The One You
The One You are monthly planned urban retreats that take city dwellers and working professionals in China to select natural locations in Moganshan or Hangzhou for a rejuvenating weekend trip away from the city. During that time, participants take part in activities such as sessions of yoga, hiking along trails, farming with local villagers, enjoying healthy organic meals prepared by local chefs, and detoxing. In between the activities, there is also a lot of free time for those who simply want to relax and enjoy the weekend’s breathtaking scenery.
The Weekend Retreat
The most important part of the weekend is for people to relax.
For Louise Zhang, the founder and organizer of The One You, the most important part of the weekend retreat is for people to relax. Participants can leave behind the stress and worries of their everyday lives back in the city. They are encouraged to leave behind their laptop computers and any electronic gadgets that usually tie them down to anything that is work-related. And in their place, the retreaters are encouraged to explore the natural surroundings around them, and to immerse themselves in yoga and meditation practices. For Louise, nature is the single most important element to these retreats – which is of course inextricably tied to the selected location of the retreat and the planned outdoor activities.
Currently based in Shanghai, Louise Zhang has worked in digital marketing for about eight years. After her stint working in Singapore, she started to participate in themed retreats throughout Southeast Asia. During that time, her travels took her to places like Thailand and Bali. Partaking in these seaside retreats led Louise to discover cleanse diets, scuba diving, and yoga; she says these activities were immensely rejuvenating for both her body and mind. Looking back now, Louise considers that time to have been a transformative period in her life.
For some time, she felt an internal and existential conflict between her intellectual self and what she felt in her heart when experiencing these retreats. When Louise returned to Shanghai, she wanted to organize her own retreats to be able to share these kinds of experiences with her friends and colleagues. Part of her objective was to help spread a greater awareness about yoga. She feels that there are many preconceptions about yoga – in mainland China especially, where it is commonly seen as a form of exercise that mainly women do, that often involves being able to achieve difficult movements and positions. In other countries, yoga is practiced by both men and women, regardless of age and body type. Through these retreats, Louise hopes to demystify yoga and introduce it to many newcomers in China. Beginners and more advanced students of yoga alike are welcome to take part.
Healthy Living in Moganshan
In addition to the planned hiking trip and sessions of yoga, another activity during the retreat involves farming with local villagers. The remote Moganshan location is enshrouded by lush bamboo forests, and the locals from the rural community typically harvest bamboo from these wild forests on the mountains. During one of the afternoons, participants of the retreat are also shown how to do this, and later in the day, the bamboo shoots that they have gathered are cooked up by an on-site chef at the resort. Consistent with The One You’s back-to-the-basics philosophy, over the course of the weekend, retreaters are also invited to enjoy a healthy mix of organically farmed vegetarian meals and juice detoxing.
We all originate from nothing, and we all return to nothingness.
For the Moganshan retreat, one of the locations selected was a reclusive retreat called Zero. From the moment Louise saw its English name, she recognized how conceptually similar it was to what she was trying to achieve through her retreats. For her, the name Zero refers to the idea that we all originate from nothing, and in the end, we all also return to nothingness. Alternately, it also refers to how those who lead a busy and hectic life in the city will yearn to return to a simpler and slower-paced existence in the countryside.
Going Back to the Basics
These are all also important underlying themes to The One You retreats. In our fast-paced contemporary society – and especially in today’s rapidly developing China, it is very easy to get swept up in job stress, the latest technological thrills, and the unimportant worries of everyday life. Louise hopes that through these weekend getaways and increasing more awareness about yoga, the people who participate on these trips can learn to effectively unwind and disconnect. For her, this is the reason why she organizes these retreats, in the hope that people can experience going back to the basics and get more attuned to what their mind and body really need. In the near future, The One You is planning to organize more domestic retreats under different wellness themes – for example, intensive workouts, healthy dieting, clinical retreats, and yoga training. At the same time, they will also be able to recommend urban retreats that are overseas, offering more options for city dwellers in China seeking healthy and balanced holidays.
For more info about The One You, please follow TheOneYou-lz on WeChat
* This article was originally published on Neocha Magazine. To view the full post, please visit Neocha.com/magazine
Video & Text by Leon Yan
Images by David Yen