Imagine feeling completely nourished mentally and physically. Well that is how I feel after the most incredible 3 day retreat. The retreat itself is called Earth Abundance and in many ways it is more of a spiritual journey in that it focuses on re-connecting ones mind and body, bringing more joy into ones life and expanding ones own personal opportunities. The retreat is available through The Hydro which is a wonderful place.
In many ways it is quite difficult to describe The Hydro, which is situated high up in Stellenbosch and is completely surrounded by mountains. It is the ultimate getaway where you are completely transported from your regular day-to-day activities to a warm, safe nurturing place. You are encouraged to wear your big fluffy robes at all times to create a home-like atmosphere and everyone is respectful of that with noise levels at a low. In many ways this is a place for complete relaxation mentally, physically and also a detox for your digestive system but we will get to all that. 3 days felt like a week and looking back so much can be packed into a long weekend. Let us begin with day 1 of my journey…
The drive to The Hydro is worth a mention as you already feel as if you are in foreign place with the rolling hills, stark mountains surrounding you and fields with cows grazing leisurely. The Hydro itself is often referred to as “a typical 70s building” and let’s be honest, it is exactly that but that is part of its charm. It feels like a home rather than a hotel which most modern places unfortunately resemble. I am greeted at the entrance by a beaming Nicola, one of the Earth Abundance facilitator and swiftly accompanied to the Naturopath for my initial assessment. The porter has already carried my luggage up to my room which overlooks the entire valley. At The Hydro everything it taken care of for you.
My assessment at The Naturopath was brief and we ran through dietary requirements etc as well as a general health assessment to see what areas I need to focus on during my stay.
Next up was the Hydrotherapy which is an incredible experience. Donning a bikini and my robe I was shown to the Cocoon Room where there are separate beds and the lighting is set low. You are able to rest there for a while until you are ready for your treatment. It is aimed at calming the mind and unwinding the body. From there I was lead to the Hydrotherapy room which consists of essentially giant jacuzzi’s with 10 times stronger jets. You are encouraged to move around and use the jets to help alleviate back or shoulder pain etc. It was at this point that I was joined by the bubbly Elizabeth who is the other facilitator for Earth Abundance. Her calming words and questions help you to decipher exactly where there might be any mental blockages simply by describing what side or areas of the body hurt the most. The second part of the Hydrotherapy is Kneipp Therapy which consists of an interesting sensation of hot versus cold. Where your feet are immersed in cold water while your upper body is in warm water, you then swap over to warm at the feet and cold at the top and back again for several minutes. This really helps with circulation. The final stage is where you can unwind in either the steam room or the sauna. Then back to Cocoon Room. Which is where I met up with Chereen from For The Beauty Of It who was also on the Abundance Retreat with me.
We then headed back to our rooms to settle in before meeting downstairs for a Kombucha tasting. We were also given the chance to chat a bit with Herbie the chef at The Hydro who described his love for natural, organic food and for keeping the food as close to it’s whole natural form as possible. Most of the food at The Hydro is grown in their own organic garden and picked fresh each day. We were then able to indulge in the delicious food on offer. All meals at The Hydro are served buffet style. They are also all vegetarian and free from pesticides etc. Meaning even if you eat a fairly healthy diet at home you will still detox here.
At The Hydro you can select either to eat three main meals and have 3 juices a day or to do the full juice fast with 5 larger juices a day. I chose the food! Although the juices were divine and kept my low blood pressure stable throughout the day.
The next item on our The Earth Abundance retreat agenda was a visit to the nearby Rustenberg Farm and the chance to walk the Labyrinth. Elizabeth and Nicola helped us re-connect with nature and do some sun-gazing. We were also encouraged to talk about any food related issues that perhaps bothered us or were unhealthy. My main issue being my intense cravings for salty things and for cheese. I needed to acknowledge why my body was craving them so intensely and discovered that it was due to my low blood pressure and my body’s need for more protein in my diet. We were then able to walk the Labyrinth which was really peaceful and an introspective experience. Once back at The Hydro I poured some of the famous Ginger and Cinnamon tea and went for a walk around the grounds before dinner.
Chereen and I tucked into our divine dinner before relaxing with our final juice for the day. All of the fresh air and exercise had made us quite tired and we happily headed to our rooms at 8.30pm.
This has turned into quite a long post and I really feel that the retreat deserves plenty of details so keep an eye out for part 2 tomorrow.