The Magical Treehouse

YOGA RETREATS AREN’T JUST FOR HIPPIES ANYMORE.

NICOLE SANDERSON VISITS A RETREAT DESIGNED FOR ANYONE IN NEED OF A RELAXING ESCAPE.

Its a Saturday morning and my girlfriends and I stop into Port Douglas for our last cafe latte. After a double shot of caffeine, we skip through Mossman, Whyanbeel, Wonga Beach then cross the Daintree river on the ferry. Following a 20-minute drive hugging the pristine coastline, we reach the turnoff, then follow the track to Prema Shanti, a meditation and yoga retreat.

An elephant god called Ganesha (apparently he bestows good fortune and removes obstacles from one’s path) greets us at the entrance and an unsealed driveway draws us into a secluded rainforest garden. Suzanne, our host for the weekend, shows us to our rooms. As I walk past the shared bathroom and up the stairs, the timber pole home reveals itself like a magical tree house.

On the veranda, Tibetan prayer flags ripple in the breeze and the outdoor kitchen welcomes us with a hot cup of chamomile tea. The sweet smell of incense hangs in the air, luring us into the room and onto the polished floor for meditation. We close our eyes, sit in prayer position (supported by a cushion) and launch into a relaxing chant.

Thirty minutes later, we step back out onto the veranda, sit at a low timber table and are served dinner – the most delicious dhal and vegetable soup with fresh bread. Detox heaven.

We chat with Suzanne about spiritual enlightenment and we all reflect on our own lives. We sit around and chat until 9.30pm, when the silent retreat kicks in until morning. Our plans to walk the beach fall to the wayside, as our bodies and minds are so relaxed that we just drift off to our rooms and into one of the deepest sleeps we’ve all had in a very long time.

We wake to a bell chiming, indicating meditation time. Still in silence, we place our cushions on the floor upstairs and fall into meditation again. Silence breaks 30 minutes later, and we chat over yet another tea, then prepare for a relaxing session of yoga. I was feeling stiff at the beginning, but by the end Ifeel as though I’ve just stepped out of an intense massage.

Breakfast is the most delicious muesli mixed with nuts, seeds, cinnamon and dolloped with natural yoghurt and a side of fruit. It’s all so fresh and nourishing.

It’s a divine experience learning how to breathe, clear your head and focus on relaxing. It’s like a fresh new start to life.