Bali is a healing place. With its plethora of healthy foodie restaurants, natural healers, yoga studios and wellness retreats, it's an island many head to recharge, rejuvenate and realign themselves.
I've been wanting to explore this side of Bali for a wee while, so after some research I took a mid-winter break to the Indonesian island to spend a week at Escape Haven, a womens-only retreat located in the coastal village of Canggu. Here they've created a luxiorous sanctuary, where women from all four corners of the earth come to take time out, press pause and replenish themselves - whether mentally, physically, spiritually or emotionally.
Escape Haven is a set 7 day-long retreat, with three package options to select from - a week of yoga, surf or fitness. I chose yoga as relaxation was the theme of my trip, and although I hadn't really routinely practised prior, I always feel SO good after yoga sessions. I was also curious to learn more about the in's and out's of the discipline, and see how I'd feel after a week straight of daily/twice daily sessions. Blissed out you'd except.
Relaxation is pretty inescapable at Escape Haven though, as alongside yoga you also have daily spa treatments, and plenty of chill time to relax to your hearts content. Although I love treats like massages and facials, I don't often get them done in 'real' life, so the endless pampering was ridiculously dreamy. The spa treatments were done in an airy outdoor hut, so you'd be relaxing to the sound of nature - trees rustling and birds chirping kind-of-stuff. Does it get any better then that?
A typical day at Escape Haven on yoga retreat...
7:30am: We'd start the day with an hour-long yoga session in the retreat's outdoor yoga shala. Our yoga teacher, Laura, was incredible - the most beautiful human, inside and out. Her passion made me fall in love with yoga. Our sessions were tailored to exactly where we were at within our own practise, AND what we wanted to get out of our time at Escape Haven. Mine was to create a daily yoga routine that I could fit in anywhere/anytime.
8:30am: Breakfast time.We'd start with a fresh juice, smoothie bowl or fruit platter, followed by a few cooked options, whether eggs, cooked veggies or pancakes. I'd order an iced coconut coffee every morning - so delicious. Very happy belly.
10-11am: Spa time! On offer was a number of different massage styles (e.g. Swedish, Balinese, hot stone...), as well as reflexology, manicures, pedicures, facials, body scrubs and hair treatments...you could essentially try out a different treatment each day you were on retreat.
1pm: Lunch, and a nice point in the day to catch up with the other ladies on retreat. We'd usually enjoy a protein of sorts, like Balinese-style chicken/fish/tempeh skewers, with a few colourful fresh salads.
1:30pm - 5pm: Free time! You could laze by the pool, or leave the retreat to do some exploring - the choice was up to you.
5pm: An extra movement session - usually a meditation class, yin yoga or dancing yoga!
6:30-7pm: Dinner - typically a warming dish, like an Indonesian curry, or stir-fry. We'd follow this with a delicious, perfectly-sized, dessert - I loved the chocolate mousse. Bedtime would be not long after dinner...I slept so good on retreat!
Escape Haven is very luxurious. Rooms are spacious and airy, with bedrooms seamlessly merging into a private bathrooms, with their own lush leafy gardens. The ultimate indoor-outdoor flow. The smell of incense and balmy air would constantly remind me where I was - beautiful Bali.
The team at Escape Haven really made you feel welcomed and special. We had a personalised frangpani flower welcome (see snap) on arrival, and each evening we'd arrive back to our rooms to our beds turned down, and placed on our pillow was a small note with words of wisdom written on it, along with a gift - whether a scented candle, lip balm or ornament.
The food at Escape Haven is inspired by Indonesian cuisine, with an emphasis on health. Meal are done family-style, where you can help yourself to your own portions. You can eat as little or as much as you'd like, which is a little different to other retreats, which may otherwise serve more portioned meals.
Ingredients are sourced locally, and the highest of quality - locally grown and organic produce, with free-range chicken and fresh local fish. The presentation of the food was always so beautiful. I must have eaten my body weight in fresh fruit, daily, in Bali.
Escape Haven is a little different to other retreats in that they allow for offsite free-time. This is is perfect taking into account the influx of international travelers who come likely wanting to do some exploring of the island too.
While there's a daily program on retreat, with morning and evening movement sessions, and set meal times, you also have the opportunity to venture into Canggu or neighbouring spots during the day, to experience some of Bali. You can also just stay by the pool and relax, either way it's up to you. While on retreat there's nothing wrong with staying in your retreat bubble, but having the opportunity to pop that bubble is ideal.
Most of my off-site time was spent eating at all the incredible food places in Canggu. Honestly, the FOOD in Bali....the healthy foodie scene is just unreal. I wrote a separate blog post on all of the places I visited, Canggu and beyond - check it out here.
I left retreat feeling what Escape Haven had promised - recharged and rejuvenated. My highlight was my new found love for yoga - I've come back and made a conscious effort to regularly show up on my mat. Yoga is a type of movement that keeps on giving, well after the practice has finished. The ladies on retreat were also incredible - it can be daunting going into a new space, but everyone's welcoming to one another. You become friends very quickly.
Sometimes life moves too quickly, and it can be easy to forget the importance of regularly taking time out. This is a reason I've adored retreats - they're spaces that remove us from our colourful lives, responsibilities and routines, and really force us to press pause in an environment geared towards wellness. Pressing pause allows us to relax, think deeply, process, realign and carry onwards, maybe on a new path of thinking. I'm working on creating this space in daily life, as I think it's ultimately necessary for well-being. Switching off is hard, as our default status nowadays seems to be geared towards "doing", rather then "being". While "doing" certainly helps us develop as people, I think "being" is what helps us evolve. Something I'm working on.
Thanks Escape Haven for a blissful week in Bali x