Summer solstice provides perfect setting for yoga class in Sheringham

Yoga instructor Emily Moll and her class members celebrating last year's summer solstice with a yoga

Yoga instructor Emily Moll and her class members celebrating last year's summer solstice with a yoga session at St Mary's Priory, Beeston Regis. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

Yoga fans from all over north Norfolk gathered at historic landmark St Mary's Priory, at Beeston Regis, to mark the longest day of the year on Monday.

And relax . . . Kali Yoga class members celebrating last year's summer solstice at St Mary's Priory,

And relax . . . Kali Yoga class members celebrating last year's summer solstice at St Mary's Priory, Beeston Regis. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

Intermittent heavy showers made way for bright sunshine as more than 60 men and women of all ages descended on the 800-year-old ruins for the celebration, which was organised by Sheringham-based yoga teacher Emily Moll.

However, former human resources executive Ms Moll, who launched Kali Yoga after retraining in India, said that while the celebration ended up being a 'huge success', the lead-up to the event had been a stressful time, with a series of setbacks threatening to scupper her plans.

'We were going to release ten paper lanterns over the sea as the sun went down but, because of the negative feedback I got when people heard about it, I just thought it wasn't worth the aggro,' she explained.

Because of concerns about wildlife and the possibility that sky lanterns could cause fires or be mistaken for maritime distress signals, North Norfolk District Council last year banned balloon and lantern releases on council-controlled land, also asking people to support a voluntary ban throughout the area.

Kali Yoga class members celebrating the summer solstice at St Mary's Priory, Beeston Regis. Picture:

Kali Yoga class members celebrating the summer solstice at St Mary's Priory, Beeston Regis. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant


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But, Ms Moll said, the lanterns she planned to release were '100 per cent biodegradable' and posed no threat.

After the yoga event was reported on the North Norfolk News and Eastern Daily Press websites, comments were posted warning of the risk the lanterns posed to seafarers and wildlife and accusing Ms Moll of 'outstanding irresponsibility'.

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She was also phoned by a Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service representative, told the BBC had received complaints, and sent messages via Facebook.

She contacted the Coastguard and got the go-ahead for the lantern release but, after receiving more 'extremely upsetting' comments, abandoned the idea.

Kali Yoga class members celebrating the summer solstice with a yoga session at St Mary's Priory, Bee

Kali Yoga class members celebrating the summer solstice with a yoga session at St Mary's Priory, Beeston Regis. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

'On woman even threatened to picket the event and come along carrying a placard,' Ms Moll explained. 'But the lanterns contained no metal, they were completely biodegradable and anyone who knows me knows I would never to anything to harm wildlife.'

Also posing problems was the unseasonable weather, which left the area surrounding the priory wet and muddy.

'It had been an awful day, so when the sun came out, I went straight to there to check things out,' Ms Moll said.

Finding the whole area soaked, she was concerned that the event would be have to be postponed but, after turning to her dad Richard for advice – who told her to 'sweep the grass', she decided to go ahead.

Striking the 'downward dog' pose at Mary's Priory, Beeston Regis. Picture: KAREN BETHELL

Striking the 'downward dog' pose at Mary's Priory, Beeston Regis. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

'I did wonder about using a leaf blower,' she said. 'But my dad said use the garden broom to sweep off the rain and it really worked.'

Undeterred by the weather – or the negative feedback – the group ended up having a 'truly amazing' evening, part of the proceeds of which will be donated to West Runton animal sanctuary Hillside.

Members of Ms Moll's classes at Upper Sheringham, Cromer and Aldborough had a chance to have their faces painted and buy treats from a 'guilt-free' snack bar, before spreading their mats on the ground of the Priory to take part in an hour-long yoga session.

The group then made their way up Beeston Hill to watch a spectacular sunset marking the end of the first day of the astronomical summer – or solstice.

Kali Yoga class members celebrating the summer solstice with a yoga session at St Mary's Priory, Bee

Kali Yoga class members celebrating the summer solstice with a yoga session at St Mary's Priory, Beeston Regis. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

'It was wonderful,' Ms Moll said. 'I had such a fantastic response that I am planning to do it again to coincide with the autumn equinox in September.'

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