Experiencing Connection on a retreat at Honeywood.
Written by Tarryn James
As I started the long roadtrip from Cape Town to Swellendam for a weekend retreat, I had a lot of time to think about my “Sankalpa”; an intention formed by the heart and mind. I had been looking forward to this retreat for months and I could feel my mind take ease with each kilometer I drove. As the roadtrip drew to a close, I had brought my intention to heart and mind;
“I am connected”
After arriving at Honeywood Farm with excitement and anticipation, I soon met my host, Theresa Moodie, who traveled from Johannesburg for the weekend. Honeywood Farm has been in the Moodie family since 1817 and borders the wild and wonderful Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve up against the Langeberg Mountains. My first welcoming was a breathtaking view of the extensive mountain range. It was in that moment that I knew I was in for an absolute treat this weekend.
“I don’t know about you, but as a Yoga teacher I often struggle to get to Yoga classes.”, said Theresa. As a teacher myself, all I could do was agree. The opportunity to fully experience a yoga retreat as a student was what I was looking forward to most. On a regular retreat, you are lucky to have one or two yoga teachers leading the classes. At Honeywood, we were given the opportunity to practice six classes, all with a different teacher. Practicing new styles, with new teachers, was the perfect way for us to all step out of our comfort zones.
Greetings and conversations started flowing as I was slowly introduced to the like-minded beings that I would be sharing this weekend with. Who I would be connecting with. Twenty-five people, mostly from Johannesburg and Cape Town, had traveled to experience this wonderful weekend, engulfed in the natural surroundings of Honeywood Farm. This farm offers a genuine eco-experience with comfortable accommodation that made me feel right at home! Each morning gave me the opportunity to wake up early and simply enjoy a cup of tea while listening to the chirping birds and enjoying the most spectacular views.
Over the three days, we were fortunate to practice a variety of vinyasa, hatha and yin yoga classes. The unique style of each yoga class brought a sense of exploration to each practice. The idea of practicing with such a diverse group of teachers is always an exciting experience. Each class was cleverly thought out to bring a sense of ease and exploration into each 90 minute practice.
Students of all levels came together to move and breathe in a safe and welcoming space. Whether you were a first-time yoga student, or an experienced yoga teacher, we were all one. As we moved and breathed together. Connecting.
As we slowly made our way into savasana, we once again stepped out of reality and into the deep surroundings of nature. Appreciating the slightest breeze cooling us down in the summer heat. The sound of birds in the background. The tranquil environment of the mountain range. Not only connecting with each other, but also connecting to mother nature.
Over and above the yoga classes, we had a wonderful itinerary planned for us! As Honeywood is an active bee farm, we were given the opportunity to learn about the magnificent bee species as well as the honey making process by John Moodie. All honey produced at the farm is either raw (unheated) or warmed to sell as choice grade honey. There was no doubt that we were all going to take a few jars home with us.
A few kilometers from Honeywood Farm lies Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, a magical reserve with beautiful stretches of indigenous forest. We packed our swimming cozzie’s and picnic baskets as we started our route through the reserve on a beautiful Summer Saturday. Surrounded by wilderness and great company, we all connected to the wonderful essence of nature. It was not too long before the heat caught up to us and we were thrilled to find glorious rockpools surrounded by valleys of mountain range. The contrast of cold water on our hot skin was the best relief as we all enjoyed this hidden treasure.
After each day of flowing, exploring and learning, we could always look forward to a delicious home-cooked meal from Miranda Moodie. The secret ingredient, love, had us all begging for recipes! Whether it was sugar-free home-made granola, a farm-style braai or her special honey cake - we were never left with an empty stomach!
What I had personally been looking forward to most, was my first-ever Traditional Thai Massage. Isolde Bennet from Zen-Life Wellness came through to the retreat to give us all a sneak peak on what you can expect Thai Massage through a short, yet insightful, workshop. I had booked an hours treatment which could not have come at a better time. Her soft, yet firm, approach to massage left me feeling completed rejuvenated and restored.
As the three days slowly drew to a close, we had all formed friendships that would move beyond this weekend. I had a moment to reflect on my Sankalpa, “I am connected”. In the hustle and bustle of reality, it is easy to become overwhelmed and distracted by the external circumstances. It is only when we step on our mat, or meditate, or walk through the forest that we can truly connect back to ourselves. It was also during this weekend that I could connect to Mother Nature as well as the most beautiful souls who had given themselves permission to connect inwards. There is no doubt that I will be keeping an eye out for their next retreat!
Although Theresa is looking to host more regular retreats at Honeywood, she has expressed that this beautiful farm is available to any teachers who are looking for a tranquil space to host retreats. The opportunity to escape reality and check back in with yourself is something that we do not nearly get enough of! If you are looking at a family getaway or a venue for a special occasion, Honeywood Farm might be the perfect escape that you are looking for!
So if something has resonated with you and you’re itching to find some connection in your life, give yourself that opportunity. I am glad I did!