WELL-BEING: Feeding the mind, body and soul with Scotland Retreats

Taking a trip to the bonnie, bonnie banks, Chief Sub-Editor Rosie Morton explores ones of the latest trends in the health and well-being industry – ‘luxury wellness retreats’…

‘What would make today great?’

As we sat in the spectacular surrounds of Ardoch House in Gartocharn, floor to ceiling glass framing a misty Loch Lomond outside, Transformational Life Coach and trained Hypnotherapist James Hughes posed his favourite question.

In truth, I was already having an excellent day. I had travelled to an iconic corner of Scotland that is packed with history and intrigue. I had remembered to pack my yoga mat. I had even managed to drink my coffee on the go without wearing it. (It’s the small wins).

But James’ question begged for a more profound response. After all, I was attending an all-encompassing wellness retreat for women – a growing trend that has taken the health and well-being industry by storm since the pandemic forced us to look long and hard at our well-entrenched behaviours. This retreat, to quote James, was a time to ‘press the computer reset button’. It was a time to reflect, decompress and hatch a plan that would see us inch ever closer to achieving our goals.

James Hughes, Transformational Life Coach and Hypnotherapist [Credit: Brendan Waters Photography]

And so it was that I found myself penning my inner-most thoughts on a blank piece of paper, preparing for an MOT of mind, body and soul…

Standing alongside James was Nic Henderson, Holistic Life Coach, Wellness Specialist and founder of Scotland Retreats. Having spent 15 years in a high-pressure corporate career before setting up her holistic retreats business, Nic knows first-hand what it takes to embrace change and overhaul your lifestyle. So, what’s the secret? The answer is disarmingly simple. We must master the art of breathing.

Seems simple enough, right?

Inhale, brush your teeth; exhale, feed the dog; inhale, herd the kids out the door to school; exhale, grind your teeth in the early morning traffic…

Wrong. Here to remind us to stick our heads above the parapet from time to time, the Scotland Retreats team aim to show women the true power of breathing by stepping out of their daily routines to relax, unwind, and reconnect with nature.

Nic Henderson, founder of Scotland Retreats [Credit: Brendan Waters Photography]


‘At a time when people need to take some time out to look after themselves, we wanted to create something that was really special and unique, but also local and sustainable,’ says Nic. ‘We believe we have a responsibility to show our guests how to raise their level of well-being. Now more than ever before, it’s crucial to how we live our lives.

‘The retreat programme is designed for everyone, from people interested in mindfulness and wellness, to those more experienced, we have something for everyone. The retreat will open their minds and hearts to what is really possible in their life, and we hope that they will leave energised, empowered, strong and ready to reach those dreams and goals with ease and enthusiasm.’

So, what can you expect at a Scotland Retreat? A one- or three-day experience consists of life coaching sessions, reflection and ‘mindfulness practices’ including breath-work, yoga, wild swimming, meditation, and walks in nature with specially-curated Spotify playlists.

Walks in nature? I know what you’re thinking. Us Scots already know that time in the outdoors lifts the spirits. We know that listening to the birds is food for the soul, and we know that a spot of yoga can be restorative. But if you’re not quite sure where to begin, Scotland Retreats is a great place to start.

On hand to harness the power of the country’s wild spaces is Kenny Walker – AKA ‘The Group Exercise Guy’ (think Scottish Joe Wicks) – who gets the endorphins pumping at regular intervals throughout the day with dancing, stretching and yoga. (Prepare to leave your inhibitions at the door – Kenny’s infectious enthusiasm inspires even the most reluctant dancer to get up off their seat).

Kenny Walker, ‘The Group Exercise Guy’ [Credit: Brendan Waters Photography]

As the Scotland Retreats team imparted their pearls of wisdom, I glanced around.

‘Love is the oxygen of life,’ says Nic.

‘Fear is “False Evidence Appearing Real”,’ says James.

‘If you’re angry, remove yourself from that by moving your body,’ continues Kenny.

I could hear the pennies dropping around the room. In our group we had women who were struggling with an empty nest. Others had problems at work. Another had left her job in the police force to work as a nurse and was looking to de-stress. If you’re in need of a reboot to kick-start your year, Scotland Retreats could be just the ticket. At the very least, you’ll have a grand day out, meet like-minded people, and – crucially – learn to channel your inner Taylor Swift. (Thank you, Kenny).

To find out more or book a retreat for 2022, you can contact Nic at hello@coachingbynic.com.

Alternatively, visit the Scotland Retreats website at www.scotlandretreats.com ; www.coachingbynic.com

Corporate offering:

Staff well-being has been a hot topic since the pandemic overhauled the way we work, so Nic is now offering companies bespoke complimentary sessions via Zoom or at their offices to help employees recalibrate their work-life balance.

‘Companies are realising that doing their part to help maintain staff well-being and balance is crucial to their overall success – now more than ever before with staff retention proving difficult,’ says Nic. ‘Employees need to feel like they are valued, supported and understood, like they really matter. We have designed a unique corporate programme that can help to ensure companies can personalise their wellness service, so they get exactly what the employees need.’

Contact Nic HERE to find out more.

Ardoch House, Gartocharn [Credit: Brendan Waters Photography]