I am often asked, “Why attend a health retreat?” I will share the seven reasons that I hear most, including the ones that I have valued myself.
This article shares my experience working and being a guest at retreats in Australia, Thailand and India.
Types of health retreat
Health retreats offer a range of different facilities, services, treatments and activities. They are usually located in quiet idyllic environments to facilitate the disconnection from external noise and distraction. Aided by being TV and internet free zones.
Meals are usually provided as part of your program package, but the menu is usually caffeine free and alcohol free! I recommend coming off caffeinated beverages at least 5 to 7 days before the retreat to avoid caffeine withdrawal.
Your choice of health retreat needs to consider the type of experience you want to have. For example, there are general health and wellbeing retreats, as well as those focussing on a particular practice such as yoga or meditation.
I share my knowledge and experience of general health and wellbeing retreats in this post.
Located in quiet idyllic environments to facilitate the disconnection from external noise and distraction.
A day at a health retreat
A typical day might offer:
6.30am—tai chi, or yoga
7.00am—walk, or water-based activity such as deep water running
9.00am—stretch class or personal time
9.30am till lunchtime
- Learning classes e.g. lectures, workshops and cooking demonstration
- Fitness classes e.g. gym circuit, hike, indoor and outdoor cycling, water polo, volley ball, tennis
- Floor classes e.g. pilates, fit-ball, yoga
After lunch until dinner
- Fitness and Floor Classes
- Mindfulness classes e.g. meditation, mindful walking, yoga
- Learning class
- Mindfulness class
As well as the set classes, you have consults with healthcare practitioners and spa treatments to enjoy.
7 Reasons to attend a health retreat
#1 Time out
Time out from your usual routine can be achieved at a health retreat.
You can time-out so much because don’t have to think about what to eat for meals, as they are provided, and you don’t have to think about how you are going to spend your time as the program is provided for you on a daily basis.
To decrease our attachment to controlling and planning, the program for the day is often only revealed the night before. This can create some disappointment when we find out that our massage is on at the same time as another activity.
If you want to attend certain classes or talks, then advise the consultants of this before you book your wellness and spa treatments. This will decrease your chance of missing out on the sessions that are important for you, but remember, part of the reason for taking time-out is to let go of the desire to do everything.
It really is up to you how much time you participate in the program, and how much quiet personal time you want.
Remember, part of the reason for taking time-out is to let go of the desire to do everything.
#2 Kickstart a health goal
Talking with guests, a health goal is often on top of their list of reasons for attending a health retreat. Health goals vary from weight loss, diabetes control and stress reduction.
The health retreat provides a supportive environment through meals, activities, the daily routine and goal setting sessions. One on one personal training is also an option, as are one on one consults with nutrition and other healthcare practitioners.
Many guests return for a 5 or 7 day program to kickstart their next goal.
Recuperation from a major life change is another top of list reason. These include recovery from an illness, the death of a loved-one or change in relationship status.
The combination of time out, nutritious meals, treatments and practitioner support make a health retreat an ideal restorative experience.
#4 Experience nature
Located in rural and often idyllic settings, health retreats allow us to reconnect with nature. Nature can come to your door in the form of monkeys (India) and kangaroos (Australia).
There are usually hikes and bush walks on the program too. Even gazing out at the rural and natural landscape is grounding and rejuvenating.
#5 Specific personal project
Health retreats can be a place to write and create.
I spent two weeks writing at the Golden Door Elysia health retreat and spa. It was perfect. I participated in early morning activities, and yoga and meditation late afternoon. I also enjoyed the after-dinner education sessions.
Not having to worry about nutritious meals, meant I could spend more time focussed on my book.
#6 Create a personalised program
You can take home what you learn at a health retreat in the form of a personalised program.
The learning classes and individual consults, together with the guidance from your usual healthcare practitioners, means that you can design a program that will allow you to achieve ongoing improvements in your health, fitness and wellbeing.
These programs take into consideration how you spend your 24 hours in your “usual” world.
#7 Learn about mind-body wellbeing
Retreats that offer mindfulness-based sessions encourage us to explore the connection between how we think, feel and live.
Body treatments (massage and acupuncture), as well as energy treatments such as Pranic Healing, Reiki and Chakra balancing provide another way for us to assess how well we truly are.
Reconnect with what it feels like to be well.
The biggest benefit that I have seen guests achieve at health retreats from a 5 to 7 day stay is the gaining of a sense of what it feels to be well. Without the physical and mental stressors of the usual at home daily routine, we emerge lighter, brighter and calmer.
We are then in the position to identify our main detractors and supporters of good health and wellbeing in our day to day life. We can’t transform our detractors all at once, but we can make a big difference working on one at a time.
The Golden Door Elysia health retreat and spa also offers a weekend retreat experience. In my next post, I share 7 tips on how to get the most from your stay at a health retreat, even if it is only for a weekend.