THE organiser of what is being billed as the first wellness festival in the Hunter hopes to make the event an annual affair.
Melinda Carbis-Reilly, a naturopath and founder of the Redhead Wellness Sanctuary, will stage The Wellness Festival on June 17 at the two-and-a-half acre Sanctuary in Kalaroo Road.
The festival’s keynote speaker is Sydney-based holisitic health coach, author and yoga teacher Lee Holmes, who will speak on gut health. Also speaking are locals Katie Dean, a motivational coach and author, and yoga and Ayurveda advocate Amy Landry.
Mrs Carbis-Reilly said the desire to stage the festival, which will have market stalls and silent yoga, came from wanting to offer more to her customers beyond a yoga or meditation session.
“We just wanted to do something more elaborate that could get the whole community involved ... and we wanted to do something with our yard,” she says.
Mrs Carbis-Reilly said that in the almost 20 years she had lived in the region, the growth of businesses in the fitness and wellness space was proof of the growing demand for their services.
“When I arrived there were three gyms in the entire area, now you can’t walk 300m without finding another yoga studio or fitness studio,” she said, “and the longer we are open, the more full our meditation and yoga workshops are.”
Mrs Carbis-Reilly said the festival will offer a platform to locals who are passionate about health to share their experience and skills and also promote “the whole movement of oneness, coming together and connecting.”
“It’s just moving away from the isolated society that we’ve been living in for the last decade or so – when our parents grew up you went to the neighbours and borrowed sugar and helped mind kids and so forth, and we just don’t do that anymore,” she said.
Mrs Carbis-Reilly will lead two events at the festival, the first being fire meditation, with ample fire pits on site.
“The meditation is based on lighting the fire inside your mind working on the neuroscience part of meditation which is activating the parts of your brain that make you more compassionate, calm and loving,” she says.
Her second event will be Be Real, an address that aims to help others understand the importance of following your heart in all pursuits of life. Ms Carbis-Reilly, who wrote an e-book about her recovery from depression, said her woes stemmed from “trying to be something to everyone” and not aligning with her real self.
A highlight will be silent sound yoga sessions, including a dance finale.