So there I was, a few days into my 5 night stay at the Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, mindfully enjoying my delicious organic salad, when a guest to my left pipes up and says “Amy, when you get home, perhaps you’d better edit an old post you wrote about never spending big bucks on health retreats.” My reaction? “Noooo…I wouldn’t have said that!”. Out came someone’s phone, up came the blog post I wrote earlier in the year, and low and behold…I swallowed both my words AND my lunch!
My words exactly:“….my life is usually one big detoxification process these days. I own a Far Infra-Red Sauna (you can read about that here), I eat organic foods, I drink detoxifying green juices every day, as far as humanly possible I avoid toxic chemicals on my skin, in my hair, in my home. It’s not likely you’ll see me paying big bucks to go to a health retreat.”
Seriously, words swallowed (and all apologies to Gwinganna). I am a new woman and I’ll tell you why in a sec.
Firstly, let me introduce you to this incredible destination. Gwinganna is Australia’s only Eco Tourism health retreat, located in the Hinterland of the Gold Coast. Perched on top of a plateau, it is surrounded by stunning ocean and valley views that leave you feeling like you’re a million miles away from anywhere. Amongst a multitude of other things, you are blessed with beautiful mountain air, a distinct lack of (any) traffic and a feeling of utter serenity and stillness (unless of course you’re engaged in a ‘yang’ physical activity that has your sides hurting from laughter and your lungs screaming from exertion). Gwinganna offers a variety of programs to suit the needs of the ‘freshers’ like me and the multitudes of returning guests who know a good thing when they find it.
Having recently completed a 30 day cleanse, I chose not to attend a detox program (that’d be just cruel), but instead to join their 5 night Optimum Wellbeing program: “This retreat will help you to cleanse your body and to empower yourself by first assessing and then discovering solutions to improve your quality of life. Using integrative health techniques, this journey provides the opportunity to balance essential areas of your lifestyle.”
So you may ask why I decided to go to a health retreat, when let’s be honest, from the outside looking in, my lifestyle does look pretty healthy (as per my now word-swallowing quote above). Well the fact is, it hasn’t been as healthy as it may actually appear. Up until last week (because as I said, I am now a changed woman), there was a distinct lack of balance in my life. The food I get pretty right, same goes for clean living. The bit I battle with is balance, more specifically rest, play and stillness. My wonderful new career has me racing around battling ever expanding ‘to do’ lists; social media demands that could have me up all night; an inbox that flows to abundance 24/7..and an addiction to technology that has me wired and engaged all day every day. So you can imagine my delight when I read that laptops and mobiles were considered ‘contraband’ – how’s that for cold turkey!
I’ve decided to share with you a typical day in the life of a Gwinganna guest, to give you a feel for the level of activity you can choose to be involved in (or not, as the case may be). I must stress, none of this is mandatory. It is entirely up to you how much or how little you would like to participate.
5.30am: the suns up and with a knock on your door there’s a cheery voice prompting you to hop out of bed (it is broad daylight, please do not be scared off by the ungodly (for some) hour!
There we are, on the hill overlooking the most glorious view, practising Qigong. Photo credit, my new friend and fellow guest, Jackie 🙂
6.00am: Overlooking the incredible valley and coastal views we learn and practise the ancient art of Qigong, a moving meditation.
7-8.00am: The guests select a Yin walk (gentle paced) or a Yang walk (heart pumping, lung busting – serious hills!).
8-9.00am: Breakfast, in all of its organic, caffeine free, whole food, as-nature-intended-it glory.
9-11.00am: Thirty minutes of light stretching to be followed by your choice of Yin or Yang activities. These may include yoga, palates or creative dance (Yin) or boxing, spin or fit ball classes (Yang) – there is always a fabulous selection.
11-11.30am: Morning tea. SO yum. Think tahini balls, smoothies or fresh young coconuts.
11.30-1.00pm: A hugely educational seminar with topics covering anything from nutrition, mind mechanics, colonic health…you name it. These totally surpassed my expectations. All the speakers are highly qualified and fantastic speakers to boot.
1-2.00pm: Wohoooo it’s lunch time! Oh so good. Raw salads fresh from the garden, beautiful soups, fish off the barbie..I was kept very happy!
2-6.00pm: The much loved ‘dreamtime’. Time for you to do whatever your body and mind needs most – to rest in your room, to lie by the pool (my choice), to while away hours in their amazing day spa (with a spa menu bigger than your phone book, assuming you don’t live in Sydney), having acupuncture, massages, manicures, body scrubs, hot stone massages, kinesiology, you name it!
4.00pm: Afternoon tea. Again, always yum. Think crunchy crudités, raw crackers and yummo dips.
6-7.00pm: Meditation class anyone? Perhaps a functional movement class…whatever the case it’s a gentle hour.
7-8.00pm: Dinner with your fellow guests. There’s always a vegetarian option and for the meat eaters amongst two night with red meat on offer.
The food. OH THE FOOD!
Did I love it? With every ounce of my being! And this is what I loved:
- Meeting and befriending other amazing guests, all with a story and something interesting to share. It was the most beautifully positive group of people and I was particularly glad I had attended the retreat on my own.
- The hugely talented staff, all of which were totally authentic and passionate about their work (it seriously shows)
- The opportunity to totally disconnect from the world – I switched off as I arrived and back on as I left. I was blissfully unaware of the outside world.
- The day spa…oh the day spa! It is incredible and don’t get me started on the treatments. Actually you can. If you go…try the Sound and Stone treatment – oh my goodness – a hot stone massage timed and choreographed with music by an amazing therapist, it was out of this world.
- The food – just amazing. Gluten free, sugar free (bar fruit) and organic. Most of it comes fresh out of the ground in their own beautiful veggie patch, tended lovingly by a hugely talented chef turned gardener, Shelley.
- The pools (yep, there are two infinity pools). It’s hard to describe the feeling in the water. They feels as fresh and clean as spring water. Glorious.
- My bed. I was out like a light by 9pm and wide awake at 5am, every day. Slept like a baby and woke up feeling incredible.
- The quality of the information shared in the seminars. This program looks into all facets of your life style, there is SO much to learn.
There are so many reasons why I loved this experience but the proof in the pudding (don’t get excited, there WAS no pudding) was the way I felt as I hopped back onto the bus on departure. I had this amazing sense of vitality and calm; I felt totally balanced with energy I had not felt for some time; there was a feeling of absolute nourishment reflected in the whites of my eyes, the glow on my skin and a smile on my face that I couldn’t wipe off. I honestly cannot wait to go back (soon).
IT’S GIVEAWAY TIME!
One very lucky THI follower is going to secure a copy of this absolutely gorgeous recipe book, A Taste of Gwinganna…from garden to gourmet. Here’s a little excerpt from Gwinganna:
“The very first book from the team at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat in the Gold Coast hinterland, ‘…from garden to gourmet’, is a celebration of delicious and healthy organic cuisine for every meal of the day. Over 140 pages, it uses organic ingredients to create simple options that can be created at home.The recipes are all directly from the menus at Gwinganna and have been developed in conjunction with Gwinganna’s nutritionists. The book also features information to help you live healthier and nutritional tips for each dish. Beautifully photographed, the book is a valuable guide toward optimal wellness. If you want to eat healthier and have more energy, then this book is for you.”
Valued at $59.95, this is a must have addition to your recipe book collection. To win this book, simply tell us in 20 words or less why you’d love it. The winner will be chosen post 4pm on Monday 28th October.
Conditions: you must be a THI follower and reside in Australia.