parque Natural de Rio Formosa

Flights to Faro are cheap and available from several major as well as local airports, from as little as £80 return. Fly from Exeter, Bristol, Gatwick, Stanstead, Manchester, Liverpool, and Glasgow, amongst others.

The Retreat includes:

  • 7 days of full board, including 3 nourishing meals a day cooked by a local chef specialising in healthy Ayurvedic-inspired cookery made from fresh, seasonal ingredients, and all bottled water.
  • A choice of accommodation to suit all budgets at the Butterfly House retreat, in one of the lovingly restored farmhouses, set in beautiful gardens with plenty of hammocks for chilling out in.
  • 2 x 90 minute classes EVERY DAY with me , Flow Yoga Teacher Gillie Sutherland. I will be designing a programme of yoga classes for the week to compliment your stand-up paddleboarding, and leave you feeling refreshed and revitalised. Given the gorgeous weather of the Algarve, we have the opportunity to use the outdoor Yoga platform which is surround by beautiful countryside and the sound of bird song.
  • SUP lessons, including all equipment hire, for 4 days of the week run by a local watersports school. This will include at least one away trip in the week (pick ups and picnics provided).
  • Great company! It just seems to happen that these retreats attract fabulous people 🙂
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Mealtimes at the retreat

Extras are available such as Ayurvedic treatments, horse riding, kayaking, kite surfing, and boat trips, and we may arrange a trip to one of the islands one day for those who are interested.

But for now, all you need to do is choose your accommodation, pay your deposit and book your flight. I am limiting this holiday to 12 spaces on this retreat, as I have found this to be the ideal number for a good group dynamic and individual attention. Your place will be confirmed upon receipt of the deposit of £250.

Date:               Saturday 8th October 2016 – Saturday 15th October 2016

 Location:        Butterfly House, Quelfes, Algarve (near Parque Natural de Rio Formosa)      

 Accommodation Options:

nice bed    21  24 accomm

 Shared Apartments

Large double room, 2 x single beds, bathroom shared with 3 others = £785 p/p

Upstairs glass fronted Mezzanine room, 2 single beds with shared bathroom (3 others): £725 p/p

(Please note that this room has a 100 Euro reduction because although the room is comfortable the ceiling is slightly sloping and is 2 meters at the highest point)

Private Rooms

Double bed with Ensuite bathroom (only 2 available)

  • Single Occupancy = £975 p/p
  • Double Occupancy = £805 p/p

Double bedroom (double bed) bathroom shared with a max of 2 others (2 available)

  • Single Occupancy = £925 p/p
  • Double Occupancy = £785

A deposit of £250 is payable upon booking and full balance by August 10th 2016. Email me on gilliesutherland@me.com for details of how to book.

For further details on the Venue, Location, Activities and Accommodation please see the website www.yogaholidayalgarve.com.

ayurveda

 

 

 

 

 

 

Le Wild Retreat is here!

It is here!

It is happening!

We are going to France to soak up some of Europe’s purest prana and water this June 2016.

Join me and other like-minded balance-seekers for a week of nourishing food, yoga and fun in this stunning setting in nature. My aim is to have you feeling energised, refreshed and full of good memories.

We will be staying at a magical retreat centre hidden in a valley of interlocking spurs in the forests of Aveyron, in the south of France. An entirely secluded eco-run hamlet, our expanse of wild tranquility.

Retreat package is just £495 for all food, accommodation, yoga, meditation and walks. Flights are around £120 return to Toulouse, and I will arrange transfers to and from the retreat. Take a look at what to expect

 

Yoga

The theme will be “wild” of course – the concept being that the closer to nature you are, the healthier you are. The yoga will have a “primal” flavour, based on the principles of Natural Movement and will be a blend of energising morning classes, and restorative evening sessions with meditation, and of course as many wild venues we can find to do our vogue warriors!

The yoga deck is the most stunning view, and meditation in the mint field is going to be very special.

With two yoga teachers for the week, both of us keen foodies as well as coaches, you won’t be short of support or encouragement either.

There is also a hot tub to enjoy in the evenings as well!

Food

An additional element will be that we will be learning and journeying through the chakras, not just in terms of the yoga, but also with our food. Inspiration from my new cookery book, The Chakra Kitchen!

We will be clean eating, and although not an entirely vegetarian retreat, vegans and those with special dietary requirements will be catered for.

We will be catering for ourselves, and I put the shopping list in to the retreat owners before we arrive, so we can all put in our orders as well as ideas into the mix. You can get involved as much or as little as you like in the cooking, but we hope for it to be an educational and experiential retreat, where we all learn from each other and create some special dishes, everyone getting something they like.

There is also a wood fired pizza oven and a Bar be Cue so they will be special evenings we will have together, and we will go out into Gaillac one evening to sample some of the local cuisine as well.

Logistics:

Arrive: Sunday 5th June 2016

Depart: Saturday 11th June 2016

I have looked at flights from Bristol to Toulouse and at the moment for those dates it is £124 return with Easyjet

 

Dep 5/6/16 15.45 Arr 18.30

Dep 11/6/16 16.15 Arr 17.05

There may be connecting flights from other local airports in the UK, and also some very cheap options from London Gatwick, City, Heathrow or Luton. Hopefully you can find an option that suits.

Accommodation:

The accommodation will be for 6 nights and all food will be included in the cost.

All are shared rooms however there is the option of The Pool Room (private room, bathroom and building) at a premium cost of £575 for the week.

Otherwise the cost of the retreat is £495 which includes accommodation, food, walks, and 2-3 sessions a week.

Transport

I will arrange your pick up from Toulouse airport once I have your flight details

I am also intending to hire a couple of cars to transport us around for the week so that we can go and explore the area and take trips into town as people wish. For this we will share the costs, the cars should work out at around £30 each for the week.

Venue:

You can see details of the venue here. It really is a special place, and in one of my favourite areas of France. I travelled here two years ago and is a must for nature and food lovers!

http://www.wild-retreats.com/

The accommodation will be for 6 nights and all food will be included in the cost.

All are shared rooms however there is the option of The Pool Room (private room, bathroom and building) at a premium cost of £575 for the week.

Otherwise the cost of the retreat is £495 which includes accommodation, food, walks, and 2-3 sessions a week.

I am also intending to hire a couple of cars to transport us around for the week so that we can go and explore the area and take trips into town as people wish. For this we will share the costs, the cars should work out at around £30 each for the week.

Cost:

£495 per person for 6 nights food, accommodation, yoga, walks, transfers and some activities.

Guests arrange their own flights.

To secure your place I just ask for £100 deposit for the retreat, and full payment by 1st May 2016.

There are just 8 spaces on this retreat, plus two yoga teachers, so it will be a nice intimate group (all fabulous I am sure!) with plenty of laughter and fun that I can guarantee J

If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to ask.

Email me on gilliesutherland73@gmail.com to book.

 

Nourish Don’t Punish

It is around this time of year that the nation becomes obsessed with the number on the scales, the tightness of the jeans and the calorific content of every meal.

We commit to get fit, and decide that this year is the year we are going to hit our target weight.

Yet time after time, people fail in their attempts to lose weight long term, they drop off their plans, or just as bad, they stick to them but in the process, they make themselves miserable.

So why is it that so many diets fail? Is there another way to approach this that doesn’t need to be so flipping boring and difficult?

The answer could lie in a new movement in nutrition. I was chatting with my nutritional therapist colleague Anne Richardson the other day, and we both believe in an eating psychology that is more empowering, positive, and ultimately, more effective.

I have spent my career trying to change the mindset of dieters, trapped in a cycle of denial, punishment, strict regimes that focus on diminishing what we feed ourselves, which lead to feelings of missing out and not having enough.

This approach is neither satisfactory nor sustainable.

We need a more positive approach. Our bodies are meant to be fed not starved, and we need to focus on what we put in them, not what we take away from them.

The answer lies in one word – Nourish.

To nourish means to provide with the materials necessary for life and growth. When we give the body what it needs and wants, we feel satisfied, we don’t suffer the hunger, energy and cravings that accompany diets. Instead we feel fulfilled, rewarded, full of life and vitality.

Of course, we have to consider the impact of the choices we make, so awareness is key, and asking ourselves if a certain food is going to nourish us adequately, in terms of its nutritional value as well as it’s taste and satiety, is key.

For instance, for my daily diet, I know that a good breakfast is the secret to how I feel for the rest of the day. Many people believe a granola breakfast to be healthy, so will choose that whilst trying to lose weight. If I was to have granola, I would be hungry less than two hours later, and be in a cycle of energy highs and lows for the rest of the day. An egg-based breakfast, however, sustains me and means I eat less overall throughout the day.

It’s about finding what works for you, and also finding what you feel nourishes you on all levels. We need to feel like we are treating ourselves well, because this leads to feeling good about what we are doing, which is the secret to keeping it up. We need to nourish ourselves, not deny ourselves.

Marc David, a consultant in the field of Nutritional Psychology, believes it is more than just what we eat.

“Nourishment is not just “nutrition.” Nourishment is the nutrients in the food, the taste, the aroma, the ambiance of the room, the conversation at the table, the love and inspiration in the cooking, and the joy of the entire eating experience”.

I believe it is also about more than just what we eat, but what we do with our time, and how we treat our bodies, including the exercise we do.

Too many people seem to be punishing their bodies with exercise they don’t enjoy, or causes them pain. It shouldn’t be a hardship, it should make your body feel great at the end, which is why I love yoga – it’s about finding what feels good. The same goes for dancing.

If you’re not smiling through it, it’s not doing you much good!

We need to eat what nourishes our body, do what nourishes our soul, and choose thoughts that nourish our mind.

So next time you are making a choice, no matter how healthy you think it is, if it doesn’t nourish you, let it go.

 

To find out more about how to nourish yourself, Gillie is putting on a one day Nourish retreat at Highfield Farm in Topsham, which will include yoga, a nature walk, mindfulness, and a cookery workshop, nutritional talk and healthy lunch with nutritional therapist Anne Richardson.

For more information email gilliesutherland73@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Massage at Wild Yoga Camp!

I am super excited to announce that joining us on Wild Yoga Camp is my old colleague from my days running fitness retreats (and friend!) Suzanne Burgess.

Suzanne is one of the special therapists out there who has a “foot in both camps”, you might say. A highly qualified massage therapist, but with a spiritual and nurturing side. Her exceptional knowledge and expertise, combined with her empathetic nature gained us outstanding feedback week on week.

Suzanne Burgess, Sports Massage Therapist

Suzanne Burgess, Sports Massage Therapist

When she wasn’t healing the achy muscles of our tired retreatants, she had the enviable job of massaging the legs of the Stoke City Football players.

Suzanne will be available for massages throughout the camp at a special reduced rate.

£25 for 30mins, or £40 for 60mins

You can rest assured, you will not be disappointed.

For more about Suzanne, read below.

Suzanne Burgess is the practising therapist, brains and soothing hands behind BMG Sports Therapy.  Living and working in the Staffordshire Moorlands, Suzanne qualified initially as a therapeutic masseuse in 1995, following a 12 year military aircraft engineering career.
With a love of things sport and exercise related, she went on to further qualify as a sports massage therapist; practising her skills in self-employment and with a number of amateur athletes and sports clubs, gaining FA “treatment and management of injury” accreditation before studying at degree level for 3 years to become a full time Sports Therapist.

Since qualifying in 2005, she has worked in professional football, where she is currently still employed in the Premier League, and also spent 4 years working in the weightloss boot-camp field. Believing in Balance, Suzanne’s approach to body wellness is holistic and multi-modal, and she will attempt to help restore balance with a variety of techniques, advice and potential referrals to other practitioners where and when appropriate.  In line with this approach, she has added Indian head massage to her skills list in recent years, and has an interest in Reiki, being attuned to the basic level 1.