Reflections on Elmhirst’s Resort ‘Fall into Balance’ Retreat
After many successful 3-day yoga retreat packages, Catharine and Martina got their heads together to create a more immersive retreat package for guests from September 23-27, 2020. Guests attended from the GTA area, Cornwall and the Ottawa area and as far away as PEI and included couples, friends and a mother-daughter.
The package included accommodation in Elmhirst’s lakefront cottages, breakfast and dinner daily, as well as the new Sunday Best Lunch, daily yoga and meditation, a forest bathing experience with Sally Staples, credit towards a spa experience, a Saturday evening bonfire and lots of free time to enjoy the myriad nature trails, stand-up paddle boards, canoes and relaxation time. Optional additional experiences included an equine therapy session with Mane Intent and sound bathing experience with Tibetan singing bowls. Our guests’ intentions for attending the retreat included making time for self after a difficult time in their work and professional lives, connecting with good friends and creating quality couple time.
The weather could not have been better for this event! We enjoyed watching the beautiful deciduous trees in the area explode into colour! This was especially wonderful for our forest bathing experience and allowed us to practice yoga outdoors every evening.
What on earth is forest bathing you may be wondering? It’s not rubbing mud on your skin and romping in the woods as one of our guests first thought! Forest bathing originated in Japan as a way for busy urban people to reconnect with nature in a practice known there as ‘Shinrin yoku’ translated to forest bathing. It is indeed a bath in that you are offered the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the experience of the forest. The experience was based around a series of ‘invitations’ and offerings to collectively share our experiences. Sally chose a particularly lovely area on the resort property in an old-growth area of the forest with oak, birch and white pines to name but a few of the species. We were guided to explore the forest to look for movement, to fill a tiny bowl with things that caught our attention and to tell a story about them to the group, to share a childhood memory evoked through walking in the forest to make a creation using the forest and its offerings as our tapestry and ‘paints’. In sitting in our physically distanced places on the forest floor, I believe the collective experience we walked away with after our 2 hours of ‘bathing’ in the bounty of the forest, was the importance of developing personal connections and the impact nature to support our wellness and the ways we are deeply connected to and dependent on nature.
Guests reported leaving their 4 days having a sense of having ‘hit the reset button’, connecting to their bodies and emotions more closely, feeling more clarity and a deeper sense of ease and relaxation and having had fun engaging with new experiences. New friendships were fostered and guests feel anxious to return for another 4 day retreat which is tentatively booked for September 22-26, 2021. Save the date!