What really goes on at a wellness retreat? Here’s a day-by-day rundown from someone who knows

5 July 2018
By Fashion Quarterly

Anna Squelch

In May this year, Kiwi holistic health coach Anna Squelch ran her first women’s wellness retreat in Canggu, Bali; a place she’d fallen in love with a year prior on a yoga retreat run by Abbylee Bonny from H+H Lifestyle.

“I didn’t realise it at the time, but Canggu would come to have a profound effect on my soul, and following Abbylee’s retreat I spent a year quietly – and somewhat subconsciously – manifesting a retreat of my own,” says Anna, who’s now planning her second Conscious World Wellness retreat for August.

Have you ever felt the pull towards retreat life, but didn’t quite know what to expect when you got all the way there? We asked Anna to take us behind the scenes… 


Amidst the chaos, there’s an eerie sense of calm in Bali. The scooter filled, crookedly paved streets in stark contrast to the immaculate and expansive villas hidden behind huge wooden carved doors. Bali – known as ‘Island of the Gods’ – has a potent energy that is the perfect container for transformation, which is why so many make the pilgrimage to Bali in search of themselves.

But what really goes on at a retreat? Well, it depends what type of retreat you’re on, but I like to say that the Conscious World Wellness retreats are a group of 6-8 like-minded women on a conscious path, coming home to themselves away from home. All activities are optional, there’s plenty of downtime, and you get to eat whatever you feel called to eat, because we dine at Canggu’s best eateries. And we leave with a bunch of beautiful new friends. Let me share with you what a week on retreat looks like.


Arrival day. A driver picks the women up from the airport, or their hotel. (Many choose to come a few days earlier to settle in and look around nearby Seminyak.) While that’s happening, I do a little ceremony at the retreat villa with sage, to clear out any unwanted energy from past guests. After settling in to the villa and meeting the rest of the retreaters, our driver takes us to an afternoon Yin class at The Practice – one of Bali’s most famed studios. In a new found state of bliss, we drift off to dinner at The Shady Shack where we order from the most delicious and plentiful menu of vegetarian food. With full hearts and full tummies we head back to the villa for a cup of hot tea and a chat before turning in for an early night.

Bali retreat

Awakened to the sounds of roosters crowing and morning prayer drifting over the rice paddies, we pull on our yoga clothes and meet outside on the grounds of the villa for a morning vinyasa flow class with Amanda Fell, our resident retreat yoga teacher. We head off to breakfast where we set our intentions for the day, and then plan what we’re going to do with our free time before we meet again for an afternoon ‘living an aligned life’ workshop back at the villa, led by me. Some of the women decide to spend the day together shopping and some head back to the villa to swim, and relax. After the workshop, we head out for an early dinner at a traditional Balinese noodle house – another vegetarian delight. Much of the food in Bali is vegetarian, but is so flavourful that you won’t feel you’re lacking anything if you’re a meat-eater.

DAYS 3-5

These are spent much the same as the first: daily yoga or meditation, breakfast, free time, workshop, dinner. There’s an option of partaking in a spa day at local Spring Spa. I highly recommend this as the treatments are to die for. If you’d like to go sightseeing with our retreat driver, that’s an option too. This is your retreat, so you get to do what you feel called to do. On our last retreat we all decided to go to ‘ecstatic dance’ one night and it was a lot of fun – being able to shake out all of the energy that no longer served us and welcome in the new.

Group in Bali


The final day of retreat. Last night we had our farewell dinner at the beautiful La Brisa overlooking Echo Beach, where we watched the sunset and reflected on our transformative week. Everyone’s skin is a little glowier, their eyes a little brighter, and their words a little slower. After a mini lie-in we head off to our final yoga class of the week – a two-hour long advanced practice with Octavio Salvado at The Practice. A final breakfast at our favourite cafe of the week, chosen by the women – on this occasion it was Milu by Nook, and then back to the villa for a final gratitude meditation and closing circle.

Our retreats are driven by the magic of bringing women together and the goal of providing female empowerment. We laugh, we cry, we share, we expand, and we leave with a renewed connectedness and a purpose on our soul that wasn’t there prior. Some of the women really see themselves for the first time, and what they’re capable of.

I truly believe that women have become neglectful of their own self-care, in place of caring for everyone else around them. They put on everyone else’s oxygen masks before their own. However, I can see the paradigm shifting and I see women feeling more empowered to put themselves first, to prioritise their emotional health, to honour their feminine cycles, to slow down and tune in. Investing in themselves without feeling selfish; because after all, self-care isn’t selfish. It’s necessary.

If you feel called to join a retreat, we have our next women’s retreat in Canggu from 5-11 August, 2018, and there are three rooms left. Early bird pricing is available until the end of June, so take advantage of that now for a $200 saving. Check out what is included and find out how to apply visit consciousworldwellness.com.


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