A healthy stop in WA's wine region
A woman with dreadlocks sets a dark green concoction down in front of me. I look at it warily.
What's that saying, I think, as I lift the glass to my mouth: "When in Rome..."
I'm at Samudra, the home of raw food and yoga in Dunsborough, 2.5 hours south of Perth in the Margaret River region of Western Australia.
This healthy living mecca houses a range of areas designed to unwind even the most stressed of individuals - two yoga studios, a vegetarian cafe, an eco-clothing store and a wellness centre offering massage, acupuncture and the like.
Samudra's alfresco cafe is furnished in distinctive Balinese decor and I'm sitting at one of their beautiful wooden tables, having just tentatively sipped their renowned green smoothie.
It surprises me by actually being pretty damn tasty.
Reading the ingredients list I realise that this healthy drink is a simple combination of pear, apple, lemon, banana and kale.
I happily down the rest of the glass in a few mouthfuls and make a mental note to try recreating it at home.
Next comes Samudra's healthy take on Mexican enchiladas, made with products grown in the retreat's vegetable garden.
My verdict: amazing. And this is coming from someone who is obsessed with Mexican food.
While I am not vegan or vegetarian, and rarely benefit from eating raw foods, I'm struck with the sense that no matter where I may be in my wellness journey, everyone is welcome here.
And it seems that feeling is shared, because Samudra is full.
Friends laugh over freshly made chai lattes. The glass display case housing sugar-free, dairy-free and gluten-free desserts (think lime and passionfruit cheesecake and choc-orange truffles) steadily empties.
Visitors browse grocery shelves stacked with healthy snacks, while others flip through racks of organic clothing that have been designed in-house (naturally).
I'm impressed that someone has assembled all these facets of healthy living under one roof.
One of the creative minds behind this project is founder and joint-owner Sheridan Hammond.
Samudra was born, Sheridan explains, from a simple dream to mix a love of surfing (Samudra means 'ocean' in the ancient language of Sanskrit) with yoga, nutrition and sustainable living.
In 2004, Samudra started as a retreat that ran all over the globe.
By 2006 it had become so popular that a base was needed where people could come together at any time.
And what better home than Dunsborough, away from the hustle and bustle of major cities, with almost year-round sunshine and, of course, those amazing waves.
It's clear that there's a real passion underlying Samudra.
All the staff have an eagerness to demonstrate another way of living - a simple way - and one that can be implemented in daily life to achieve optimum health and happiness.
"By educating people through a beautiful experience, we provide healthy choices to inspire people to make positive change," Sheridan explains.
I think about this as I munch away on my enchilada. I've worked up quite an appetite after a morning yoga class, which was subtly different to any other I've experienced.
As we moved through our yoga poses, our instructor, Mike, wandered around, gently offering suggestions or quiet praises, and every now and then injecting words of wisdom.
"Did you know there are three ingredients to a successful yoga practice?" he asked us.
"Fancy that," I thought as I moved into downward dog.
Roughly put, I now understand these elements to be tapas (discipline), swadhyaya (self-study and mindfulness), and ishvara pranidhana, (which translates to mean surrendering to a higher principle).
Sweet melodic singing filled the air in an unfamiliar tongue. It was coming from our yoga room, but I couldn't quite believe it wasn't a CD. Still in my yoga pose, I opened an eye to see Mike singing and playing a harmonium (a reed organ).
I closed my eyes again, letting the words settle around me, and submitted to total relaxation.
Samudra is a world I could get used to.
IF YOU GO
GETTING THERE: Virgin Australia flies to Perth three times a day from Brisbane and four times a day from Sydney. Fares start from A$199 ($232.6) one way from Sydney and A$219 ($256) one way from Brisbane. Virgin also operates flights to Perth from other state capital cities, including Adelaide, Darwin and Melbourne, and from major Western Australia ports such as Broome, Kununurra and Newman. Dunsborough is a 2.5-hour drive south of Perth.
STAYING THERE: Samudra doesn't offer accommodation, however there are plenty of options nearby. Pullman Resort Bunker Bay is a 12-minute drive from Samudra. You have a choice of studio, 1, 2 or 3 bedroom configurations in bungalow-style villas, nestled amongst bushland and near a lake, with access to the beach.
Rates for a studio start from A$239 ($279) per night.
PLAYING THERE: To see Samudra's yoga timetable or for more about the company's range of products or wellness centre visit samudra.com.au.
There are over 100 wineries in the region to enjoy, with many featuring cellar doors, cafes and restaurants. If you feel like being more active, perhaps do a spot of surfing (lessons are available) or go for a walk at Ngilgi Cave.
The writer travelled as a guest of Accor hotels and Australia's South West Tourism.