Healthy Living: Tranquil retreat makes Cath’s dream a reality

Catherine Morgan at Hope Valley Yoga Centre ,
Catherine Morgan at Hope Valley Yoga Centre ,
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Sunlight pours in through floor-to-ceiling windows, and the only noticeable sounds are birdsong and the gentle rustling of the breeze through the trees...

This is the Hope Valley Yoga Centre - a hushed retreat in the Peak District where yoga practitioner Cath Morgan has began running classes.

The centre represents the realisation of a long-held dream for Cath who has turned a tumbledown garage at the back of her own garden into a dedicated studio space.

But the road to completion wasn’t easy. Cath ran into problems with the Peak Park Authority, who initially recommended the scheme be refused planning permission, but she won the committee round and was able to start work.

And the 47-year-old said she is overjoyed with the results.

“It was always a dream to have my own yoga studio,” she said.

“The building has been a labour of love with an almost entirely Hathersage and Hope Valley-based workforce. I do like to think of it as a building made of local materials, made by local people, for local people to use. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.”

Cath is originally from Sheffield, but lived in Australia from 1991 to 2003, where she worked in advertising and marketing.

On her return to the UK, she chose to live in Hathersage because of its rural setting, but later spent another two years Down Under retraining as a yoga teacher.

Cath qualified in Iyengar yoga with one of the world’s top tutors, Pixie Lillas, and started leading sessions in Sydney in 2009.

“Iyengar yoga is renowned for having the most rigorous training and assessment programme of all the styles of yoga,” she said.

The technique builds strength, flexibility, stamina and balance, and is intended to enhance relaxation.

It is also believed to be therapeutic for conditions such as back pain.

In Iyengar yoga, it is taught that there is a correct way to carry out each ‘pose’, and that every student will be able to attain perfect poses through consistent practice.

One of the form’s major innovations is in the use of props - today it is quite common to see blankets, blocks, straps, pillows, chairs and bolsters being used in yoga studios.

This comes directly from Iyengar, and the purpose of the objects is to assist students in attaining the ideal alignment, even if the body is not open enough.

Cath said the studio is a good location for peaceful yoga lessons, because of its location.

“The studio offers a beautiful and unique setting to do a yoga class and though the majority of students will come from the Hope Valley area, I anticipate there may be appeal for those on the west side of Sheffield to combine a yoga class with a trip into the Peak District.

“The centre currently offers four classes a week on Tuesday evenings, and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings. We hope in time this will extend to six classes a week.

“Plans for the future include being able to offer yoga retreats and one-off workshops with visiting senior Iyengar yoga teachers.”

Cath moved back to the UK again in 2010 with her sons Felix and Charlie, aged 13 and 15, and started work on the yoga centre two years ago.

“I started discussing turning the old tumbledown garage at the back of my garden into a studio space with my architect neighbour Simon Geddye,” she said.

“I acquired around 80 tonnes of Derbyshire stone that was left over from the construction of the Hathersage Hall Business Centre, so design discussions were based around using this beautiful reclaimed stone. Simon came up with the idea of a curved building, and the front of the building was designed to be mostly glazing to look out at the beautiful views.”

Cath continued: “The planning process was not easy and despite a very strong application, it was initially recommended for refusal by Peak Park.

“The main concern from the authorities was centred around parking and increased traffic flow. I was sure I could manage this in a way that wouldn’t disrupt the peace and quiet of the residential area I live in and discussed the issue at length with my students who were all happy to either arrive on foot or bicycle or leave their car in the car park in the village.

“I put my case forward to a very supportive planning committee and the result was overwhelmingly positive.”

She added: “It blends perfectly into its surroundings, and due to it being made from old Derbyshire stone, looks as though it’s always been here.” Call 07565 945440 for more information.