Spring clean your soul

Alicia Thakrar finds contentment on a South Downs retreat


Spring clean your soul

A deep sense of gratitude flowed through me as I walked around the grounds of Florence House in the South Downs. The warm glow of the sun basked down over me. It was the weekend before Easter and I had booked into the legendary Lisa Sanfilippo’s Spring Clean Your Soul retreat.

The retreat promises to ‘bring awareness to every aspect of myself’ with a carefully crafted combination of Transpersonal Yoga, Lisa’s unique blend of Anusara yoga and transpersonal psychology, and Dr Barbara Mariposa’s powerful Mind Mood Mastery teachings and meditations. Their goal is to teach yoga and mindfulness practices that one can implement into their daily life for a more peaceful existence.

We were welcomed onto the retreat with a gentle yoga session in a sun-filled room looking out on the luscious gardens. Spring had sprung and there was nowhere else I’d rather be. The setting was magnificent; the cliffs a five-minute walk away, perfect for some soulful solitude between sessions.

Dinner was a three-course affair – and it was perfection; nutritious and mouth-wateringly delicious. The evening was completed by mediation with Dr Mariposa – a Western doctor turned Five Elements acupuncturist and experienced Zen practitioner. I floated up to bed afterwards and slept like a baby.

We would begin and close each day with Dr Mariposa – my favourite morning meditation practice involved being led through the grounds by a fellow ‘retreater’ while my eyes were closed. I had to relinquish control and trust somebody I barely knew. It was scary, liberating and powerful.

I must admit I had concerns about my limited yogic practice, however I needn’t have worried. Lisa is probably one of the best teachers I've met, she blends yoga sequences and breath work with Tantric philosophy and psychology. Her experience and deep level of awareness is evident in the way she interacts with each member of the group, always generous with her attention and often more invested in my postures than I was! She shares with me later that her intention is to create time, space and support for her clients to help us trust the strengths inherent in our soul nature. From personal experience, and having observed her impact on my fellow retreaters, I can tell you Lisa does this incredibly well.

I was also lucky enough to secure a Five Elemental Acupuncture appointment with Dr Mariposa – it was my first time under the needle and a very big shift for me. I am a big fan now – I have my third appointment scheduled with her next week at her London practice in Primrose Hill.

There were so many wonderful things about my retreat; from the incredible women who joined me on the journey to the overwhelming sense of contentment that is still with me. I think I will forever be different.

Yoga Retreats with Lisa Sanfilippo range from 2 nights at Florence House, South Downs to 10 days in Cambodia, prices start at £395 and include full board, two yoga classes a day and optional morning and evening meditation classes. Visit LisaYogaLondon.com for more information and to make a booking. Dr Barbara Mariposa and Lisa Sanfilippo are available for private appointments in London.