Finding Wellness Abroad


Finding Wellness Abroad
Sometimes it takes a trip away to restore clarity and find inner peace. A new retreat combines freediving and yoga for the ultimate wellness experience.

Meet the woman behind Ocean Soul Retreat, a Bali-based wellness centre offering unique retreats aimed to promote mindfulness. We chat to George White about the importance of finding inner peace and clarity.

You have been offering wellness retreats for women for many years now. What inspired you to begin this journey?

My own wellness journey really began when I had an allergic reaction and ended up in emergency in Thailand from eating some seafood.  Prior to this, I was able to eat and drink anything without any problems.  The doctors in Australia told me I needed to have antihistamines for the rest of my life and stay away from seafood, wine and champagne.  I wasn’t happy with this result at all, so I went on all sorts of cleanses and detoxes and explored the connection between mind, body and soul to heal myself. 

Why did you choose to create retreats specifically for women?

When you get a group of women together, it becomes a real powerhouse of support.  Women are natural nurturers and a listener, adding in this dynamic creates a whole other layer that helps to form the ultimate connection and enhance the retreat experience.  This element alone is so powerful and I wanted to really harness that and to let clients see, feel and experience how dynamic we as women are and how much more we can achieve by supporting one another. 

Your retreats focus on creating inner stillness and peace. What are some of the ways this is achieved? 

We take our clients on a process from the moment they arrive at the retreat.  Getting them to switch off and disconnect from being in a state of ‘doing’ to getting them more into a state of ‘being’.  Then once the program gets going, we take them through different experiences to feel this that can be from yoga at sunrise/sunset in our tropical garden, breath work.

Your retreats embrace holistic health. how do they do this and why is holistic health important?

Holistic health is an integrated approach to health.  With this approach, you take into consideration the mind, body and soul to see what is going on in all areas and how they could impact one another.   The body is intricately connected, so each part directly has an impact on the other part. The foundation of our retreat is the nutritional element.  What you put in your body has an immediate effect on how you feel.  So we start by focusing on clean meals to really get the digestive system firing. We then focus on body movement, which is why yoga is in all the programs.  Clients can also choose to add in more movement to their programs with Pilates, surfing or additional fitness activities.  Then the final component is incorporating holistic healing which focuses on unblocking any stagnant energy in the body.

What has some of the feedback been that you’ve received? How has embracing wellness helped women in your experience?

Our clients have left some of the most beautiful feedback for us; it is really heartfelt and warming!  The OSR retreat experience ends up being quite transformative and life changing.  Even if clients just come on a holiday to surf with us, they end up walking away with so much more that they didn’t anticipate.  From knowledge about dietary requirements and nutritional needs, to wellness tips and mindfulness tools along with some disciplines learned from our practitioners.  The experience helps them to live a more wholesome and grounded life and helps them take stock of experiences and process them in a levelheaded manner.  Also just making small changes to their daily routines to help create balance and equilibrium.

Photo: Elianne Dipp

Can you share some at-home tips for women wanting to achieve mindfulness in their everyday life? 

Starting the day with a positive intention helps to keep your mind on track.  A guided meditation is a great way to start the day; I love the Omvana app – the 6 phase meditation, which really brings you into awareness.  Follow this by writing down 3 things you are grateful for.  Then throughout the day, when you drink your tea or coffee or eat your food – be really present. Hold your mug and really feel it and taste the liquid or food and feel the sensation of it in your mouth and then swallowing it.  We can get so disconnected with our food; we eat on the run and don’t think about each mouthful.  The at least once throughout the day, take your shoes off and walk barefoot on the grass or if it is bad weather, walk barefoot inside and really connect with the ground.  Feel the surface and feel your feet rolling along with each step you take.

You are offering a new freediving and yoga experience. What is the intention behind this combination of activities? Is it about getting people out of their comfort zone?

Our freediving and yoga trip is our most exciting retreat so far!  Learning the art of freediving is one of the most unique and empowering experiences that I have come across. Freediving is the ultimate tool in learning about mind control and also it is very much learning to be comfortable outside of your comfort zone.  Freediving is the most powerful form of mindfulness and meditation.  The practice is all about slowing down your breath and minimising body movement and your carbon dioxide levels.  By focusing purely on relaxing your body and on your breath work, you enter into a deep mediative state and go on an internal journey.  It is one of the most sensory experiences and at the end of each session; you are more in tune with the power of your mind and the amazing ability of your body.  Combining this practice with yoga, we really focus each session on relaxation, mind control and breath work to warm up your lungs for your dive and to bring you into the present moment.

What are some other ways that women can get out of their comfort zone and push themselves in an everyday scenario? 

Anything you find you have a slight aversion to, challenge yourself and make yourself do it. We can often find that our default response is no, try switching that up and say yes.  Always try something new, as often as you get the chance too.  Whether that is ordering something you would not normally order, go to new places, speak to strangers. Explore new ways to travel, try taking a new way home.  Try the class at the gym you always avoid.  You will grow with this mindset.  You will learn more about yourself. You will also surprise yourself and you might discover something you thought you never would like.

This particular experience takes place in Indonesia’s stunning Komodo National Park. Are there any specific traditional Indonesian techniques this experience draws on?  

The tradition of Freediving goes back to the Bajau people of Indonesia, who are a marine nomadic tribe, living on lepa lepa, which are longboats.  The Bajau people learn to freedive from an early age, as they dive to catch fish for a living.  They dive to depths of 20 meters and holding their breath for 5 minutes at a time and walk along the bottom of the ocean to hunt.

Georgie White, photo by Rafael Moura
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