Urban ashrams: Take an hour out of your day to regenerate

Retreating for an hour or a few days can be enough to regenerate your sense of wellbeing

In an ideal world, we’d work a four-day week with three days of down time, take a long stretch of annual leave lying poolside in Bali and never hear the irritating ‘ding’ of an email arriving at 5pm. But the fast pace of life doesn’t always allow for such luxuries and many of us get close to breaking point before actually stopping to pause. Here, we look at a few different ways to escape the hustle of life without having to leave the country – or even the city for that matter. Perhaps that idyllic location you’re so longing for really is just around the corner…


Auckland Buddhist Centre
381 Richmond Road, Grey Lynn, Auckland
Meditation is widely recognised as a beneficial way to manage and ease life’s many stresses. The Auckland Buddhist Centre provides a calming space to move beyond unhelpful and limiting habits and reap the benefits of improved health, restful sleep, greater self-understanding and compassion, and a more flexible mind through meditation and Buddhist teachings. Twice-weekly meditation classes operate on a drop-in basis, with payment by koha (donation) and are open to beginners, while a third session is recommended for those familiar with meditative practice. For the uninitiated, the centre offers introductory courses which run for six weeks, teaching the essential principles of Buddhist meditation.


Onsen Hot Pools
160 Arthurs Point Road, Arthurs Point, Queenstown
Overlooking Queenstown’s famous Shotover River, Onsen’s indoor-outdoor cedar-lined bathing rooms are a blissful place to surrender your mind and body. While you breathe in fresh, crisp mountain air, you can soak up some of New Zealand’s most picturesque scenery. You’ll be relaxed before you even dip a toe into your own personal hot tub, which is filled with spring, rain and lake water. Pre-set your preferred water temperature and it will be exactly to your liking when you arrive, then retract the walls and roof and connect to nature as you unwind. The spa also offers a number of single, couple and group packages so you can tailor your visit specifically to your needs.


Aro Hā Wellness Retreat
33 Stainton Valley Road, Wyuna, Glenorchy
Aro Hā means “In the presence of divine breath” – a phrase that underpins the philosophy of this wellness retreat. Only a 35-minute drive from Queenstown, Aro Hā is nestled in the hills surrounding picturesque Lake Wakatipu and is perfectly positioned for you to enjoy nature at its best. A few nights here offer a sublime way to connect with yourself and the environment, along with a small group of existing or soon-to-be friends. Retreats at Aro Hā range from five to seven days and include activities such as yoga, Pilates, sub-alpine hiking and strength training, which are combined with mindfulness meditation, daily massage, a therapeutic spa and detoxifying vegetarian cuisine. Shared and private accommodation options are available at this Zen-inspired eco retreat. Show up, switch off and let nature and your experienced hosts do the rest.


Bliss Reflexology
1F/255 Broadway, Newmarket; 4F Atrium on Elliot, City; 111 Hurstmere Road, Takapuna, Auckland
A haven of tranquillity, warmth and wellbeing, Bliss Reflexology transports you to an authentic Pan-Asian environment the second you step through the door. Treatments are based on traditional Chinese reflexology – the art of working pressure points in the feet and hands to rebalance other vital areas of the body including the spine, kidneys, neck and abdomen. The most popular treatments for managing stress include The Bliss Royal – a 15-minute foot spa, plus a neck, back and arm massage followed by a 45-minute traditional reflexology treatment; and The Bliss Entire, which combines a foot spa and massage with a 55-minute full-body, deep-tissue or relaxation massage.


Urban Calm Yin Yoga Centre
286 Princes Street, Dunedin
Urban Calm’s Dunedin studio is precisely what the name suggests: an oasis of calm. As you enter the softly lit reception area you are greeted with complimentary warm or cold water, the scent of slowly burning Palo Santo Peruvian Sacred Wood and the sound of the Tibetan Aum. Yin yoga is done with eyes closed, aided by a linseed eyepack, allowing your awareness and intuition to guide you through the movements. According to director Faye Winmill, this ‘eyes wide shut’ inward style of practice helps you find peace, the power to calm yourself and discover the techniques for healing whatever it is that’s ailing you. And without the perceived judgment from the wandering eyes of your fellow yogis and Faye’s no-adjustment teaching style, you’re free to respond to however your body feels it should move, without letting the fear of failure or inability get in the way.