Post New Zealand Retreat Buzz….

Travel travel travel…How grateful I am for you!

I have just returned from an amazing trip to New Zealand. I co-led a Yoga Vista Yoga Retreat with the beautiful and talented Heather Archer.

We began in Aukland, where we enjoyed our 3 day “pre-retreat.” We started off at the Aukland Museum, learning all about the Maori culture and traditions, the volcanic land that we were standing upon, and the magnificent birds and critters that inhabit this green country.

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After many hours of oohing and awing within the museum we made our way to the Sky Tower. At 328 metres, it is apparently the tallest man-made structure in New Zealand and offers breathtaking views in every direction. Not to mention they have a bar & cafe which make for a great place for a few pre-dinner drinks!

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The next day was a slice of heaven for me. Hiking, wine tasting and beaches galore! We woke early and took a ferry over to Waiheke Island.

Waiheke has become known as New Zealand’s “island of wine,” home to a dedicated group of winegrowers who have successfully produced delicous red and white wines with distinctive varietal character. Waiheke winegrowers regularly win awards for their Syrah wines.

We started off visiting the local farmers market where we bought medicinal honey, the sweetest carrots on earth, and a few other random knick-knacks. Then started the long day of hiking around the island to taste their delicious wines.

We started at Stonyridge Vineyard. Overlooking the beautiful rolling hills covered in grapevines, we sipped our delicious wines, took a plethora of photos and even snacked on a few of our sweet carrots, while onlookers gave us questioning looks:) What a sight to see we were… a group of yogis, drinking wine, eating raw carrots and doing yoga poses all over the grounds….classic.

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We spent the next few hours walking from vineyard to vineyard in awe of the beauty that surrounded us. It was so calm and serene in those hills. Such a special moment.
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We eventually made our way down to the bright blue ocean for some shell hunting, water splashing, and sunshine dancing.
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After hours of walking and wine tasting and dinner is was time to ferry home. Half of us fell asleep on the boat ride. When I returned back to my cozy hotel bed, my phone notified me that we had walked 16,742 steps!!!! We slept well that night to say the least!
Next morning, I awoke, took a bus back to the airport to pick up our rental car or should I say 12 passenger van for the week. I was nervous! Driving a minibus, on the left side of the road and the right side of the car…but my deep Ujaii breathing kept me calm, minus the one time I almost hit a few bikers and almost side swiped a car with my BIG right lane turn!! Hahahah!! But besides that I did great.
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Two hours later we arrived in Ragland, to our retreat home Waoku Lodge for the week. It was beyond words, breathtaking! Nothing but gratitude was flowing through me in this moment. I was overlooking a thick lush jungle to the right and a sparkling blue ocean to the left. Birds were singing their heartwarming singsongs, the hot tubs were bubbling, the yoga deck was glistening with sunshine. We arrived!
 Its hard to imagine, that the retreat has just begun….but its true!
Day 1: Giddiness, Yoga, and a delicious welcome dinner cooked by our lodge hosts Sharon and Charlie.
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Day 2: Kayaking. We had a 4 hour guided tour along the oceans edge to explore what the locals called pancake rocks. However, our group just kept calling it Jurassic Park. Honestly, thats what it looked like. Like we were on a movie set, and these were props rather than something real that the Universe has created with all its Glory.
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Day 3: Glow Worm caving. WOW!!!!!!! That pretty much sums it up! It was hard core. It was no sissy adventure. We hiked, crawled, and even army crawled through a pitch black cave full of mud and freezing cold water for almost 2 hours. The glow worms look like thousands of constellations on the caves rooftop. When we covered our flashlights, it was truly as if we were on a different planet, in a different time. Like you could take one step and fall into the abyss. Magical barely covers it! Not to mention the stalagmites and stalactites galore. Some were as big as me! Water eels and other critters shared the water with us. We were brave yogis this day. Ujaii and a meditative state of mind was 100% necessary for me. The owner of the land took us throughout this cave himself, then cooked us the most amazing home cooked meal at his lodge afterwards. What a day!! Sorry no photos here….did I mention we army crawled though a cavern barely big enough to fit my body in the cold water???
Day 4: Relax and Explore! We hung around our beautiful lodge, soaked in our hot tubs, explored the beaches, and wandered through the cute little beach town of Ragland.
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Day 5: Thanksgiving Day! And thankful we were indeed. Again a day to explore and express ourselves on the grounds. A massage therapist came to the lodge to bless us with her amazing hands, we walked and talked and eventually made our way over to a big overflowing waterfall. Another opportunity to walk through the different shades of green upon green, as you were sprayed by misty water of the falls.
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Later that evening, our hosts cooked us a fabulous dinner of red snapper, root veggies and greens from her garden, coconut rice, and a yellow curry to die for. Not the traditional thanksgiving dinner, but one to be equally as thankful for. Shannon Larsen blissed us out with her acoustics and her wildly talented songs that made our hearts overwhelm with joy and emotion.
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Day 6: Sadly our last day. We choose to visit the beach once again. We made our way down to a black sand beach known for its magical blue sand rays and shells. Both of which we found indeed. It was an afternoon of contemplative thoughts, reflection of the trip, and experiencing genuine gratitude for all that we have.
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 We finished off the night with an evening at a local restaurant called “Rock It” with local farm to table food. Great atmosphere, local wines, and of course what really mattered, my people. These 9 beautiful souls that I had the great pleasure to host in a majestic land, doing what I love. I am blessed. I knew it before I went on this journey, and I am reminded of it now afterwards.
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22 hours later, I arrived to my lovely home in Manhattan Beach. Returned to family and friends, and a job that continues to inspire me and keeps my light shining bright.
I realized however, that even when your home is amazing and your job is perfect, its still important to take time away from the everyday. To give yourself permission to get away. To explore the world. To meet new friends. To connect with old ones. To experience culture and yoga in a new environment. To disconnect from the computer and the endless lists of things to do. To reconnect to nature, and to your spirit, and to everything else that comes with travel and yoga and retreating. So often we put a price tag on things, and we can come up with a list of reasons why we don’t have time or money for retreats….but I just want to remind you that you are worth it. We all are. And this kind of connection to the world, and to your spirit is priceless…at least in my opinion.
May we all take the time to get away and recharge ourselves so that we can return to our lives feeling full and able to share our magic with others.
Thank you Heather, Adam, Toby, Barbara, Evanna, Kris, Shannon, Andrea, and Jessica for being the best travel partners a girl could ask for. Where are we going next?!?!?!?
Better yet….where are you going next?
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