Wellness Retreats NZ
It's funny isn't it how we're happy to spend a fair few hundred dollars on a pair of shoes or a new handbag, but we balk at the idea of spending this on our own wellbeing. A monthly massage or facial can take priority over figuring out what's REALLY going on. As regular readers will know, I'm on a bit of a health and wellbeing path these days, determined not to accept that sometimes the extreme levels of tiredness and low energy we suffer from time to time are simply a symptom of being a "busy woman in 2014." Taking time out is ESSENTIAL but a gift we rarely give ourselves.
As much as I try to eat well, exercise well, sleep well, and bang on about the virtues of looking after yourself, sometimes, all of that goes by the wayside as I put the needs of the kids/work/house first.
I first met Melissa Carroll in my yoga class, we had a connection in that she ran the Escape Haven retreat in Bali, I'd visited the Byron retreat for Next magazine and written about it (read here). Mel is the picture of good health, but like so many of these health and wellbeing proponents I seem to come into contact with these days, she has had her fair share of medical problems, and has had to turn to so called un-conventional methods to heal herself after failings from the conventional medical fraternity.
As a sufferer of chronic fatigue syndrome, Mel embarked on her own journey back to good health around 10 years ago. She's now in that wonderful place of being able to share her journey back to good health, and has launched a NZ-based Retreat Company, Wellness Retreats NZ. A one day retreat currently held in Matakana which brings together many of the people involved in her recovery.
I attended her June retreat, gifting myself a Sunday out, time away from the kids, and time just for me. As I drove the picturesque route 45 minutes north of Auckland, the feeling of guilt gave way to one of excitement as I pictured the inspirational people (all women this time) I was about to spend the day with.
Some of them will be familiar to you as being people I've long advocated myself - Dr Kathleen Wills from the Integrative Medical Centre in Westmere, and Lifestyle coach, author and adrenal fatigue specialist Louise Thompson, along with Erin O'Hara the co-founder of Takapuna's incredible yoga studio Golden Yogi, the delightful raw food advocate Olivia Scott from the Raw Kitchen, and Intuitive Reiki healer Avril Hay.
The other people on the retreat are from vastly different walks of life, but share a common goal -more energy, an increased sense of well being and an openness to new thinking. It's a warm and friendly environment and the Riverside Matakana venue is stunning.
The day started with a delicious Kundalini yoga class, designed to wake both our mind and body up. It's Erin's specialty, and a style of yoga not common in this country. It involves a fair bit of chanting and deep breathing and truly takes you into the moment. I emerge warm, and more clear headed than I've felt in months. Erin is also a big advocate of green smoothies and after a quick demonstration and taste test, we're all convinced we must make time for one in our daily life.
Dr Kathleen Wills is quite simply one of those women we all need in our life. An integrative medical doctor from the States, Kathleen now calls NZ home, and her understanding and knowledge of complimentary medicine practices, and hormonal issues is phenomenal. Her talk on this retreat is on hormones; why it's important to maintain a healthy balance of them at any age. An imbalance can play a huge part in fatigue, weight gain, mood swings, poor skin, infertility to name just a few. After a simple questionnaire, there isn't a participant in the room that doesn't come up with the result of an imbalance that's effecting their every day life. Many of us leave with a resolve to have the tests, not commonly offered or indeed acknowledged by GP's, and fundamental to poor quality health.
After a delicious raw lunch catered by the We Love Food, Louise Thompson is our next guest speaker. A previous sufferer of adrenal fatigue, Louise is now a high energy, happy and healthy lifestyle coach who's keen to share her methods for getting an staying well, learning to say no, changing our unconscious beliefs, and this day, the focus is "stickability".
Her line "just get there" resonates with me, as she talks about the multitude of excuses we come up with rather than just doing what we know is good for us (i.e. a yoga class, a walk in the sunshine, a long hot bath). Our focus on what we "should" do needs to make way for what we truly "want" to do.
Olivia Scott is an unexpected delight on the day. The 22 year old founder of the Raw Kitchen demonstrates the ease of making raw cakes - no gluten, sugar, dairy or indeed any nasties. Her raw "cheesecake" is incredible, and a small slice is enough to satiate any sweet-tooth.
There does seem to be a bit of a movement towards sugar free and raw these days, an acknowledgement the white stuff is in everything and enough is enough. It occurs to me how lucky Olivia's generation is to be able to advocate this without the stigma of being alternative or hippy. Sugar free and raw is fast becoming part of mainstream.
Our final part of the day is a delicious session of yin yoga, with Danielle from the Yoga Sanctuary. There are varying levels of yogis here, many beginners and the class is designed for ultimate relaxation. The day is done and I regret not booking into the beautiful venue for the night, to hold onto the feeling of zen, and process all i've learned to implement into daily life.
Hands down this is an essential life learning and changing retreat for anyone in need of a break, or in need of some answers, it's well worth it.