Gemma Easterbrook is a 38 year-old wife and mother to two small children, and has been living with a rare brain tumour since 2018. In this post she writes about the September Shine yoga and brunch retreat in Cambridge, which seemed the perfect way for her to mark the end of 12 months of treatment.
Bright sunshine, a cloudless blue sky and a warm breeze set the perfect scene for the Norwich and Cambridge Shine networks to link up for a yoga and brunch day on Saturday 22 September. Nothing could spoil this idyllic day, not even charmless taxi drivers and road closures as far as the eye could see!
Twelve East Anglian network members all joined together for a no-experience-necessary day in the company of Tatum, Shine’s very own yoga teacher. Tatum inspired us all to practise our yoga outside under the shade of a beautiful tree in the grounds of the hotel, much to the surprise of the hotel staff.
Members of the group had a mixture of abilities, from first timers to longstanding yoga fans, and we all wore a smile as we were treated to a restorative and awakening yoga session in the open air. Joined by an inquisitive Labrador and bemused dog-walkers who looked on enviously, we used the gentle postures and breathed carefully to awaken and stimulate our tired bones. The poses were easily adapted to suit everyone, irrespective of how their bodies and minds were feeling that day.
We all took part in a mindful moment: we were offered a small sweet treat by Tatum and encouraged to eat it slowly and thoughtfully, and to really allow ourselves to experience the textures, tastes, sounds and sensations as we enjoyed it. It was very grounding and a great thing to try at home.
Being closer to nature was very healing and during Savasana, the relaxation part at the end of practice, we lay on our mats and stared up at the blue sky and watched dragonflies darting above us. It was a moment of quiet peace for us all.
We had all worked up an appetite and trooped inside to be greeted by hot drinks and a delicious made-to-order brunch, including smoked salmon, eggs and avocados. Extra toast arrived, piled high on plates, and we all dived in, with the Norwich members grabbing a bit extra to go as it was time to head back to the train.
And what did the other attendees think of the day?
Sophie from the Cambridge network said: “This was my first Shine event. Meeting all the other friendly ‘Shinies’ in an informal, comfortable setting helped with my feelings of isolation that I have had since my diagnosis.”
Corinne, leader of the Norwich Shine Network, added “What a lovely day! Since my treatment, there haven’t been many times that my body has felt good but Tatum’s approach to yoga is so gentle and revitalising it was just the treat my body needed!
“The day was a great opportunity to meet Hannah and some of the Cambridge members. A lot of our Norwich members travel to Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge for treatment so it was good to link the networks up with each other.”
My best memory was at the end of the session, which included a balance pose that had us all giggling, followed by a supportive group balance where we stood alongside each other and felt unified and supported to balance and breathe. It was an apt end that highlighted just what Shine is all about.
Being at a Shine event means that you never have to explain if you’re feeling tired or below par, or if you’re feeling quiet or not yourself. It means not making excuses when you’re running late because you couldn’t think straight, or if you forget someone’s name. Being amongst Shine people allows you to breathe and feel at ease because you know the person alongside you understands what it is like to be on the same strange and unwanted journey that is having cancer.