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Yogapushpanjali Yoga Camp

This July yoga students of all ages came together for a week of yoga, relaxation and fun at Iyengar Yoga (UK)’s first ever family yoga camp.

The event was organised by teachers Annie Beatty and Sarah Delfas, who have shared this report.

Yogapushpanjali Family Yoga Camp took place in Sussex during the last week of July.  The first event of its kind for the organisation, its aim was to provide a setting where children and adults could enjoy yoga classes in a relaxed environment where childcare needs were met and life was made as easy as possible for parents.  

40 students (including 18 – 20 children) came from across the UK including Ireland and Scotland, and we even had a family come from Switzerland.  Among them were Iyengar yoga teachers, regular students and beginners.  We camped in the grounds of Michael Hall School in Forest Row – we managed to borrow a tent for the Scottish family who couldn’t bring one with them – and the weather was generally kind.  Some attended for just a few days, but many booked for the whole week.

The day started with a children’s yoga class at 8am, after which children were given breakfast and then taken outdoors for games and forest activities with our fantastic outdoor teachers, Olly Room and Arthur Dyer.  During this time adults enjoyed a longer class and had time to recover and have a late breakfast before the children came back from the woods.  

In the late afternoon teenagers had a class while adults had a more restorative session – the children in the meantime were kept happily busy with crafts – and then we all met for a tasty supper followed by storytelling of the Ramayana.  

Our wonderful storyteller Maria Zourari managed to bring this whole epic to us in seven instalments of around 45 – 60 minutes, complete with musical accompaniment.  Adults and children were mesmerised and two lively seven year-old boys begged their mums to stay an extra two days at the camp so they could hear the end of the story (and of course their mums agreed!) The story with its yogic concepts in turn wove into our yoga teaching.

Uday Bhosale came along for the last weekend of the camp which also drew in a wider range of students (another 20) for his adult workshops.  The children and teenagers were left hugely inspired by their playful yet rigorous classes with Uday.

We tried to keep costs to a minimum, to keep the event as accessible as possible, so there were many hours of voluntary admin. Our chefs, Julie Withers and Susan Doyle, volunteered in return for as much yoga as they could manage between cooking and washing up, as did our crafts teacher, Annabelle Davis.  This goodwill played a huge part in the warm and generous atmosphere campers said we created.  

The venue was extremely reasonably priced and helpful throughout the week – we were also able to offer a free place to its caretaker and his family in exchange for a sound system, although in the end Uday proved loud enough without it! The caretaker had a bad back and he and his wife came to classes, totally amazed by what Iyengar yoga was and the relief it could bring.  

Older children helped out with the younger ones, creating a warm family atmosphere and all the staff, including those new to Iyengar yoga, loved it and want to come back next year.  

We plan to repeat the event now that we know that the idea can become a reality.  And next time we plan to provide even more food! Feeding people proved really popular and a vital part in making parents feel truly nourished and refreshed by the week.  Our chefs made a small budget stretch a very long way, and it made for a very easy camping-with-kids experience.

Sitting down and eating together twice a day also contributed to the warm and supportive nature of the camp and provided a chance to chat at a deeper level than the usual few words after class.  Our yoga extends far beyond the mat…

It felt as if people left uplifted and touched by what Iyengar yoga brings in all respects.  

Here are some of the comments sent in afterwards:

“I have felt profoundly nurtured as a mother: from having a quiet cup of tea in the morning looking at the beautiful setting, to being able to do a proper yoga practice without being interrupted and being able to focus on the yoga experience, from having delicious healthy food prepared with such care (can’t tell you how nurturing that has felt) to leaving my child free to be independent, safe and in nature (where she belongs). In that space, I felt my daughter was happy, mature, engaged and I felt proud of her.  The week has improved my yoga so much and I have gone back home to a more regular practice feeling improved in my asanas. I am a single mum of three children, having been on the brink of burn out at the end of every summer. Yet I have come back feeling restored, refreshed and serene.”

“Ever since my son was born I have not been able to do as much yoga as I would like. There are no classes near to where I live and I cannot travel too far. Being the mother of a child with autism is knackering (less sleep and lots of challenging needs to cater to). Therefore this camp – which allowed me to access and enjoy high quality Iyengar yoga teaching whilst knowing my child was looked after and enjoying purposeful and enjoyable activities too – was so relished and needed.”

“Feels like we’re part of a big yoga family now. I think as much as important as it was to have kids doing yoga during the week it was as important that my husband was included. So it was a real shared experience for us.”

Interested in hearing about future Yogapushpanjali events? Drop us a line here

Yogapushpanjali tickets for 22 – 28 July 2024 are now on sale!

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