Living Flow Yoga Retreats
Creating some space
A personal account by Stephanie Lewis
I try to avoid Sydney peak hour traffic but mid last year I navigated my way through hairpin turns, through Galston Gorge to Wisemans Ferry. Not exactly a relaxing way to start the weekend, but what follows definitely was. And yes, it was worth the drive.
I booked into Living Flow’s winter retreat almost as soon as it was announced. Living Flow founder Natalie Ristoski is the kind of yoga teacher who makes your heart feel full and your body feel equal parts relaxed and alive. Her classes are uplifting without being cringey, and chatting with her always brings a smile to your face.
The weekend kicked off on Friday evening at Forgotten Valley Retreat in Wiseman’s Ferry. We met our fellow retreaters over a delicious vegetarian feast (who knew vego was so nourishing and filling!) and opened the retreat afterwards with a beautiful yoga nidra session, that left us all floating back to our rooms for a blissful night of rest. The group was a friendly and fun gathering of men and women of different ages, with different interests but with a common reason for being there: to feel connected. Everyone was so open and had their own story to tell and light to shine – it was just wonderful. Plus, so many local studio goers meant we found new neighbours to hang with!
Housed in our cottage, we slept in one of four cosy twin-share bedrooms, with our own ensuite bathroom. The communal area of the house was spacious and comfortable, with a wood fire to keep us warm (and a reverse-cycle air conditioner, just in case).
Our Saturday began with a choice of dynamic flow or gentle yoga (or both!) followed by a delicious breakfast. Athill (Natalie’s partner who also has his own retreat centre, Happy Buddha Retreats, in the Blue Mountains) ran a morning session about meditation and mindfulness, which was both fun and enlightening. In the afternoon, the drumming workshop and sound circle awakened our inner rhythm. There was a great balance of scheduled (optional) activities and free time for drinking tea in the sunshine, sitting by the fire, reading our books, or walking into Wiseman’s Ferry to grab a chai and sit by the river.
Natalie’s yin yoga class in the early evening helped us feel grounded and the yoga nidra following another amazing meal (some might say the Thai veggie curry was the highlight, and they might be right) was the best way to end one of those sublime days that seem to never end.
The retreat wrapped up after yoga and breakfast (I want that granola recipe please) the following morning with a spontaneous outdoor dance party featuring some pretty spectacular Bollywood-inspired moves and a lot of hugs and goodbyes.
Natalie and Athill created a perfectly balanced retreat that left me feeling refreshed and relaxed. I was surprised at just how much fun we had! Their welcoming and openness was reflected in the attitudes of every guest, and it was a pleasure to share the time and space with such a lovely bunch of people.
Be sure to keep an eye out for future retreat dates and events, and visit the studio next time you’re in Ashfield to attend one of Natalie’s beautiful classes.
Edit: Natalie has announced the next Living Flow winter retreat in the Blue Mountains | August 17-19 (I might just see you there!)
Stephanie is a fellow yoga enthusiast (has since become a yoga teacher since starting her yoga journey), loves nature and is a writer in her spare time.