For any person to live their truest, most authentic life, they must eventually find a certain balance within. A meditation or peace that will surely stay around forever.
Award-winning journalist, yoga instructor, wellness expert and author, Rachel Grunwell, knows exactly how to find that balance and is helping others find it too. She is the Health and Wellness Brand Ambassador at Polynesian Spa and co-runs their Mindful Moments Retreats and uses her vast therapeutic knowledge to help many men and women who are at their wits end, are stressed and fatigued and need to take a bit of time out for themselves.
Last month, Rachel launched her book with Beatnik Press, Balance: Food, Health & Happiness that contains interviews with up to 30 experts from around the world, healthy and delicious snacks, and tips on balancing a happy, healthy life. We sat down with Rachel and talked about wellness, her book, Polynesian Spa and welcoming balance into busy lives.
What started your journey getting into mindfulness and wellness?
I was a writer for twenty years and I took the plunge into the wellness world in tripping into it by accident, really. I was on maternity leave when I had my youngest child and I started to write a weekly wellness column for a publication. It was me being a guinea pig trying fitness, health and nutrition ideas. I fell in love with the industry and trained to be a yoga teacher first, then I became a PT to level five. That means I can prescribe around food, fitness and lifestyle.
Essentially, I help people lose weight, get fit and live a life they love. Through the yoga teaching, I’ve just been layering hundreds of hours of training over the years with incredible teachers throughout the world. I specialize in a Yin-style yoga, which is really restorative to the body and mind. I’ve been running my own wellness business for quite a long time now and I love sharing those skills.
I think everyone can benefit from them in their life. People are incredibly stressed out, overwhelmed and really busy and the Mindful Moments Retreat is really wonderful because they just come along and learn these skills that help the body and mind restore. I run a Wellness workshop at Polynesian Spa and I get a feel for those who are attending and what they might need in their life. I share some amazing science-backed wellness wisdom that can help them walk away and live a life they love. They’re confused and overwhelmed and I want to help them stop for a moment so they can look after themselves and just have this incredible weekend.
I was a writer and I used to help people by asking hard-hitting questions and getting the truth. I used to hold people of authority into account. I made change that way for a long time, which was wonderful. I’m still a writer and an author of the book. It means I can be of service in a whole new way and it is really heart-warming. It’s holding hands with people in a whole new way and sharing wisdom that actually works.
Why do you think wellness and mindfulness is important in our lives?
We perform our best when we can find flow, when we can get that reset. Finding flow is being immersed in the moment and doing things we love. It helps to give us that rest. We can be more creative then. When we’re not over-anxious and over-tired and refueling our bodies really well. We can be our most productive and be nicer to be around. It’s also shown that that is when our creativity levels are at their best. You’re just in that great state.
That’s what I talk about, really. What state do you want to live your life in? Do you want to live flustered or peaked? It’s infectious to everyone around you. States are all-absorbing. If you’re a vibrant, happy person, it makes you easier to be around. It’s really important in the corporate world, but also as a parent. I get lots of corporates come along to the Mindful Moments Retreats, but also friends who shout other friends for birthdays and it’s really wonderful to share that. I’ve had some men too who have come along.
What does Polynesian Spa want to offer the world?
Mindful-living. There’s this mantra for the retreat, and what it is proves why the retreat is so good for corporates, particularly. There’s been wonderful feedback too. So many people have kept in touch via social media. There’s nothing that lifts my heart more than a client getting in touch and saying: “Rach, I tried this out in my day-to-day life and I loved it”. They don’t have to go away and do everything I share, but if they go away and do one thing and incorporate it, it can change their life.
Polynesian Spa is quite accessible too for corporates. It’s just a weekend-long retreat and is really affordable. They get to access meditation, yoga, mindfulness etc., and they get the opportunities to dip into one of the 28 pools on site. The unique alkaline and acidic waters helps with silky soft skin and they are amazing for muscles and aches. The location is great. You’re looking out over Lake Rotorua to Mokoia Island. The mantra for the retreat is ”Nowhere else I need to be. Nothing else I need to be doing. Nobody else I need to be pleasing…just here in this moment.” That’s the intention. Doesn’t that just make you blissful? Mindfulness is shared, and I explain what it is and what it does for your body. I specialise in making wellness easy to understand.
What is it like being the Health and Wellness Brand Ambassador for Polynesian Spa?
So many. I was there in the weekend. I was like: “how lucky am I?” I was in paradise, literally. To work at one of New Zealand’s iconic destinations! I was born and raised in Rotorua, so I’m really heart-connected to the city. I’m also heart-connected to the people and being in this job of service. Being an Ambassador for the Spa, I’m very lucky to have that role. I love helping people through the retreats. I live life on purpose. I’m so grateful that I have a job that I find purposeful. You never work a day in your life if you work in a job you love. It’s about the people, the people, the people.
Did you always have a passion for balance and wellness?
No! That’s why I find I fit perfectly in this role. I was a stressed-out journalist who had to ask the smart questions and interview politicians a lot. I thrived in that time. I was really busy, though, but growing – it definitely wasn’t a bad thing! I was immersed in that corporate world, but I jumped from a writing gig to a wellness gig. You wouldn’t really put the worlds together. It was a journey.
I wanted to be a journalist and I became that. A part of me then yearned to be a wellness expert. I love sharing how you transform through balance. A lot of people are confused about well-being and nutrition. People just don’t know where to start. Sometimes, my teaching deeply resonates. We’ve had amazing success stories where people have gone away and really transformed their lives. We don’t expect that.
You’ve recently written a book, Balance: Food, Health & Happiness. How was the process of writing it?
A three year journey. So hard. I’ve always dreamed of being an author, but putting this book out into the world, to me, felt like a true service. I can actually help people. 30 wellness experts – both from New Zealand and around the world. It’s got neuro-scientists, psychologists, nutritionists, fitness experts…it’s got well-known names like Nadia Lim, Theresa Gattung, and global experts, the best researchers in the world.
If you pick up this book, it’s full of beautiful recipes and global expertise. Readers get nutrition-hacks, and how to reset to goal-crush and live your dreams. I literally skipped down my hallway when I got the publishing deal! It takes a lot of discipline and commitment and passion.
What’s some tips and/or exercises that people can use at home?
You only need to meditate for a couple of minutes – and try not to be overwhelmed. There’s a yoga pose where you have your legs up the wall and that’s incredibly restorative and resets your body and mind. It’s very calming.
Diaphragmatic breathing too is gold – it’s belly-breathing. It’s a nice big in breath for four seconds and then a slight pause and a four second exhale. That can reset your nervous system, and your mind in literally moments. To know how to do that skill is just incredible.
What motivates you?
Helping others in a heart-connecting way. There’s an authenticity to my purpose that motivates me, truly.
What do you have planned for the future?
The future’s exciting. I love my work so much. I’m signed up for doing Mindfulness Retreats for quite a long time and that’s exciting. That’s a massive part of my future. Also, having just put out my first book, I want to be helping more corporates. People are stressed. They look like they have it all…the family, the house, the career. I know I can genuinely help them live a life they love.
In one word, what do you want to give to the world?
Balance. Everyone is striving for it. I want to help people find it in themselves.