By NATALIA HAWK
Last week, I spent three days on a yoga retreat in the bush lands of NSW.
I know, I know. Lots of people laughed at me when I said I was going away. “A yoga retreat!” they said. “Don’t you live a good life!” They were envisioning me sitting by a pool for three days in loose yoga clothing, served cocktails by my own personal butler, occasionally popping off to do some yoga on a beach somewhere.
I admit I had my doubts. I like yoga – I do it once a week at my local gym and find it to be a generally relaxing and pleasant activity. But I wasn’t convinced that three days’ worth of yoga on a yoga retreat would be life changing, or even particularly enjoyable. After all, I usually prefer holidays that involve more adventure sports and less warrior poses.
Oh, how wrong I was.
Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Billabong Retreat. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.
I arrived on day one at around lunchtime, having had an incredibly nutritious breakfast of chocolate frosted pop-tarts (a gift from a friend who had recently visited America). I had consumed a few glasses of wine the night before, which really capped off the week I’d been having in general (think: many assignments, lots of work, little sleep). And I was stressed. More work and more assignments were weighing on my brain and driving me to distraction.
But just driving into Billabong yoga retreat saw the springs from my shoulders unwind and my breathing settle down a little. The yoga retreat is only 45 minutes from the Harbour Bridge, and just over an hour from my house in Sydney, but turning off the freeway and into bush land was enough to make me feel like I was much further away. I saw farm houses, alpacas, horses and sheep along the road, turned into a winding gravel driveway lined with trees, and then finally turned into the car park, which overlooks a large gorge filled with trees. At the bottom of the gorge is a billabong – the yoga retreat’s namesake.
It was dry. It was hot. And the silence – as the saying goes – was deafening.
My accommodation at Billabong Retreat was one of their treehouses. Appropriately named, as stepping out onto the balcony means you’re looking out straight into the natural beauty of the Australian bush. There’s a range of accommodation to suit all budgets, all of which takes great advantage of the stunning scenery by which it’s surrounded. And while it’s an eco-resort, you have all your creature comforts: powerpoints, warm doonas, biodegradable shampoo and conditioner in the shower.
But the best thing was the combined yoga room/lounge area/dining room. Set high up in the yoga retreat, there’s a circular yoga room with huge windows that overlook the entire property. Just outside, there’s an enormous area with the comfiest couch I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, a fireplace, chairs and blankets and books and newspapers. And on the other side, a beautiful kitchen/dining room with more couches, a tea-making station, a selection of iPods (to listen to meditation podcasts) and a lovely bowl of fruit.