Updated: Jan 30
Over the past 6 years, as I cultivated and deepened into my own personal practice, I’ve been granted a first-row seat to my very own life performance, Life, As It Is. 38 years old today, I find myself at a different level of deepened self-understanding, feeling much more aligned with who I truly am, clear with what I want out of this lifetime, and how I want to balance and sustain the above.
Not only do I have meditation to thank, but moreso I’m thankful for the non-negotiable personal space I’ve granted myself over the years. For it’s so easy to brush it off. But I now understand the need for high-quality and intentional rest to realign oneself with calm, clarity, and energy to be present with what’s most important.
When I say high-quality rest, I’m not talking about the 5-Stars luxury hotel with their Michelin-acclaimed restaurants and 1000-thread count sheets. While a visit to the spa or a day-cation is more in line with what I’m referring to, what I deem as truly rest-worthy are the experiences designed for (rest)oration.
"While a visit to the spa or a daycation is more in line with what I’m talking about, what I deem as truly rest-worthy are the experiences made for (rest)oration."
A good example would be Huru, a weekend restorative retreat at the heart of Washington D.C. that tailor-designs two-and-a-half full days of customized me-time for women of color and beyond. From the moment you step into their door, you are greeted and enveloped in the healing essence of Founder, Imani Samuels, whose natural warmth and loving gestures remind her guests just how worthy they are of receiving quality rest.
True rest is not easy to create.
To make it even more difficult to come by, there are so many wellness offerings to choose from today, packaged into perfectly-curated instagram reels and algorithmic content, only to disappoint in reality. With all this saturated information, how can one make a wise choice when it comes to their wellbeing?
To me, the key differentiation comes down to the “intention” of those sacred healers who are creating and crafting these restorative experiences for others. Who are they and what is the true intention behind their creation? For when one is intentional, they purposefully make way to create an experience from their heart, which I believe will allow guests to experience the following:
A true break from everyday life.
Moments to reconnect with one-self deeply.
Holistically recharged after the retreat versus needing a vacation after a vacation.
Sustainable practices to achieve similar rest on one's own time.
To be able to experience the above is priceless. Even more special if you get to share the experience it with others just like you!
So last December, I had the privilege of attending a 3-day retreat with four amazing friends whom through this very experience, sealed us in a forever pack to rest together annually.
As any parent would know, it’s not easy for a working mom to drop everything at a snap of a finger and grant herself three full days worth of girls-trip in the midst of the busiest times of the year. Somehow, when I was fortuitously invited by Lydia, Program Director at FLOW Retreat, to check out her newest yoga and wellness program in the beautiful city of Hualien, I had to make it happen because…
I knew that at some point in the last quarter of 2022, I was going to need it, badly.
I also knew that other women and mothers around me needed it, even if they never asked for it. Knowing exactly who to ask, this trip came together effortlessly, like it was divinely blessed and guided. Planning this trip was made extra easy for Lydia and her team basically did all the work. Once a date was set, all we needed to do was to show up when the time came.
And showed up, we did!
From Taipei, we hopped on the High Speed Rail at 11:45 am and by 3:00 pm, we were exiting the quiet Linron Shin Kong Station, where a friendly FLOW staff waited upon us with an adorable buggy. Like giddy little girls, we took a gazillion pictures before hopping on the cart, still in shock we’ve left our families behind for this special self-care experience in the middle of December. Before we even got to process these thoughts, we were already in front of hotel. The ride was literally 3 minutes since FLOW is a 5-minute walk from the train station. The convenience in arriving to the retreat in-of-itself was a bonus as transiting to and from airports to hotels can often wear one out during travels.
Once we arrived at FLOW and checked-in at the front desk, we were kindly brought to the second floor lounge area where we were greeted with a delicious green drink and a comprehensive overview of what’s to come in the next few days. It was here we learned that FLOW is within Chu Chu Resort, a family-friendly hotel with its own lists of programs and amenities. FLOW retreat is the adult wellness program situated its own secluded area, where guests quietly reside in quaint forest-green cabins recently refurbished, dine three times a day with hearty vegetarian meals, and replenishes in mind-body and soul with a wholesome schedule of wellness programs from sunrise yoga to mindful walking; not to mention it’s Ayurveda-based spa treatments, consultations, and natural hot springs that guest can schedule in during their free time.
Each FLOW retreat is unique in its own way, with variations based on the season and the individual or group’s personalized needs. During our three days, we got to experience a therapeutic session with a horse healer named Cotton Candy, as well as a spontaneous evening of bonfire and heart-to-heart under a sky full of stars.
The events were so intentionally thought out, that time moved in just the right pace. Not too fast, not too slow. Not too much, nor not enough. In retrospect, there were three main factors which I believe produced a true, restorative rest for all four of us mamas:
The amazing company of likeminded friends!
Lydia and her team of exceptional and sweet instructors & staff.
Our own intentionality to be fully present.
My takeaway is that we can always give ourselves moments of quality rest if we truly make time for it. No matter who we are, we all need and deserve rest. Just like meditation, rest is the most needed at the busiest of times. At the end of the day, it doesn’t have to be only the IG-worthy or trip-advisor recommendations to spark the planner in us. If we cared about ourselves enough and wanted to improve our own mental health and wellbeing, we can intentionally carve out the time to fully rest on our own accord
And you never know, the friends closest to you, may also feel the exact same way as you.
You simply just have to ask.
"Rest will simply make us more human." @thenapministry
All About FLOW
By: Lydia Chang
1. What is the FLOW retreat?
Flow Retreat’s mission is to help people find balance in their lives. Situated on a beautiful grassland between two mountain ranges, Flow Retreat is Taiwan’s newest and largest retreat center. Flow Retreat offers year-round all-inclusive retreat programs incorporating yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, healthy foods, local culture, and nature immersion experiences. Flow Retreat is a peaceful sanctuary that encourages people to step outside of their normal routine and take time to look after their minds and body.
2. Who is FLOW retreat fit for?
Flow Retreat hopes to make retreats more accessible. Retreat is still a new concept in Taiwan, and Flow Retreat hopes to bridge that gap by offering retreat programs that are inclusive, non-religious, flexible, and comfortable, especially for those who are new to retreat experiences.
At Flow Retreats, your day begins with gentle yoga and meditation overlooking majestic mountains. This is followed by healthy and delicious breakfast, and a chance to mindfully connect with nature. After lunch, free time is scheduled for guests to enjoy a hot spring bath, book a 1:1 wellness consultation, read a book in our outdoor cabana, or spend quiet reflection time. Inspirational workshops are scheduled in the afternoon where various guest teachers are invited to offer their own healing modalities such as dance therapy, sound baths, chi-gong, or philosophy. In the evenings, it’s a chance to unwind with candlelight-guided relaxation to prepare for a restful night's sleep.
Coming to Flow Retreat, you can expect to fully relax, learn more about your mind and body, connect deeply with nature, and be supported by like-minded new friends.
4. Aside from 4 days 3 nights retreat, what else does FLOW offer?
At Flow Retreat we encourage our guests to rest as much or do as little as they need to. All activities are optional and each person has the freedom to personalize their own retreat experience. Besides the scheduled wellness sessions, guests can visit our on-site natural hot springs, book a warm oil massage in our Ayurveda Spa, or enjoy a beautiful bike ride around rice paddy fields. We also prepared a mindfulness booklet in each of the Flow Retreat guest rooms to help guide guests to practice self-guided mindfulness during their own free time such as when they are enjoying a walk outside or drinking a cup of tea.
Flow Retreat offers three main programs year-round. First is Flow Wellness Retreats, this program is available daily, and you can choose your own start and end date with minimum of two nights. This retreat includes relaxing yoga, meditation, and an inspirational workshop that changes daily. Second is Flow in Joy Retreat, available every Wednesday for three days and two nights. This retreat is the same as Flow Wellness Retreat but curated for 50+ years old adults, with two additional workshops focusing on addressing seniors' wellness. Third is Ayurveda Energy Renewal Retreat, which is available every Wednesday for three days and two nights. This retreat includes personalized detox meals and Ayurvedic spa treatment.
5. Ayurveda is a huge element to FLOW retreat, can you tell us more about this ancient approach and how guests can benefit from this wellness methodology?
Ayurveda is the sister science of Yoga. You can think of Yoga as the spiritual side of Ayurveda, and Ayurveda as the practical healing side of Yoga. Both come front the same ancient Vedic knowledge. Yoga connects mind-body-soul for spiritual awareness. Ayurveda offers knowledge for healthy living including diets, exercise, sleep, detox routines, and mindful living.
At Flow Retreat, guests experience a thoughtfully designed retreat program that is based on both Yoga and Ayurvedic principles: waking up with the sun, connecting with the mind and body in the morning, spending time in nature, and relaxing at night before sleep. Food at Flow Retreat is made with fresh, all-natural ingredients and sourced locally. Room at Flow Retreat comes with meditation corners, vegan snacks, and non-caffeinated herbal teas. We also offer 1:1 Ayurveda wellness consultations to help individuals learn about their unique body types and tailor their wellness routines to best find balance. Every detail of the retreat program is aimed at helping our guests connect deeper with nature, with themselves, and with each other.
6. Lydia, tell us about your own wellness story and how you ended up running this program today?
Prior to moving to Taiwan, I was a corporate accountant and worked in the finance industry in Canada for close to 10 years. During a very stressful period of my life, I decided to go to India with my dad to attend a yoga retreat. That was the first time I’d ever experienced the concept of a retreat. Stepping away from everything that’s familiar, taking time to rest and be still, learning to self-reflect….that trip changed my perspective and my whole life for the better and was the start of my spiritual journey.
After my trip to India, I fell in love with yoga and meditation. I went back to work feeling renewed and refreshed. I started sharing yoga and meditation with my colleagues at work and was met with so much appreciation. Seeing how I could help bring positive changes to another person's life really brought me immense joy. This path of sharing eventually led me back to my hometown in Taiwan to start my own yoga retreat center, Origin Yoga & Wellness.
Origin Yoga & Wellness was born out of a spontaneous decision to transform an abandoned building into a place of healing and mindfulness. We were Taiwan’s first yoga retreat center. Being the first was not an easy task, a lot of time and money were spent on renovations and education about the importance of a yoga retreat. In the beginning, many times I would only have one guest signing up for a three days retreat. Instead of canceling the retreat, I would instead focus on gratitude and using this mindset to create the best experience possible for one person. Soon, the word got out, and more and more people from all around the world would fly to Taiwan to join yoga retreats at Origin Yoga & Wellness.
Since leading my first retreat in 2017, I fell in love with this deeply healing and transformational work. Over the years, I’ve heard so many amazing stories about retreat guests’ personal transformation: improving relationships with loved ones, feeling more calm and focused at work, having the courage to take necessary actions, and discovering new meaning and happiness in life.
These sharing are what inspired me and kept me motivated to keep going. I dreamt of creating retreats on a larger scale, making retreats more accessible to more people, and building a strong retreat team who shares the same vision.
And then one day, I received the most unexpected phone call.
The phone call was from one of my previous retreat guests, Jennifer. She attended a 3 days 2 night Ayurveda Detox & Renewal Retreat with me and really enjoyed the experience. Jennifer is the CEO of Home Hotel in Taipei, and when she was asked to build a new resort in Hualien, she thought of me. Jennifer proposed the idea of creating a bigger retreat center in Taiwan, Flow Retreat. I said yes without any hesitation, and begin working on this new project right away, it was as if the Universe finally answered my prayers!
Since being on this incredible mission, I’ve given it my all. Everything I’ve learned from leading retreats over the past years, I’ve poured into creating Flow Retreat. I wish for Flow Retreat to be a place of healing, relaxation, and inspiration for all visitors. I wish for Flow Retreat to create magical connections, for all teachers and students on the spiritual & wellness journey to come and meet, learn and grow together. I wish for Flow Retreat to put Taiwan on the map as the top wellness destination in Asia.
Fast forward to January 2023, and Flow Retreat is now open! I am so grateful and excited to see what the future holds for Flow Retreat. I know this is the beginning of something very special and I can’t wait to see the ripple effects it creates.
Address: No. 6, Yongfeng Rd., Fenglin Township, Hualien County
Reservation Number: +886 3 877 2929