2022 Seasonal Yoga Retreats

Bookings are now open for the following 2022 Seasonal Yoga Retreats:

Spring: September 18 Sunday & 19 Monday, check-out Tuesday
Summer: November 13 Sunday & 14 Monday, check-out Tuesday
Late-Summer (2023): February 19 Sunday & 20 Monday, check-out Tuesday

The Seasonal Yoga Retreats combine the ancient wisdom of seasonal living, yoga practice, delicious and healthy Japanese food, and shiatsu massage.

Join us at Shizuka Ryokan for two days of yoga, seasonal Japanese meals, accommodation and fun. With Renee Willner as your guide, immerse yourself in the ancient practice of yoga. Explore physical postures, breath work, meditation and deep relaxation.

We have chosen practices which suit beginners and experienced alike. Furthermore, shiatsu, a type of traditional Japanese bodywork, is on offer. Along with the carefully curated menu, our intention is that you experience a restorative retreat to help you embody the autumn season.

Shizuka Ryokan is Australia’s only traditional Japanese Ryokan Wellness Retreat. We are located in Hepburn, a place renowned for its healing waters. Simply being surrounded by the Japanese gardens and the quiet of a traditional ryokan is a grounding experience.

According to the five elements theory the seasons are governed by the five elements: fire, water, earth, wood and metal.

Spring is ruled by the wood element and rising energy. Spring is about rejuvenation and growth.

During spring we turn to foods such as freshly-picked, organic vegetables, and bean sprouts, celery, sorrel, rocket, young beets, Dutch carrots, and asparagus. It is time to decongest the Liver from the heavier slow cooked comforting foods of winter. Cooking times are shorter, little salt and oil are used. Less of everything is the general principle as we need to shed from our Winter body.  Do this as a gradual strategy that mirrors the weather shifts. On warmer days choose lighter veggie based stir fries and when the chill sets in, return to the slow cooking styles. Give the Liver a break by progressively phasing out rich and processed foods in preparation for the approaching hot summer weather. Using the seasonal citrus fruits in your water and cooking will support the Liver to decongest and enliven your skin.

Wood governs the joints, so yoga postures at this time focus on twisting, on promoting loosening and flexibility.

Summer is governed by fire which is associated with expansion.

This is the time of fulfilment; the trees are green and fruit is plentiful. In our yoga, we look at these aspects and try to replicate them by practising softer postures, and focusing on the voice and breath. There is more communicative paired and group work designed to elevate our mood; relaxation and meditation are also important.

Summer is a time for eating light foods that assist with cooling our bodies. These should be fresh and colourful and overcooking is to be avoided. Fresh salads, stewed or baked fruits, and moist, round grains which become fluffy—such as millet, tapioca, couscous, corn, polenta and pearly barley—are ideal.

We may be drawn to the bitter flavour of burnt food, to what’s been barbecued or tossed on a fire. Eating foods that have been cooked quickly helps to support the heart and small intestine. Hot, spicy foods that promote sweating and make us aware of the rising of our inner fire are also recommended. Look to hot climate cuisines for recipe inspiration.

Make fruit infused waters all summer long choosing from pomegranate, passionfruit, purple grapes, watermelon, cucumber and mint. Sip them, unrefridgerated, throughout the day to stay hydrated and topped up with essential nutrients.

Sprouted Mung beans are another summer food that you can add to salads to cool the body, relax the liver, and keep your skin protected during the sun season.

Late summer is ruled by the earth element. During the late summer, there is a strong sense of gathering energy to the centre, of settling and mulling over what has been learnt. This is a special time, between the summer and autumn, as it signifies where we stand – whether grounded, nourished and supported, or chaotic, anxious and disconnected.

If we care for ourselves and create health through our digestion and our actions, then we will feel grounded and balanced moving forward. During the late summer we continue with summer cooking styles but begin to incorporate quick oil sautéed dishes. We reduce the use of matchstick cutting and grated vegetables in our salads and use slightly larger, chunkier cutting such as longer, wider strips for root vegetables, whole leaf greens or bite sized cubes. Whole sweet corn from the garden nourishes our spleen and stomach to revitalise our energy.It is important to stay connected to the season now. We can avoid pre-empting autumn’s cooler weather by avoiding food that is too heavy in nature.

We may be tired during this transition season from our busy socialising and the effects of the hot summer. Paying close attention to weather changes, and matching our cooking strategies to them, can support the vitality of our immune system. This helps us to meet the cooler weather and prevent the colds and flu that herald the seasonal change.

Autumn is ruled by the metal element. Autumn is about feeling strong and is a time for shedding outgrown patterns and beliefs.

During autumn we turn to foods that support our lung health. Pungent vegetables such as wasabi, watercress, cabbage, turnip, horseradish, pepper, onions and garlic are wonderful at this time of year. As the weather grows cooler it is beneficial to eat more soups and stews made with seasonal vegetables. (You can often see Yuchan, the cook at Shizuka Ryokan, collecting pine mushrooms from the nearby pine groves at this time of year which she adds to her delicious Autumn Hot Pot.)

Autumn is the time to turn inwards, sleep a little longer, practice letting go, and create a time for meditation and relaxation.

Winter is governed by water. Becoming internally focused is important during winter; it’s a time for contemplation and resolve, preparation and coming to rest.

Warm foods that are baked or stewed for a long time are ideal. Dishes should be oilier, fattier and saltier than at other times. If you eat meat, this is most appropriate season to do so, especially fish. Nuts, buckwheat, lentils, and barley stews should be a feature. Mushrooms, cabbages, cauliflower and daikon support our bone structure, which is mediated by the kidneys. Soy-based products such as miso, gomasio, tamari and shoyu should be used because, along with the other recommended ingredients, they draw the body’s energies deep.

Keep up hydration by drinking warm water and herbal teas during the day.

Support collagen production by eating plenty of dark leafy greens and seeds and nuts each day to fill out and hydrate dry skin. Eating soups with sea vegetables will also plump out your skin and boost collagen.

Walnuts and sesame seeds build our Kidney energy and benefit hair and skin lustre. They also work to lessen dark circles under the eyes.

A large part of our yoga practise during this season will be based on giving expression to the flowing, dissolving energy associated with this element. This is a dormant time of the year when deep changes take place. Plants lose their foliage and sap flows deep, establishing roots and buds that will later flourish. We should feel encouraged to follow this pattern by internalising our energy and examining our depths.


  • Twin share $997 (bring a friend)
  • Private room $1,396

About the instructor

Renee’s long interest in how the mind, body and spirit interact found its perfect expression in yoga, which she has practised for over 20 years. As a teacher she takes a holistic and fun approach that allows individuals to find what they need in the practice, in a safe, supportive and fun environment. Following the birth of her daughter, Renee sought a holistic approach to exercise that could integrate all her passions- healing, nature, embodiment, spirituality, music, empowerment & authentic expression- so she fell in love with yoga!

A Yoga Australia member, her extensive training includes: 500hr Purna at Byron Yoga Centre, Scaravelli, Feldenkrais, Donna Farhi, Yoga as Therapy- Doug Keller, Yoga of Birth- Anahata Giri and Rainbow Kids Yoga.

Renee is an experienced massage therapist with specialised training in pregnancy massage and deep tissue therapy. Her holistic massage treatments incorporate a range of clinical and energy healing techniques including shiatsu. Her background in luxury spa management and training ensure an exceptional client experience every time.

To book your place for a Seasonal Yoga retreat please call (03) 5348 2030 or email us at info@shizuka.com.au

2022 Late Summer Yoga Retreat to traditional Japan (in Victoria)

Yoga in the Dojo

The 2022 Late Summer Yoga Retreat is BOOKED OUT. Bookings are now open for the following 2022 Seasonal Yoga Retreats:

Autumn: April 3 Sunday & 4 Monday, check-out Tuesday
Winter: June 19 Sunday & 20 Monday, check-out Tuesday
Spring: September 18 Sunday & 19 Monday, check-out Tuesday
Summer: November 13 Sunday & 14 Monday, check-out Tuesday
Late-Summer (2023): February 19 Sunday & 20 Monday, check-out Tuesday

The Late Summer Yoga Retreat combines the ancient wisdom of seasonal living, yoga practice, delicious and healthy Japanese food, and shiatsu massage.

Join us at Shizuka Ryokan for two days of yoga, seasonal Japanese meals, accomodation and fun. With Renee Willner as your guide, immerse yourself in the ancient practice of yoga. Explore physical postures, breathwork, meditation and deep relaxation.

We have chosen practices which suit beginners and experienced alike. Furthermore, shiatsu, a type of traditional Japanese bodywork, is on offer. Along with the carefully curated menu, our intention is that you experience a joyful and energetic retreat to help you embody the late summer season.

Shizuka Ryokan is Australia’s only traditional Japanese Ryokan Wellness Retreat. We are located in Hepburn, a place renowned for its healing waters. Simply being surrounded by the Japanese gardens and the quiet of a traditional ryokan is a grounding experience.

Oriental wisdom tells us to follow the seasons for a long and healthy life.  According to this view, the seasons are governed by the five elements: fire, water, earth, wood and metal. Late summer is ruled by the earth element. During the late summer, there is a strong sense of gathering energy to the centre, of settling and mulling over what has been learnt. This is a special time, between the summer and autumn, as it signifies where we stand – whether grounded, nourished and supported, or chaotic, anxious and disconnected.

If we care for ourselves and create health through our digestion and our actions, then we will feel grounded and balanced moving forward. During the late summer we continue with summer cooking styles but begin to incorporate quick oil sautéed dishes. We reduce the use of matchstick cutting and grated vegetables in our salads and use slightly larger, chunkier cutting such as longer, wider strips for root vegetables, whole leaf greens or bite sized cubes. Whole sweet corn from the garden nourishes our spleen and stomach to revitalise our energy.It is important to stay connected to the season now. We can avoid pre-empting autumn’s cooler weather by avoiding food that is too heavy in nature.

We may be tired during this transition season from our busy socialising and the effects of the hot summer. Paying close attention to weather changes, and matching our cooking strategies to them, can support the vitality of our immune system. This helps us to meet the cooler weather and prevent the colds and flu that herald the seasonal change.


  • Twin share $864 (Early Bird if booked before 7 January) / $990
  • Private room $1,122 (Early Bird if booked before 7 January) / $1,350

About the instructor

Renee’s long interest in how the mind, body and spirit interact found its perfect expression in yoga, which she has practised for over 20 years. As a teacher she takes a holistic and fun approach that allows individuals to find what they need in the practice, in a safe, supportive and fun environment. Following the birth of her daughter, Renee sought a holistic approach to exercise that could integrate all her passions- healing, nature, embodiment, spirituality, music, empowerment & authentic expression- so she fell in love with yoga!

A Yoga Australia member, her extensive training includes: 500hr Purna at Byron Yoga Centre, Scaravelli, Feldenkrais, Donna Farhi, Yoga as Therapy- Doug Keller, Yoga of Birth- Anahata Giri and Rainbow Kids Yoga.

Renee is an experienced massage therapist with specialised training in pregnancy massage and deep tissue therapy. Her holistic massage treatments incorporate a range of clinical and energy healing techniques including shiatsu. Her background in luxury spa management and training ensure an exceptional client experience every time.

To book your place for a Seasonal Yoga retreat please call (03) 5348 2030 or email us at info@shizuka.com.au

Shizuka Ryokan is hosting Leanne from Kimono House in 2020

Boro at Shizuka Ryokan

Sunday 9th February 2020

Shizuka Ryokan will celebrate Japanese textiles in February when Leanne O’Sullivan returns to teach a one-day boro workshop. Boro is a type of Japanese mending.

Spend a relaxed day with Leanne learning how to hand-stitch, mend & quilt layers of recycled cloth to give them new life in the traditional Japanese way.

Be inspired by Leanne’s personal collection of vintage Japanese boro textiles and discover how boro is being stitched by artisans in Tokyo today. All materials will be provided including vintage kimono cloth with Japanese threads, needles and thimble – everything you need to create your own textile treasures to wear or have in you home.

About the teacher

Leanne first visited Japan in the 1980s, where she lived and worked for 5 years. It was during this time that she became interested in Japanese textiles, and the kimono in particular.

“Whilst living in Japan I was constantly inspired by the extreme contrasts around me—everywhere I looked there seemed to be a mix of traditional and contemporary co-existing beautifully.”

This contrast is evident in Leanne’s pieces, which combine new and vintage fabric, and traditional and contemporary design. These days, Leanne runs Kimono House Japanese Textiles & Craft —where she trades Japanese textiles and craft kits, teaches workshops and exhibits her collection of Japanese textiles.

To learn more about boro you can read the blog post on Shizuka Ryokan’s Japanese culture blog.

Shizuka Ryokan is hosting Rieko Hayashi this November

Food for healing workshop with Rieko Hayashi

10.30am – 3.30pm Thursday, 14th November, or
10.30am – 3.30pm Saturday, 16th November

Rieko Hayashi is coming to Shizuka Ryokan. Rieko is a nutritionist, chef and yoga teacher.


Rieko’s one-day workshop includes:

  • Welcome tea
  • Yoga and breath work
  • Healthy Japanese lunch–including fermented pickles, fish and bone broth, and biodynamic brown rice. *
  • Healthy eating tips from Rieko

* Please note the workshop recipes include common allergens such as soy, sesame and seafood.

Cost: $145 per person

Bookings: please email Rieko at rieko@riekohayashi.com

https://www.facebook.com/foodforhealingbyriekohayashi

Accommodation is available for workshop participants on Friday 15th and Saturday 17th. For accommodation enquiries please phone Catherine Defina at Shizuka Ryokan on 5348 2030.

SAORI weaving on a loom at Shizuka Ryokan

SAORI: Japanese traditions

At Shizuka Ryokan, we host retreats and workshops with a focus on Japanese tradition. One such retreat is the SAORI weaving workshop. Several times each year, Prue Simmons arrives fresh from her llama farm and dyeing studio, to teach people the art of SAORI weaving.

In Japanese the word SAORI comes from sai–individuality, and ori–weaving.

The philosophy of SAORI is an interesting one. In traditional hand weaving an irregular thread is considered a mistake. In SAORI things are very different; the weaver is encouraged to make mistakes. 

SAORI weavers follow four slogans:
1) Consider the differences between a machine and a human being
2) Be bold and adventurous
3) Let’s look out through eyes that shine
4) Inspire one another, and everyone in the group

Japan is renowned for the wabi-sabi philosophy, loosely defined as a world view centered on the acceptance of imperfection. The wabi-sabi aesthetic is in evidence at Shizuka Ryokan. For example, upon arrival guests receive green tea in an irregularly shaped Japanese cup. The style of the Japanese pottery is called hagi ware; the cup is rustic and simple looking, with unrefined textures and is beautiful because it is flawed. The philosophy of SAORI weaving is the same. SAORI weavers celebrate accidents, unexpected colours and textures.

Misao Jo invented SAORI in the late sixties. She was weaving an obi, a Japanese belt, and found that one of the threads was missing. Looking at the belt she realised that the mistake was pleasing to behold. She showed it to a person running a weaving factory who dismissed it as flawed and worthless but this did not deter Misao who had an inherent sense of the value of the handmade object. She deliberately made a belt with many flaws and showed it to the owner on an obi shop in Osaka who thought it was wonderful.

Misao thought that the aesthetic quality of the flawed obi must be the result of something hidden within herself. She realised that the obi’s beauty was a result of escaping conventional thinking in order to express herself. The philosophy of SAORI was born.

To learn more about the SAORI workshop, or other workshops on offer at Shizuka Ryokan, please visit out Retreats and Workshops page.

Founder of Japanese yoga, Yakamura Tempu. There is a yoga workshop coming up at Shizuka Ryokan in spa country, Hepburn Springs

Shinshin-tōitsu-dō: Japanese yoga at Shizuka Ryokan

Shizuka Ryokan is hosting a Japanese yoga retreat in early 2020. The focus of the 3-day retreat is Japanese yoga and macrobiotics.

Japanese culture honours seasonal change. Japan has five seasons: summer, autumn, winter, spring and tsuyu—the rainy season. The Japanese pay close attention to the blessings of each season, and Japanese yoga poses change according to the time of year.

Japanese yoga is underpinned by the theory of the five elements, and the idea that different energy channels, or meridians, in the body correspond with certain organs.

In the early 1900s, Nakamura Tempu spent time in Nepal and India studying traditional yogic practices. He combined traditional yoga with five element theory to create shinshin-toitsu-do—Japanese yoga.

Japanese yoga teaches four basic principles to unify the mind and body:

  • use the mind in a positive way
  • use the mind with full concentration
  • use the body naturally
  • train the body gradually, systematically and continuously.

Join Cate Peterson and Lars Skalman at Shizuka Ryokan this November on a journey of five element yoga. Visit their Seasonal Yoga website to learn more.

Macrobiotic salad of pomegranate, radish and carrot prepared by Lars Skalman

Macrobiotics: Japanese traditions

At Shizuka Ryokan, we host many retreats and workshops throughout the year. One that we are very excited about is the 2019 Seasonal Summer Yoga Retreat. Over three days in November, Cate Peterson and Lars Skalman will be at Shizuka Ryokan teaching Japanese yoga and macrobiotic cooking. (The beautiful photograph accompanying this post is from a collection of macrobiotic recipes by Lars Skalman.)

Many people are familiar with yoga (learn more about Japanese yoga here), but they may not know what macrobiotics is. Here is a brief introduction.

George Oshawa, is seen as the father of macrobiotics. Ohsawa recovered from tuberculosis in 1911 using a seasonal wholefoods diet recommended to him by Dr Ishizuka. Dr Ishizuka had a theory that good health was the result of the correct balance of potassium, sodium, acid and alkaline in the diet.

The macrobiotic diet was popularised by Oshawa in the 1930s. Ohsawa trained students, including Michio and Aveline Kushi, who spread the ideas of macrobiotics throughout the West.

In the late 1970s, there was an explosion of interest in traditional medicine around the world (perhaps helped along by the handsome Bruce Lee). Westerners studied traditional eastern philosophies and practices such as shiatsu, martial arts, nine-ki astrology, reiki, meditation, the I Ching, Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, ta’i chi and macrobiotics.

Macrobiotics is based on the idea that each of us is responsible for our own health. A macrobiotic diet is a pescatarian (or sometimes vegetarian or vegan) diet. It is based upon Zen Buddhist concepts about food. The macrobiotic diet attempts to balance the yin and yang elements of food and cookware.

The macrobiotic diet aims to reduce animal products, eat locally grown foods which are in season, and eat in moderation. Macrobiotics favours locally grown wholegrain cereals, pulses, vegetables, seaweeds, fermented soy products and fruit. For example, soba noodles (buckwheat flour), umeboshi plum and bancha tea are recommended.

Members of the nightshade family such as tomatoes, capsicums, potatoes and eggplant are used sparingly as they are considered to be extremely yin. Cooking utensils should be made from wood or glass, non-stick coating and plastics are avoided.

If you are keen to learn more about macrobiotics, and to see it is a modern-day context, why not come along to the Summer Seasonal Yoga Retreat. You’ll learn from the experts how to prepare seasonal macrobiotic dishes such as beetroot and arame pickles, salt and pepper tofu with black bean sauce, sweet rice pudding and vegetable pakoras. YUM!

About Us – Seasonal Yoga Treats

Collage of yoga teacher Lard Skalman combining phorograph of Lars with images of red summer flowers

2020 Summer Seasonal Yoga Retreat at Shizuka Ryokan

The Summer Seasonal Yoga Treat combines the ancient oriental wisdom of seasonal living, yoga practice, macrobiotic cooking and Japanese shiatsu massage. Join Lars Skalman and Cate Peterson for a weekend retreat at Shizuka Ryokan.

“According to the Oriental view of the cosmos everything, including the seasons, are governed or described by what are known as the five elements. These are: fire, water, earth, wood and metal. Summer is governed by fire which is associated with expansion.”

Join us at Shizuka Ryokan for a delicious weekend of summer yoga, delicious vegetarian food and fun. Shizuka Ryokan is one of Victoria’s premier wellness retreats. Located in Daylesford spa country, simply being surrounded by the manicured gardens and the quiet of a traditional ryokan is a grounding treat. Shiatsu, a type of traditional Japanese bodywork, is on offer.

From Friday until Sunday afternoon we practice yoga, mindfulness and technique to fully embody the summer season. We have chosen practices that suit beginners and the experienced alike. Along with the carefully curated menu, our intention is that you experience a joyful and energetic start to the season.

Summer is a time for eating light foods that assist with cooling our bodies. You will learn the principles that guide food preparation in this season and techniques and practices to take your health into your own hands. Learn and work on your heart and small intestine meridians to help you unblock and clear your pathway to pristine health and the excitement of the new.


  • Twin share $890 (Early Bird) / $990
  • Private room $1,150 (Early Bird) / $1,350

About the instructors

Lars Skalman worked in top end restaurants in Sweden and Sydney for
 20 years until he became interested in macrobiotic and wholefood cooking. He has extensive experience cooking on yoga retreats, where his somewhat unorthodox approach to macrobiotics has made it easier for people to alter their attitudes toward healthy eating. He is also a yoga teacher and shiatsu therapist.

Cate Peterson has over three decades’ experience as a Japanese yoga teacher, meditation teacher, occupational therapist and masseuse. Her work with individuals and organisations through United Nations World Yoga Day, YogaHive and Get Off Your Asana is all about bringing yoga practice to full fruition in Australia, so that it can take its place in addressing our communal health.

Dates to be announced.

ryokan Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lorenzoviolone/

Shizuka Ryokan newsletter

As well as a Japanese culture blog, Shizuka Ryokan publishes a newsletter four times per year. The latest newsletter was published in late November, 2019. You can read the latest newsletter here. And if you like what you see, please subscribe.