Gayles Retreats

What they are….

Alongside welcoming independent teachers who wish to use the facilities here, we also run our own Gayles Retreats; ones which offer a deep practice guided by some of the best teaching available; allowing you time and space to explore and connect with yourself and Nature in a safe, holding, grounded, warm and extraordinarily beautiful environment.

We keep the costs as low as possible in order to make these retreats as accessible as possible to the most people and the teachers themselves often share their knowledge on a dana (donation-only) basis.

The Teaching….

Our own Gayles Retreats are facilitated by dedicated and highly respected teachers who have accepted our invitations to share their knowledge here. Their events are usually held in silence and focus on meditation, although some include yoga sessions, silent walks and mindful gardening as well.

As the teachers will often be facilitating events elsewhere with many more people attending than we accommodate at Gayles, our retreats afford a rare intimacy and potential for personal and spiritual development. They are suitable for beginners and for more experienced practitioners.

The Gayles retreats are almost always held in silence; as they are largely concerned with self-development and spiritual connection it is important that people who are attending respect these guidelines:

  • Please be sure to arrive for the retreat on time; we cannot accept latecomers.
  • Everyone is expected to attend all the activities.
  • Everyone is asked to help clear and wash up after meals and to keep their dormitory tidy.
  • Once silence has begun, please respect the silent atmosphere throughout the buildings and grounds.
  • Mobile telephones and other electronic devices should be turned off throughout.
  • Reading and journaling is not encouraged but is allowed at the discretion of the Teacher.
  • A retreatant takes only that which is clearly offered.
  • Retreatants are asked to abstain from all sexual contact and from alcohol or drug use during their retreat.

Our Teachers


Kirsten Kratz:

Kirsten was drawn to Buddhist teachings when searching for more compassionate, kind and meaningful ways to live. In 1993 she attended her first Insight Meditation retreat in India and has practised Insight Meditation under the guidance of various teachers in Asia and the West since then. She was first invited to teach at Gaia House ( in 2006 and since 2008 she has been regularly offering group retreats as well as supporting people on personal retreats there.

Between 2005 and 2014 she was a student of the Diamond Approach/Ridhwan School. Its particular approach of seeing the whole range of our inner experience as potential gateways to greater understanding and more freedom deeply informs her teachings.

One of Kirsten’s passions is exploring how wisdom teachings can free us from limiting perspectives, beliefs and assumptions and open us up to new ways of seeing that support, nourish and empower us and help to foster appropriate responses to the challenges of our time. Challenges we may face in our personal life and those we are facing on a social and ecological level.

Kirsten also facilitates interactive retreats combining Insight Meditation with practices of the “Work That Reconnects” as developed among others by the Buddhist scholar, Ecophilosopher and activist Joanna Macy.

Kirsten is co-initiator of the Dharma Action Network for Climate Engagement, DANCE (, and is involved in several initiatives that bring together Dharma teachings and social and environmental engagement. She is a trustee of the Mandala Trust (, a small charity supporting grass root projects in the less developed world and she teaches retreats with SanghaSeva ( combining Dharma practices and Service.

She has lived in South Devon since 2005, an area she fell in love with when she was working as the garden coordinator at Gaia House in 1998.

Jake Dartington

Jake Dartington:

Jake began practising meditation in January 1995, while studying for an M.A in Philosophy at the University of Sussex. Drawn to the practice of mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation, he attended retreats in both the United Kingdom and in India, before training as a Dharma Teacher with Christina Feldman. He also practised and studied with Stephen and Martine Batchelor, Bhante Bodhidhamma and Yanai Postelnik.

Alongside the knowledge that Jake acquired through gaining a Masters Degree in Buddhist Studies, his teaching is rooted in and informed by his further training in Vipassana Practice and a long-standing interest in Psychotherapy and Counselling.

Jake has been teaching at Gaia House since 2007 and continues to hold retreats around the UK. He runs Mindfulness Courses in Nottingham and he has taught Religious Studies & Philosophy for many years in a Sixth Form College near his home in Nottingham.

Jake sees meditation as a way to live with deeper wisdom, compassion, peace and joy and he loves the opportunity to share what it offers with others.

Roz Robinson

Roz Robinson:

In 1994, as a young mother of four children, Roz began to practice yoga in order to give herself a little time in her otherwise frantic family life. As her practice deepened, she became interested in her own emotional landscape which lead her in 2000 to train initially as a Humanistic Counsellor and then, wishing to further develop her knowledge of psychology and her professional efficacy, she enrolled on a Human Givens Postgraduate Diploma course, qualifying with a Distinction. During her training Roz had carried out her placements in GP surgeries and, having completed her studies, in 2005 she was offered a post within the NHS as a Psychotherapeutic Counsellor working in Primary Care. She also became Accredited with UKCP.

In 2008 it seemed like a natural progression for her to further her development by becoming a qualified yoga teacher, and she completed a KYHF accredited course with Marc Beuvain in 2010

Alongside working in surgeries within the NHS, Roz has run her own successful private counselling practice, counselled as part of a hospital Pain Management team, taught yoga to staff at two local hospitals and has also provided private one-to-one and group yoga classes. She has also been facilitating retreats at Gayles since 2011.

In the Autumn of 2014 Roz resigned from the NHS in order to dedicate more time to her own spiritual practice and also to managing Gayles, her ancestral and life-long home, which she and her husband, Derry, opened as a retreat facility in 2011. As well as holding her own retreats and supporting visiting teachers, she is also almost solely responsible for growing vegetables for the retreat meals. Fortunately, her favourite place is in the garden.

Drawing from a wide range of influences, Roz’s teaching reflects her passionately held belief that, with sincerity and courage along with a little practical knowledge and understanding, we all have the potential to experience self-realisation. All of the retreats she facilitates encourage a developing self awareness through talks, yoga, meditation, silence and connecting with nature.

Yanai Postelnik

Yanai Postelnik:

has been involved in spiritual practice and exploration for much of his adult life. Born in Switzerland, of mixed European and Asian parentage, he grew up in New Zealand. Deeply concerned by what he saw around him, and in the world, he became involved in activism as a teenager and had a brief though not unsuccessful career as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand. Seeking a more deeply fulfilling way of living, he left his home in 1988, aged 23 and spent a few years traveling internationally as a way of exploring himself.

Yanai encountered the teachings of the Buddha and the practice of Insight Meditation while in Asia in 1989, and sat his first Insight Meditation retreat in 1990. It was clear to him that these practices offered something truly beneficial and powerfully transformative, and so he has been engaged in the study, practice and service of the Buddha’s teachings on a full time basis, ever since. At the request of his teachers, Yanai began teaching at Gaia House, in Devon, in 1992, and moved to the USA to be the Resident Teacher at Insight Meditation Society, in Barre Massachusetts in 1995-1996. He then returned to England and has been based in Devon since then. He lives in Ashburton, with his wife and teaching partner, Catherine McGee.

Over the years Yanai has taught in Australia, Ireland, France, India, and currently leads retreats in New Zealand, Sweden, Finland, Israel, the USA, and in the UK at Gaia House and around the country. He is much inspired by the immediacy of the human body, heart and mind as open doorways into discovery and awakening, and by the Forest Tradition of Thailand. He draws upon wisdom from the breadth of the Buddha’s teaching and other traditions likewise. He loves to spend time in the wilderness when he can, and includes the transformative power of nature as one of his most important teachers, regularly leading retreats outdoors, in the natural world. Yanai is a member of the Gaia House Teacher Council, and a Core Faculty member of Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts.

Nathalie Jessel:

(Artist / Psychotherapist)

Nathalie’s first passion was art which she used as a way of exploring the world and her place in it. She studied Fine Art and gained a BA (hons) in Sculpture. Whilst working as an artist, Nathalie became involved in community projects and working with children and adults with special needs. She became excited about the therapeutic benefits of art and broadened her work to include creative workshops and working with a small theatre group providing drama therapy.

Her work with children and young adults with special needs led her into the field of social work and she worked for 8 years in Inner London Children’s homes. Through her experiences of working with troubled children she began to explore ways of working more therapeutically than her social work role would allow and began training as an Art Therapist.

Her experiences on the Art Therapy training opened her eyes to the potential of art in expressing aspects of ourselves and our experiences which are not always acknowledged or fully conscious. Fascinated to know more, she went on to complete a Diploma in Psychodynamic Counselling and became an accredited Psychotherapist.

Nathalie has worked as a Psychotherapist in a number of settings and for the last 11 years has been working for the NHS as a Psychotherapeutic Counsellor which she finds both demanding and very rewarding.

Nathalie has a great love of traveling which she feels opens her eyes and has given her a wider perspective on life. She has spent time in India and Nepal where she became interested in different experiences and expressions of spirituality and philosophies on life.

Nathalie met Roz Robinson many years ago whilst training in counselling and they worked together in the NHS. In more recent years Nathalie has collaborated with Roz on Gayles Retreats where she facilitates art workshops which compliment the yoga, mindfulness and meditation and walking within the beautiful natural surroundings of the Sussex Downs. Nathalie does not seek to teach art techniques but encourages people to experiment with art materials in a playful way and as a therapeutic tool for exploring their experiences, sensations and emotions and of better understanding their relationship with the world and themselves.

Nathalie Jessel has a BA( hons ) in Fine Art and is a MBACP Accredited Psychodynamic Counsellor.

We hope that through you enjoying your time here you will take something positive back into the wider world; it will reflect on your friends, family, colleagues and, in fact, everyone that you meet and this in itself seems to us to be a worthwhile cause – we would like you to leave feeling nourished, relaxed, connected and inspired.