Free spaces for yoga retreat thanks to partnership with Cumbria Yoga Foundation

2 FREE SPACES AVAILABLE (INC TRAVEL) FOR 

RENEW & RESTORE YOGA RETREAT 

SATURDAY 23RD JULY 

09:30 onwards (evening meal at 5:15) see below for full timings

Dent Meditation Centre 

Rob & Katie invite you to take some time to renew and restore your body, mind and soul in the peaceful surroundings of the Dent Meditation Centre in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. Day cost £50. 

09:30 – 09:45 Arrival

09:45 – 11:00 Good Morning Yoga (Rob)

11:00 – 12:30 Mindful Walk

12:30 – 13:00 Picnic Lunch (bring light lunch with you)

13:00 – 14:15 Restorative Yoga (Katie)

14:15 – 14:30 Break

14:30 – 15:45 Renew (yin) (Katie)

15:45 – 16:15 Refresh (pranayama) Rob)

16:15 – 17:15 Reflection (yoga nidra) (Rob)

17:15 – Close Vegan Meal (provided)

Those interested in the spaces please contact Rob Fowler on rlfyoga55@gmail.com

Rob will then add you to the list and get back in touch with more details closer to the time. Please note that the free spaces are on a first come first served basis so please only take them if you are able to and fully intend to come.

How have these spaces been made available, why and who for?

Two free spaces (including local travel expenses) are available for Black and Brown people at an upcoming Cumbria Yoga Retreat thanks to a partnership between Cumbria Yoga Foundation and Anti Racist Cumbria. The free tickets have been created specifically for Black and Brown people in response to these alarming statistics in the hope that it will encourage and enable Black and Brown people to engage in  and benefit from yoga practice. A recent Guardian article highlighted how most yoga go-ers are ‘skinny, bendy and blonde’. The article also highlighted a report about yoga practice in the UK in 2020; 87% of practitioners who responded to the survey were women, and 91% were White. This reflected the findings of an ethnicity audit by the British Wheel of Yoga in 2016, which found that 86% of its members were White British, 2.8% were British Asians, and 0.5% were Black British. 

Never before has people’s mental health been so under strain. People are dealing with the financial, health and social fall-out of a pandemic and for many Black and Brown people, racial trauma that had long been hidden is now coming to the fore. The need for wellbeing has never been greater, yet wellbeing pursuits such as mindfulness, meditation and yoga predominantly remains the preserve of White, able-bodied and middle-class people.
While yoga’s origins can be traced to Northern India over 5000 years ago, there has undoubtedly been cultural appropriation of yoga practices over the years; reduced from a spiritual way of life and being to little more than a trendy fitness regime that sells itself on Indian heritage. This hyper-commercialisation of yoga has now shut out the very people who could benefit from the practice most.

Perhaps surprisingly, Cumbria Yoga Foundation and local practitioners have been ahead of the national curve and are already beginning to unpick some of this and put things right. Not only are we lucky enough to have Black male yoga practitioner Rowan Carr in county, we also have a range of White practitioners who are practising anti-racism in their yoga. Two of these, Rob and Katie talk more about their anti-racist ethos here. 

Rob Fowler first practised yoga over 50 years ago. Rob trained as a Yoga teacher, initially in Hatha Yoga and subsequently studying Yin Yoga with Ram Jain – Ram was born into a family where Yoga has been a part of life for 5 generations. Rob continues to study with Ram Jain, Susanna Barkataki as well as the classic texts and by listening to fellow teachers and students alike.

Rob has drafted Cumbria Yoga Foundation’s inclusion and diversity strategy and Rob works to make his classes as inclusive and accessible as possible and, as part of this work Rob is actively practising anti-racism and is particularly interested in finding ways to ensure Yoga is appreciated rather than appropriated reuniting with Yoga’s true aim and purpose – to practice Gandhian svadhyaya, or self-rule and inquiry, and to truly learn the truth and integrity of an authentic Yoga practice.

Rob asks who is yoga accessible to today ‘’and how might that be a legacy of past injustices that we have the opportunity to address through our teaching practice and our lives?” – Susanna Barkataki

Rob believes in studying the depth of practice beyond the asanas (postures); practising  all 8 limbs of Yoga: yama (ethical conduct), niyama (personal practice), pranayama (breath contro;), pratyahara (awareness of the senses), dharana (meditation, concentration and insight), dhyana (being present with whatever arises) and samadhi (interconnection with all that is). Humbly and respectfully considering Yoga’s history, its many branches and practices, Rob’s practice has the aim of achieving enlightenment of mind, body and spirit – a liberatory, authentic practice of Yoga.

In every class, Rob asks his students to be grateful for the practice of Yoga, honour its roots and understand that the practice, that was once ridiculed by colonialists in India, is a gift to be humbly shared ‘promoting peace and integrity for all’ (Rina Deshpande).

Katie began to explore different styles of Yoga in her early twenties. Initially, she thought of the practice as an exercise class with added benefits for her mental health but as she learnt more, she began to understand that yoga is a collection of practices including but not limited to movement, breathwork, meditation and ethical living. These practices and the philosophies that underpin them have a rich history and diverse roots, many of which originated in South Asia and were described in texts such as the Upanishads and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. As a White person who does not have Yoga as part of her heritage, Katie aims to honour the roots of the practice in her teaching and knows she will always have a lot to learn.

Katie’s curiosity about Yoga in its wider sense has had her learning and unlearning both on and off her mat for more than twenty years. Her initial 200hr teacher training was with Sally Parkes. Since then she has studied Restorative Yoga with Judith Hanson Later, Teen Yoga with Christiane Kerr and Yin Yoga with Biff Mithofer. Her other trainings include Chair Yoga, Accessible Yoga and LGBTQ+ Inclusion. Since engaging actively in anti-racism work, Katie has been learning about decolonising Yoga (from teachers who have the practices as part of their heritage) and she seeks to bring this learning into her classes. She has taught and mentored on the YogaVenue, Oxford Teacher Training course for a number of years and since moving back to the Eden Valley in 2021, she has joined the Cumbria Yoga Foundation which aims to make Yoga more widely accessible.

Katie’s Yoga teaching is inspired by her teachers, her personal practice and a belief that Yoga is more than just a little magic. She has never forgotten how nervous she was to attend her first Yoga session even with the privilege of being a White, straight-sized, non-disabled person in a space that welcomes slim, bendy, White people just like her. With this in mind, her classes are designed to be welcoming and accessible, inviting individuals to explore the practice from their unique perspective in a way that feels good for them. She offers options throughout the practice rather than prescribing a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to do things. She welcomes participants without assuming their identities. She is always open to conversations about how she can do better especially in terms of creating a safer space for the practice of Yoga.