Transfer over guide membership, a ladies’s circle is the one group to affix in 2020

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I owe an apology to everyone in my book club. It turns out that while they show up for the wine, cheese, gossip, and book reviews (in that exact order), they nudge them on my path of self-help, woo-woo, and the slightly spiritual mind (read: push) own attempt to found a women’s group.

Of course, I have no idea that I am doing this. Before attending the Nurture Me Women’s Wellness Retreat at beautiful Camp Glenorchy, nestled in the beautiful city on the other end of Lake Wakatipu than Queenstown, when the words women and circle end in the same sentence, I shudder in the Gwyneth-like connotations of BYI-yoni -Balls and vaginal group encounters.

I mean, I’m all for the WAP women’s empowerment generation, but I saw Ms. Paltrow on Netflix. Hand mirror and spread legs? It’s a no, thank you from me.

Bennett's bluff.  One of the breathtaking views from Glenorchy.

Bernardo Barbosa / Delivered

Bennett’s bluff. One of the breathtaking views from Glenorchy.

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It is a great relief to be the safe hands of physiotherapist Emma Ferris and yoga teacher Sarsha Hope, who sit on my yoga mat and write affirmative words in my diary and only feel connected to the circle of female strangers who spread out next to me.

Yes, it's an actual circle.

Camp Glenorchy / Delivered

Yes, it’s an actual circle.

At this two-day get-together there are friends who booked last minute with no expectations, overwhelmed mothers who need a short break from the kids, a few returnees, some of us who have lost our jobs and are back again due to Covid rating our priorities and a famous film director in a short break between filming. All so different and yet all here for the same reasons.

It helps that Emma, ​​who is a breathing trainer, and Sarsha, who leads meditation and initiation classes for women, are friends in both life and business, and their own deep connection with one another permeates the teachings they teach about the duration of the Share weekend.

The camp itself.

Camp Glenorchy / Delivered

The camp itself.

Emma guides us through breathing exercises that lower blood pressure and leave us with a feeling of complete calm that overtakes our entire being. Fully educated in science, she explains that research by Tend and Befriend conducted in the early 2000s found that women responded differently to men in stressful situations. It made a connection between our evolutionary survival programming and our fundamental need for support from other women at different stages of our lives.

“If you don’t feel safe around other women, you think teenagers are being bullied or mother-daughter relationships are disrupted,” she explains. “Your body releases more stress hormones.” Whether we have children or when we are older, our stress response can be triggered, we are not cared for.

Sarsha, on the other hand, who has her own 16-year-old daughter Sahara who helps her with teaching, takes us from high to low, on our feet at different times, and dances ecstatically with closed eyes to a candlelit class of dreamy Yin Yoga. At the end of each evening, we float back to our solar-heated cottage accommodation, wrapped in the warmth of woolen blankets and self-love.

Do you fancy a little yoga in New Zealand's most beautiful place?

Camp Glenorchy / Delivered

Do you fancy a little yoga in New Zealand’s most beautiful place?

Hailed by Glen Magazine as one of the 100 greatest places in the world in 2019, the eco retreat at Camp Glenorchy has won numerous sustainability awards, making it the perfect place for our nursing retreat. Together with an on-site chef who prepares us nutrient-rich, yet delicious meals, the buildings are surrounded by snow-capped mountains. On the second day we are taken on a quiet barefoot stroll through the gardens and experience the sensations of texture and temperature. The cold of a winter on the South Island is absorbed into our brains through our feet.

Both wellness coaches see many of their clients craving a strong feminine connection that makes them feel safe to open up. And while these relationships can take some time, Emma and Sarsha have an almost magical knack for bringing women together to create a safe environment within hours.

Our first attempt at making a circle is definitely more of an egg shape, but by our second session we are perfectly round. Many share their previous experiences of the retreat while others talk about future goals and past mistakes. There is laughter and there are tears. There is no hand mirror in sight.

Take a stroll through Glenorchy to find such picturesque spots.

Camp Glenorchy / Delivered

Take a stroll through Glenorchy to find such picturesque spots.

Sometimes referred to as red tents and usually held under a full moon, women’s circles definitely have a moment. But if the idea of ​​one still sounds a little too much like a GOOP convention for your liking, Emma suggests that a book club or drinks or coffee get-togethers with the girls are all forms of modern women’s groups. “When we are supported and listened to by other women, our stress hormones go down,” she says. “And our oxytocin or our food, cuddle hormones, go up.”

And the best news of all is that another Nurture Me retreat is due in November.

“Retiring only with women is a deeper way to build trust, conversation, and connection,” says Emma. “Being with other women who make us feel good changes our physiology and thus our breathing.”

Vanessa was kindly received by Camp Glenorchy. More information on the upcoming November retreat can be found here.

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