Abbey Holmes: 5 things I learnt at a Bali wellness retreat

AFL commentator and SAS Australia contestant Abbey Holmes recently returned from a blissful four days at a Bali wellness retreat. Here are her key takeaways.

When former AFLW star Abbey Holmes was offered the chance to visit The House of Wellness presenter Luke Darcy’s Ayurvedic wellness retreat, Sukhavati, on the Island of the Gods, it was an opportunity too good to refuse.

“September as a whole is always the busiest month in the calendar for us on the footy front,” Abbey, who is a Channel 7 commentator, says.

“I was absolutely exhausted by the time the final siren went on grand final day.

“But then I had Bali two days later, so it was the most perfect timing.”

After a hectic year, which has also included filming SAS Australia, participating in a 30.5 kilometre mountain run, and organising her upcoming wedding to former AFL player Keegan Brooksby, Abbey was well overdue for some downtime.

The wellness retreat also gave her the chance to pick up these five tips on wellbeing.

It’s important to slow down occasionally

“I’m not a relaxed person,” Abbey says.

And during football season, weekends off don’t exist.

“My lifestyle is pretty hectic. I’m always on the go – I don’t actually really take time to stop and chill out.”

However, at the retreat, she learned to embrace the calm.

You can meditate anywhere

After dipping her toe into meditation as an athlete, although only as part of a large group, Abbey enjoyed learning more about the practice one-on-one at Sukhavati.

It taught her that you don’t have to be in a quiet room with zero distractions to meditate.

“You can literally do it in your (parked) car before you go into a job. Or sitting on a tram stop or a bus stop or whatever it might be.”

Abbey now regularly meditates for 10 to 15 minutes, which leaves her feeling rested and “super energised”.

Ayurvedic massages can be next level

At the retreat, Abbey also found out more about Ayurvedic medicine, a holistic healing system that dates back thousands of years to India.

“It’s something I’ve never experienced before. Basically, when you rock up, you immediately have a consultation with the Ayurvedic doctor,” Abbey says.

“And that’s where you talk through any health concerns or any worries that you might have with your body or your mind or whatever it might be.”

The highlight? The sleep-inducing hot oil massages.

It’s good to mix up your training

Abbey says she’s “not much of a yogi”.

“I’ve had a lot of injuries so it doesn’t really allow me to comfortably get folded up like a pretzel,” she says.

But trying yoga at the retreat reminded her that exercise doesn’t always have to be high impact, and that it’s good for your body to experience different things.

“I train every day, but it’s always really high intensity. Yoga is obviously very slow and very different, because I’m normally doing HIIT sessions or hybrid sessions.”

You can live without coffee

Abbey usually loves a regular caffeine hit, but happily went without in Bali.

“I didn’t have coffee the entire time that I was there. And one of my learnings is that you’re totally fine without caffeine,” she says.

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Written by Larissa Ham.