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Wellness Retreats

Retreats 2014


Review from the Aspire Wellness RETREAT, 24 – 26th of October, Pennyroyal Victoria

by Ally McManus
December 2014

We are well into spring and the hibernation of winter is behind us. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start focusing on one thing that often goes out the window in winter – wellbeing.

To lead the way, meet Karin Hagberg, who moved to Australia 15 years ago from Sweden. She has become an active member of the Surf Coast community where her business, Aspire Wellbeing is based. Karin’s business consists of personal training and fitness classes, but with more of a focus on Pilates and yoga. Along with working as a remedial massage therapist for the last 25 years, Karin decided to take the plunge and start doing health retreats and workshops last year.




“I have always enjoyed organising events,” Karin tells me. “To create a nice environment for people to connect, learn and take time out. I love sharing my passion and to inspire people to live a life full of vitality, passion and wellness.”

It still brings a smile to Karin’s face to realise how her wellness aspirations have turned into a reality. “I remember sitting on the beach in Byron Bay a few years ago, planning out a schedule of an Aspire Wellbeing Retreat and now that dream of mine has come true.”

Karin initially completed a university degree in Sport Education in Sweden, with a focus on health promotion. On top of this, she has also studied nutrition, remedial massage, personal training and of course her Pilates and yoga instructor courses.

Her focus has moved much more to wellness, business coaching and nutritional cleansing, and she does this through her wellbeing workshops and retreats. Karin is passionate about the mind, body and spirit connection, and loves to explore the pathways to achieving this with clients.




“The retreats and workshops are about learning the success and principles to achieve ultimate wellness,” says Karin. She is heavily interested in what makes people do what they do, and helps them find out what they want to achieve and how they can do that.

Karin’s 2014 Aspire Wellbeing retreat was located in Pennyroyal, a beautiful small town just outside of Deans Marsh in Victoria. Nestled the Great Otway region; the retreat ran from October 24 – 26 over a weekend with plenty of sunshine, positive atmosphere and invigorating people.

The retreat had a primary focus on looking after yourself. Taking time out, relaxing, meditating, exercising and healthy eating, while getting in touch with nature. Karin began the retreat with a ‘How to Achieve Ultimate Wellbeing’ session, where she told the group that at a minimum, she wanted everyone to take at least one thing away from the retreat.

“I want people to walk away with one thing that they can start to implement in life – something that will improve their health, wellness and happiness. If I have inspired them to make one change – then I know that that is a start to a healthier lifestyle and that makes me so happy,” Karin tells me.


To accompany Karin, Mia Corr and Sara Dingle prepared the food for the retreat. Mia is a long-time friend of Karin who cooked and prepared all the savoury dishes. Sara is Karin’s daughter, who is studying science at Melbourne University and prepared all the sweets for the weekend.



Sara has her own blog called Mindfulness Eating, where she regularly posts simple vegan recipes for the time poor and also held a Mindfulness Eating workshop during the retreat. In her workshop Sara showed the group how to recreate some of the snacks from the retreat, along with a demonstration on how to make delicious chia puddings. Her recipe booklet was also available to purchase throughout the weekend.

The activities during the weekend involved a movement class, which was a combination of yoga, Pilates and meditation. There was also a Sound Meditation class, a nature waterfall walk, a Mindfulness Eating workshop and two ‘How to Achieve Ultimate Wellbeing’ sessions.



Each activity, whether it exerted physical or mental strength, provided a positive change to the mind, body and soul. Everyone had the opportunity throughout the weekend to reflect on what they want in life, what they wished to achieve out of the weekend and what they aimed to take home with them and incorporate into their lifestyle. It was also a very feel-good environment to relax and unwind in.

The feedback from the retreat was outstanding. The movement sessions were rated 8.25/10, the meditation sessions were rated 7.5/10, the ‘How to Achieve Ultimate Wellbeing’ sessions were rated 7.7/10 and the food overall was rated 9.10/10. Everyone at the retreat also told Karin they would recommend the weekend to a friend or family member.




Everyone appreciated the beautiful setting at Pennyroyal and there was certainly a mutual adoration for the food. The group really valued that the weekend allowed them to have some down time to relax and focus on what they needed most – whether it was relaxation, a massage, a walk or a chat with someone else at the retreat.

“Time away from everything is so rewarding – it helps to improve you and your thoughts about you,” was the feedback from one participant, with another saying “I had the opportunity to focus on me and wind down and feel more connected to my inner self and it motivated me to make more changes in my life. I will work on developing an ‘ultimate wellbeing’ mindset and visualise that more regularly, I feel inspired!” 




Everyone seemed to have similar feedback about how enjoyable the weekend was too. “I have learnt that I need to take time out of my life in order to reflect on what is going on and how I am feeling. I need to listen to my own body and intuition more,” said one person, while another mentioned that “the retreat was great! I met so many lovely people and new friends and it was nice to relax at such a beautiful venue.”

Karin runs her health retreats annually and would love to get in touch with anyone interested in making changes to their lifestyle to improve their mind, body and soul. Ultimately, Karin’s Aspire Wellbeing Retreat had a profound effect on everyone heading down the path to achieving ultimate wellness.


By Ally McManus

Movement Sessions:

We had on average two movement sessions a day, with one first thing in the morning and one in the afternoon or evening. At the crack of dawn, we were summoned each morning down to the hall where Karin lightly was beating a gong, sending a harmonious tune throughout the retreat. “The movement sessions are slow controlled classes where the participants get to connect with their body – to awaken their body,” she says. Karin’s sessions are a mix of her numerous skills put into an hour and 15 minute sequence. “I combine my skills as a Pilates and yoga teacher, with a meditation at the end of the class.” Karin’s yoga is Hatha based and the class takes a flow format focussing on breath, good technique and posture, along with strength and flexibility. The sessions are invigorating and cleansing for the body, and simple enough to adapt into your lifestyle back at home. The group feedback from the sessions to try and implement when they got back home from the retreat was very positive. Key aspirations were “to practice more regularly”, “to do early morning yoga” and “to practice in the morning before work each day”, to get into that habitual nature. It was also mentioned that “you really need to have a balanced body and mind,” and that “meditation and relaxation in very important”. A lot of people highlighted what parts of their body to target, coming to the conclusion that “I realise my body is weak and I need to strengthen it”, along with “I need to improve my flexibility and overall fitness”.


Meditation Sessions:

The meditation was well received by the group, with a mutual understanding of the significance of listening to your body, feeling, breathing and relaxing. Many in the group find it difficult to ‘switch off’ in everyday life, so there were a few that emphasised “I need to practice meditation more often as I feel it’s difficult to switch my mind off,” and “to meditate more at night to clear the mind”. The different techniques of breathing, such as the nostril breathing was an interesting style that the group could take home with them – and this was enthusiastically experimented with during the regular meditation classes.


Sound Meditation Session:

Demir Aliu ran the Sound Mediation at the retreat, who is a local from the Surf Coast. He is an intuitive sound healer that uses sound and colour therapy to create spaces that allow the movement of energy in a very natural and gentle way. “I feel that the use of international sound allows one to be more present with what is being offered in the moment within one’s self. It allows the opportunity to be real, and can bring about changes in perceptions and reactions, which in turn affect our wellbeing,” Karin tells me. During Demir’s training he worked with master Sound Healer Dian Booth, where he learnt the different styles and instruments he could bring to his meditation, along with various ancient healing traditions from around the world. The Sound Meditation was an incredibly liberating experience, where I can honestly say I felt connected to my body in a way I haven’t felt before. “Whether in a group or one-on-one session, these experiences can provide states of wellbeing and relaxation which then allow an opening to the healing within and without,” Karin adds.


How to Achieve Ultimate Wellbeing Sessions:

“The wellness sessions go through the success principles on how to achieve ‘ultimate wellbeing’. This covers information on our mindset, our body and our spirit,” Karin tells me. Her kind, soft and friendly tone throughout the sessions allowed everyone to comfortably open up about the areas in their lives that they believed were lacking wellness. It was a beautiful space to reflect and think positively about how to look after yourself. One person from the retreat learnt “to stop finding reasons not to achieve, to believe in yourself and really go out and act”, with another person aiming “to connect with what I need to improve on and use skills and techniques I haven’t been doing for a while to achieve them”.  A lot of people were inspired from the wellness sessions to focus on clean eating, consuming lots of water and vegan food, with one personal aiming to “drink more water and eat less sugar”, and another to “alkalize my body and persist with what I choose to do”. Having a healthy mind is also influenced by setting goals, so a few people were inspired in this area to “make grateful statements each day”, “diary writing to put my achievements and future plans in” and to “make more achievable goals”, along with “more positive affirmations”. Living in the present was another skill encouraged at the retreat, with one person saying “I don’t need materialistic things to make me happy and to appreciate what I have more and to live in the now!”


Mindfulness Eating Meals and Workshop:

The food was absolutely adored on the weekend and everyone was thoroughly interested and excited about what they were eating. Sara and Mia’s meals inspired the group to be more creative in the kitchen at home, using ingredients they may not have initially thought of using. The focus was on eating clean and vegan, which helped give the body a detox from caffeine, alcohol, sugar and meat. The retreat feedback aligned with the philosophy of healthy food for the weekend, with one person saying they’d like “to eat more cleaner food and to give my body regular breaks from meat”. It was encouraged to try eating different foods, such as homemade granola for breakfast, or curries and salads for dinner with plenty of vegetables to substitute meat. One person said it was important “to give the body a cleanse from meat and sugar, especially acidic foods”. Another tip Sara taught the group was using Rice malt syrup as a sweetener, as opposed to sugar, and there were plenty of people who purchased Sara’s recipe booklet to test out the recipes in the comfort of their own home.




Aspire 3-day Wellness Retreat, Pennyroyal. Click here for more information:



FILL IN the contact form if you want more information about our upcoming retreats and workshop. The 2015 Kingparrot 3-day Aspire Wellbeing RETREAT is scheduled for the 6 – 8th of November 2015
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Retreats 2013

29th of November – 1st of December
Aspire 3-day Wellness Retreat, Pennyroyal
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