On Friday 9th November, I was delighted to have been invited to a Zen Day by Debbie Jenkins, Co-Founder of The Health and Events Company, based in York, at the most beautiful location Deighton Lodge, just on the outskirts of York City Centre, owned and hosted by Carla Mitchell.
Loving all things yoga, health and wellbeing, I jumped at the chance to go along to find out what was on offer on the Zen Day Retreat.
As I drove down the long drive way towards Deighton Lodge, I could feel myself relaxing immediately. The beautiful scenery, peace and quiet surrounding the venue didn’t disappoint. Being only a few miles from home but already feeling like I was a million miles away from anywhere.
A lovely warm welcome awaited me from the host Carla, who showed me where to find a selection of lovely refreshments including homemade, plant based snacks such as energy balls and granola bites. They were delicious!
As I sipped on my lemon and ginger tea, I awaited the arrival of four other guests. They were coming from far and wide and they had all taken the option to stay for the whole ‘Three day retreat’. As they arrived one by one, they were shown to their rooms, before meeting back in the cosy lounge before our first class began.
We met Debbie from The Health and Events Company, who, along with her business partner Lucy were running the wellbeing activities for the three days. Debbie was lovely and made us all feel welcome too. She made it clear that the day/days could be filled with as much or as little as you liked. You can do all the classes and workshops or you can dip in and out as you please. She suggested the theme of the weekend was all about self care and gaining some balance in your life.
Perfect, just what myself and the other guests were looking for.
Once we finished our delicious refreshments and said our hellos to each other, around 10.30 ish (it was so lovely that there was no strict timeline, it was a kind of, as and when everyone was ready approach, which made it feel even more relaxing) we wandered outside the back of the main house, past the beautiful gardens towards the barn and wow, what a beautiful space.
The Yoga Den
As we walked in, draped white curtains, hung on a huge tree branch creating a mystical doorway into the Yoga Space. Walking through, you could smell the beautiful aromas of the oils and hear the soothing music. The mats with accessories were all laid out for each person and the room was styled with candles and lovely touches to yoga everywhere.
Debbie started our first class by introducing herself, her background and put us all at ease by explaining what we were going to be practising in our first yoga class of the day.
We went round the room and introduced ourselves and talked about what we were hoping to gain from the Zen Day or retreat weekend.
The yoga then began, a lovely, soothing vinyasa flow, with adjustments for all levels and challenges for anyone wanting a little more. The practice was accompanied by a chilled upbeat soundtrack which I loved and fitted beautifully in the rustic barn surroundings. The class ended with a short relaxation. Debbie’s approach to teaching was warm and supportive and due to lots of different levels in the group, she taught a class which satisfied us all and left us all feeling challenged and nourished. .
As we floated back to the main house to get some hot tea, we were told lunch would be served shortly. As we sat by the freshly lit wood burner in the lounge, the smells coming from the farmhouse style kitchen were delicious and being a foodie, I was really excited to see what we were going to be treated too.
What a feast we were given. Spicy tomato and butternut squash soup, served with soy yogurt and warm bread rolls. Followed by roasted vegetable vegan tarts, tomato and onion salad and hummus with carrot and cucumber sticks. We enjoyed our lunch sat around the large dining table chatting away, getting to know each other better. The lunch was perfect for a cold autumn day in Yorkshire.
We were also treated to delicious gluten free and vegan cakes for pudding too, served with more tea. What a treat!
The next hour or so after lunch we were given time to relax and unwind. We had time to read, go in the hot tub, if we were feeling brave enough or some ladies chose to head back to their guest room for some time out. I decided to sit by the fire and enjoy some more tea and get to know the other retreat guests a little better. It was pure bliss.
Our second session of the day started around 3.30ish and instead of being in the barn, we opted for the cosy room next to the lounge for the restorative yoga session. In this workshop, which had a lovely Yin feel, we used props and blankets to get really comfortable in the poses which we held for some time.
The deep, slow sequence of postures felt really grounding and a perfect slow afternoon workshop was enjoyed by all. Although restorative and slow, the poses made their impacts on my body as I felt my back lay easier against the floor and tensions release from my shoulders and hips. Our practice was followed by a short guided meditation ending the session.
As we all came around from the class, we again made our way back to the sitting room, where the fire was roaring and more refreshments were available. It was around 5.30pm now and it was dark and cold outside which made the house even more inviting.
For the last part of the days events I was given an option. I could attend the Pilates workshop on the schedule or I could go for a Ayurvedic Body Massage with Rani, a lovely lady who had joined us for the evening, director of Vasuki Ayurveda Health and Beauty. I opted for the massage.
I joined Rani in one of the guest rooms which she had set up as a treatment room. I lay on the table and was treated to a one hour full body massage. The deep tissue massage, was just what my body needed and Rani worked her magic with warm oils on all the tension I had in my shoulders and back and helped ease my tight hamstrings. It was such a lovely treatment that complimented our yoga practice earlier in the day. I felt, leaner and taller somehow, like I had been stretched and pulled back into the right direction.
After my treatment I went back to meet the other ladies just finishing up their Pilates class, which they all seemed to very much enjoy. It was then around 6.30pm and as another guest went off to see Rani for her massage, I was invited to stay for dinner. I couldn’t refuse, again the house was filled with amazing aromatic smells coming from the kitchen.
At around 7.30 ish (time seemed to lose its importance as the day went on) we all sat down for dinner, again homemade by Carla. We were served a platter of vegan and gluten free delicious curries. Aubergine Rogan Josh, Courgette and lentil Madras and Sag Aloo, served with rice, raita and warm pitta bread. Large jugs of lemon and cucumber water were served to keep us all refreshed as we enjoyed the warming evening meal. A large bowl of fresh fruit and delicious ice cream followed for dessert, it was the perfect end to the perfect day.
I stayed until around 9pm, when I decided I would leave the other guests to enjoy the rest of their evening and weekend. Chatting with them all over dinner, it sounded like they had a fun packed and relaxing couple of days ahead of them to enjoy, filled with more yoga, Pilates, workshops, talks and yes more delicious food. Wow, what a treat they were in for.
It was such a wonderful day and I feel so grateful to have been able to be one of the first guests to have experienced the Zen Day retreat. It really did feel like an oasis of calm just a few miles from the city, where my mind, body and soul were looked after for the whole day and where the biggest decision I had to make was which delicious herbal tea I should enjoy next, whilst I relaxed by the roaring fire.
Everything was taken care of, so much thought and detail was put into the day, making every guest feel welcome and at home, which for me, made it the perfect retreat in York. I will definitely be returning to Deighton Lodge very soon and maybe next time I will stay for the whole weekend!
I have been told there are three places left on the next retreat on the 18th, 19th and 20th January.
What a perfect way to start 2019.
If you are interested in booking or for more information please see all the details below.
The Health and Events Company
Debbie Jenkins & Lucy Nickson
Tel: 01904 593481
Tel: 07468 496143