On the 1st of December, I ventured off to Bali in Indonesia to visit Natural Instinct Healing.
The Natural Instinct is a health and wellness retreat centre hidden in Ubud located about a one hour drive from the international airport.
The team at Natural Instinct specialise in fasting and detox retreats.
During the fasting retreat you will be equipped with many drinks like broths, herbs and detox shakes to support your body. There are daily activities such as rice patty walks, yoga, meditation or cultural excursions. There is also a lot of free time each day so you can get some much-needed rest or lounge by the pool.
On-site at the retreat centre there is an infrared sauna for daily use. I am obsessed with the benefits of infrared sauna. I made it a priority to jump in there for a 45-minute cycle every day. The sauna helps to detoxify your body. It heats you from the inside out and is great for inflammation, healing, stress relief and removing heavy metals from the body.
Below I've outlined what the retreat looks like and my personal detox experience. I have also collaborated with Pat Reardon the founder of instinct to answer some questions.
What is an enema?
An enema is when you flush filtered water into the colon. Usually, an enema is about 2 litres worth of fluid. During the process, you lay down and let gravity flow the water into your colon. Once all the water has finished filtering into your body you retain it for as long as possible. Once ready to release, go to the toilet until all the water is removed and you feel complete. This practice has been around for centuries. It can help treat issues such as sickness, headaches and constipation.
What is a colonic?
I like to think of a colonic as the mother of an enema. Its the same process of flushing water into the colon but it is done by a practitioner. During a colonic you can expect to flush up to 14 litres of water through your colon. Removing any waste, toxins and old fecal matter. You will do one colonic whilst at the retreat in Bali.
Sample daily schedule:
Morning activity such as yoga, walk or excursion
Free time for sauna, pool, reading books or taking a walk into town
Daily massage at the centre
Afternoon group activity such as meditation, and a film screening
Quiet time for a nice rest
Daily Drinks supplements and shakes:
Each day you will be given four detox shakes. These shakes contain bentonite clay and psyllium husk. The clay is a potent detoxifier that draws out any toxins inside your body.
Psyllium husk is a prebiotic soluble fibre. Prebiotics are needed to maintain a healthy colon and gut. Soluble fibre like psyllium absorbs liquid in your body and helps you release it in bowel movements through your colon.
The detox drinks are great and keep you full all day. The group and I were all amazed that none of us felt hungry during the fast.
Each day you are also given fresh juice and coconut water.
For supper every evening the group sits down to a yummy bowl of vegetable broth that you can season with salt, pepper, chilli and fresh lime.
The hosts on retreat will also supply you with detox herbs that you will be taking multiple times a day.
My personal experience:
During the retreat, I kept a little diary entry of how I was feeling each day. One of the detox symptoms I was most worried about was not having coffee. However, my body surprised me, and I did well without my daily black coffee.
I arrived in Ubud a night or two early so that I could have some time to eat at the Amazing restaurants before beginning the fast. I'll include a little cafe guide below :)
I finished my last meal on Sunday night at 5 pm and broke the fast the following Monday morning at 11am.
Day 1 & 2
During the first two days, my energy was quite low. I slept for 10 hrs each night and napped both mornings around 10 am for an hour!! My body must have needed some time out to rejuvenate.
On day 2 the first headache hit me. It wasn’t awful but enough to prohibit me from doing anything that required me to think. I jumped in the sauna, and it completely fixed the headache. YAY.
These two days were quite slow, and I didn’t even really feel like reading my book or writing on my computer, My mind just wanted to laze and daydream.
Today I experience a dull morning and afternoon headache. Still sleeping like crazy. Solid 9 hrs last night.
Day 4 & 5
During these two days, I got a lot of energy back and was feeling quite like myself again. Beginning to notice the detox benefits like clear eyes and glowing skin.
Day 6 & 7
A little slow again for me. My body was taking some time to rest heal and recover.
During the fast, I had some body aches and pains. These can be physical detox symptoms. One day it was my hip the next my shoulder and so on. The daily massages were AMAZING. These were my favourite part of the retreat.
Even though I experienced tiredness during the fast I felt light, grounded, calm and balanced and clear!
Some of the benefits I gained from the detox were:
Increased energy, clear skin and eyes, weight loss, reduction of inflammation, mental clarity, improved digestion.
On the last evening, before you break the fast, you will complete a liver flush. During the week you prepare your body for the flush with detoxing and fasting. The liver drink is a mix of garlic, lime juice and olive oil. There are some practices and supplements and herbs to take leading up to the flush. At 8 pm on the last evening, you will drink the liver flush and lie directly on your right side.
I had a pretty intense and incredible experience with my flush. Many people have incredible breakthroughs with this cleansing method such as releasing 'liver stones' and built up gravel like toxins that have been trapped in the body. If you want to read more about liver cleansing I recommend checking out this article.
Breaking the fast:
On day 8 it was time to break the fast!! We sat down at the community table to a delicious bowl of freshly cut papaya, fresh lime and probiotic raw cashew yogurt. Its extremelly import to break the fast with something easy to digest. Papaya contains digestive enzymes that help your body rebalance efficiently post cleanse. We were also provided with digestive enzymes to take with our meal.
During the retreat, there was a workshop on nutrition and breaking the fast. At this workshop we were equiped with all the information we needed when reintroducing foods into our diet. For the first few days its advised to eat only raw or cooked fruits and vegetables. After these days you will begin adding in other foods one by one.
My fav cafes for healthy food in Ubud:
Sayuri healing cafe
The yoga barn
Q & A with Pat
Pat is the Co-Founder and driving force of the Natural Instinct Healing group.
What inspired you to open Natural instinct healing?
Our experiential inspiration behind the 'ethos' of Natural Instinct Healing was a seed planted long before we opened our doors for business in Bali... My wife Kate and I were travelling through South America about 15 years ago and had two individual experiences that inspired us towards where we are today. Kate had a unique 'reading' from a Peruvian Shaman, which ultimately led to her degrees in Nutritional Medicine & Naturopathy. And I vividly remember staying at a hostel/hotel where there was just one big long dining table to sit at for all guests - a table that inspired connection, humility (it didn't matter whether you were a backpacker or businessman, you all sat down to share food and stories together), and health (they only served organic whole foods).
What are the benefits of fasting?
How long do you have!?! So so many amazing physical, emotional and spiritual benefits to come from the fasting process. Typically our fasting clients report a boost in energy; sound sleep; clear skin; strong nails and hair; weight loss and body re-composition; Increased motivation and enthusiasm; elevated mood; mental clarity; decrease in pain and inflammation in the body; good bowel habits; stronger immune system; improvement in blood circulation; reduced cravings... the list goes on! While the physical benefits are easy to see, for me it is the internal 'shifts' of our clients that are the most profound.
What happens to the body during a fast?
By undergoing a thorough cleanse the body has time to heal and regenerate itself on a cellular level. Fasting allows for all the toxins to be removed from the cells; hormones to be rebalanced; and the liver to metabolise any excess hormones floating around the body such as xenoestrogens (found in chemicals, plastics and pesticides) and cortisol (stress hormone which can lead to inflammation, exhaustion, poor cellular function). Inflammation is also significantly decreased (which means massive pain relief and increased healing capacity); all organs regenerated; blood sugars rebalanced; immune system boosted, and the nervous system rested.
How do guests feel during and after the retreat?
Once the body realises you're moving into a detox process (within 18-24 hours), it starts to open up from a cellular level and 'dump' toxins into the bloodstream. Which means clients typically feel all the feels between days 2-4 when the toxicity is at a peak! Muscle tension, fogginess, Cells are releasing not only toxins but also stored feelings of anger, sadness, joy, frustration, etc. It can be a wild experience! The good news is that it doesn't last for too long (which is why we don't recommend short 2-3 day 'deep' cleanses) and we support the body to move the toxins through the body quickly with the aid of specific herbal tonics; massages; steam & sauna; cleansing the colon; yoga; meditation; exercise; dry skin brushing; deep rest; and a host of other modalities conducive to toxin removal.
How often is it recommended to fast?
It often depends on the toxicity of your lifestyle... but as a 'rule of thumb' I typically fast once a year on average, and somewhere in between throughout the year I'll do one or two 'gentler' cleanses - specifically I do Kate's 21 days Essential Cleanse and our new 7 day Detox Box cleanse. If clients are returning to us inside a 6 month period since their last program then we have a specific protocol to ensure it is in their best interests. Our fasting detox programs are super deep and thorough, so the body needs time afterwards to find its equilibrium, and we feel clients need time to integrate their learnings into their lifestyle.
Can you share with us some powerful stories you have from your healing centre?
So many epic stories of clients stepping into their power and potential. One that really stands out was Sandra. When we first met Sandra she could barely make it through the day. Battling with chronic illness meant this mum of 5 had tried everything modern medicine had to offer - including daily Human Growth Hormone injections and steroids just to help her get out of bed. But, incredibly, Sandra was able to transform her health with our support and her commitment. Today, just a few short years since struggling to get out of bed, she’s regularly doing 60km bike rides and 10km runs. But the real depth of Sandra's story is, like all of us, she has had to confront painful personal circumstances and unexpected changes in relationships since on retreat with us. But here’s the miracle. Today Sandra can cope and thrive. Something that would have knocked her completely a few years back, today she can deal with. Not only that – she is still pursuing her personal goals. Sandra is still triathlon racing and showing up (daily) as the best version of who she is. Because the truth is, life doesn’t change after our retreats – only you do. Ultimately that's why we're now focusing heavily on supporting our clients for the 'long game', the retreat experience often been the start of that journey.
Is age and body size a factor when considering fasting?
We have a policy of 18+ for our programs, unless under extraordinary circumstances. And for anyone in between 18-21 years of age we have a chat with them around their reasons and aspirations for the retreat beforehand to ensure everything flows as it should.
Regarding body size, clients do lose weight throughout the fasting process - so if there is a concern on their weight, body composition, body image, or any history of eating disorders then we'll have an in-depth chat with them prior to make certain our program is safe and suitable. We a have a team of Western qualified health professionals who monitor our clients while on retreat, and have the flexibility to adapt the program if we feel e.g. weight loss is an issue.
Is it safe to do a fast at home without support?
Not in our professional opinion. Without knowing the intricacies and biochemical responses to the fasting process, in particular the detox reactions the body can have whilst cleansing, we feel it is always best done in a safe, professional, and supportive environment. Which is exactly why we employ a large team of Western qualified health professionals. And if you're not feeling safe and supported, and second-guessing the process, then it will be contra-indicative to the 'letting go' process of the fast - which is ultimately what you're trying to achieve!
Pat is the Co-Founder and driving force of the Natural Instinct Healing group. Years in the industry has seen him guide and support clients through immersive experiences whilst provide tools and resources people need to make positive lifestyle choices. Natural Instinct Healing is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning private Detox, Health and Wellness retreat centre in Ubud, Bali - and a growing community of amazing humans committed to living their full potential.
I hope you have enjoyed this article and maybe I've inspired you to book your own health retreat.