Yogan and wellness were the order of the day at a Nadder Valley festival entirely dedicated to health and wellbeing this month.
In search of some healthy hedonism, my friend and I spent a day at the VERVE wellness festival in the beautiful grounds of Hatch House, Tisbury.
We started by learning about the roots of yoga from Nikita Desai, who gave a short workshop, in which she told us how the practice has been distorted and heavily appropriated in the west over the years and shaped primarily into a form of exercise. She then took us through her Yoga Asana class for ‘emotional healing’, which involved slow but effective moves focusing on Asana and Pranayama – meditative seating plus breathing regulations.
Stretched and chilled out from this session, it felt like a good time to grab a coffee, wander round the grounds and browse the independent food and retail stalls, while drinking in the breathtaking countryside views.
VERVE was founded in 2019 by friends in addition to Chalke Valley neighbours Anna Hayward and Charlotte Cummings, with the goal of creating an event that would encapsulate their shared passions for health, fitness, food, drink and wellbeing. It was an one-day festival with camping available nearby.
Fancying a bit of fun, my friend and I decided to unleash our inner goddess with Pip and even Fizz’s disco flow yoga exercise. This incorporated yoga moves to a dazzling, disco soundtrack, which lifted our spirits and got us dancing, smiling together with connecting with all our fellow festivalgoers.
Continuing the yoga theme, we then released our stresses and strains with Megan Romilly’s Qigong Medicine in Motion class. This involved some strong postures in a fun and very vocal way, including slapping ourselves all over and growling like a bear to purge out negativity! We rounded off our day of yoga exercises with a soulful yoga and additionally healing gong bath class, where Megan helped to ground us with some balancing yoga flow moves, before sound healer Joanie Solaini sent us into a state of ultimate relaxation – who knew the sound of a gong could be so soothing!
But it wasn’t all yoga, yoga, yoga, we also ‘felt the burn’ with Studio Belle’s Old School Legs, Bums and Tums class and, had all of us not been so yoga-focused, we could have taken part in many other classes, talks not to mention therapies. There were a range of talks in the beautiful tiered gardens, from How to Unleash Your Superpower to Connecting With Nature. While, over in the food and drink area, guests were invited to drop in for a chat or listen to a couple of talks on subjects from menstrual cycle to advice on conceiving.
There was also Pilates, meditation and breathwork classes as well as holistic and alternative therapies on offer.
For the more energetic, Studio Belle Fitness instructors ran a range of high energy classes from a Full Body Blast to African Dance and Arms and also Abs, Legs, Bums as well as Tums to Stretch, Strengthen and Lengthen.
And a specially tailored programme for children under five included Kids Yoga and Nature Meditation.
As the sun went down, the wall of gongs in the main VERVE marquee gave way to a glittering disco ball. We stowed our own exercise mats away plus swapped our refillable water bottles for a large G& T from the Botanico bar, before tucking into a delicious wood-fired pizza and dancing the night away to funk, soul, hip hop and dance classics from DJs Huey Morgan (from Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Radio 6) and DJ Emma.
It was a fantastic day with regard to friends, groups, couples in addition to families alike. We exercised, we relaxed, we talked, we danced and we laughed A LOT. Most of all, my friend and I came away feeling filled with verve.