A couple of weekends ago I went on a yoga retreat, at the wonderful Antara Retreat just out of Wellsford. I wrote a rave review on Instagram and decided I would write a short blog post as I had so many questions and wanted to pass on this information to anyone interested. I never planned to write a blog post about the retreat so I don’t have many photos, only of the property.
The philosophy of Antara is that of gifting what you can, and not expecting anything in return. After chatting to the wonderful Leigh who was facilitating our weekend, she mentioned Antara are in search of volunteers and specifically someone with marketing experience. Currently Antara is not promoting itself and is relying on word of mouth, which is how I found out about the retreat. So this blog post is my gift back to Antara and everyone who is interested in helping out or attending future retreats.
The retreat is aimed at people aged 16-35, however is open to those outside of this bracket (with preference given to 16-35 year olds who have not visited before). The retreat is intended to be a place where people can disconnect from their busy lives by reconnecting with nature and refocusing their energy on what is important (to each person). The retreat has no religious affiliation and does not push any religious agendas. The yoga retreat weekend I partook in was from Saturday mid-morning to after lunch Sunday, there were about ten other participants. My friend had previously visited during a yoga retreat weekend and highly recommended it to me. I invited another friend whom I knew was feeling a similar level of stress and frustration as I was.
My friend and I were the first to arrive at the retreat. Having grown up being told not to expect anything for free and ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’ etc., we were a bit weary of what to expect. The property blew us away, a beautiful mud-brick home surrounded by orchards, gardens and bush. We were greeted by Leigh who happily showed us around allowing us time to settle in. The rooms slept a maximum of five people and were very tidy. We chose top bunks that overlooked the gardens. At this point my friend and I switched off their phones, as did the other retreaters as they filtered in. There is no cell phone reception at the site anyway, but no-one wanted to be distracted by our phones or even take photos. The retreat is one of those places that you just want to be in the moment and commit it to memory. Of course that’s not very helpful for you guys, but it also means I don’t spoil the surprise if you do manage to make it there.
|View from our room|
Again with not spoiling the surprise, I won’t go in to every detail of what we did. The weekend was spent meditating, practicing various forms of yoga, accidentally falling asleep during deep mediation (hey I wasn’t the only one!), eating amazing food and getting to know the other awesome people. Overall it was a charming getaway that I am struggling to describe without sounded tacky. It’s an experience I remember fondly and am sure everyone else felt the same. If you are new to yoga, don’t be scared off thinking the retreat will be full-on advanced yoga, as it was really gentle. The yoga was tailored to the class, as our wonderful instructor gauged everyone’s levels first making it more beginner’s to intermediate level. Our yoga teacher, Honor, from The Yoga Room in Mangawhai, was also gifting her time. Yoga with Honor was about an hour and a half to two hours, once per day. There was plenty of rest time before and after each session as well, and this was the most active thing we did all day. On the second day Honor gave us more restorative poses as we were all feeling a bit stiff.
The food over the weekend was amazing, and a lot of it is grown on site. The retreat is smoke free, alcohol free, drug free and serves plant-based food. Our wonderful host, Leigh, prepared our meals, with the guests helping with cooking or dishes (or both). My friend and I helped prepare an apple crumble for dessert using minimal sugar and homegrown produce. The freshly made breads were also a hit, and were made using spelt flour. Antara has the recipe on the website. We enjoyed the bread with a plethora of homemade chutney, jam, jellies and relishes all from produce grown on site. Throughout the day there was copious amounts of fresh herb tea, lemon balm, nettle and lemon verbena from the garden, as well as never ending fruit (feijoa season!). Nothing is wasted, as there are compost systems on site and we were encouraged to take home windfall apples for baking and juicing at the end of our stay. I cooked the apples in to a crumble using feijoas from a nearby street tree.
|Persimmons at Anatara. Photo: Anastasia Nenarokova|
The retreat ended after a hearty lunch on Sunday, after only about 30 hours, which went really quickly. I know I was disappointed it had ended already. We all helped with tidying up, as currently there is no-one living on site. Leigh and I were chatting while doing dishes and Leigh explained how Antara runs as a charity, with all services gifted and people volunteering their time. As I mentioned before, Antara are looking for someone to live on site permanently to help keep the retreat running smoothly. If you are interested you can find out more info from their website here. There’s also plenty of room to put a tiny house on the property, Leigh actually has a Sheppard’s Hut on the site.
Antara also runs a free natural health clinic in West Auckland, found out more here. You can keep up to date with Antara by ‘liking’ them on Facebook. While you are at it, make sure you like my Facebook page too, which I set up last year and forgot to mention on the blog (rookie!). If you are interested in attending any upcoming events or volunteering at Antara, the contact email is: email@example.com.
P.S. Apologies in advance if I don’t blog for a while, it’s because I’m off to Australia to visit my family who I haven’t seen for a few years. I will update on Instagram with anything note worthy.