Yoga retreats seem to be popping up all over my Instagram feed at the moment. Dreamy pictures of downward dogs at sunset make me curious - are they really quite as dreamy in reality, or simply selling the idea of a zen getaway?
When I was approached by newbie Ocean Soul Retreat to experience a week in paradise, I jumped at the opportunity. This is my chance to find out; would I be embracing the crab with beautiful, like-minded beings, or find myself stuck with hippie chicks getting my hair braided? Read on Fitties...
What's it all about?
Ocean Soul Retreat is based in Seminyak, Bali. Boasting a calming environment for women to 'relax, find inner balance and learn new skills', the week-long retreats focus on four key areas; wellness, nutrition, yoga and surf. Each retreat accommodates a maximum of 10 women, ensuring you have the opportunity to bond with every gal there.
Packages Guests can choose from the Surf and Yoga Package, Yogini’s Package or Soul Surf Package. Each package includes seven nights’ accommodation at their tranquil villa, hidden in the heart of bustling Seminyak.
Wellness The holistic treatments offered coax guests into deep relaxation to realign the mind, body and soul. Holistic mentor Elisa Senese holds a one on one consultation with each guest to handpick suitable treatments for their retreat. Treatments include acupuncture, craniosacral therapy, Theta healing, traditional Balinese healing and reflexology. Also included is an informative wellness talk held during the week to provide guests with information about improving their wellbeing.
Nutrition Each program includes nutrient-packed meals designed to help cleanse the system. The menu is developed by Melbourne-based naturopath and holistic nutritionist Meg Thompson. Fresh fruit, snacks and an unlimited supply of herbal teas and filtered water are available for guests throughout the week.
Yoga Both new and experienced yoginis are welcome to practice yoga and receive guidance and encouragement to find inner balance and strength. The Yogini’s Package includes nine yoga sessions with guided meditation while the Surf and Yoga Package includes six sessions. Both packages include unlimited access to high quality yoga equipment including mats, bolsters, and straps.
Surf Learn the art of surfing from qualified instructors at the only Balinese-owned surf school. The Soul Surf Package and the Surf and Yoga Package both include five days of surf lessons.
Got it. So what can I expect?
The itinerary was slightly different each day, and included one day to explore Bali culture with an activity of your choice. To give you an idea, it goes a little something like this...
8:00 am: Breakfast
Super foodies rejoice. Eggs, smoothie bowls, homemade muesli, gluten-free bread and overnight oats, homemade nut milks and more.
9:30 am: Surf school
2 hours with an experienced instructor at a local beach.
12:30 pm: Lunch
Think nourishing salads, vegan cashew pesto, zoodles, salsas, japanese veggie pancakes, nuts and seeds.
2:00 pm: 'Dream time'
Aka treatments, chatting with your new gal-pals, shopping, tanning, swimming and reading. Free time for you to do whatever the hell you please. This is your holiday right?
5:30 pm: Guided mediation (30 mins) + yoga (60 mins)
Flow, hatha and a little bit of everything in-between, set off nicely with meditation for a quietened mind.
7:00 pm: Dinner
Soba noodles, crispy skinned salmon, steamed greens, roasted cauliflower and much much more. PLUS dessert. I can't ruin this one for you, but salted caramel featured more than once... #winning.
If you need more food, there's an unlimited bowl of fresh tropical fruit, an ever-changing bliss ball selection and gallons of herbal tea at your disposal.
An excellent balance between nurture and play, I was feeling completely 'zen' just a few hours in, which is a miracle for me...honestly.
What was it actually like?
Given i've never traveled on my own (and Mr Fit Foodie is the organiser of all our trips), I'm nervous. I've checked my passport about 300 times before i even begin to pack my bags, I have a checklist as long as my arm, and my emails are filled with maps + emergency numbers from the boy, who is looking decidedly more panicked than me.
Upon arrival at the airport, I was greeted by the Ocean Soul driver, who escorts me with my bag to the free transport that will take me direct to the villa. It's 30 degrees, sunny and humid. I'm immediately offered a bottle of water, some delicious air-con and some nutritious ginger bliss balls to settle that icky plane stomach. I know this is going to be a good week...
I pull up to a beautiful villa 20 minutes later feeling refreshed but anxious. What are these strangers going to be like? Will we have anything in common? Ladies...I have good news. Okay, so no hair braiding, no kaftans that smell of mothballs and definitely no tie dye. In fact, these gals were the epitome of the modern woman. A beautiful mix of corporate and creative backgrounds, with one thing in common - they needed a break. A chance to relax, recharge, and even learn a few things about themselves along the way. Thinking on it...I don't know anyone who doesn't fit into this category. Couldn't we all benefit from some serious 'me' time?
I run the risk of writing an essay of gushing praise for this place, so instead I'll just give you the juiciest bits.
- Standing up on a surf board for the first time and riding a wave (first lesson!)
- Saying goodbye to old habits + thought processes that were holding me back
- Connecting with amazing like-minded women from around the world
- Theta treatments (sounds hippy, but I can't recommend these more highly). Left me feeling light, happy and more peaceful.
- Twice daily turndown service, complete with beautiful gifts and inspirational quote cards.
- Balinese culture day to learn about local culture and traditions.
- The abundance of divine health food (even by my standards) that left me excited for the next instalment.
- Improving my flexibility and posture in yoga poses.
- Making friends for life (cue cheesy music...but seriously.)
If you needed any more convincing, (I know right?!) Ocean Soul Retreat gives 5% of its profits to the local R.O.L.E. Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to breaking the poverty cycle in Bali. Paradise with a conscience.
Um...pretty damn mind blowing. These guys aren't just selling vacations, they're in the business of creating positive life changes. Priceless.
Ocean Soul Retreat was founded by New York-based Australian Georgie White, who ensures women will feel revitalised from their week away. Her aim is for women to use their holiday to heal and reconnect. Perfect for overworked women, Ocean Soul Retreat not only offers an escape from everyday life but a healing and rebalancing journey. Prices range from $2595 to $3495 (USD), depending on the type of room you prefer.
Tip: get organised and book three months in advance to receive a $200 discount.