Your Guide to a DIY Yoga Retreat on Bowen Island

Unplug, relax and start 2020 off on the right foot—or hand—depending on your favourite yoga pose

Unplug, relax and start 2020 off on the right foot—or hand—depending on your favourite yoga pose

Looking for a brain break that won’t break the bank? With New Year’s resolutions slipping, Blue Monday behind us, and 2020 bringing snowmageddon—getting away from it all never seemed like a better idea.

Only a 20-minute hop across Howe Sound, Bowen Island has long been a popular getaway for frazzled Vancouverites and is the perfect place to create your own DIY retreat. Rainy days don’t matter at the island’s Nectar Yoga BnB, as it’s what’s happening on the inside that counts.

Hidden in the forest, just a short drive (or bus ride) from the ferry terminal at Snug Cove, Nectar is a special spot where guests can take part in yoga classes in the geodesic dome, hike in the forest, or simply curl up in the lodge with a warm blanket and a good book.

Ex-Vancouverites Andrea and Sat opened the original Nectar Yoga BnB in 2014, with a dream of creating a space where visitors could rest, reset and relax. Beginning with yoga classes in their living room and a cottage in the garden, the business started to grow until, in 2018, they took a leap of faith and purchased 20 acres mid-island. It took a year of hands-on hard work to open the new venture in summer 2019, which is now a retreat from the bustle of everyday life with a lodge, three cottages, three a-frames and a geodesic dome for year-round yoga.

If formal retreats are not your thing, or don’t work with your schedule, here are six ways to create your own at Nectar….


1. Retreat and read or write

Armed with my year planner and a stack of self-help books, I made a January jaunt to Nectar to collect my thoughts before 2020 really took off. Most accommodation providers just physically clean the space, but at Nectar each spotless room is spiritually cleansed as well—using sage smudging to clear the energy before the next guest arrives.

Choose from rooms at the Onyx Lodge (the beautifully designed communal space that has comfy couches and a shared library); amazing little A-frames that have a cozy sleeping area and shared washrooms in the lodge; or get your own cute cottage for a more secluded experience.

The tastefully designed cottages (Quartz, Amethyst and Jade) have comfy beds, eco-friendly products and thoughtful little touches like hot water bottles and hairbands (essential for anyone with long hair attempting downward dog!).

Cottages also feature reading nooks with cozy blankets and an outdoor shower where the smell of cedar mixes with the fresh pine for an energizing start to the day. Naked nature experiences help you feel more at one with the world and the tranquil location means that the only spectators you might get are a squirrel or two.


2. Yoga, yoga, yoga

You don’t need to be an expert yogi to enjoy the classes in the purpose-built geodesic dome, as teachers intuitively tune into the energy and ability of each small class to set the tone. Morning classes are included with overnight stays and there is an option to do an early evening class as an ideal way to wind down before bed. Warm and welcoming, the dome is a beautiful place and a gentle space to heal (and is fully heated in winter). Classes are tailored for the specific group at that moment and fantastic teachers and high-end props make the yoga extra special. Guests can also pick up some sage, crystals, or meditation beads from the little boutique in the lodge to take home a little bit of peace and quiet.


3. Fuel your body

If, like me, you’re most used to stuffing down a breakfast sandwich on the Skytrain with a stranger’s crotch in your face, then having a nutritious and beautifully presented breakfast is a real treat. Veggie breakfasts are perfect post-yoga fuel and are eaten in the lodge with other guests on a communal table that is made from reclaimed wood from a bridge on the property. Dishes such as poached pear, yogurt, homemade granola, or mushroom omelette with pan-fried root veg and green smoothies, are lovingly made by Chef Erin at the lodge. Snug Cove is a short drive away (thumbs up for the beet burger at Snug Cafe), but there is also a fridge and microwave for guests who want to stay on-site.


4. Mind, body and soul

Creating your own retreat can include extra experiences like an add-on massage or tarot reading. Local body workers, such as Rie Kawai come to the Forest Cottage or your own space, to de-stress tight muscles with holistic massages.

Dutch-born intuitive Maya Doytchinova brings tarot readings to Nectar and will do a reading in your room or the lodge. As a first-timer, I was nervous about what this would entail, but her beautiful energy and gentle approach to explaining tarot made it an incredibly positive experience that helped me set my intentions for 2020 and beyond.


5. Take a hike

Set on 20 acres, there are plenty of places to take a walk at Nectar—from a meditative stroll in the forest focusing on each step to a longer hike off-site to Mount Gardner or Killarney Lake. There are no bears or cougars on the Island, so if you hear a branch snap it’s probably just an inquisitive deer. From the yoga dome, guests can follow the river to a small waterfall and loop around to Gardner Lake. It’s well-signposted, so even the most geographically challenged among us can follow the path to get lost in thought… but not lost in the woods.


6. Shhhhh

Nectar also hosts ‘official’ retreats run by visiting yoga teachers or life coaches. Coincidentally, on the weekend I visited, Andrea and Sat were hosting a silent-day retreat and a space opened (thanks, universe!). As someone who usually can’t go five minutes without inane chatter, I thought it would be hard, but the guided meditations, journalllng and even a silent lunch of hearty soup (ignoring my noisy slurping) helped strip away the compulsion to make small talk and focused me inwards. In my two days at Nectar alone, I had found the lure of Wi-Fi too much to resist at times, so this digital detox day gave me the space to go inward and get some clarity.

Space and time are two things that seem to be most crowded out from daily life, but after my DIY retreat, I can now take a deep breath and be transported back to sweet silence of Nectar.

See here for upcoming silent day retreats.