Congleton Yoga Centre

Khen Ratcliffe


Back at the start of the 1980's I was living in Derby - on Duffield road if anyone is interested.  Deep in depressing thoughts one night, I remembered that I'd had a go at yoga back in the 70s and I also remembered that it was supposed to be good for the mind as well as the body.  So, I decided to find a yoga class and see what I could do. 


I turned up at a class in due course and popped my head through a door, only to see a room full of women who all turned to look at me.  I, in turn nearly turned tail!  If I had, I guess this web-site wouldn't exist.  The teacher looked at me and said, 'don't be afriad, we don't bite'.  So in I went and my journey down the yoga road began.


The teacher's name was Sylvia Townsley and she was a remarkable woman as well as a very good yoga teacher.  She's standing on Khen's left in the photo.  I bumped into her one day at Derby station and chatted.  I asked where she was bound and she told me she was on her way to a place called Tan-y-Garth; a yoga retreat.  I had no idea what one was, but it did seem interesting.  Following that conversation, we agreed that I'd go with her on her next visit.   


Tan-y-Garth was where I met Khen.  On a cold dark Friday night.  Weekends began in the library with Khen sitting by a roaring fire.  It's impossible to say how it happened but, from a general ordinairy conversation, I suddnely found myself listening to profound insight and wisdom from this amazing, amusing and very wise man.  I loved him immediately and he is the nearest I've ever been to finding and having a guru.


























Tan-y-Garth, near Chirk, was and I guess is, an amazing place set deep in the wooded hills of its valley.  There are walks, there are the grounds and there is the house itself.  In the house ws a mediatation room where we'd sit on a cushion, blanket-wrapped,  every morning.  Khen would come in wearing a deep-purple monk's robe, sit and ring a bell for the meditation to begin.  I had no idea what mediation was, and my legs used to be on fire before we finished, but even so the peace and the stillness in the room were deep and very, very calming. Khen would always tell us to fold our -orange - blankets with awarenes and then go quietly to breakfast.  Usyually, lot's of blankets were jumbled together and the hum of conversation sounded like a swarm of bees long before bums were on seats in the Kitchen where Bha - Khen's wife would be prpareing our morning meal.


As well as the talk on Friday, and the meditation, there would also be yoga classes, work on the Yantra, and other things all designed to allow growth and opening.  Halcyon days they were!  I'm not sure who the other folks in the photo are - one is me - next to Sylvia, but if anyone reading this recognises the others please, let me know.


Tan-y-Garth and Khen were where I got my grounding and my raising in spiritual work.  What I learnt there still forms the core of my spiritual views and beliefs.  There was only one Khen, although he always acknowledged is own teacher, Eugene Halliday, with reverence and respect.  In later years I did meet Eugene at Parklands. A differnet, grander kind of place frequented my minds immeasurably superior to mine! 



It was also at Tan-y-Garth that I met other like-minded people, one of whom was my next yoga teacher when I moved up to Nottinham and she remains my very good friend even to this day!  Hello Hannh if you're looking at this!


If you were there - if you've been there - if you still go there and want to share memories - let me know!  There is a website for Tan-y-Garth of course, in case you'd like to go and discover it for yourself! 



Khen's dedication for a yoga practice.


Let the work that is about to be performed


Be dedicated to the the development


Of the highest potential


Of tHis whole being


And let it's sacred significance


Dwell within us