I have wanted to attend a yoga retreat for a while, especially since coming out of Sydney’s lockdown. It was the next step in my newfound journey, but I wasn’t sure where to go or what to expect. So when Swami’s Yoga Retreat popped up on my feed one night, well, I thought maybe it was a sign! So I threw the idea out to a friend, and we both agreed that it would be something worth trying at least once.
A little bit about Swami’s Yoga Retreat
Swami’s Yoga Retreat is at 183-185 Pitt Town Road Kenthurst, NSW, Australia, approximately a 50-minute drive from Sydney; the retreat is the perfect location for our three-day, two-night retreat.
History of Swami Yoga Retreat
Swami Sarasvati arrived in Australia from India in 1967; Swami was known for being the first yoga expert in Australia and landed a show five mornings a week called Swami. The show brought yoga to the lives of many homemakers at the time, who introduced these practices into their own day to day lives. The yoga retreat was then established in 1983, offering yoga classes, meditation classes and spa facilities, and nothing much has changed.
Why attend Swami’s Yoga Retreat?
There are several reasons to book yourself into the yoga retreat. First, you may want to try one of the many workshops they have to offer. These include Naturopress Juice Cleanse Retreat, Yoga teacher training, or beautiful minds mother-daughter retreat, just to name a few. There are several events and retreats to choose from during the year, but if you are there just to dip your toe into this new journey as I have done, well booking yourself in for a few days to discover what the classes are all about, then this is perfect for that too.
What to expect at Swami’s Yoga Retreat
I was very hesitant about what to expect of my first yoga retreat; why? Because when I was doing my research, most other retreats were charging twice as much and, in some instances, even five times more for the experience. So I felt a little sceptical about what I would be getting for such a small price.
Accommodation is clean but basic, rooms have ensuites, and the tents are close enough to the amenities that walking to the bathroom at night is not a problem. Just remember not to bring valuables as the doors do not lock. In saying that, we had our door not just unlocked the entire time but also opened, and we felt safe. There are no wardrobes, but they offer a clothes rack, extra blankets, bath towels and a comfortable bed to sleep in for the night. However, if you like complete privacy, this is not the place for you as you can hear your next-door neighbour pretty clearly.
There are single, twin and double rooms available at the retreat with varying prices. Lights are out at 10 pm, which means the facilities are closed by this time, you can stay up and read (or chat as we did), but with so much yoga and meditation, you will probably want to have your eyes closed by this time anyway.
Swami’s yoga retreat offers a full-day itinerary, but what you choose to do is up to you. There is no judgement or pressure in attending, which makes the experience all your own to enjoy. Although three days and two nights sound a lot, I probably would’ve stayed an extra night if I were to do it again. The retreat offers morning bush walks, yoga, nightly meditation and workshops.
Sure, bring your trainers, because, for those of us who love to hike and, in particular, bushwalk, you would think this is the perfect opportunity to get those much needed daily steps in for the day. But, do not be fooled; this is not that type of bushwalk. We are encouraged to take off our shoes most of the time as the walk is not very far and is pretty easy to do barefoot. Although I enjoy walking barefoot in the park, I wasn’t sure how my feet would love the rugged Australian bush, and I am pleased to say I enjoyed it. However, I chose to wear shoes on day two, and I am glad I did; the path to the creek was a little more rugged than the day before.
With 60 acres of land, there are many paths to choose from if you decide to go for a walk during the day. It is a great way to clear the mind and enjoy the peace that this retreat offers. The view during these walks is pretty unique to this part of town, especially if you take the time to enjoy your surroundings and the wildlife’s sounds.
To be completely honest, I haven’t taken a yoga class in years. Sure, I enjoy Yoga with Adriene, often online in the sanctuary of my own home with only myself to judge how I am progressing. But to take a class makes you a little vulnerable to those around you. I was worried that the yoga would be advanced and that everyone in the room would be more flexible than most gymnasts.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed every class. Each yoga instructor was different, but each instructor took it slow and gave those more advanced more options, so you never felt like you were missing out on a pose or a move. Each instructor gave careful instructions to all in the room, and it felt like they observed the room without rushing the class.
I have been meditating for a while now; it keeps me calm and grounded, so I was actually looking forward to this part of the retreat. However, I had never been part of a walking meditation, so this one took me by surprise. I was also surprised that the hour of meditation in the evening didn’t have my mind wandering and that it would take all of my concentration not to feel like I wanted to get up and scream a little.
What surprised me the most was that it took everything I had in me to stay awake, even in Shavasana, and I had no problem at all with my mind wandering. The entire time I was there, I felt more relaxed than I have in a long time.
You can choose to attend these or not. I went with an open mind and had no idea what I was walking into except for the knowledge that the whiteboard (that has a different meaning each day) was the topic of discussion. I found this workshop interesting, not that I have ever done group counselling before, but if I had, this is what I imagined it would be like to some degree. Everyone is in a circle, everyone discussing personal topics etc.
I may not have walked out of that workshop with a resolved issue, but I did walk out with a new podcast to listen to on my walks!
Other things worth mentioning on the retreat
There is a pool for you to use, along with a hot tub, steam room, weights room, tennis court, volleyball net and a library. There are also many places to grab and book and sit and read, including two relatively comfortable hammocks – I tried and tested them myself!
You can book a massage online before or when you arrive (they do fill up fast, so it’s probably worth organising it before you arrive). Swami’s Yoga retreat offers a few different types of massages which you can discuss with the masseuse on the day. The duration of massages is 60 or 90 minutes, which need to be specified before your appointment.
So all meals are included breakfast, lunch and dinner. All meals are vegan, and I found them to be delicious. If one serving is not enough, then they have a bell to ring if you want seconds. Tea is available at any time of the day as the dining room is open to refill your drink bottles. You can bring snacks or food if you prefer, but I didn’t feel you needed to; there was plenty of food to go around.
Before anything starts, the bell will ring a meditation session, yoga, workshop, walk, or mealtime. You can hear it from any of the rooms and tents as well as any of the facilities. The bell makes it a more relaxing way to get the message across the entire facility.
If you are there to be one with your thoughts, you can place a sticker on yourself that says you are in silence. The sticker helps those around you to identify that you are not speaking at the moment and allow them to be considerate and understand your needs.
There is no obligation to switch off your phone; however, somehow, it just feels right to do it. For someone who has typically their phone attached to them like super glue, this was a great way to really be part of the program. It allows you to take part fully in all of the practices. This may not be an option for some, and I admit to checking it with the family once the day is over, but overall, the phone was packed away in my room without a worry.
What is my final view of Swami’s Yoga Retreat?
Would I go back? There are very few times in my life where I like to repeat myself. I am one of those people that do not want to eat at the same restaurant unless it has blown me away, stay at the same hotel until I have a good reason to or vacation at the same place unless it has stolen my heart a little. Swami’s Yoga retreat is a place I can see myself coming back to; I think it’s because it did all of the above, blew me away; I have a good reason to be there, and it stole a little piece of my heart.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. I hope this post has given you the information you need. If you have any recommendations, tips or advice, I would love for you to share them in the comment section below!
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