Te Atawhai Retreat: Nurture, Nourish & Thrive


te atawhai main pic

Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Award-winning journalist. Good magazine’s wellness columnist & smoothie chick. Multi-Marathoner. Qualified Yoga Teacher. Blogger. Mum. The order of importance is in reverse.

Rachel’s mission is to inspire Kiwis to live healthy and happy. Follow Rachel via InspiredHealth’s Facebook page & Instagram 


Nurture. Nourish. Thrive.

These are the beautiful words that underpin the mission of Te Atawhai retreat, nestled out in the countryside at the foot of Mount Te Aroha in the Waikato area, in the North Island of New Zealand. It’s about two hours’ driving from Auckland, or about an hour drive from Tauranga.

te atawhai house

Te Atawhai specialises in offering a four-day “wholeness retreat” (although they offer one-day retreats at request too). Here you can learn, grow and flourish by learning healthy habits based around a blend of movement, mindset, real foods, and rest.

The retreat is run by an all-women team including: Rebecca, who worked for many years as a nurse in the mental health sector; Sherryll, who has 20+ years experience as a personal trainer; Well-known NZ fashion designer and businesswoman Annah Stretton. Rebecca and Sherryll run the retreats generally, while Annah drives the business-side of the venture and often joins guests for a meal.

Each of these three women have inspirationally transformed their own lives to be healthier and happier in recent years and so want to help others rise up in the same way too.

te atawhai retreat leaders

Pictured, Sherryll, left, and Rebecca, right.

I experienced Te Atawhai in December 2018 and felt the retreat was heart-led. Rebecca and Sherryll care about the guests and keep numbers relatively small – so everyone gets incredible personal attention.

The absolute magic in Te Atawhai truly is the people. They care about what they do and put their hearts into helping their guests. They are heart-connected to those who come to this place to re-set. 

Te Atawhai is not a bootcamp-style environment. You are challenged, but not pushed. You can go at your own pace and opt in challenges at the level of intensity that feels right for you. It’s not a yoga retreat – there is stretching in the morning, but it’s about mindful movement and starting the day inspired, rather than learning difficult yoga poses. This makes the retreat accessible and relatable to most people.

There is no alcohol, caffeine, wheat, dairy or refined sugar on the menu here, but rather nourishing, healthy, seasonal and real foods that are delicious. You will feel full at every meal too (and I do like to eat a lot and so I’m a good measure for this!) This is not a retreat about weight-loss, but rather the focus is wellness. I really love this – because the emphasis is about building healthy bodies and minds.

Karissa is the whizz in the kitchen and is passionate about serving  seasonal and nurturing food that’s truly delicious. The flavours she creates are memorable. She picks fresh produce from the garden daily to add to meals. One guest kept saying “I can’t believe healthy food could taste so good”.

te atawhai muesli

Check out this healthy breakfast. This was one of my faves.

The retreat is run from a large house in the countryside, where cows are thy neighbours and you get to see the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

te atawhai view 2

Check out this view from the bedroom I stayed in. This is bliss.

It’s like a home-away-from-home, rather than a fancy-pants, minimalist resort. There are books scattered around the house to read, a pool, health teas always on offer and you get to breathe in fresh air, unplug from technology and escape a hurried life and set goals for a healthier way forwards.

Each day starts with a gong to rise (you are encouraged to leave your watch in your suitcase for the four days). Then it’s a swig of apple cider vinegar (which boasts many health benefits), some gentle stretching with Sherryll and a sit-down breakfast. A challenging walk is then on the agenda – and each day you go to a different location for memorable scenery. An absolute highlight was climbing to the top of Mount Te Aroha (it took me 2.5-hours to get to the top at a gentle pace and 1.5hrs to come down). Half of the group opted in for this, while the rest of the group felt the half-way point was a challenge right for them.

At the top of Mount Te Aroha, I felt on top of the world. You can see the sea.

te atawhai - mount te aroha


You can also see green for miles miles and even the hump of Mt Maunganui far in the distance (in the far right of the picture). I wished I could sit there for hours. This, to me, is the definition of magic.

Being in nature is a therapy in itself, plus there are the movement benefits of course!

After walking, there’s a spa dip at nearby mineral hot springs (and you can opt to pay for a beauty treatment if you wish). Then in the afternoon there is an educational health seminar and some free time to relax. Then it’s a sit down chat for some reflection on the day, dinner and then free time before bed.

te atawhai food dinner example


On the website, Annah Stretton writes “Come to Te Atawhai to Nurture, Nourish, and THRIVE”.

Rebecca spoke memorably about learning “awareness” – “which is a key to setting you free”.

I’d also say come along too to this home-away-from-home to connect with these incredible women. Here you can learn tools to inspire you to live your best life.

* Watch a quick video interview with the retreat’s chef Karissa about nourishing kai. Click HERE

* Rachel was kindly invited to review the retreat as a professional wellness blogger. 

Are you making this big fitness mistake?


Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Marathoner. Yoga teacher. Good magazine’s wellness columnist. Blogger. Follow Rachel via Inspired Health’s Facebook, Instagram & Twitter for inspo, recipes & giveaways.

If you are passionate about being fit, and excelling at your sport, then don’t make the BIG mistake of ignoring all that post-workout recovery stuff.

It’s important if you an elite athlete – or a “weekend-warrior” (and health-geek) like me.

Rest, recovery, getting enough sleep, and tapping into all those awesome recovery options will help the body repair and strengthen. Recovery is as important as all those running miles, or all those tough hours you’ve committed to at the gym.

Sadly, recovery is an area that many athletes and gym-goers often ignore. But they should be aware that overtraining can lead to injury.

Here are some of my top recovery tips:

  • * Get enough sleep (adults generally need at least seven hours nightly). If you feel tired then listen to your body and rest. If you turn up to a workout when you are exhausted then you are at risk of injury. It’s just not worth it.
  • * Hydrate and eat nutritionally-rich foods that fuel your body well. If you want recommendations for nutritionists then comment below and I’ll recommend some top peeps. J
  • * Wear compression gear. It supports your muscles and reduces movement (so there’s less soft tissue damage and soreness post your workout). I love the brand SKINS (which I am wearing in these blog pitures). I feel like Olivia Newton-John in the movie Grease trying to put them on (they’re supposed to be snug and tight by the way for the best support). But man, they feel like an amazing snug, second skin and I love wearing them when I run. I made the mistake of wearing a pair of yoga tights in a race once and spent the whole time hitching up my pants! So, it’s compression tights, or nothing now when I run. And the latter option isn’t pretty, so I’ll keep wearing compression tights, thanks…  If you want to check out the SKINS range then click HERE.
  • * Do yoga, Tai Chi, or just simply stretch your body gently and mindfully. This will help you to move well and perform better. It will also help you to walk less like a “cowboy poised ready for action” too. You know, when you walk funny because your muscles are so tight from a tough workout.



  • * Use a roller to iron your muscles out. This is a great self-massage tool. Even better, see a great masseuse weekly (if you can afford it).



  • * Do something to chill out daily. It will help your body to unwind and de-stress – and you’ll be a nicer person! Just saying..



  • Here’s a legs-up-the-wall yoga pose that’s utter bliss for recovery!SKINS 12
  • * If you feel stressed then do a five-minutes’ meditation (better still do meditation with your legs up the wall (my favourite yoga pose) and take in some slow deep belly breaths to calm down your nervous system. Count to four breaths as you inhale and feel the belly rise, and then count to six as you exhale slowly and feel the belly deflate. Keep repeating this for a few minutes and then I promise you will feel more Zen-like. Doing this at night before bed-time would be an awesome idea.
  • * Be positive. This helps your body function at its best. X X
  • ps: this post was sponsored by the awesome peeps at SKINS. I’ve worn their compression tights for a few marathons I’ve run.




Dealing with Injury – what you can do

run stretch:cigna2

Dealing with Injury – what you can do

By Rachel Grunwell

Runners generally fear getting injured. The best approach is to adopt injury prevention strategies like yoga, using a foam roller, compression tights or self-massage to reduce the likelihood of injury (or see a professional masseuse if you run longer miles and can afford this).

Last year, I suffered my first running injury due to overloading. It was eye-watering painful.

I saw physiotherapist Vaughan Craddock, a director at Sports Lab who works with elite athletes and weekend warriors. Incredibly, he helped me go from hobbling (for weeks!) to running pain-free (and able to do the Chicago Marathon just a few months later). He diagnosed my problem quickly and told me what I should do to avoid aggravating the injury.

Then he gave me clear instructions on what I could do fitness-wise to maintain my base fitness. It was reassuring to have a firm plan to help me return to running. Vaughan says seeking specialist advice is ‘empowering’. I’d agree!

To avoid ever being in my (run) shoes, here are Vaughan’s tips to avoiding injury below:


Pic of Vaughan on his mountain-bike.

  • Firstly, he recommends that you listen to your body. If you’re tired, then rest. If you miss a workout, do not rush to make it up. “This is a common mistake that people make,” he says. It can be a fast-track to injury…
  • If a niggle does not clear in 2-3 days, see a specialist. Ignoring an on-going niggle can see things escalate.
  • Vaughan recommends runners reduce any ‘stresses’ in life, hydrate and eat well, get good sleep, and make sure you get enough relaxation to recharge.
  • Stretch too, says Vaughan, “because if you feel tight, then how can you expect your body to move well”.
  • Lastly, he says: “Be positive”. This can have a ‘dramatic effect’ on healing timeframes.

This column was published by Fairfax newspapers.

Column by Rachel Grunwell, Cigna Health and Wellbeing Ambassador – a mum, experienced runner, qualified yoga teacher and director of lifestyle website InspiredHealth.co.nz. Follow her personal journey to get race-ready with her family on Facebook & Instagram

Rach 02






Yoga Tips for Runners


Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Marathoner. Yoga teacher. Good magazine’s wellness columnist. Director of InspiredHealth. Follow Rachel via Inspired Health’s Facebook, Instagram & Twitter for inspo, recipes & giveaways. ps there’s a marathon entry giveaway coming up on the Facebook page soon!

Yoga Tips For Runners

Runners can be reluctant yogis. We think our time is better spent continually pounding the pavements.

It’s usually an injury that will force us into finally doing a stretch routine. But if you’re smart, then incorporate stretching (and strength work) into your training programme now.

Here are some yoga tips for runners:

Gently ease into stretching. You would never run a half-marathon overnight without training well or run too fast, too soon. So, have the same approach to stretching. Do a little bit and, slowly over time, you will improve.

Use yoga exercises to strengthen your core. The slouchy-look is uncool – and a sleepy middle limits your power.

Yoga can help to re-balance your body. If you’ve got a niggle, then you can end up compensating in another area and then injury is inevitable.

Avoid burn-out with the de-stress elements of yoga. Forget the body benefits for a moment; this stuff comes up trumps for the mind.

Yoga incorporates some great breathing exercises so you can better learn how to harness your breath. Maintaining steady, calm breathing in those last miles can give you an edge. While, shallow breathing will leave you breathless, steal energy and slow you down.

Sharpen your focus through yoga by using a mantra. Yoga can help you to silence distractions and truly focus on race day. In those final miles of an event, lots of runners want to give up. This is when your mind drives your legs.

Yoga will improve your range of mobility. This will help you move well and run well.

Your posture and alignment can be improved through yoga. So, you’ll look better, and run better too.

Lastly, make sure you stretch “smart”. See a yoga teacher or personal trainer so they can check your alignment and technique is correct.

Meanwhile, here’s another blog with 7 easy stretches for runners – Click HERE.



Resolution Retreats blissful health retreat getaway

resolution retreats complex

By Rachel Grunwell

The way to achieve your wellness goals is through “progression, not perfectionism”.

These wise words ring in my ears as I attend a three-day retreat in the Bay of Plenty.

I’m at Resolution Retreats, high up in the quiet, peaceful and beautiful bush-clad hills of Papamoa. It’s so green here, the air is fresh and I feel blissful and chilled-out just simply being in this stunning location. It’s wonderful to have “me time” and to be in a supportive and welcoming place that nurtures good health. It’s a place just solely for women to transform.

resolution retreats poolside

Here, you can kick-start a restorative journey to improve your own personal and individual health goals.

I’m among about a dozen women, mostly aged 40s and over, who have different goals from weight loss to wanting to improve their overall health, fitness, food knowledge or happiness levels. Some mums and daughters (aged in their 20s) too are here for a special healthy holiday. Others just wish to take a breath, refocus and feel pampered.

Founder and nutritional consultant, Joelene Ranby (pictured below), says she and her team will support everyone on their individual goals. Questions are welcome at any time.

resolution retreats joelene


I love that she tells us we can go to the daily fitness workouts or health seminars, or opt out for relaxation time instead, if we wish. It’s a no-pressure environment. One option for example, is walking to the Kaiate Falls. I opted in for that and loved being in nature (I’m pictured by one of the waterfalls below – how bliss does that look)!!!

resolution retreats walk


Ranby says she aims to inspire, educate and motivate women with tools on how to de-stress, recuperate and refocus.

She promises to keep things “simple”. She doesn’t want anyone “overwhelmed” and “trying to do everything all at once”. This is a key theme: “progression, not perfectionism”.

She implores us to focus on one important health message daily and think about leaving the retreat with one change to truly focus on back at home. This is because one change at a time, and little by little, we can transform our lives and achieve our wellness goals, she promises.

The itinerary over three days includes daily gentle yoga and different fitness sessions (here’s a pic below of a pool work-out). Seminars range from healthy eating education, to de-coding food labels, and there is a cooking demonstration done by a professional chef who shares helpful and healthy tips and tricks.

resolution retreats pool class 

Everyone raves about the girly-girl pampering sessions (you can get treatments from massages and facials to pedicures on-site). I have a facial which is so good I fall asleep! And a back massage helps me to de-stress down another notch.

I like that the retreat kept things accessible, realistic, and there are lots of real-life ideas shared. Food is super healthy (like this yum meal pictured below), but filling, and I cope okay without sugar (I’m generally a chocoholic!)

resolution retreats meal

The snacks are delicious too on the retreat. Check out this blissball goodness!

resoltion retreats snack

My bedroom is a tranquil oasis and boasts an inside and outside bath. Check out how lush it looks!

resolutuon retreats accommodation


I left the retreat feeling inspired and relaxed. What an amazing place where women can focus on themselves… and truly escape briefly the never-ending to-do-list and needs of the kids, partners and work commitments. I’d recommend Resolution Retreats as a friendly place that can empower women with real-life tools to live healthier and happier.


Top tips from the retreat:

Quit the guilt.

Keep things simple and focus on one health goal at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself. “Ladies tend to see the bar too high. We all do it!” says Joelene Ranby.

Protein can help to keep you fuller for longer.

Be organised with meals. It will help stop you reaching for unhealthy snacks.

Figure out the things that “slip you up” and plan around them ie if you love chocolate and chips perhaps don’t buy them or maybe keep them in a place you can’t see them.

Ask yourself before snacking: “Am I eating because I am stressed?”

Exercise and get your heart-rate up before breakfast – even if it’s just for a few minutes. It will help kick-start your metabolism.

This piece was published in Herald group newspapers. The piece was penned by Rachel Grunwell: wellness writer & columnist, marathoner, yoga teacher and the director of this lifestyle website InspiredHealth. Follow InspiredHealth on Facebook (click HERE) & Instagram (Click HERE). We have amazing regular health giveaways and inspiration on living “well”.

Rach 02

Resolution Retreats runs numerous retreats throughout the year, ranging from three days to three weeks. 




7 Stretches for Runners

Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Marathoner, qualified yoga teacher, wellness columnist for Good magazine & director of Inspiredhealth.co.nz . Follow Inspired Health for inspo, recipes & giveaway on Facebook & Instagram 

7 Stretches For Runners

Love running? Well, make sure you stretch.

This element of training is as important as the long runs, short runs, hill runs, speed work, strength work & the rest days.

Running tightens up your muscles and so stretching helps to counteract that.

Before you run, spend a few minutes doing ‘moving, dynamic stretches’ (ie leg swings or smooth and controlled ‘walking lunges’). This prepares the body for moving well – and so you feel less tight.

After your run, take a few minutes to stretch out too. It helps to bring length back to the muscles – and to avoid walking like a ‘lego-man’.

I teach ‘yoga-for-runners’ classes in Auckland. But if you can’t access a run-specific yoga class like this then try ‘yin yoga’, tai-chi, Pilates, stretch or Les Mills ‘body balance’ classes. Remember this restorative element of training is as important as the hard miles.

Stretches for Runners:


Lunges – hits the hip-flexors & hamstrings. Releases tension around the hips nicely.


Forward fold – hello hamstrings!


A magic quad stretch. Remember to stand tall.



Stretch under the feet. Ditch the shoes ideally. Gently ease in & out of this.


Squat. Stretches your thighs, hamstrings & calves. Relieves tension in your back too.


Hello hips & glutes stretch!


Legs-up-the-wall. Finish any workout with this restorative yoga pose. It’s bliss!



6 Stretches for Runners

  pigeonVince yoga for runner (pigeon)

Blog by Rachel Grunwell: Marathoner, yogi & writer for Run4YourLife magazine & Good magazine. Follow her via Inspired Health’s Facebook & Instagram for lifestyle inspo, recipes & giveaways.

Pictured above: Yoga teachers Rachel Grunwell (left) and Vincent Bolletta (right) demonstrate the pigeon yoga pose. Rachel is in the beginner version of the pose, while Vincent shows a more advanced version.


Stretching helps you to “move well” and “run well” – whether you are an elite athlete, or at the back-of-the-pack.

 You don’t have to be super flexible to do this. It’s not about contorting your body into a pretzel…

Rather, it’s all about finding the point in a stretch that best benefits your body and ability. So ease into stretches. Don’t over-do it.

Stretching has an important place in your run training programme. It’s as important as hill runs, the longer runs, short runs, strength work and interval training.

Stretch before running  – ideally doing moving, dynamic stretches for roughly a few minutes in order to prepare the body for moving well.

Meanwhile, stretching after a run is important to help bring length back to the muscles. It increases blood flow to the joints and working muscles.

Just one piece of guidance before you start. You should feel a stretch in each pose (and perhaps mild discomfort) in the muscles that I mention to target, but stop if you feel any pain. Better still, see a qualified yoga teacher or Personal Trainer for a session to get you started (and to check that you have the correct technique and alignment). Then you can do these stretches with peace of mind.

Reasons to stretch/try yoga:

1 Injury prevention. Keep on top of niggles, tight spots and imbalances.

2 Increase your range of mobility for speed. Do you need another reason?

3 Balance-style stretches and strengthening exercises can help with proprioception –ie knowing where your limbs are in space. This is crucial for trail running ie one slightly misplaced foot landing and your event can be all over sunshine.

4. Improve your posture. This helps you stand well, but also run well.

5. Improve your breath awareness  i.e. using belly breathing. This can increase your use of oxygen and help you to run better for longer.

5. Improve switching on muscles /fire them properly which can help with injury prevention. 

6. Learn how to focus the mind. Running a marathon comes down to the power of the mind to keep moving in those final stages of a race when your legs are screaming “stop”.

Try these 6 stretches.

Vince (squat for beginners)


1. This is a great inner thigh, heels and hips stretch. It also works the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and leg muscles. It strengthens the lower back, ankles and is good for the core too. It’s great for increasing your range of mobility. If you are trying this for the first time and can’t get your heels on the ground then you can prop them up with a rolled mat (like Vince has done pictured above). For a wide squat, you can press your elbows into your inner thighs so your legs don’t collapse inwards. Or you can hug your knees together for another version of the pose. Just keep your knees and toes facing forwards.

butterfly stretch

2. Butterfly pose

This is great for the groin, hips and inner thighs. If you are doing it for the first time then you could support the outer thighs with rolled-up mats or towels. Otherwise, start in a seated position (sit upright with good posture) and bring the soles of your feet together close to the groin area. You can next fold your chest down towards the ground . You can clasp your hands around your feet if you’re just starting out. Or if you’re a bit more advanced, rest your hands on the floor out in front of you and stretch your arms out forwards.

recline pigeon


3.Reclining pigeon: This is a great  hip-opener and to target the glutes. Lay on your back with knees bent, thighs parallel and hip distance apart. Then put your left ankle on the right thigh. Flex this foot. Then reach your hands around your right leg and bring it towards you – just until you feel the stretch and then hold this. Remember to breathe and relax your shoulders in this pose. Remember to do the other side.

couch stretch

4. Couch stretch: This is a great hip-opener and quad stretch, to name some benefits. Back up to a wall, or couch (or I used a box in the picture), and make sure you have a rolled up mat underneath your knee for support. Slide your right knee up close to the wall and put the front of this leg against the wall, engage the glutes. Step out with your left leg, keep the shin vertical and make sure the toes are tracking in line with this knee. Remember to do the other side.

Forward fold with ragdoll arms

5. Forward Fold. Great for the outer hips and hamstrings. Keep your feet close together, toes facing forwards, tilt from the pelvis and then rest your hands on your shins – or your feet if you can reach. Don’t worry about where you can reach to. I then put my arms in rag-doll position (like pictured). Remember to relax your neck in this pose and enjoy the feeling of having your head below your heart. I find inversions rejuvenating and help to clear the cobwebs from your mind too. I love running for that sensation too…

Vince yoga for runner (pigeon)

6. Pigeon pose

This is a great hip opener. It lengthens the hip flexors incredibly well. Just ease into the pose slowly; don’t rush or force it, particularly if you have knee issues. Start on all fours, then slide your left knee towards your left wrist. Keep your left heel near your right hip to start – but if this is too easy then bring this heel closer to your right hand and keep it flexed (your knee should be in line with your heel in the advanced stage of the pose if you are an experienced yogi). As you become more advanced you can put your right shin parallel with the front of the mat (but this takes time and should not be rushed into – Vince is showing this pose in the advanced form). Remember to do the other side. ps if you find this pose too challenging as a beginner, just do the reclining pigeon stretch for a period instead and then re-try pigeon pose later on.


ps here’s a bonus yoga stretch for the more advanced… it’s a more difficult version of pigeon pose with an added quad stretch – so it’s like combing the pigeon with the couch stretch! This one is extra juicy on the quad and hip areas. So it’s a double whammy.  Breathe through this pose. Remember to do both the left and right sides 🙂



Follow Inspired Health on Facebook   Instagram   Twitter

 Rach 02

Kids Yoga “Taking Off” at True Food & Yoga


By Rachel Grunwell

The magical power of yoga can have transformative mind, body and soul benefits for us grown-ups. This ancient practice can also uplift our little “muggles” in equal measures.

Auckland’s True Food & Yoga wellness centre has just launched yoga classes for children and so I checked out a class with my son Lachie.

Firstly, this is one of the most beautiful studios in this city. That sea-side view from Tamaki Drive, overlooking the bobbing boats and sparkling waters of Okahu Bay – and that gorgeous glimpse of the Sky Tower in the distance – is soul-lifting in itself (even in overcast weather). Inside the former Hammerheads restaurant too is stunning. Those memorable arch-windows have that wow-factor and it’s a clean and fresh decor.


But it’s the power of yoga on offer here for kids that’s out-of-this-world. Literally.

Yoga teacher Nisha Kumar-Joon invited her students to use their imagination and go on a “mystical adventure” and pretend to be in their very own spaceship in the room. So the kids gleefully zoomed about, fizzing and smiling. She inspired them to create their own stories with movement, while chilled music provided a backdrop. Other parts of the class too were equally creative. There were stretches, strength and then balance poses (imagine flying aeroplane poses here) and all of this required “focus”, which is good for brain development. While another part of the class saw the kids laying down, peaceful, eyes closed, meditative, and with a ball on their belly while they breathed (ie so the ball rose up and down on the belly so they could focus on how to correctly breathe with their diaphragm. This can powerfully calm down the nervous system).


img_0413 img_0451 img_0457

Mid-class the kids were colouring in and drawing anything space-like including stars, moons and other-worlds.




Their parents were in another “world” too, some blissfully near the edges of the room reading lounging about on bean-bags. While others enjoyed welcome “me-time” out in the bistro on the other side of the centre.


img_0503 img_0520 img_0590 img_0646

So how was the experience for my son Lachie? Well, he walked into the class, a bit apprehensive, and knowing no one. But he tried all the yoga poses, drew a star, became a “space-ship” and loved running around the room. He giggled most over the games and loved a partner exercise with a little girl Sovinna, where they passed a ball using their feet. They both giggled, and giggled…

The kids were asked to “find their way home again” in their “spaceship” i.e. come back to their yoga mat for the closing of class. They then placed their mats in a collective star-shape. To see all their tiny hands in prayer-position to end the class was joyful.


img_0666 img_0667

Nisha, a hatha yoga teacher with an osteopathy background, says kids get so much out of yoga. There’s the cognitive development, physical benefits, and the emotional and spiritual sides of this practice too.

“It takes them away from their laptops and it gets them using their imaginations,” she raves.

It’s a wish for Nisha too that her little students learn “balance” in life and lots of wonderful de-stress tools as well as stretching their bodies – and imaginations.

Nic and Kelly Watt are creating a footprint in Auckland with their food and yoga offerings – and it’s wonderful to see kids are a part of their heart-filled focus.

Check out the timetable for Children’s Yoga classes at True Food & Yoga for either 3-5-year-olds and also 6-11-year-olds here:



  • Rachel Grunwell is a mum, yoga teacher, marathoner, and magazine wellness columnist and writer. She regularly writes for many of NZ’s top media titles. She runs the InspiredHealth website (a lifestyle hub to inspire Kiwis to live well).
  • Follow InspiredHealth on Facebook &  Instagram

Rach 02

6 Essential yoga poses for runners

Rach 04

By Rachel Grunwell

“I can’t do yoga”. This is what lots of people tell me.

“But anyone can do yoga”, I reply.

Many people reckon they need to be “flexible” or a circus-star to stretch. But that’s not what yoga is about. It’s about just feeling a stretch where it benefits “you”. And if you are in a class with an experienced yoga teacher then they will give different options with each yoga move. This is so you can tap into the level that best benefits your body.

I work with lots of runners (I take ‘yoga for runners’ classes in Auckland) and so I tell my yogi students that they would never expect to run a marathon overnight; So why expect to nail the first yoga class you try? We’re so hard on ourselves!

Like all things, it takes time to improve.

No matter what age or ability, anyone can tap into the benefits of this ancient practice. It’s especially useful for runners and athletes to help re-balance the body, but the mind benefits are as big as the body benefits too.

I use yoga to strengthen, stretch and tone my body for marathon running, but I also use it to calm my mind, de-stress, detox and to reach my “bliss place”.

But it wasn’t always like that. I used to wobble on every balance pose and strength work would frustrate me, while inversions would infuriate me.

But now I love it and it helps to keep my life a bit more “balanced”and fuels my happiness. So stop, drop and yoga sometime. Give it a go.

Here’s a column I had published on how to do 6 essential yoga poses for runners. Read it by clicking here.


* Rachel is the director of inspiredhealth.co.nz/ (which offers health, fitness, food and lifestyle inspiration). Follow Inspired Health on Instagram (@inspiredhealthandfitness) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/InspiredHealthNZ/)

  • If you are interested in joining one of Rachel’s yoga classes email: [email protected]
  • Pic  taken by Rebecca Grunwell

Spring Detox with Wellness Retreats NZ



By Rachel Grunwell

All pictures courtesy of Sarah Alice Photography (except for the above yoga pic)


“You are whole. You are seen. You are more than enough. You are loved”.

These beautiful words are from yoga and mindfulness educator Nikki Ralston, whose voice is soothing my mind to a blissed out place.

I’m among 25 people at a Spring Detox Retreat with Wellness Retreats NZ (held at Ponsonby’s Sapphire Room). So 25 lycra-clad bodies are all laid down, glued to mats. All 50 eyes are closed. Everyone’s breathing is slowed down and our collective nervous systems, respiratory systems and heart rates are calmed.

We’ve just finished a yoga session led by Nikki, blending chakra balancing (with affirmations and essential oils). So we’ve done just a handful of yoga poses (holding each pose for minutes at a time – that’s us in the pic above). We’re letting our bodies unfurl, stretch out, soften and relax.

With each of the yoga poses, we had taken a drop of a different oil (with names like “whisper”) and applied these to different parts of the body throughout the class. The slowing down of this class resulted in my body being light and left my mind feeling lifted and clear. I love long-held yoga poses. It’s not just because I’m a yoga teacher too. It’s also so restorative for my runner’s body (I’m in training for the Auckland Marathon next)!

It’s not just the yoga that’s led me to this float-away space. It’s the culmination of the day-long retreat that’s nourished my mind and body to a fresh place.

The day kicked off with rejuvenating flow yoga led by the host Melissa Carroll (this is her class in action below with clients breathing into the yoga child’s pose).


wellness retreats yoga


Melissa is the brains and beauty behind this business. Her personal journey to overcome chronic/adrenal fatigue led her to create Wellness Retreats NZ. She aims to inspire, motivate, nurture and educate clients to boost their wellbeing.

She gathers different experts to lead hour-long sessions or talks throughout the day retreat. These experts arm retreat-goers with tools to make healthy changes in life. I love this inspired goal.

Each retreat has a different theme, a different mix of speakers – and retreats are held in beautiful locations like Matakana, Waiheke or Ponsonby. Morning tea and lunch are from The Raw Kitchen (so raw healthy foods) and Artemis medicinal teas are on offer throughout the day.

At the Spring Detox Retreat, speakers included Dr Kathleen Wills (a doctor of integrative medicine and an author), Erin O’Hara (a naturopath, medical herbalist and yogi from Golden Yogi), a speaker from Living Nature (a natural skincare and beauty range) and Jenny Hardyment (a Feng Shui enthusiast).

I’m a wellbeing columnist for Fairfax NZ as well as the investing magazine Juno – yet even I learned new tools on this retreat. Here’s a pic of me armed with my writing pen and soaking up all I can! I love being in geek mode…

wellness retreats:holding pen

Anyhow, the experts are rich in knowledge and passionate about their words.

Highlights included Golden Yogi studio owner Erin’s smoothie-making workshop where she explained “the journey through the digestive system”, to the properties of kale and to what happens when you mix blueberries with anything (the colour brown, of course). She’s pictured here with the beautiful long golden hair.

wellness retreats Nikki's class

Her tips were non-stop: “Add protein to smoothies to fill you up”…. “coconut water contains electrolytes”… “”chew food well so you get more nutrients”…. “with skin conditions, look to the digestive system”… “anything high in fat can cause reflux”… Her advice fired at the rate of gun fire. Fast, informative, information and knowledge-loaded. I loved it.

Speaker Kathleen meanwhile reminded us to be kind to others, less harsh, less judgmental (which is something I love about the yogi way, by the way). She also gave us the down-low on hormone health and imbalances and common symptoms.

wellness retreats Dr

Kathleen (the beauty pictured in the green top) talked about oestrogen, testosterone, how to address some health concerns, when to detox (at least once yearly) and, importantly, when not to detox. I loved how she reassured that a detox doesn’t have to be intense. It can mean just cutting down on meat 2-3 times weekly and integrating some healthier habits, for example.

While, The Living Nature expert (this talk is pictured below in the black-and-white pic) scared me off my lipstick and onto theirs…  My jaw dropped when the speaker explained that if you wear lipstick a lot then you will consume 1.2kg of lipstick in your lifetime. Gulp. Literally.

wellness retreats:audience

I seriously questioned what I put on my skin too post this talk. If you put garlic on your feet then 10-minutes later you can taste it in your mouth. So imagine what happens to your makeup. Yeah, you soak that right up too… ew!

So when I heard that Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (often in foaming facial cleansers or body wash) is a chemical also used in industrial cleaning guff this also sent me scrambling through my bathroom cabinet when I got home. It’s a message I need to hammer home to my friends…

So this brand’s argument to “move to a natural approach” was convincing. And the tips for great skin were brill. I soaked those up.  Just not Sodium Lauryl Sulphate any more!

Meanwhile, Jenny’s talk was all about lifting the energy of your home, and life, through the principals of Feng Shui. Her tips were about trying to attract more chi (positive energy) and to deflect “sha” or rather disruptive energy.

She told the audience to “open your eyes to what surrounds you”. She talked about how to soften harsh edges of your home, how decluttering can be good for the mind and energy of a room and she urged us all to go home and “throw away or give away 9 things you don’t need”.

“It’s amazing how much better you’ll feel,” she raved.

She talked about the five elements (fire, earth, metal, wood and water) and how to balance these for more harmony in your environment. I loved her explanation of why we should have plants in our homes:  “It’s living energy”.

Finally, each speaker was just long enough to keep me entertained and happy in my seat. It was a brilliant day and I left feeling inspired.

I’d recommend this retreat. – which is a beautiful day-long escape to rejuvenate.

ps you leave with a bumper goodie bag & then Melissa emails later with a catch-up letter packed too full of discounts from her retreat partners. It’s all part of her incredible caring approach to boost the power of wellness with a wide reach.

 *    *   *   *

Wellness Retreats NZ is holding their next retreat: Vitality Workshops – Retreat for Men & Women, October 4th – The Sapphire Room, Ponsonby Central. For more info check out their site by clicking here.

ps enter the draw to WIN chia seeds + entries to the Rotorua Marathon through Inspired Health’s Facebook page by clicking here.

Follow us on Instagram for more fitness & health inspiration – just click here