Retreat and find your calm with Sweet Yoga

By Sarah Edwards at

A New Year’s resolution to mark the new millennium has become a way of life for Justine Farnworth.

She is now on a mission to share her love of yoga through her own health and wellbeing business and divides her time between her homes in Ludgershall and Portugal.

After seeking out a yoga class to help with pains in her back, neck and shoulders which were symptomatic of years of working in the corporate world as an Executive Assistant, Justine quickly became hooked on the whole, calm and centred feeling that comes from practising yoga and was soon in teacher training and on a life and career changing journey.

Justine now runs www.sweetyoga.co.uk a retreat set among the pines of Portugal where she welcomes guests who take part in Vinyasa, Yoga Therapeutics and Restorative Yoga. Her life is a million miles away from the high stress and hectic corporate world that she once worked in.

Justine said: “From the first class I attended I remember feeling whole, calm and very centered afterwards. I know now that impression was my spirit coming home. My first teacher introduced me to the concept of transformation, before long I was in teacher training with Yogacampus in London and by 2006 I was fully qualified.

“I studied with world famous teachers like Shiva Rea, Rod Stryker, Judith Lasater, Scott Blossom, AG Mohan and more. More recently, my calling has shifted towards therapeutic applications of yoga and I’m currently studying Integrative Yoga Therapeutics with Bo Forbes. Personal and non-personal experience of trauma, stress, illness, suicide, anxiety, grief and depression place me well to teach this style of yoga. I also bolster my expertise with insights gained from a biomechanical osteopath because I like to look beyond the original texts of yoga to apply a real-world approach.”

Justine teaches Vinyasa, Yoga Therapeutics and Restorative Yoga. Vinyasa means mindfully flowing through sequences combining movement with breath – using the main muscle groups and connecting with deeper subtleties. Restorative means total body support with no movement – first aid for the nervous system leaving you nourished and well rested.

She added: “By exploring and pausing in postures we can view our internal dialogue and bring about a more meditative quality. That way we experience a whole mind-body practice not only growing physical strength but mental resilience too – by releasing old tensions we can oust old beliefs about ourselves. I teach both active and dynamic practices plus passive and restorative classes always tailoring it to the needs of the group or individual. My class atmosphere is one of safety and guidance primarily, then space for students to honour their personal journey becomes second nature as it did in the beginning for me. By nurturing growth and community, students can embrace the practice and make it their own.

“Refining my own practice and teaching is an ongoing process. My students say I have a sensitive touch and good awareness for their needs. My goal as a yoga teacher is to help people read their physical and energetic bodies. I think yoga should be a holistic experience where you draw on life experiences and trust your intellect and intuition. For me yoga is much more than the poses.”

With nearly 20 years mat time, Justine respects the roots of traditional yoga but integrates modern day findings for a unique experience.
She added: “My passion is to reveal the wonder of yoga through practices with good breath flow and body smart movement. With guided mind-body connection and mind-mood output, the journey back to the body wisdom is inspiring and energising. My non-dogmatic teaching style and sensitive touch gives me a good awareness for my clients needs. Delivered in English and Sanskrit with demonstrations and safe adjustments.
My practice gives me space for self-work where I can search, feel and embrace what my body is holding that my mind cannot express.
“Our retreat is set in a luxury country villa in the pines of Portugal, to give you all you need to self-restore through yoga, heavenly food and a spacious natural setting. By adjusting to a new rhythm you will unwind residual tension to invite a greater sense of vitality in your life.”

By taking yourself off on this retreat and pulling away from your busy life, you will be creating time for self-understanding through yoga. The morning practices are of vinyasa style and the afternoon are restorative, reframing and releasing. The practices are carefully choreographed to give you an intimate but fun experience. Much of what you do will raise your curiosity about what’s beyond the poses whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or a newcomer to yoga. As you plug-in to your own body’s wisdom you will be less inclined to un-plug. Through that interconnection you will be shown how yoga can infuse your life and not just be limited to your mat.

Justine added: “Our bodies house memories, emotions and longings so to process-through-practice is a wonderful way to find greater freedom. Through movement and stillness our two yoga sessions a day create space to embrace what shows up ~ strength or weakness, overwork or neglect, joy or sadness. The most effective laboratory for self understanding is through the body. In my opinion yoga is the perfect discipline to improve awareness – the more you practice, the more you become aware. You won’t leave empty handed. Apart from all the wonderful memories spending time with like-minded people, you will naturally gather a sustainable repertoire of techniques and tips on how to regularly release tension from your body. You will also receive a gift from me to help you with this for your onward journey through yoga.

We only use high quality mats, props, bolsters, blankets and belts and few personal additions I’ve created along the way.”
There are 6 luxury large bedrooms all ensuite, air conditioned with balconies overlooking the vineyard and surrounding woods.

The villa overlooks its own garden and positioned perfectly for sunrise or sunset on the horizon. It has a pool with sun loungers and a tennis court but just a few minutes walk away is a beautifully kept river beach where you can dip your toes in the crystal blue-flag waters, try a spot of safe and easy wild swimming, or simply watch life at a slower pace from the cafe.

An experienced masseuse can be booked to visit during your stay along witha manicure or pedicure in the comfort of your own room.

Guests can also chill out at the villa in some of the comfy social spaces or sunbathe and swim in the pool. There is also a tennis court and a multi-media room and bicycles (you must bring your own safety helmet). From the villa there are many country walks or if you prefer to wander through the well serviced village you can sit at a cafe and watch rural life go by.
Food is inspired by recipes from River Cottage, Jamie Oliver and Yotam Ottolenghi all with added flair giving the meals an abundance of colour. A abundance of really fresh local produce is used and guests can stroll through the garden and help themselves to figs, apples and grapes. Homemade preserves, relishes, nut butter, sourdough and kefir milk are a speciality, along with Portuguese olive oil and pasteurized local cheeses.

Justine added: “Food is such a big part of our retreat and we enjoy serving our predominantly vegetarian/vegan menu. We also have many wheat free dishes available too. If guests have other dietary requests we will be happy to accommodate. There are two large interior kitchens; the ground floor is the main kitchen with a canopy covered outside eating area. Both lunch and dinner are served here in a homely way. We serve various homemade fruit waters but if you would like to try Portuguese wines and beers we have a selection available to purchase at local prices. On the second floor is the breakfast kitchen where you will help yourself to bircher or cook up eggs – if you like to start your day quietly you have an option to eat on your balcony or as a group at the kitchen table. At anytime during the day you can help yourself to cold/hot drinks, fruit and snacks.”
A quality yogi breakfast with bircher muesli, fresh fruit, eggs, toast and homemade jams is self-served from 8am. The morning yoga session starts at 10am with time afterwards for discussion and individual questions. Lunch is served at 1pm then guests are free to relax until the afternoon yoga.
Justine said: “The most popular afternoon activity is a massage which we organise and is an additional cost as is a manicure and pedicure in your own room. On top of all that you can also enjoy the atmosphere at the local river beach and go wild swimming. We regroup for the afternoon yoga session at 6pm and your evening meal is served at 8pm.”

If you would like to visit Sweet Yoga this summer and recharge your batteries, available dates are as follows:

16-22 June 2018, 7-13 July and 8-14 September
Price
£649 per person / £585 per person if sharing includes:
o round trip airport-to-venue transfers from Lisbon airport

o full-board ensuite accommodation with your own room

o vegetarian-vegan breakfast, lunch and evening meals freshly prepared, locally sourced

o yoga twice a day, pace set just right for the group (newcomers to experienced)

o afternoon excursion to a beauty spot

o fruit, snacks, spring water and homemade healthy cakes

o lovely, tranquil environment with pool, sun loungers & local river beach

o Sweetyoga gift to enhance your practice 

o quality yoga equipment of a high standard and clean!

Excludes flights, massages, manicure & pedicure and incidentals.

Contact Justine sweetyoga@gmail.com for more information and to book.