If you’re searching for some soulful solitude, you’re not alone. Busy lives and busy minds make finding moments of quiet more elusive than we’d like. Taking the time to explore the opportunities that exist in our own surroundings can offer a low-stress opportunity to refresh, regroup, and reset—especially when travel is difficult due to finances, time constraints, or that busy life.
COVID-19 introduced an additional set of challenges to our already complicated lives. But I’m sure, like me, you were able to discover some positive aspects of the lockdown and ensuing restrictions.
Perhaps you felt gratitude for the health of friends and family; a sense of stillness that accompanied less socializing, fewer outings, and a work-from-home arrangement; and, perhaps, you enjoyed a new or renewed love of cooking, or other hobby, or the new balance and better perspective provided by extra time in nature.
Time to explore … again
Now, as we slowly emerge from the pandemic, cautiously optimistic that the worst is behind us, I’m excited to get exploring again. I love the feel of preparing for a getaway, no matter how short. The thought of even a quick break from the everyday instills a feeling of giddy anticipation that offers additional motivation on even the hardest of days.
Like many, travel restrictions forced me to take a deeper look at options closer to home. On my bucket list of must-visit BC destinations was the Nectar Yoga Retreat, where they promise an experience that provides inner connection and outer exploration. So, along with Jen, my cousin and favourite travelling companion, we headed by ferry to Nectar, ready for some much-needed quiet time. Nectar did not disappoint.
The Nectar vision
Nestled among the towering alder trees of Bowen, a small island located in Howe Sound off the BC coast just north of Vancouver, Nectar, though close to the mainland, offers the intangible gifts of a remote location only found by travelling deep—and for many hours—into nature.
The retreat sits on 20 acres within the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) unceded core traditional territory, and is a visual representation of exceptional peace and tranquility.
Built in 2018 and opened in 2019, one short year before the COVID-19 pandemic would hit, the current Nectar Yoga retreat was constructed as a profound labour of love by husband-and-wife duo Andrea Clark and Satjeet (Sat) Pandher.
“Sat and I have always been into mediation and yoga. There are so many online options—and that’s wonderful—but there is something very special about being in the energetic and physical presence of another, especially through yoga.”
When Andrea was 21, she travelled to India to complete her yoga teacher training and to embark on a journey of self-discovery. Through this journey, she found a deep connection to her practice, and a desire to share the experience with others. The Nectar vision was formed.
Nectar was originally created as an exotic retreat business. However, Andrea felt that it was generally attracting an elite clientele who possessed the luxury of time. She wanted to build a retreat that was close to home but felt far away and was accessible to all.
Andrea also wanted to provide visitors with the feeling of home. “I wanted to build on the idea of home as a physical place, but also home within the body, because a lot of people struggle with the concept of what home means to them, personally.” The Nectar program was carefully and intentionally designed to support this vision.
Nectar provides luxury accommodations in a natural setting that focuses on details—from the yoga and meditation practices and design of the spaces and grounds to the vegan meal options and additional services like massage and tarot card readings. Every aspect of Nectar was created with the totality of the experience in mind, and the deep-rooted feeling of “home” embedded.
The Nectar experience
A Nectar retreat is a very sensory experience—from the sound of the wind through the trees and the pungent smells of earth and fragrant foliage, to the sight of the modern A-frame cottages and majestic geodesic dome.
Nectar’s geodesic dome, where daily yoga and meditation sessions are offered, is a powerful presence at its mathematical centre that creates stillness. It was chosen as Nectar’s centrepiece experience because of “the energies it holds and radiates to students, both intentionally and subconsciously.”
When Andrea and Sat created Nectar, their hope was to create simplicity for guests whose lives have many moving pieces. Their mission is to feed consciousness; this is behind everything they do at Nectar.
“We created Nectar as a sacred, safe space for everyone, a safe, beautiful, thoughtfully designed space that incorporates nature, rewilding, and reconnecting to what’s important.” Yoga speaks to all of it.
My experience at Nectar included a mixture of daily meditation and yoga—enjoyed outside in the warm sunshine, relaxing walks around the grounds and along the beach, and healing moments of quiet reflection in their comfortable hammocks.
There was also delicious plant-based food, prepared by Sat with fresh seasonal ingredients and an eye for presentation, happily enjoyed at the family-style wooden table in the Onyx Lodge, a communal space that boasts stunning views and welcoming décor.
The Nectar afterglow
The last morning offered a magical silent walking meditation with Andrea through the lush forest surrounding the Nectar grounds. She gently encouraged me to engage with my senses once again, taking in all I heard, smelled, touched, and felt. It was a deeply moving experience and a beautiful way to end my stay.
Once back on the mainland, I revelled in the afterglow of my time on Bowen and as a guest at Nectar. Usually energetic and full of chatter, I relaxed into the slowness of my thoughts and the connection to my body.
There is a residual sense of calm that comes after a few days of intentional self-care, and I felt more capable somehow, ready to reimmerse myself into my busy life, yet with a renewed sense of surety and self-confidence. I felt more grounded and better prepared to let go of extra baggage I’d been carrying.
The Nectar lessons
I learned a lot from my stay at Nectar, and more than just the obvious. I spent time reflecting on these lessons: that in stillness and connection with self comes trust—trust in my ability to understand that my path is unique and different from others’—and that there is beauty in that understanding.
When we slow down long enough to hear our inner voice, the one that comes from deep instinct and understanding of one’s own needs and desires, we reap the rewards of the wise old sage that lives within each of us.
I encourage you, too, to take the time you need to reflect on what you need to find peace and stillness in your own life. Take a few hours, or a few days (you deserve it!), to find your North Star and let it guide you with certainty through the uncertainties of life. I promise, you’ll be better for it.