Enjoying break time with a wheatgrass shot
Bloom Spring Equinox Retreat at Brantridge Park

Bloom Spring Equinox Retreat at Brantridge Park

Bloom Spring Equinox Retreat 2016

This year’s Bloom Spring Retreat was doubly special. Firstly it fell actually on the equinox weekend, so we could share and explore the shift from winter to spring together. Plus this year we added a theme of Cycles of Womanhood. This meant that the nutrition workshops, cookery workshops, yoga, qi gong and mealtimes were all aimed at supporting hormonal balance and flow.

Creating a Bloom Spring Retreat is no mean feat. We always have so much we want to share with you, in terms of both information and experiences. And we also like to make the Spring Retreat accessible to people who find it difficult to take time away from work or families. So we run this one over a long weekend in Sussex, with the option of coming just for the day on Saturday – which is quite a short space of time for the amount of content we like to provide.

“A completely holistic, mindful and divine experience”

What we think makes it work is that all the classes, workshops and talks feed into each other and interweave harmoniously with each other. We have been running workshops and courses together now for many years, but we noticed this happening right from the start. This is perhaps why Gemma Edwards, a weekend guest on her 2nd retreat with us, describes the Bloom Spring Retreat in this way:

“I loved every minute, and left feeling nourished, nurtured, inspired and re-eEnjoying break time with a wheatgrass shotnergised. Kirsten & Hayley’s passion and enthusiasm is truly infectious, and whilst the word “holistic” can often be used without real meaning, I can without a doubt say that the Bloom Spring Retreat addressed mind, body and soul in so many ways that I wouldn’t hesitate to describe these wonderful few days as a completely holistic, mindful and divine experience. I would wholeheartedly recommend!”

Another weekend guest relates:

“This retreat was absolutely beautiful. Kirsten & Hayley put their hearts and souls into it. They clearly live and breathe everything they taught us, which resulted in a wholly honest and inspiring experience.”

Authenticity, trust and being present

This was lovely to hear, as we aim for authenticity in everything we do. We are not just teaching concepts, we are sharing an approach to life that works for us. An approach withoutmindful walking rules or boxes, I hasten to add, but one that trusts our own bodies, and therefore requires acceptance and flexibility. A continuing theme than runs through our work/play is how to be present enough to feel and hear what we need.

Alyshia, another Bloom Spring Retreat guest, experienced this in the yoga, qi gong, mindful walking and eating, and general spirit of the weekend:

“Deeply profound. I can feel my insides and the ground beneath. I have never felt so deeply nourished and encouraged to be within my own body and mind and to use that as my means to move from. Huge gratitude Kirsten & Hayley.”

“About time this kind of knowledge has been made available.”

The wisdom and knowledge we share is from years of personal study and exploration. We are influenced by ancient traditions and scientific research. We are both strongly drawn to the Chinese Five Element system, a beautiful way of seeing patterns and connections, and a sensitive way to help create balance and flow in our lives. On this retreat, we focussed on Water Element evolving into Wood Element as winter became spring, and the Fire Element as it nourishes the reproductive organs.

Our holistic cookery classes focused on creating nourishing, plant based, glspring equinox lunchuten and refined sugar free meals, from ingredients that support hormonal health. As our work is so inspired by 5 Element Theory we also looked at foods for the liver and Wood element.
Spring is naturally a time for cleansing so there were plenty of all things green, as well as bitter and sour foods, and foods particularly high in zinc. Hayley also talked about the importance of calming foods and the energetic benefits of slow, gentle cooking methods. Just as important as the nutrients and the recipes is the awareness we bring to cooking. Hayley demonstrates how we bring yoga into the kitchen and how our state of being affects the food we create.

Nutrition workshop with KirstenThe nutrition workshops explored the 5 Elements further, and also dived deeply into the biochemistry of the hormonal system. Kirsten’s has been described as “queen of the analogy” as she brings science to life and makes quite complex topics easy to understand. On this retreat, Kirsten kept bringing everything back to the importance of supporting the liver – the hub of our detoxification processes and key to keeping oestrogens in balance – and the adrenals. She describes the adrenals as the foundation of your hormonal system. Their stability and nourishment is key to everything else. And yet so often we are stuck in a freeze response to trauma and stress, which spirals out to affect everything including menstrual/menopausal health and how well we nourish ourselves.

Yoga & Qi Gong
Hayley practices and teaches a very practical style of Qi Gong, using simple yet powerful exercises for health & wellbeing. Paying extra attention to the Water and Wood elements (kidney/bladder and liver/gallbladder organ systems), specific movements and healing sounds were practiced with the intention to open and mobilise all the major joints, stimulate the meridian channels and clear stagnation.

The yoga sessions worked on undoing tension held within the pelvis, sacrum, hips and lower back.  As space is created and the breath is allowed to move deeper we observed the organic movements of the pelvis and pelvic floor in relationship to the breath. These deep internal movements are essential for healthy blood flow and thWorking on the feete vitality of the reproductive organs.

The feet also played an important role in the yoga classes and Hayley shared some of her favourite foot opening exercises. Opening and strengthening the feet can affect the entire body. We particularly paid close attention to the space between the legs, which we so often collapse into, especially through fallen arches/flat feet. When the feet collapse the knees weaken and the pelvic floor becomes dull and lifeless. Alive, strong and responsive feet generate lift and transmit energy from the earth, up through the body towards the spine and beyond. In this case the space between the legs becomes active and fully supportive.

First time on retreat

Exploring new ingredientsWe love having new people come to our retreats, as we want to share as much as we can with as many people as possible. We appreciate it can be daunting to come on a retreat for the first time, whether it’s for a week, a weekend or just one day. We do everything we can to create a friendly atmosphere – but actually, we are always delighted with how well and how quickly our retreat and workshop guests bond with each other. One of our favourite things is hearing the sharing, supporting and laughter of the group in break times while we’re putting the kettle on and preparing a snack.

This was Carole’s first retreat experience, and she loved it:

“Never done anything like this before, but Hayley & Kirsten made me feel so welcome. I would definitely do it again. Learnt lots! Thank you!”

Another one-day workshopper commented:

“This retreat is great for anyone interested in health and nutrition but doesn’t know where to start.”

 See you on another Bloom Retreat soon!

We also love it when people keep coming back for more:

“This is my 3rd Bloom Retreat. Hayley & Kirsten always create a wonderful opportunity Break time on retreatfor me to become more present and support me on my journey in well being. They are wonderful teachers who truly live their teachings. Thank you.”

We want to keep creating these wonderful opportunities. These safe spaces for people to let go, explore, and listen. The shining smiles and sparkling eyes at the end of each retreat bring us so much gratitude for being able to work with each other and with you.

So come to our next Bloom Retreat! At the time of writing, this will be our Bloom Summer Retreat, June 7th-12th in the South of France. Here we will immerse ourselves in how to recover from the physical, mental and emotional effects of stress. There will be a strong focus on calming inflammation to help prevent chronic illness, and on improving energy levels. All in a stunning French chateau just an hour from Toulouse.
More info and bookings.