People are always surprised when I tell them everything I do every week. “Wow, you are really busy” is the most common response when I explain my work. Next to looking after three children under 10 years old, I also study, write for two magazines, manage my own blog and just finished my internship – yes, I’m super busy. Even though I absolutely love what I do, sometimes it all gets too much. That’s when I start doubting my abilities and questioning my decisions. After two weeks of being constantly stressed and miserable, I knew I had to act. A day dedicated to healing and relaxation was the solution. So, I packed my things and went to Sutton House, Hackney, to attend Lab Tonica’s Wellness Day Retreat.
Lab Tonica is a Hackney-based brand focussing on herbal goodness, selling diffuser oils, teas, pillow mists and balms targeting sleep, energy, immunity, libido, and calmness. The founder Kitty McEntee reignited her love of nature and studied herbal medicine to launch a herbal brand that spoke to a new audience. Now, she also leads workshops to learn about identifying and foraging plants and how to make your own tea or a replenishing day retreat for the soul.
The day retreat occurred in a truly majestic building, Sutton House in Hackney. Kitty greeted me with a warm hug and I immediately felt welcome. She talked us through her Lab Tonica herbal teas as a welcome drink and I decided on a cup of the Breath Tea. Crafted with Linden Blossom, Hawthorn, Peppermint and other botanicals that aid relaxation and calm – a delicious blend that warmed me up and calmed me down after I ran to get there on time.
We were an all-women group and that had something truly magical. Sitting with all these women I didn’t know, chatting, eating, crafting, and doing yoga felt really powerful.
Just a few months ago, I started doing yoga at least once a week. Still, I’d never attended a yoga session focused on breathing and slow movements. We began the day with a yoga session for all levels in Sutton House’s chambers. Sammy, our yoga instructor, led one of the most relaxing yoga sessions I have ever experienced. Just being around her was relaxing – she was charming and welcoming.
After, at the inner courtyard, in the warm summer sun, Kitty explained everything about healing herbs and plants, where to forage them locally and what would go well together. After her little explanation, I was keen to mix all the herbs and plants into my tea to make a potent blend that targets almost everything. I decided on Linden blossom, Hawthorn, rose, chamomile and apple for sweetness.
A delicious and healthy lunch came next (one of my best-ever lunches), then it was time for a wildcrafting session, again in the courtyard. I’ve never used a smudge stick nor made one, so I was excited to learn more. Kitty explained that we shouldn’t buy mass-produced smudge sticks, as we never know how or with what mindset and negative energy the herbs and plants have been foraged. So she assured us that she had picked the wonderful white sage, lavender and other herbs for our smudge sticks with a positive mindset. After securing our sacred herbs with a string, we were given a small crystal to place in the smudge stick for even better energy.
Last, but not least, and probably the most exciting to me, was the sound bath: a whole body listening experience that uses sound to create a meditative state where the brain emits healing brainwaves. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was absolutely blown away. Molly-Anne Chinner’s angelic singing and the music made me relax as I never have before; it even made me a little dazed as I picked myself up at the end (just like waking up from a really good nap).
This day with Kitty, Molly and Sammy was one of the dreamiest and most soothing days I’d had for a long time, and something I’d needed after working nonstop for months. They made me forget everything, so I could concentrate on the here and now.
If you’re in need a comforting and relaxing day, check out Kitty’s workshops and day retreats: