Good editor Carolyn Enting takes time out to nourish the mind, body and soul on an overnight retreat.
It’s amazing what a difference just one night away can make.
The right kind of reset can feel more like a week and be just the break you need without breaking the bank or if you can’t get away for longer.
A one-day retreat on Waikeke Island with Terra & Tide recently provided me some much-needed mind and body nourishment.
The short distance that separates Auckland city from the island creates the perfect disconnect physically as well as mentally, and feelings of stress began to ebb the moment the ferry pulled away from the wharf.
It’s here on the island that Gabrielle Young of Terra & Tide runs retreats in various forms depending on demand – from one-on-ones and groups to forest bathing experiences.
With a background working in the corporate sector to improve workplace wellbeing, she has the toolkit to help people explore ‘where they are now, how we are wired, and the power of positive emotions and wellbeing practices we can use in our daily lives’.
Young also explores the power of self-compassion and self-connection through her retreats.
For me, I needed some time out to just focus on me away from the everyday busyness, as well as to help with prioritising some health goals to take better care of myself.
Time to hold your own hand
I came away with new wisdom and clarity, as well as some simple tips and techniques that anyone can use when things get a little tough, like holding my own hand.
Young explains it’s a great way to comfort yourself if, for example, you are in a difficult meeting, and no one will know you are doing it.
These techniques can also be used when our critical self-talk comes into play. I didn’t realise that critical self-talk creates a stress response which produces cortisol and adrenaline, activating the sympathetic nervous system, while self-compassion releases calming oxytocin.
When we feel this way and our critical self-talk kicks in, it is helpful to hold a hand over our heart, explains Young, and recognise that “this is a moment of suffering, it’s only human to feel this way, may I be kind to myself”. And repeat these words while you do it. Holding yourself in this way is essentially you giving yourself a hug when you need it, and it’s a beautiful and calming thing to do.
Spending time communing with nature is also restorative and calming. On Waiheke, there are many places in the bush where you can find a sit spot – a place where you ideally sit for at least 30 minutes surrounded by nature.
Our entry point into the forest near Bach Winery reveals an oasis of nikau palms. After walking along the path for a bit I’m invited to find a sit spot and given a yoga mat for comfort. I find a spot under a silver fern, lie back and just be and listen to the forest come to life with bird song. When Young returns, calling me, I can’t believe it’s been 30 minutes already and I’m reluctant to rise though a kawakawa tea ceremony in front of a beautiful floral mandala awaits.
We also each create a gratitude altar to the forest from things we’ve found on the forest floor – in my case fern fronds, leaves and lichen – as a way to thank the forest for having us.
I do feel grateful to be here with Young and to spend time in this green space to restore and switch on my parasympathetic nervous system.
Who knew it could be this easy?
Wellbeing escapes: A round-up of some of our favourite wellbeing retreats and experiences in NZ.
Terra & Tide Gabrielle Young
Tired of the stresses and demands of the corporate world, Gabrielle Young wanted to figure out the next steps in her life so she quit her job and walked 400kms of the Te Araroa Trail on her own. On completing the trail, Terra & Tide was born. An internationally accredited nature and forest therapy guide, Young runs day and multi-day retreats that support you to enhance your own wellbeing, all through the beautiful outdoors on Waiheke Island.
She combines her experience of leadership coaching with her love of adventure, conservation and getting outside to connect with nature.
Terra and Tide’s wellbeing retreats are designed to provide time and space for you to recharge. The science-based tools that are taught throughout the experience will help you bring a greater sense of ease and wellbeing to your life.
Each retreat is a melding of yoga, guided forest therapy and a range of teaching sessions and exercises to help you reflect on your current lifestyle and changes you would like to make.
The programme is designed to help you know how to enhance your own wellbeing, and provide support in developing resilience.
“The aim of the wellness retreats is to educate and empower people to make the small changes they wish to make given their current context, and show them how it can make a profound difference to their lives long term,” says Young
Wellness Retreats NZ Melissa Carroll
A life-changing experience with chronic fatigue/adrenal fatigue fuelled Melissa Carroll’s desire to share her story as well as educate, inspire and guide others on their journey to wellness through Wellness Retreats NZ.
Since her recovery, she has collaborated with wellbeing professionals at the top of their fields for her retreats, and built a reputation for luxurious, value-for-money retreats in stunning locations. These involve a blend of yoga, workshops, nourishing food and R&R. Upcoming retreats include a women’s surf retreat in Waipu in November and a luxury forest retreat in Franz Josef. Pre-Covid, Wellness Retreats NZ also hosted retreats in Niue and Bali.
“What I have learnt from this journey is that putting health and happiness first is the most important thing in life. Love yourself and those around you,” says Carroll.
She Rose Claire Goad
Claire Goadrecently changed the name of her business from Renewu to She Rose, to be in alignment with who she is today after coming through a period of trauma and grief involving the illness and loss of loved ones.
To arrive at where she stands today she had to do a lot of digging deep and healing, hence the name ‘She Rose’.
Goad is all about connecting with women and helping them navigate the twists and turns of life, because it’s not easy sometimes!
“I believe that we all have the ability to overcome anything, with the right help, support and guidance. I literally rose from a place of physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion. I am now better than ever and because of this I feel that I am in an even better place to help and support women, having come through so much myself,” says Goad. “I’m so grateful for what this all taught me and I am a firm believer that everything happens FOR you not TO you, for our growth and evolution.”
She Rose holds weekend retreats in Waipu throughout the year and has previously held retreats in Bali pre-Covid.
Sattva Soul Retreats Celine Wallace
A certified Ayurvedic practitioner and a 2,000 hour-certified yoga therapist, Celine Wallace is the founder of Sattva Soul Retreats and Sattva Soul Supplements, an organic Ayurvedic supplement line.
She began Sattva Soul after her own wellness journey, having lived in Los Angeles for a decade where she became so burned out that she started having stress-induced seizures.
When western medicine failed to offer anything but prescription medication and refused to look at the cause, Wallace took her healing into her own hands.
She packed up after 10 years and moved to Bali to study yoga and meditation, then lived in the Himalayas in India and Sri Lanka to study Ayurveda.
“I realised what was lacking was a sense of balance and education around holistic healing modalities,” says Wallace. “There are hundreds of ancient tools that have been around for centuries, like yoga, meditation and Ayurvedic principles, which are primary functional modalities to balance our nervous systems. Things that we shouldn’t have to wait to reach rock bottom or travel halfway around the world to learn about.”
Nature Library Kathy Broadhead
Nature has been a constant source of calm, clarity and creativity in Kathy Broadhead’s life. A qualified and experienced environmental educator with more than 20 years working in a variety of education roles in New Zealand and abroad, she believes time in nature is important to unplug from technology and really connect with ourselves and each other. Through her business, Nature Library, she runs a ‘Women in the Wild’ programme – a series of gentle guided walks in native bush, near streams and the sea in the Bay of Plenty.
“I’ve personally experienced the phenomenal healing power and the absolute joy of being in nature, over and over again. And, as such, I love sharing the magic of nature with kids of all ages – that’s you too, adults – and seeing the many, many benefits that come out of those experiences,” she says.
Thrive in Light Kate Watkinson
Yoga and qoya teacher Kate Watkinson has always been a seeker. “Even as a child I was on a quest to understand myself, the universe and the purpose of it all,” she says.
In her 20s she found yoga, which created a unity and peace she had not previously felt. In her 30s she found qoya, which was an advent into the divine feminine. Now in her 40s, she is coming home to her soul and the power of living with authenticity and grace.
“Thrive in Light was birthed from my passion for yoga, qoya and soul, and the embodied knowing of their potency to empower women,” says Watkinson.
Soul Retreats Tania Graham-Brown
Soul Retreats was born out of Tania Graham-Brown’s love of fitness and desire for active holidays “rather than lying by a pool doing nothing”.
Soul Retreats holidays are about connecting like-minded individuals that love working out and challenging themselves and are active relaxers.
A certified XPT breathing coach and Oxygen Advantage coach, Tania leads breathwork workshops and has led the fitness on her retreats though she now brings in various fitness professionals she admires to lead the sessions.
“I see fitness as incorporating both mental and physical health, so wanted my retreats to reach beyond purely the physical exercise. So we include yoga to help stretch and restore our bodies and breathwork to enhance sports performance and general health.”