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  • Milt Barlow

Byron Yoga Centre Retreat, Byron Bay



Accommodation 3/5

Food 5/5

Staff 5/5

Experience 5/5

Overall 4/5


I recently attended a retreat at Byron Yoga Centre, specifically the three-day Women’s Retreat led by the renowned yoga teacher and author, Tabata Villares, with assistance from yoga teacher Vivian Cunha. While the standard retreat caters to a broader audience with a focus on yoga, meditation, and general well-being, the women’s retreat was curated specifically for women’s health and it was nothing short of transformative. From the moment I arrived, I was enveloped in a nurturing environment that catered to every aspect of my well-being. The Byron Yoga Centre site, located close to town, exudes tranquillity and features a Buddha Garden, six yoga spaces (or shalas), a 20m solar heated salt mineral pool, a communal dining area, a shower and toilet block, and sprawling gardens. The Centre also offers multiple types and durations of all-inclusive retreats, from three-day retreats up to seven-day retreats, with a price range between $995 – $3,350, depending on room size and added extras. The Centre also offers half and one-day retreats from $89 –$200 and a 20% discount on retreats for locals within the Byron, Ballina, Lismore and Tweed Shires.


Accommodation

The accommodation, though simple, was comfortable and thoughtfully designed. My room was in the courtyard area and held a supportive king bed, two small bedside tables, a cupboard, and an ensuite. There was also a ceiling fan in the room and air-conditioning, which was not needed as the weather was quite cool and the room had great airflow. There was nothing impractical about the room or ensuite, or lack of decoration, TV, and usual amenities one would find in a hotel. This comes as a conscious decision by Byron Yoga Centre to minimise distractions and over-stimulation. One thing to note is that every toilet on site is a composting toilet. They are very simple and easy to use, and surprisingly, they did not smell. Other guests without ensuite rooms used the communal toilet and shower block which was very spacious and clean. The proximity of the rooms to the Yoga Shala rooms and dining area made it convenient to move around the Centre.


Experience

The retreat began with an Opening Circle introducing teachers, site details, and the program’s overview. The room was well-equipped for yoga, featuring a beautiful central alter which held statues of goddesses and other spiritually significant items – all intentionally picked for maximum representation of womanhood. Through yoga classes, women’s wellness sessions, sharing circles, and sacred meditations, I found myself connecting deeply with my inner self and the natural rhythms of life. The retreat program offered a perfect balance of introspection and shared experiences, culminating in a powerful rite of passage that left the other guests and me feeling empowered and rejuvenated within our own feminine divinity. Highlights of the program included the ‘Red Tent’ ritual where we learned about the ancient history of sisterhood before being led through a sacred goddess meditation; the sound healing meditation; the included massage treatment of our choice with skilled therapists; and the active meditation and letting go ceremony, which incorporated some very special and sacred elements. It was an incredibly powerful, thoughtful, and healing journey that fostered connection between the group, and a deeper understanding of oneself.


Food

The site features three acres of organic gardens supplying most of the delicious vegetarian menu, based on sattvic principles, which removes ingredients known as natural stimulants like onion and garlic. The varied and flavourful menu was a delightful surprise, with unique flavours prompting many to return for seconds. The food also left the body feeling nourished, cleansed, while also promoting clarity of mind. As a part of Byron Yoga’s eco-conscious practices, participants were required to compost their left overs and wash and dry their own plates and bowls. This was no bother, as for the mothers in the group, we were simply happy to only be cleaning up after ourselves.


The staff

The staff at the retreat center were exceptional in their dedication and support. The therapists available for wellness treatments were highly skilled and added to the relaxation and rejuvenation of the experience. Tabata and Vivian in particular, were incredibly kind, knowledgeable and supportive. They gave attentive guidance during workshops and sessions, and every interaction was infused with warmth and professionalism. Guests were also gifted Tabata’s book Burst into Bloom and given vouchers for future retreats. These women truly made the retreat a one-of-a kind experience.


Author was a guest of Byron Yoga Centre.





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