This year we are celebrating our 5th year of hosting retreats at Bala Brook.  Our summer retreat on Dartmoor has become a very special event in our annual calendar.  It is such an honour to host yoga retreats in such a magical and inspiring location.  It is always fun to be working as part our Bala Brook team and of course we always look forward to Christine’s delicious food which is always made with such love and care.

Our weekend programme included Yoga, Meditation, Chanting, Yoga Nidra and there was plenty of time to rest, explore the local area, see old friends and make new friends.

Our Saturday morning workshop “Art in the Landscape – Enshrining Space” was be led by Nicci Wonnacott, Artist/ Educationalist/ Activist – BA (Hons) Fine Art/Contextual Practice, PGCE.   In this workshop we gathered natural resources, reconnected with the land, celebrated the land and our ancestors and created a beautiful shrine.

‘I have been has been exploring Goddess archetypes through creative practice for over 25 years in my land work I consider art in the environment through site, ritual, intuition and meditation. As a gatherer I reconnect with the land and the goddess archetypes, ancient women who have walked the path. As I gather, walk and breath form which I create shrines as an act of celebration and respect for the land and the mothers who came before. Enshrining Space’ – Nicci Wonnacott

Nicci has worked as a site specific artist and lecturer for many years. Her interests in gathering help her produce shrines to honour nature as well as jams, wines, cordials, tinctures and natural dying. Nicci was commissioned illustrated The Seasonal Goddess Group with paintings inspired from Devon landscapes.

Our June retreat fell just after the Summer Solstice.  The Summer Solstice is a time to celebrate the fullness of life, to step further into our power, to embody this power and to bring it into the physical form as a new habit such as a new way of being in your body or as a new manifestation.

Bala Brook workshop

BB Jun 2016

Tree Dartmoor

Co-hosted by Julie Bladon / Jackie Dorrian

The Christmas holidays and New Year can be hectic. Searching for the perfect gifts for everyone, completing work in advance of the holidays, Christmas parties, getting all of the food in, preparing food, making time to catch up with friends and family. We can become very frazzled and worn out. This holiday season is a perfect time to unplug from your devices and take a digital detox.

  • Take a Break from your devices

Do you find yourself spending endless hours staring at your computer or device screen? Get lost in endless links and find you have wasted hours surfing the internet. Take a break. Give yourself a rest. Get some exercise. Try yoga and meditation.  Spend some time in silent contemplation.  Spend quality time with friends and family. You’ll feel refreshed, you’ll have more focus, you will feel energised and less likely to become distracted.

  • Turn off your devices for better posture

By switching off your devices for an extended period of time you will begin to notice a better posture. An opening of the front of your body, shoulders moving back and realignment of your upper spine. Your energy will open up, you will interact more naturally with others, you will appear more approachable and you will be more present. This will lead to better eye contact, deeper conversations, a sense of relaxation and great empathy towards others.

  • Not in the bedroom

Winter is the time for rest, rejuvenation, reflection, time to go within and to slow down. It is important not to take devices to bed with you. Looking at screens late into the evening and in bed prevents you from switching off properly and will affect your natural sleeping patterns. The blue light from screens suppresses melatonin in the body which makes us more alert as we are going to sleep. You may find you are getting enough hours sleep but it may not be a high quality sleep. If you normally use your phone as an alarm clock, buy an alarm clock. Over the holidays you may have the opportunity not to set your alarm and allow yourself to catch up on sleep.

  • Have proper conversations to feel more connected

Create bonds with others by having proper conversations. Gain insight into someone’s mind by having conversations. Conversations can be memorable and engaging, you will learn new things about others and yourself. Don’t jump on Google to find the answer, allow the conversation to develop as you explore the answers. It’s a lot more fun!

  • Switch off to improve your memory

Even after a few days without technology, you are more likely to remember obscure details about others. Neuroscientists believe that this is because when people are more present in conversations, their brains are able to process and store new information more easily. With the many distractions of technology, our brains have been trained not to register seemingly insignificant details. These minor facts are actually very important in the process of bonding and learning about other people. Rather than taking endless photographs we can be present and in the moment, taking in the details and using all of our senses to absorb the information. We will have a greater recall of events when we are fully present.

  • Developing New Perspectives

When you are offline for a while, it gives you space to review your career or relationships. You may wish to address your habits surrounding your health, fitness and lifestyle. You can really focus on yourself and discover areas you wish to transform.

  • Get creative

Stepping away from your devices can allow you to find new ways to be creative and achieve a state of flow. This time and space will help original thinking and big ideas. You may wish to try something new such as dancing, singing, making Christmas cards, baking a cake, creating gifts, mindful colouring in, silent meditation. The list is endless, don’t limit yourself and give new things a try!

  • Change your morning routine

Instead of checking your social media or email first thing, write down on paper three things that you are grateful for. Appreciation can make you a happier person and more positive. Doing this evokes positive sentiments, so when you’re feeling low reading over this list can be a great reminder of all the good things in your life.

  • Get outside

Make the most of the great outdoors and lose yourself in green space. A day out without your phone can feel liberating. You will more fully absorb and appreciate your surroundings. Being in a natural environment does wonders for your clearing your mind. Getting out into daylight in winter can really help with our wellbeing and promote a more positive mood.

  • Ask a stranger for directions

Try not to rely on Google Maps for every turn. Asking somebody for directions forces us to engage in human connection. It could put a smile on your face, and theirs – people love knowing they’ve helped someone out. Plus, you could get some inside knowledge of the local area that a screen digital map couldn’t tell you.

  • Eat, drink and be merry… but don’t post it!

Enjoy the festive season. Have fun with friends and family. Experience great food and new places but please resist the urge to post every detail online. Switch off your phone and appreciate the present moment. Being present and mindful will make your Christmas even more memorable.

  • Start a digital swear-jar

To keep your good digital habitats going into the New Year you could start a digital “swear-jar” with friends, family or colleagues. Every time someone checks their phone mid conversation, they have to put money in the digital “swear-jar”.  This really highlights the amount that people use their phones while engaging with others. You can use the collection for a gadget free night out, you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll raise funds!

Use this holiday period to balance and set new boundaries. Allow yourself to completely rest and rejuvenate. Take the time to gain control over your devices rather than the other way around!

Have wonderfully restful and peaceful Christmas and New Year.

Self-care is not selfish or self-indulgent.  We cannot nurture others from a dry well.  We need to take care of our own needs first, then we can give from our surplus, our abundance.” Jennifer Louden

Life can be busy, demanding and stressful.  With ever increasing demands from work, family obligations and life in general, we may feel the consequences of not taking adequate care of our physical, mental or emotional health.  We can end up feeling drained, depleted, stressed and out of control.

For some, self-care may seem like an impossible luxury.  You may be running at a thousand miles an hour, never catching up and the thought of self-care may even seem selfish to you.

Self-care is not a luxury, it is ESSENTIAL.  We cannot operate from an empty vessel so ignore any warning signals from your body, mind and spirit at your own peril.  If we do not take the time to fill up our vessel, we will have far less to offer others including those closest to us.

If self-care is being avoided, your body-mind-spirit will start to flag up this lack.  Initially the signals may be subtle but if ignored, over time, the messages will get louder and louder.  You may experience anger, frustration, fear, impatience, lack of energy, illness or injuries.

The key is to understand when we feel unbalanced and to identify self-care strategies that work for you.  We need to understand what helps to restore and nourish us.  This may be different for each individual but developing your self-awareness can help identify what works for you.

Here’s a list of self-care activities.  See what resonates with you and add anything that makes your heart sing.  We have a deep inner knowing so take the time to connect with your heart to understand what your body, mind and spirit are calling out for.

  1. Eat healthy fresh foods – Plant based foods or those closer to the sun (less processing) will have greater energy and health inducing qualities.  Eating a nutrient packed diet can help you be more productive, reduce stress, ensure that you are healthy and help you to live longer.
  2. Get sufficient sleep each night – The recommendation is 6-8 hours per night and make sure that you switch off devices several hours before bedtime as the artificial blue light affects your circadian rhythms and melatonin levels which can disrupt the quality of sleep.
  3. Take regular exercise – Find something that you really enjoy and commit to it on a regular basis.
  4. Get outside – Sunshine and sunlight are hugely beneficial for our health and wellbeing.  Sunlight can help with the production of Vitamin D which the body can store for about a month.  Regular exposure to sunlight, particularly in the winter months, enables the body to maintain levels of Vitamin D.
  5. Maintain your social networks – Social support and social interaction have a positive influence on our physical and mental health. It helps lower stress, depression, anxiety and also highly affects our endocrine-immune system.  We are social animals so positive social interactions are hugely important.
  6. Laugh! – There’s nothing like a deep-rooted belly laugh.  Laughter is known as the best medicine.  It can help lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormone levels, improve cardiac health and trigger the release of endorphins.  No wonder it feels so good!
  7. Meditate daily – Developing a daily meditation practice can be hugely beneficial.  Your life will become calmer and clearer, it helps to lower blood pressure, helps to reduce stress, your mind becomes clearer, you will be able to achieve more and you will feel amazing!  You may feel that you don’t have the time to meditate but start off with 5 minutes and increase your practice over time.  You will find that extra time will open up for you as you deepen your practice.
  8. Get a massage – A soothing massage can help you unwind.  Massage is known to help with reducing stress, pain and muscle tension.  It’s a perfect way to dedicate some time to yourself in order to replenish and nourish.
  9. Cultivate hobbies – A hobby is an activity that you enjoy.  Hobbies can enhance your well-being and give more meaning to your life.  It’s a chance to connect with ourselves and to explore our creativity.
  10. Develop mindfulness – Mindfulness is developing a moment-to-moment awareness of our experiences without judgment. Mindfulness can help reduce stress, improve focus, decrease emotional reactivity, improve empathy and compassion and promote a better quality of life.

Go ahead and find out which self-care strategies work for you.  These may change over time but make a start.

Here’s a gentle reminder: Take care of yourself today.

Taking good care of YOU, means the people in your life will receive the best of you, rather than what’s left of you.” ~ Carl Bryan, Tennis Coach

Self-care is a divine responsibility” ~ Danielle La Porte

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My summer programme has well and truly kicked in! My diary is packed with yoga retreats, festivals, classes, workshops and writing. I’m in the process of writing an e-course which I will start filming in a couple of week’s time. It’s a really exciting development and I can’t wait to get this course up online.

In my busy schedule I am a making sure that I take time to get out to enjoy the summer. This includes regular walks at the beach, yoga practice, meeting up with friends at local cafes and taking time to catch up on some reading.

Spiritual Ecology – The Cry of the Earth, a book of essays edited by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, has just arrived. I’m enjoying dipping into the various essays written by elders from around the globe such as Thich Nhat Hanh, Vandana Shiva, Satish Kumar, Chief Oren Lyons and many others.

This book is important to the survival of humanity. We must reconnect with Mother Earth and treat her as a source of life instead of a resource to be plundered. Everyone must read this book, understand it and live it if we are to leave anything to our children and grandchildren.” ~ Hanne Strong, founder The Manitou Foundation and Earth Restoration Corps

The first essay I have read isIn the Time of the Sacred Places” by Winona LaDuke. Winona is an activist and voice for Indigenous consciousness devoting her life to protecting the lands and lifeways of Native communities. In this essay she talks about the importance of sacred sites and how place belongs to our deeper understanding of spiritual ecology.

For many years I have been interested in Indigenous cultures and their connection to Mother Earth and sacred places.

Since the beginning of times, the Creator and Mother Earth have given our peoples places to learn the teachings that will allow us to continue and reaffirm our responsibilities and ways on the land from which we have come. Indigenous peoples are placed-based societies, and at the centre of those places are the most sacred of our sites, where we reaffirm our relationship” ~ Winona LaDuke, “In the Time of Sacred Places”

The essay highlights a selection of cases where the land has been named and claimed for the empire and desecrated for mineral rights and financial gain. Some cases go back to the 1850s and others are in most recent years for example Eagle Rock, known as “the home of the White Wolf and the High Place”, a sacred site to the Anishinaabe and other peoples for centuries.  Rio Tinto Zinc, a UK based mining company through their subsidiary Kennecott submitted plans to mine the copper deposits adjacent to this sacred site. It has been a seven-year battle and the Michigan regulatory authorities ruled against the tribes, the water and the sacred site, stating that “the site could not be sacred or did not have spiritual significance because a place of worship must be a BUILDING”.

The state, on these grounds approved the mining permit. In response, the leadership of the HoChunk Tribal Court noted, “consultation should include learned tribal members who are the leaders of our ancient societies. Their knowledge spans the time prior to Christianity and Christopher Columbus. It is this understanding that makes who we are. There is no other place where tribal people can gain this understanding….

This is the difference between world views – where one society, an industrial society, views a rich ore body, and another society views this as a source of great spiritual and cultural wealth.

It has been a seven year battle for the sacred site and now a petition to the United Nations for intervention under the declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to not only protect their sacred sites but to be protected from minerals exploitation which will destroy their life ways. A separate petition to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, by the National Congress of American Indians requests, “that requirements be imposed on Kennecott Eagle Minerals to mitigate the negative aesthetic impact of the proximity of the mining operation to Eagle Rock and that members of the various Native American communities be provided unfettered access for traditional use of the sacred ceremonial place”.

The Anishinaabe and their supporters who care for this land and do not wish to see the threshold of the world’s fresh water poisoned, have continued to gather and pray at and near Eagle Rock – amidst its strength and in the face of greed and destruction.

We can learn much from these Indigenous peoples and these cases illustrate how far we need to go in order to restore the health and wellbeing of Mother Earth.

I’d highly recommend Spiritual Ecology and I’m looking forward to diving into the other essays within the book.

Visit my Events page to find out What’s On over the summer.

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Goddess Power Yoga Retreat – Suryalila Yoga Retreat Centre, nr Seville, Southern Spain

Saturday 20 – Saturday 27 May 2017, Prices from £800 pp shared room

“When we focus our gifts and talents that are inherent to us as women, we are able to live from a place of authenticity, courage and clarity.”  ~ Katalin Koda, author of “Fire of the Goddess”

Join Julie Bladon (Jayadevi) and Jackie Dorrian (Jagdambe Ma) for this powerful 7 night yoga retreat.  We will explore our yoga practice, meditate, activate & deepen our connection to our inner feminine.  We will be inspired to create our life anew, transform any obstacles into power, rediscover our inner passions.

This retreat is for women from all walks of life and we will guide you on the path to reclaim your divine self.  Our mixed programme is perfect if you are starting your yogic journey and wish to explore different styles or if you are more experienced and wish to immerse yourself in your practice. 

Join us in stunning Southern Spain!

~Immerse Yourself in Daily Yoga and Meditation

~Celebrate The Divine Feminine

~Reclaim your inner soul spark of power, love and wisdom

~ Reconnect with others and the environment

~Take time for you – Rest & Restore

Our Goddess Power Yoga Retreat will take place at Suryalila Yoga Retreat in the heart of the Spanish Andalucian Hills, Southern Spain, close to the charming villages of Arcos de la Frontera and Prado del Rey.

Suryalila Yoga Retreat is a world class yoga venue with fabulous yoga shalas, cosy designer accommodation, outstanding organic cuisine, salt water swimming pool and sauna set in 45 acres of land.  A striking part of the natural beauty of this retreat centre is the breathtaking vista extending in all directions: rolling hills, fields of sunflowers, and lakes. The sense of vastness and expansiveness is very uplifting!

Click here to find out >>

Picturesque Suryalila has a very special energy. It is run with complete love and respect. The staff, the views, the food, the accommodation and much more are why I keep coming back. It is completely magical!”—Emma Henry, Senior Jivamukti Teacher, London, UK

We understand that life can be busy and stressful so this yoga retreat is a perfect opportunity to take care of self, replenish, rejuvenate, relax and to have time to “just be”.  Take the time to honour your body mind and soul.

You may travel as a group or solo but it is guaranteed that you will meet like minded people on retreat.  Retreats are perfect if you are travelling alone, you have the choice to spend time with others or enjoy your own space if you wish.  This luxury retreat is led by two experienced yoga teachers: Julie Bladon (Jayadevi) and Jackie Dorrian (Jagdambe Ma), who will teach yoga classes in a variety of styles including Akhanda Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Yin Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Sivananda Yoga and Yoga Nidra.

During the 7 night retreat, each day will consist of two yoga classes, meditation plus additional workshops.

To book please complete the booking form below and a deposit of £200 is payable.  Full balance due by 31 March 2017.  Monthly payment plans are available, please ask for details.


Day of arrival (Saturday 20 May)

Saturday Schedule

17.30 Opening Circle & Yoga

19.00 Dinner

For full travel information click here >> 

Normal day schedule

07.00 – 09.00 Yoga & Meditation

09.30 Breakfast

11.30 – 16.00 Free time

13.30 Lunch

16.00 – 18.00 Yoga

19.00 Dinner

Spaces are limited so please book early to guarantee your spot!

Snacks, Treats & Beverages

In the dining room, you can also find healthy snacks, ice cream and a selection of beverages including organic wine and beer. Suryalila has an honesty list to sign when taking these items and you pay for everything at the end of your stay.

Package includes:

– 7 nights accommodation

– 3 gourmet vegetarian buffet style meals per day

– free tea, coffee, fruit and drinking water

– welcome pack to help you unwind

– twice daily (morning and afternoon) yoga & meditation classes

– one rest day when you may wish to rest at Suryalila or explore the local area.  Trips and excursions can be arranged.

– a blissful Yoga Nidra session where you will enjoy complete physical, mental and emotional relaxation

– free use of internet

– free use of salt water swimming pool and sauna

– time to explore local hikes

– the yoga studio is fully equipped with yoga mats, blocks and bolsters

Optional activities include: Deep Tissue or Thai massage, horse-riding, optional excursions and hiking trips in the stunning nearby Natural parks and the White Towns of Andalusia and much more…

Not included:

– Flight to Spain

– Travel Insurance

– Airport Transfers

– Snacks / Treats / Beverages / Shopping

– Day trips & excursions

– Massages & treatments

For bookings and queries please contact or refer to the following links.

Suryalila Retreat Centre >>

Co-hosted by Julie Bladon / Jackie Dorrian

Any changes to reservations must be made in writing.

Retreat Testimonials

Really loved the space created.  Particularly appreciated the suggestions for daily practice which I will take away.  Enjoyed the discussion in the studio in some sessions and Friday morning interactive session excellent, liked having time to ask about postures and learning from other people’s questions in the group.  Thank you Thank you Thank you

The place & people were very enjoyable & a good mix of personalities.  You two have been very accessible and welcoming.”

Thank you Julie and Jackie for a wonderful week, full of joy and fun.  It has been very interesting to experience different types of yoga practice and different teaching styles.  I feel I have learned a lot and have been convinced that I can include daily yoga practice into my usual routine.  You are both excellent inspirational teachers and I appreciate your hard work planning the sessions and all the smooth organisation.  Thank you again for your patience and kindness.”

Good caring and friendly group – I felt very comfortable being part of it.  Thank you Julie and Jackie for making the retreat such a pleasurable experience.  What a fantastic experience thank to you two. Thank you thank you! Yoga will never be the same again.”