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Sharon Cain
Time for Life Correspondent
9:36 AM 28th February 2019

Transformational, Inspirational, Sensational - Raw Horizons Retreat

Taking time out: stunning sunset at Raw Horizons
Taking time out: stunning sunset at Raw Horizons
A retreat novice and now zealous convert, I would never have envisioned the powerful and, in many cases, life-changing impact which 65 hours can make on a Juice Detox programme.

Arriving somewhat wilted and worn out, the retreat near Thirsk, nurtures, feeds and re-energises mind, body and soul with positivity, juices and a blissful blend of energy enhancing kundalini yoga and meditation.

Recharging the emotional and spiritual batteries of thousands of women since it opened its doors over 7 years ago to pave the route for its guests’ journeys of wellbeing and self-discovery.

Split Farthing Hall, a tranquil oasis in the North Yorkshire countryside village of Bagby, is an 18th century Georgian home Home and labour of love in a venture born out of a passion to enable women to take time out to share, learn, laugh, invest in - and rediscover - themselves.

The development and investment theme is reflected in the breadth and depth of expertise and knowledge which the team impart freely and generously.

Split Farthing Hall: 18th century Georgian home
Split Farthing Hall: 18th century Georgian home

Lasting change

Raw Horizons was co-founded by Australian-born Andrea Maguire and her step-daughter Dr Claire Maguire, a transformational wellbeing coach with a PhD in medical biochemistry. An author on wellbeing and healthy eating and former breast cancer sufferer, Claire draws on a potent formula to help people live their lives to the fullest and create lasting change.

I embarked on the juicing and yoga retreat - one of four available - with no pre-conceptions or, if I’m really honest having only previously been to a couple of spas, no idea of what to expect. From the second I arrived, the welcome and encouragement from the team set the tone for what was to become my home for the next three nights.

Truly scrumptious: wide variety of nourishing juices
Truly scrumptious: wide variety of nourishing juices

Our yoga and juicing retreat comprised an intimate group of four women from Yorkshire, the North East and Midlands. After introductions and an informal welcome from Andrea, the experience was underway with a two course juice dinner – a Mean Green for mains and Sunset Delight for dessert.

Nurturing the nervous system

Our first meditation session in the contemporary, airy attic was with yoga and meditation expert, Nicole Jackson, who exuded the aura of an angel.

We tuned into what is called ‘Yoga Nidra’ - a meditation and conscious relaxation practice aimed at stimulating total physical, mental, and emotional relaxation. It worked a proverbial treat, paving the way for a good night’s sleep.

Having only embarked on less than a handful of yoga and meditation classes in my whole life, my apprehension about looking awkward and unable to sustain the posture was soon dispelled and I threw myself wholeheartedly into the experience. The courses are suitable for all experience and fitness levels - nothing is prescriptive and you do as much as your flexibility and posture will allow.

Restorative: yoga sessions are enjoyed outside in summer
Restorative: yoga sessions are enjoyed outside in summer

Heart, mind and soul

Aligned with its ethos of enriching and energising, we were eased gently into our first day with a 9.45am juicing breakfast. The meditation had worked so well that one lady who was on her third Raw Horizons retreat, slept so soundly she almost missed the fabulous Ginger Shot – which had more kick than the Moulon Rouge Can Can – and was followed by a sensational Super Juice.

The day’s individual and collective self-discovery journeys brought magical ‘lightbulb’ and memorable moments as the four of us forged a bond. Intrepidly taking a collective plunge into the outdoor hot tub and savouring the streaming sunshine across stunning views of the Vale of York in mid-February was very special.

Friendships forged in tranquil setting
Friendships forged in tranquil setting

Our yoga and meditation sessions ‘went deeper’ that day as we focused on the power of positivity, posture, stimulating our digestion and eliminating negativity.

With our minds bombarded by up to 50,000 - 80,000 thoughts a day (an average of 2,100 an hour), it’s hardly surprising that we find it hard to switch off and I learnt that, just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, this is a discipline that requires regular practice to derive maximum benefits.

Nicole beautifully articulated this by aptly reminding us that we can always return later to any important thoughts which were proving to be obstacles – later on – an easy but effective practice in compartmentalisation.

Techniques to take away

Highly attuned to how guests were progressing and evolving, Raw Horizons equips them with techniques in Kundalini yoga and meditation that can be taken away and integrated into the busiest deadline-driven work and hectic home schedules.

The concept of Kundalini is a coiled snake resting at the base of the spine, an energy said to be the primal life force which lies dormant in all of us. Often referred to as ‘ the yoga of awareness’, Yogi Bhajan, a master of Kundalini Yoga at just 16 years old, brought it to western society after emigrating from Pakistan to Canada in 1968.

I embraced new experiences including a meditation gong sound therapy in which Nicole bathed us while fully clothed - despite the name there is no water involved - in healing sound waves with no fixed rhythm. Designed as a ‘deep cleanse’ to aid detoxification and transformation, it aims to achieve Alpha brainwave states which bridges the gap between conscious and sub conscious, and Theta brainwave states connecting us to our raw emotions.

Deep cleansing: Nicole facilitates meditation gong sound therapies
Deep cleansing: Nicole facilitates meditation gong sound therapies
Any angst we felt about being hungry were unnecessary as we enjoyed six delicious different juices each day in the lovely Orangery. Savouring every mouthful of the Fruit ‘n’ Nut dessert reinforced the adage ‘you are what you eat’ as we settled in the snug like old pals and watched ‘Fat Sick & Nearly Dead’. The motivational film was about how Australian Joe Cross, who weighed 310lb and suffered from a debilitating autoimmune disease, embarked on a journey where he saved himself and others from an early grave.

Day 2 and 39 hours later, the real world was becoming more distant as we were fully immersed into our retreat. The sessions ramped up to 3 - 1 yoga and 2 meditation – as we descended into a deeper level with self-healing mediation techniques. Giving gratitude for our lives and everyone and everything we treasure and value was particularly encouraged.

My favourite class was a high-energy expressive session to balance our 7 chakras (blocked energy here can often lead to illness) - where we literally ‘let go’ to different rhythms aligned with chakras spanning emotions including survival, pleasure, self-worth, love, self-expression and pure bliss.

For me this cemented how the programme attuned us to reconnect with our inner selves and feel comfortable with fellow guests that, less than two days ago, had been total strangers.

Venturing back into the world

Our final morning yoga session was geared up to preparing us to venture into the world more invigorated, with tips on maintaining the protective ‘shield’ we had metaphorically created around us.

Integral to all our yoga sessions was the Mantra ‘Sat Nam’ – a seed symbolising the truth of the soul. During the last session, exercises included a powerful ‘Kirtan Kriya’ chant advocated by the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation for improving brain function and reducing memory loss.

Our final breakfast was a wonderful surprise – a nourishing, very filling and gorgeously decorated smoothie bowl (we’d all been worried about leaving with a juice and falling off the wagon at the first hurdle!).

I looked round the table and marvelled how the four of us had grown and blossomed in just two and a half days – glowing skins, increased confidence and vivacity abounding. Our sense of well-being has been further accelerated by various relaxing holistic massage and therapies.

Delivered by top class experts, they span Reflexology, reiki, Shiatsu/Tuina, Exfoliating Body Scrub and Massage, Cord Cutting Meditation and private 1:1 coaching from Claire.

A retreat in every sense of the word, uplifting stories of the transformational nature of Raw Horizons are as plentiful as the care, support and expertise Andrea, Claire, Nicole and the genuinely committed and caring team administer throughout your stay.

Guests have included a Middle Eastern Princess who signed up for four days and stayed a month, women whose pain has been dispelled, others who threw in their jobs to follow their passion and true self.

Holistic therapies are integral to the retreat’s potent formula
Holistic therapies are integral to the retreat’s potent formula
Lifelong friendships are forged here with women - who hail from the UK, Europe and further afield including the US and Australia - returning time and again. If you asked our group, which is communicating regularly via a WhatsApp group we set up – if they wanted to do it all over again, they’d say ‘yes’ in a heartbeat.

Fiona L, who, a few months before arriving at Raw Horizons, had been promoted to an even more demanding job, explains why: “I felt I was heading for burnout and worried I would not be able to sustain the frenetic pace.

"The retreat has made me reflect the importance of being kind to yourself and how it really is ok to put yourself centre. I’m returning to my home and work calmer and enlightened in the spiritual sense.”

Key facts

Raw Horizons Wellbeing Retreat can be found on https://www.rawhorizons.co.uk/
T: 01845 591272, mail info@rawhorizons.co.uk

From 2019 all retreats listed below except the Healthily Happy Retreat are open to men:

Healthily Happy Retreat: https://www.rawhorizons.co.uk/healthily-happy-retreat/
Find Your Passion Retreat: https://www.rawhorizons.co.uk/find-your-passion-retreat/
Juice Detox Retreat: https://www.rawhorizons.co.uk/juicing-yoga-retreat/
Yoga Weekend: https://www.rawhorizons.co.uk/yoga-relaxation/