I was stepping into the unknown!
The weather certainly wasn't helping my nerves with the forecast predicting heavy rain and high winds but I told myself the weather is beyond my control, worrying about it will not change it, so I took a deep breath and moved on.
I said my goodbyes with a bug hug for the husband and kiddos and I was on my way to a field in Elmore, Gloucestershire.
Leaving the M5 at Junction 12 the festival site was easily found with clear signage on the local roads.
Once pitched up I went to register my ticket in the entrance tent. Here things were running smoothly and attendees were asked to sign a health disclaimer and provide an emergency contact, which was definitely reassuring as a solo attendee. I received my weekend wristband and media goody bag and was shown around the site by the lovely Jo, then it was off to my first planned class in the Experience Tent.
Jenny Clark was the perfect medicine after setting up camp and I finished feeling refreshed and rejuvenated ready for the weekend ahead. Realising I hadn't yet had my lunch, and the time was now 3.15, I devoured a rather delicious Rude Health bar whilst checking through the Soul Circus programme. With over 70 yoga classes on offer including Vinyasa ,Yin, Kid's Yoga, Meditation, Rocket Yoga and Gloga Rave, amongst many more, there was something for every yogi on site. The programme was compact and informative and all tents had boards displaying classes for any slight alterations to timings and location.
Tracy Sadler. Alongside other yogis I had misconstrued this class as an hour of mediation but it turned out to be a complete release; finding my inner Goddess and working up quite a sweat in the process. We were presented with a Goddess card and there were a few words of interest on mine.
Jay Halford, The Croquette Co, TandooriQ, Positivitea, Asparagasm and Ice Green. I chose to try out the TandooriQ Marinated Chicken and salad for £7.
Henrietta Greene. Here I found myself doing things I had never attempted before finding myself 'rucksacking' my leg over my shoulder and for a fleeting moment I found myself flying on an arm balance. It was also nice to learn that such poses aren't all about muscular brute force but core stabilty, skeletal alignment and balance and has given me something to work on in my own practice. Following that achievement my final savasana of the day to the Balearic beats of the Chemical Brothers was an absolute wonderful feeling.
I soon found myself back in my tent where I took stock of my first day and soon drifted off to sleep with the sounds from the music stage, helping to drown out the wind, soothing me on my way.
Saturday morning and I gave myself some festival luxury - a hot shower complete with toiletries! Alongside the flushing toilets with sinks and Liz Earle handwash this was an additional bonus - particularly for someone who usually takes a trug and a kettle for her washing needs at festivals.
Taylor Harkness in the Main Sail Tent had caught my eye.
Emily Young coming to my rescue. Emily guided me up with calm words of advice, and she got me over my fear of face planting the floor, physically supporting me up into a handstand.
Ella and Matt, along with the brand sponsors, Kit and Ace and Plenish+. It was great to hear about the build up of small businesses and how the goals of the Soul Circus team came to fruition.
Hannah Burman - which is the first yoga class where I've had a shoulder massage as part of my practice. I was also lucky enough to receive one of Hannah's Angelic Vibration crystals at the end which I will treasure.
Croquette Co where I chose the Glamorgan croquettes of leek, parsley and mustard. For £6 I was served with three big croquettes on a salad with a range of dipping sauces. I have to say they were delicious and I wish the company well in their future.
The warmth of the Hot Tent, and an incredibly moving experience of about 50 yogis doing a free for all chorus of 10 Oms, was quite something and sent me happily on my way back across the twinkly site for a cosy night of sleep in my tent.
Sunday morning and I awoke to a peaceful campsite flooded with sunshine. The campsite had been nice and quiet across the whole weekend with plenty of space for tents and campervans with a positive and friendly vibe all round which, again, is reassuring when attending a festival alone. Not once did I ever feel worried walking around by myself and I noted stewards and security regularly around the festival site and camping area.
I started my yoga day back in the Experience Tent for Old School Jam with the lovely Aimee Garcia-Marshall, who rocks DM boots and yoga pants pretty damn well! She led us through an amazing Vinyasa Flow session challenging me again with balances - always fun on a festival tent floor - and new moves. One of my lasting memories is sure to be doing Yoga to the tunes of Shaggy!
As well as yoga there were a number of workshops, dining experiences and talks and I grabbed a comfy seat to listen to Mel Wells' Goddess Talk.
I had to try one last treat before planning to leave so I headed over to Ice Green for a deliciously tasty vegan ice-cream. There were far too many flavours but I plumped for a double scoop, at £3.50 on a waffle cone, as I couldn't choose between Blueberry Cheesecake and Lemon Curd - that's my excuse anyway!
The small-scale size of the site means you are bound to bump into familiar faces that you have may have practised next to or be camping nearby to and I made a new friend in fellow yogi and blogger Life is a Festival - her review is here. The number of classes, workshops and talks were enough to fill each day and it was rare for me to ever feel lonely but a smile from a stranger or a chat to a yoga teacher was definitely welcome. I had managed to say a quick hello and a few words to two of the festival founders, Roman and Ella, last night and today I managed to find Matt for a chat about how the festival had gone, it's successes, what they could change next year, the effect of the weather and the general vibe. Soul Circus had clearly been a success and the fact that everybody had been having such an amazing time with the awful weather sums up just how great the weekend had been. My only negative point was the impact of music from the main stage on yoga in the tents but this is something that the team will be fixing for next year - and a festival in its first year is sure to have some teething problems and finding just one thing for me to feedback reflects just how much the Soul Circus team got it spot on. The sauna was busy with festival goers finding some warmth and there are plans for more hot tubs to chill out in by the lake next year; looking back my only regret was not getting into that sauna!
Chatting to Matt meant I also got the opportunity to meet Professor Wrinkles, the first festival dog I have ever come across!
All in all it had been a truly amazing weekend where I stepped out of my comfort zone, challenged myself physically and emotionally, met new people, talked to strangers, made new contacts and have possibly set myself on a path to make some big changes in my life.
It was with great sadness that I had to go and pack up the tent - this time I did drive the car over to make this process so much easier - but I left with a heart full of warmth, a mind full of ideas and fire in my belly to pursue something new.
Thank you for having me Soul Circus!
x x x
Disclaimer: I received a weekend pass to Soul Circus 2016 in return for previews and reviews of this year's festival. As always, views and opinions are my own.