Travelling Yogini: Barefoot Barn, Devon

Yoga Abode's roving columnist, travelling Yogini Caroline Sylger-Jones, loves The Barefoot Barn in Devon.

 

The Essence
The Barefoot Barn is a gorgeous, wooden-floored yoga studio with underfloor heating and a wood burner set on the edge of the ancient stannary town of caroline sylger jones barefoot barnChagford in north Dartmoor.

 

It's the creation of yogi and former monk Roger Ash Wheeler, a personable, calm American who organises an inspiring set of yoga workshops, weekends and longer retreats here all year round except August.

 

There are also drop-in weekly classes, which are beautifully quiet.

 

The Setting
The Barefoot Barn was one of the reasons I moved to Devon four years ago. The studio is a perfect setting for yoga and meditation - spacious, filled with natural light and surrounded by wild and formal gardens and woodland, with views out to the moors.

 

Chagford, five minutes walk away, is a pretty town with an independent bookshop, little boutiques and art galleries and an organic café, The Courtyard. There are gorgeous walks to be had over the nearby moor.

 

Accommodation
Accommodation is in simple shared bedrooms at Eaglehurst, a Victorian stone house next door to the barn, or in your own tents on Roger's extensive lawns, where you'll also find a giant pond for summer dips. If you're camping, a shower and kitchenette are integral to the barn.

 

You can stay at local B&Bs if you're staying for a day workshop, but on retreats you're required to stay onsite to retain the energy of the group.

 

The Yoga
Highlights of The Barefoot Barn's annual programme include a 7-day yoga retreat with Clive Sheridan (from £430 per person), who has over 30 years of experience.

 

He draws on different paths of yoga in addition to asanas so you can explore the practice on a deeper and more mindful level, including aspects of bhakti yoga, the path of devotion, and of Jnana yoga, the path of self-knowledge or wisdom.

 

barefoot barn devon yogaThere's also a demanding but effective 3-day retreat with Australian Senior Iyengar teacher Glenn Ceresoli, who has the knack of making you feel physically taller and mentally lighter after just one day (from £190 per person, see www.yogamind.com.au).

 

Also, workshops with Navtej Johar, a dancer and choreographer who is a dedicated student and practitioner of yoga in the tradition of Sri T Krishnamacharya, the grandfather of modern yoga.

 

The Surprise
It's not just yoga that will inspire you here. Other workshops cover a changing array of subjects including qigong, pilates, thai yoga massage and ‘Days of Mindfulness' in the Zen tradition of the Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh.

 

Who's it for?
Most of the programme would appeal to committed yogis who want to develop their practice or explore another style, but there are also some great workshops for those who have just started classes and want to explore further. Beginners' workshops run from time to time.

 

The Detail
Expect to help with simple housekeeping tasks on retreats. On weekend and week-long retreats food is vegetarian or vegan - bring your own lunch for workshops.

 

Nearest mainline station is Exeter St Davids, and you can get a bus to Chagford from Exeter's coach station. Workshops cost from £40 per person per day. To be put on the mailing list email barn@ashwheeler.com

 

Caroline Sylger-Jones has just finished her second book, Body & Soul Escapes: Britain & Ireland, to be published this November. Pre-order it from www.carolinesylge.com

 

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