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).
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.