Coming back to this country after five days in Ibiza was dispiriting. I had completely unwound. I’d led the pack paddle-boarding around the bay (thanks to my newly discovered SUP skills – cheers Dom!), run along tree-lined coastal roads, swum for hours in the sea watching the fish beneath me and even indulged in a deeply spiritual sun salutation by the pool.

So, having returned to the UK and rainy summer days, I was suffering post-holiday blues.

I dragged myself out of bed on a blustery Sunday morning, grabbed my yoga mat and drove, somewhat bleary eyed, to Upton Country Park. There’s a lot going on – as well as day visitors and renovations, the grounds were playing host to a weekend food festival and like me, yogis were rocking up in big numbers for Park Yoga.

Park Yoga is a countrywide event series – sister to the popular Park Run network – and Upton Country Park has to be among the nicest venues. It feels exclusive and inherently peaceful. I’m heartened by these free, organised events. It felt mischievous to benefit from guided tuition and glorious surroundings for only the price of parking.

It’s no secret to my friends and family that I dislike the wind! It aggravates me, so I was worried that it would disrupt my practice. As our lovely instructor accurately observed though, the walled garden – in which Park Yoga takes place – provides some shelter. What a relief. I was already starting to feel more awake and more inspired by the picturesque surroundings.

The atmosphere at 9.30 on a Sunday morning was relaxed and supportive. I shared knowing smiles with other participants while we stretched and chilled out waiting to get into our flow.

It was tricky to hear with a small PA system attempting to conquer a large, outdoor space and prevailing breezes but, with so many others taking part, it was easy enough to glance around and check where I should have been putting my left leg or right arm at any given moment.

I’d dump myself somewhere in the middle of the yoga field. Intermediate is probably accurate. At the start of the practice, I was worried it wouldn’t be challenging enough. There were people of all abilities gathered around and the instructor said it would be pitched towards the introductory end of the scale. But she gave so many options that it was perfectly possible to adapt the flow to suit and I even picked up some variations on poses that were completely new to me.

We were treated to a wonderfully long savasana at the end. As any yogi will tell you, this ultimate recovery pose is the most important part of your practice. However hard I try, I’m always tempted to rush it and get on with things that feel more productive. In this setting, I could completely give in to 10 minutes of mindfulness such that I had to peek around to check everyone else hadn’t already left. It was genuinely that quiet.

The perfect, recuperative start to a Sunday and antidote to holiday withdrawal symptoms, I was glad that I’d showed up on my mat that morning. Seeing the food festival setting up on my way out, I was tempted to stick around and explore, but that would have undone all the good work of my morning flow now wouldn’t it?




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