Vala House began as a yoga retreat venue and because of this, yoga will always be at the heart of this special place. But the beautiful thing about yoga is that it teaches compassion, mindfulness and a variety of other philosophies and techniques designed to improve how we interact with the world and live lives that are meaningful and free from suffering.
This gave us the idea to expand our offerings beyond yoga, to attract an audience outside the yoga market. We realised that the deep philosophies of yogic life are being sought by people who have no interest in either the physical movement aspects of yoga or the history and the spirituality of yogic practice, but who want to go on a retreat where they can experience deep healing, transformation and be in a safe space where they can explore their most sacred metaphysical thoughts.
And so, we looked at a broader wellbeing offering and partnered with an array of healing and wellbeing professionals to design and offer retreats that provide multi-therapeutic approaches to physical and mental wellbeing. Approaches that veer into the esoteric, as well as those that remain firmly in western empiricism.
By coming on a retreat at Vala House, you will have access to local masseurs, reiki specialists, energy balancers, a variety of yogis, therapists, biomimicry experts, kinesiologists, nutritionists and other health experts.
What makes Vala House unique, is our concentration on the power of creativity. When designing our retreats and investigating all the academic literature that we could find on the subject, we quickly realised that a central core of our approach lay in creativity. We knew from early on, that by harnessing guests’ creativity, we could speed up the healing process and create short retreats that were impactful, memorable and transformative. Because of this, Vala House retreats are usually themed around a core creative activity, such as poetry, art, dance, music, pottery and sculpting – all of which are used in combination with yoga, mindfulness and other practices in the therapeutic process.
Regardless of the type of retreat that you find yourself on, Vala House is about you and what your ambitions and objectives for your stay really are. We provide the space and guidance, but you design your experience.
Vala House is set just outside the remarkable Knysna forest in a stunning old farm villa overlooking gorgeous gardens, fields and mountains. The villa has been transformed into a calm and peaceful space that encourages creativity and mindfulness. There is accommodation for twelve guests, though we prefer retreats of six people or fewer, and the rooms are spacious and up-market. The feel of the villa is very much that of a family home and guests have a wonderful time socialising and getting to know each other in the many comfortable communal spaces and gardens. We are 20 minutes outside Knysna and being on the doorstep of the Knysna forest, we spend a lot of time exploring this magical, verdant area. We have tried to create a venue that steers clear of pretension while remaining luxurious, welcoming and inspiring.
Why “Vala” House?
The word, “Vala”, is a reference to the writings and mythology of William Blake. In one of Blake’s prophetic books, Vala, or The Four Zoas, Blake unpacks his mythological system built on the four Zoas – characters that represent the four primary aspects of human nature.
The first concerns our sensations, our raw sensual experience, the things of the world: Blake calls this first zoa Tharmas. The second is Urizen, our rational intellect, the power of nature in us that enables us to abstract generalities from our particular sense experiences and to apply the principles of logic to formulate “laws” and predict our future experiences. The third zoa, a force which he calls Luvah or Los, is the power of desire: that which seeks to express itself, to realise itself creatively in the form of production or action – Art in general, according to Blake. The fourth is the power of Imagination, which he calls Urthona, to which are assigned ideas and images that arise intuitively and spontaneously, out of thin air as it were. It is through the Imagination that we may be provided with mystical experience.
Vala is an Emanation/mate of Luvah. Originally with Luvah, she joins with Albion and begets the Zoa Urizen. In her fallen aspect, she is the wandering figure known as the Shadowy Female. After the Final Judgment, she is reunited with Luvah but placed under the dominion of the restored Urizen.
Vala represents Nature and is an Emanation of the Zoa Luvah. Through him, she is connected to the East. Her name is derived from Voluspa, which is an earth spirit from the Edda. Luvah is connected to the heart aspect of the body and Vala is what the heart loves, which is nature and vegetative based creation. When she is redeemed after the Final Judgment, she is joined with Albion as his bride. This allows for a union between mankind and the divine. This is a beautiful image of what we try and achieve at Vala House. To book a spot at one of our yoga retreats, please contact us today.
Vala House is a creative wellness centre on the northern outskirts of Knysna. It is the ideal venue for a relaxing getaway filled with yoga and a variety of creative and healing activities. We offer yoga sessions three times per day, or yoga retreats for a weekend, one week or two weeks at a time.
For more insights into the practice of yoga or information about Vala House, take a look at our blog section. Follow us on Facebook to stay connected with our latest news and offerings.