Sri Lanka has been the talk of the town lately. With deep rainforests, stunning stretches of white beaches, vast plains, and ancient temples from its buddhist history, it is the perfect place to find balance and focus. It still remains relatively undiscovered; drawing those who really want to connect with the authenticity of a place, rather than the shoestring guide version. Our favourite wellness retreat was designed by an Australian man named Laurie in 2004 who wanted to offer a place on a palm-fringed beach to practice yoga.
I got in touch with Aussie Surfer/Yogini/Pilates Instructor/Reiki Practitioner/wellness director, Jenna, who told me why she was drawn to the retreat, and why Sri Lanka just made sense.
The Draw of Sri Lanka
For Jenna, after years in Australia and Bali, she knew the second she got to Sri Lanka that it was perfect for a retreat.
Personally, I’d been running retreats in Australia and Bali for two years and wanted to expand. I hadn’t even thought of Sri Lanka until a friend visited and suggested it – pinning it as “the next Bali”. As soon as I came here three years ago I knew straight away from the vibe, energy, culture, food, location and people that it was the perfect place to create a retreat offering. The uncrowded and beautiful beaches and surf helped too!
That vibe and energy is certainly something they’ve embraced at the wellness retreat, as the passion shared by locals and expats toward the work and the experience is truly inspiring. As far as the location goes for surfing and yoga, the quietness and location between the beach and the forest makes it perfect for a sun salutation. Jenna explained why the surf can even beat out Australia for those wanting to learn.
The local surf area is super friendly and a mix of beach and reef breaks. The waves are gently enough for complete beginners and we have wonderful intermediate-advanced waves in the area as well (perfect for when the swell picks up). Being blessed with tropical water all year round it’s nice to surf without a wetsuit!
A Typical Day at the Sri Lankan retreat
The wellness retreat took over 3 years to develop into something unique to other retreats. Rather than focusing on one aspect of wellness, they’ve found the perfect balance of yoga, surf, socializing, and physical activity. Add some great food, stunning beaches, beautiful airy bungalows, and afternoon massages and you’re guaranteed to understand why this one is something special. Jenna describes a typical day as:
Waking up to the sounds of chipmunks and peacocks and heading to morning meditation on the beach, followed by a Pilates, Boxilates or Yoga class (sometimes two!) and delicious buffet breakfast on our open air palm fringed deck. Post breaky is free time, a full body massage or 1:1 wellness consult. After lunch is an afternoon Surf lesson at one of our local breaks, perfect for beginners and intermediates (“we like to call these expression sessions”) and if we’re up for it a post surf sunset cocktail or beer on the beach before a BBQ dinner amongst the birdlife and fireflies in our restaurant. We’re usually in bed by 9pm! But if we’re up for it a Yoga Nidra or Movie night post dinner is the perfect ending to a stunning day.
Not only does the setup make for a unique experience, but it’s also in the quality and knowledge of the staff that really brings it to the next level. All of the surf instructors have years of experience and are ISA recognized. They know the right breaks for the right surfing level and even offer technical video feedback to improve your style. You’ll be catching your first wave in no time; and for the already experienced surfers, you’ll be improving your technique and experiencing some great reef breaks in the Indian Ocean. Jenna herself has even created the Boxilates program, which fuses boxing and pilates to create the ultimate way to look after your body.
An Impact on the Community
As much as the wellness retreat is designed for personal wellbeing and reconnecting with oneself, it also doesn’t ignore how important it is to ensure it educates travellers about the culture of its home and to improve the wellbeing of the community. This includes bike rides into the local village to see their unique way of life, as well as a safari into an elephant sanctuary. You’ll also get to try the local cuisine and even cook it yourself during the Sri Lankan cooking class. Jenna explains the initiatives that the retreat has taken to have a positive significance on the area.
We support our local village through employment (the majority of our staff are local), we donate to the charity We Care (for Sri Lankan dogs) and we run a weekly beach clean. We are in progress to work with a local temple to build a sustainable housing for the elephants.
If you’d like to meet Jenna while you’re there, you’ll find her “in the ocean or in one of our three yoga shalas!”
The Travel Project packages flights and pre/post accommodation with some of the most trending hotels in Sri Lanka for a well-rounded stay. Contact the crew for availability and to answer any questions you may have on not only the wellness retreat in Sri Lanka, but as well Portugal, Italy and Bali!