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Retreat Testimonials

When thinking about what to write in my review, my first thoughts were very clear and simple, Claire’s retreat was genuinely special. Claire has created a magical place at the cottage, where you have a real sense of time slowing down, possibly even pausing for a while, as you slowly sink into this place of stillness. The size of retreat meant it was intimate enough to make real connections while not feeling like you couldn’t take your own time and space, as and whenever you needed or wanted. Claire herself has such a beautiful energy, her warmth and openness are incredibly welcoming, and her attitude and approach to her yoga practice meant I found all of the retreat session’s relevant, achievable and restorative. Our group agreed, we had all been able to find the differing forms of rest and restoration we’d all been seeking. 

The cottage
Being in the midst of Devon’s beautiful countryside, the cottage instantly whisks you away from the day to day of everyday life, inviting you to sink into your new surrounding and begin to unwind. 
The cottage’s history, its story in time; means it has an profound slowness about it that, without really realising; gently drew my body and mind out of its day to say automatic pilot, into ‘now’ and being present.
With Claire offering a pick up/drop off from
the station less than 10minutes away, travelling by train was an easy, relaxed option. Equally, I would happily drive to the retreat in the future. 

My room
I was in the ground floor annex bedroom and I really enjoyed being in space, my window onto the garden was lovely first thing in the morning and looking at the stars last thing at night. I slept restfully and deeply every night, and realised after my first night, that I couldn’t think of the last time I had dreamt and remembered it the next morning. The retreat’s impact on my body and mind really began as soon as I arrived at the cottage.

Claire food was delicious, so much so that I found myself eating far more than I would normally and felling better for it. My body seemed to instinctively know that meals were nourishing and comforting, and that our food on retreat was as important as the yoga practice, rest and good sleep. Every meal was made from scratch, super tasty and the whole group enjoyed sharing and discussing Claire’s food, and homemade drinks too! 

The group
Leaving the retreat I felt so very fortunate to have shared the time with such an amazing group of women. None of us knew each other, we were all different characters and we got so much from being together, sharing our thoughts and stories, listening, being open and present and genuinely enjoying our uniqueness and connection in equal measure.

I hope to go back again this year, thank you Claire for creating such wonderful place to escape to, to rest, to connect and dream.  

"I've never been on a retreat like this and to be honest I was a little nervous not knowing what to expect and with such a small group of people. But as soon as we arrived at Orchard Cottage I could feel the weight of the past week's stress fall off me. Its a beautiful house full of character, surrounded by peaceful countryside and Claire is such a welcoming host, making us all feel at ease immediately. The cottage garden was a lovely space to practise yoga in the evening sun as well as being full of a wealth of produce which we enjoyed at mealtimes - herbal teas, cordials, spiced crab apples, damson ice cream among some of the treats. Silent walks in the morning were a great way to start the day and we enjoyed a wild swim on Dartmoor and yoga in the local church when the weather turned for the worse. Claire made sure the programme suited all of us and adapted as we went, both to the needs of every member of the group and the weather! The space was beautiful, the yoga was relaxing, the food was delicious, the conversation was enlightening and I came away feeling refreshed and inspired. Would highly recommend. "

“I have both long covid and complex ptsd. I was worried about whether the retreat would be too much for me with my limited energy levels, physical limitations and social anxiety. 

Instead I found it tremendously warm and welcoming. Everyone had their own room with a really comfy bed in which to relax alone but the communal spaces were also very chilled and it was fine to just take myself off to a different bit of the house or garden if I wanted to be alone for a bit. 

There’s a great range of food and drink on offer and people kindly filled and refilled my plates and mugs to save me getting up and down. They made sure I knew when meals or snacks were ready so I could rest in my room knowing I wouldn’t miss out on breakfast or cake. 

The schedule for the days was flexible to meet different needs and wishes. When others went for a walk I enjoyed a long bath and a nap wrapped up in a fluffy towel. 

The yoga sessions were tailored for all levels and if I got tired or sensed I might get overwhelmed I just rested in child’s pose or curled up with a big pillow. 

I recommend bringing a cosy onesie or loungewear and also slippers. And waterproof boots if you want to check out the views of the beautiful surrounding area.”

"I can’t recommend Claire Whalley’s Yoga for Life retreat highly enough. I had never been on a retreat and was unsure of what to expect. I needn’t have worried - from the moment I arrived I felt immediately at home and a sense of warmth, empathy and acceptance. 

The venue was a beautiful 17th century thatched cottage with an ancient orchard garden and views of the surrounding countryside from the bedrooms.

My bedroom was cosy and comfortable with soft pillows and a snuggly duvet. There was a large shared bathroom next door and a shower room on the other side. This plus three toilets meant you never had to wait despite sharing. 

The food was gorgeously presented, delicious and plentiful with a focus on locally sourced ingredients including fresh fruit, cheese, honey and Devon cream. We tucked into homemade bread, jams, cakes, pickles, cordials and herbal teas. 

Yoga classes were tailored to the needs of each participant. You could take them at your own pace which was perfect for a beginner like me. The daily activities were flexible and included walks and wild swims on Dartmoor, yoga and meditation sessions, massage and time to read and rest. 

The atmosphere was warm, welcoming, positive and there were lots of smiles. 

I’ll particularly remember the morning meditation in the garden and the evening yoga nidra by the log fire. 

I came away feeling relaxed, refreshed, optimistic, and ready to approach the next chapter of my life."

"When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of 2020, I had recently joined a local yoga class. My treatment started in January 2021 and finished in December of the same year. I decided to join Claire on the recent Yoga retreat to see if I was both physically, and emotionally ready to practice yoga again. It was a fantastic weekend, and Claire understood both my physical limitations, and my emotional reaction from taking the time to stop and process what had happened over the past year. The weekend was extremely healing for me, and showed me that if I “stand in my power” I can heal, move on and start to both enjoy the present and look forward to a future with renewed energy and focus. I will definitely be booking to come again." - Shaenna

"The yoga for life project retreats are a blissful ‘must have’ self care weekend away to find your inner balance and peace. Claire is the most wonderful teacher, warm, funny, clear, compassionate and super supportive. She allowed us to go at our own pace and gives each participant the individual attention they deserve. The location in the New Forest is idyllic, the food sublime and I can’t wait to book myself back on to it again. What are you waiting for!" - Nick

"I approached the retreat with some apprehension as I'd been unwell for a few months and wasn't sure how much I could join in with.  But as soon as I arrived I was made to feel at home by the warm, calm, genuine hosts, delicious nutritious food cooked around a special diet I was following, all situated in a gorgeous old family heirloom house.  The feeling of the whole retreat was approachable, accepting and warm, and the yoga and schedule was tailored to each individual's needs.  I also loved the walks and meditations, it was such a nourishing experience." - Sarah

"Claire’s retreats are truly wonderful. She has a deep understanding of yoga; she also brings a genuine care and thoughtfulness about the people she is teaching. She is  fun. And brilliantly irreverent when it’s needed. Claire’s yoga is deeply rooted in healthfulness and joy. Absolutely recommended." - Pia

"I joined the Yoga For life weekend retreat in Devon last year and would highly recommend the experience.

The retreat was held at Battisborough House , a wonderful old country house , formally a private school ,but now used for functions and retreats such as ours. It sits in its own grounds with fantastic views of the South Devon coastline.

The activities consisted of ‘wild swimming’ (supervised swims along short and not so short sections of the coast line.) , restorative yoga sessions led by Claire Whalley , and very nice and plentiful vegetarian food. A life drawing class and walks along the coastal path were also on offer.

There was a full program of activities, but you could do as much or as little as you wished without any pressure.

My partner and I managed to fit in a game of tennis (there is a court at the centre) and a visit to the lovely little nearby village of Noss Mayo. (You would need your own transport for that however).

There were 20 or so participants on the retreat of varying ages and backgrounds, as well as yogic experience and swimming ability, we had our meals together and got to know each other a little and make new friendships over the few days.

It was a very refreshing and nourishing way to rejoin society after a long Lock Down period ." - Gary

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