Happy Buddha, Happy Life

My first yoga retreat. I was hardly sure of what to expect! From the website, it looked like an incredible detox in nature, with vegan food and plenty of yoga classes, but since I have never been to a retreat before, I didn’t know what the rest of it would entail - but I was excited for a few days at Happy Buddha just outside of Sydney.

My friend Lauren and I booked in to go for several days and set off Wednesday 21 November, heading off to the Blue Mountains (Wentworth Falls). Lauren is my go-to travel buddy so we had a fun little drive from Sydney, and arrived at sunset to a beautiful estate, complete with a pool overlooking the beautiful mountains, with two trails running down the hills, through the forest.

Happy Buddha Elyse Retreats

We put our bags in our cute little room next to the pool, wandered past the lounge with a warming, open fire burning, and piled our dinner plates high with fresh veggies, rice and fruit. Seriously, the food here was such a standout, all vegan and vegetarian, salads made from veggies and herbs that were from the little garden outside, lentil and sweet potato soups, raw broccoli salads.. YUM!

Shortly after the meal, we adjourned to the yoga studio to meet all of the others that were at the retreat, as well as the facilitator. After the group introductions and setting our own individual intentions for the length of the retreat, Mel, the beautiful French-accented facilitator, began a yoga Nidra class that had us so deeply relaxed and ready for bed immediately after.

I do need to make mention that the yoga studio is accessed through a bookshelf. LITERALLY HARRY POTTER. It’s a secret passageway - this was such a surprise element and I had no idea about it prior, but it gave such an air of mystery and hiddenness. Such an incredible idea!

Secret passageway yoga studio

The next morning, after an unbelievably restful sleep, we woke to complete a restorative yoga class, have breakfast (quinoa porridge and fresh fruits) and attend a meditation class, to learn and practice different mediation techniques.

Elyse Elmer Yoga Bridge Happy Buddha

Lauren and I hiked down the steep back hill until we reached a clearing with a tall waterfall, where we stayed for some time before heading back up, for lunch, a drum circle and some free time before an extra long Yin yoga session (my favourite class of the retreat!). Dinner was prepared when we had finished Yin - Lauren and I headed outside to catch a glimpse of the sun setting below the mountains and the sky melting into a pink sunset.

El sunset

After another exceptional meal, we settled into another sleep-inducing Nidra session and gained another glorious sleep. Lauren woke up early to do the dynamic yoga class, but I slept in until the second class, beginning at 8am, because I cant keep up with a vinyasa class after my surgery - spine and hips are too stuck (well, made of titanium!), indulged in a tasty breakfast and had a closing circle experience, where we discussed what we had thought of the retreat, what we liked, what we would take from the experience, etc. Many of the women seemed to be going through difficulties in their own lives and found the whole retreat to be extremely beneficial for their mindsets, yet emotionally confronting. Seeing everyone in the circle, hearing their hardships and how the few days had affected them was such an intimate experience in itself - it was a beautiful intimacy and openness shared amongst strangers, with no expectations and no follow up required. We were all sounding boards for each other, nothing more than kind strangers.

Happy buddha

I would love to go on another retreat, intensive yoga sessions are definitely an incredible way to clear and connect your mind/body. Considering doing my 200 hours in a Bali-based training next year but I have to look into how that would work and if I would be eligible because of my spine. Yoga continues to be such an empowering tool for me and incredibly important in my life (which I will go into in my next blog post). For now though, namaste <3

 Instagram VS reality

Instagram VS reality