It’s not often I take the time to kick back and relax, but I had a great opportunity to do so last Monday when I attended a retreat day. The retreat, named Body in Balance, is put together by yoga teacher, somatics instructor and general sport scientist, Sylvie Walls, and Bowen and Emmet practitioner, Lynn Dearlove. If these are words you’ve never heard before, hang tight. The aim was to introduce retreat-goers to a range of physical wellbeing therapies, as well as practice some good old-fashioned relaxation and mindfulness. Mixing tried and true science with techniques for body awareness, relaxation and problem solving, it sounded like something I could get into.
The day started with an hour and a half of somatics with Sylvie. Somatics is described as ‘a field within bodywork and movement studies which emphasises internal physical perception and experience.’ Essentially, it’s like a really deep stretching, working with a similar range of positions and movements to yoga, but holding them for longer, which means you can get deeper into the stretch than you can normally, feel what’s going on inside your body, and increase your range of movement and body awareness. When it was finished I felt great. As someone who exercises regularly but rarely finds the time to stretch properly, I find Somatics is a great way to have a proper good stretch and realign your body. It’s also great for reducing chronic muscle pain and recovering from injuries.
After Somatics there was a short seminar from acupuncturist, Kim Underhill, about the benefits of Chinese medicine. As someone who came in knowing nothing about acupuncture and even less about Chinese medicine, it was an enlightening discussion about how acupuncture can be used to treat a huge range of maladies and health issues – it can even be used as an effective surgical anaesthetic.
This was followed by a delicious healthy lunch, cooked by Lynn, of soup, quiche and a selection of local cheeses, which we enjoyed on the balcony of the beautiful chalet in which the retreat was hosted.
Lynn took centre stage after lunch with a series of demonstrations and discussions about Bowen and Emmet therapy. In a way that followed on nicely from acupuncture, Bowen and Emmet therapy both work with certain points or areas across the body which can be manipulated into helping the body heal itself. Bowen is generally associated with a deep feeling of relaxation which was particularly enjoyable as Lynn expertly practiced some Bowen moves on the entire group at once. Bowen lends itself particularly well to this as it involves a lot of breaks while your therapist allows your body to right itself after performing a move. Afterwards we were able to watch Lynn as she performed Emmet therapy on the group individually, where we were able to see some pretty instantaneous results. My tight knee muscles following a surgery felt instantly more mobile.
Sylvie capped off the day with a meditation session, complete with lavender eye-masks and blankets, ending the day with an incredibly relaxing experience.
While I went in with an open mind and left feeling full of new knowledge, I accept that alternative therapies aren’t for everyone. However it was a highly enlightening day and would be great for anyone who feels like they’re spending too much time popping painkillers to deal with bodily niggles, or hasn’t found doctors’ visits or medication useful. Or just for anyone who wants to become more body aware. It was also great to spend a day dedicated to my own wellbeing and taking some time to do something beneficial for my body. Usually I spend the day sitting at a computer, running or falling off bikes, so it was a very welcome change to spend a day in a lovely chalet with interesting people, becoming more aware of my body and learning some new things.
Sylvie and Lynn are running their next day retreat on the 6th December at Chalet Perdrix. They’re also planning to run longer retreats, as well as a selection of day retreats throughout the winter season. Find out more on the Body in Balance Facebook Page.
You can also find out more about everything Sylvie does, from massage to personal training, at element-ame-energie.co.uk. If you’d like to book an Emmet or Bowen session with Lynn, drop her email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Fine out more about the Emmet technique HERE. You can also visit harmonyhealthmorzine.com to find out more about Kim Underhill’s acupuncture.