First published on Draze
A thousand feet up, after a steep bit of hiking over undulating paths and craggy rocks, we’re all looking remarkably poised as we stand gazing over Lake Windemere. Usually, twelve mile walks and steep climbs make the shoulders hunch and the legs seize up, but Kevin and Yen seem to have hit upon the magic formula to prevent this from happening – yoga. The husband and wife team run yoga and hiking weekends across Europe, and as we found out on our weekend in the beautiful Lake District, their stretch and march approach is a wonderful balance.
Sixteen of us have signed up, and as we chat on the first night in the bar at the YHA Ambleside, which sits on the water’s edge, it’s apparent that the group are all keen walkers who enjoy an easy amble across the countryside. But the experience of yoga varies from those attending classes three times a week to those having never before set foot in a studio, who believe the rolled up yoga mats to be camping mats.
As we soon see, it doesn’t matter. This weekend is all about the journey, literally and figuratively. As we stand in mountain pose early on Saturday morning and begin our yoga practice overlooking the lake, there’s both an appreciation of the here and now and an urgency to get out and investigate the rolling hills and pretty villages around us. A National Park, the Lake District is one of Britain’s most startlingly beautiful areas and perfect for such a regenerative weekend. On Saturday we follow a loop from the hostel, along the River Rothay and up and along Loughrigg Terrace, where the views make us gasp, before heading on to Grasmere, where the infamous Sarah Nelson Gingerbread fuels us on past William Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage and back to base. Arriving back to homemade scones and tea, we stretch out on the mats before dinner and drinks with the group. Ranging in age, background and ability, it’s refreshing to spend time with people who have a similar curiosity and interest in the world around them and who are prepared to get up and do something about it. The walk has tired most of us out and after a short walk along the lake and a couple of pints of local ale, lights are out pretty early.
There’s something about using and soothing the body that is both stimulating and calming, and we’re all agreed post hike yoga means that our muscles are less tired and achey than normal. Which was just as well really, given that at 7.15 on Sunday morning we are on the mats doing it all over again! Yen has trained locally and in Asia, and her gentle restorative style of teaching is perfect for where we are at this morning. A shorter but steeper walk is on the cards today, up to Loughrigg Tarn with its views across four lakes, before a descent via the impressive waterfall of Skelwith Force. The air bracing up high, and a couple of hours later as we stroll through the valley and lookup to where we have just been, it’s clear why.
It’s tough, but we’re all agreed, more than worth it. The combination of yoga and hiking is energising and relaxing, and in these surroundings makes a perfect weekend break away from city life. Deep breathing and appreciation, being present and at ease with your body – all of these are things that can be found in both practices, and make the two something of ideal partners. Add beautiful views, tasty food and wonderful people, and you can’t go too wrong. On the train home we all swap numbers and vow to meet up again soon – perhaps on a weekend with Kevin and Yen. I certainly wouldn’t say no.
A weekend away with Lakes Yoga Fitness costs from £140 and includes accommodation and food. There are four yoga classes led by Yen, a fully qualified yoga teacher and personal trainer, and there are walks on both days led by Kevin, who is a fully qualified Mountain Leader. Find out more here.