Wellness and 'whisper time' are the words that come to mind at one Blue Mountains yoga retreat.
At Happy Buddha Yoga Retreat in Wentworth Falls it's not about spas, over-the-top luxury or special treatments crying out for Instagram hashtags.
It's all about wellness, wholesome food, stretching, bushwalks, connections, meditation, the unexpected misty moments and quiet "whisper time" in the evenings.
Yogis and wellness enthusiasts can join one of the thrice weekly retreats to give mind, body and soul a boost in the middle of the picturesque village of Wentworth Falls.
Yoga, meditations and mindfulness are key and the retreat package includes accommodation, vegetarian food, access to the outdoor pool, books, a chill-out room, mini labrynth and even a drumming session. There are a number of surrounding walks into the national park available to complement the retreat’s activities.
As their brochure says: "Wellness goes far beyond simply feeling healthy. It's a deeper journey that far too many of us are missing out on … but no more".
Visitors will be able to kick-start their health in just a few days. And everything is close by. The yoga room (offering Hatha, Vinyasa and Yin and hidden behind a secret door behind a bookcase) and the dining area are in the same building as the bedrooms. The beds are comfy, the rooms are clean, the food is wonderful and the yoga sessions terrific. You will eat better, sleep well, laugh a lot and learn something - or more than one thing - in just a few days.
Instructor and leasee Athil Singh started his Happy Buddha retreat program more than a decade ago in Killcare and then Wisemans Ferry. Then he heard about a bush property up for rent in Wentworth Falls in 2017. In May 2019 he will celebrate two years in the Mountains.
"It was a lot of work and very scary times to start off with … but as the weeks went by we got busier and busier.
"Generally it is a treat and people have it when they feel they really need it. It's for people looking for something different."
Mr Singh now leaves most of the yogi work to a professional team of local and visiting instructors. A crew of chefs, gardeners and housekeepers and some volunteers help out to create the retreat’s holistic offering.
Mr Singh says about 90 per cent of the participants are women.
At the retreat I attended, teachers, social workers, an ex-police officer and a few mother and daughter combinations, were just some of the participants looking to "get off the hamster wheel".
"We're not a Novotel or a Lillianfels or a boutique day spa … our yoga retreat is about being in nature, it's the most powerful teacher. In nature the mind easily returns to its natural being.
"The Mountains has a nurturing energy … there's the four seasons in one day … it can reflect their need in some cosmic, weird way.
"And I love being in a community. Some times we think we are the only ones going through what we are going through."
The name of his business is based on the Golden Buddha story from Thailand.
In the tiny Northern Thai village of Ban Dan, legend has it that hundreds of years ago, when the Siamese kingdom of Ayutthaya was at war with the neighboring country of Burma, a valuable golden Buddha was hidden in the large Buddha statue at a local Buddhist temple.
"They heard Burma was going to invade… they covered it up with mud, it was about two storeys high," Mr Singh said.
"The soldiers went straight past it and it was forgotten for hundreds of years … when a boy noticed a bit of dust come off in the sunlight and sees the gold, it's the same with the retreats over the two days we already feel that shiny part come back... imagine what you will feel when you uncover more."
Prices for the two-night retreat start from $399 mid-week and from $499 on weekends. They also offer community yoga classes for $20 at the site at 50 Railway Parade, ten minutes walk from the train station. Go to: https://www.happybuddharetreats.com.au/.
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