Healing qigong retreat on Gt Barrier Island, 2023

Red and white spring blossoms against a bright blue sky.

Are you ready to blossom into good health?

This retreat in 2023 will be a rare, in-depth opportunity to experience the healing power of qigong, which is an ancient, restorative art of deep meditative breathing and flowing movements. Please get in touch to register your interest for 2023.

You’ll learn how to nurture yourself with qigong so you can improve your overall health and wellbeing, release tension, calm your mind and stimulate energy flow (qi) throughout your body.

This retreat is for anyone aged 18+ who is seeking to rebalance and rejuvenate their body, soul and strength.

Where: Aotea / Great Barrier Island, Hauraki Gulf, Auckland

When: TBA in 2023. It will be 3 days/2 nights. Places limited to just 10 participants.

The island is one of only 15 International Dark Sky Sanctuaries in the whole world. As well as the healing qigong, you’ll be awed by the universe in a live, stargazing, dark sky experience, navigate a stellar new path with cosmic journaling and be invigorated by the fresh sea airremote beaches and the remarkable bush and bird life.

Bush-clad hills and blue seas

Beautiful and enchanting Aotea/Great Barrier Island

If you’ve ever wanted to visit this remote sanctuary, now is your chance. Together, with qigong for health instructor, Jocelyn Watkin, you’ll feel the nurturing flow of qigong, be uplifted by the stars above and the natural beauty around you.

Testimonial: “The retreat was awesome, very informative and helpful. The presentation was carefully thought through on how to achieve the peace and calm needed in our daily lives.” (Participant in the Stardome mini-retreat, March 2022)

What’s included in this retreat:

  • Several immersive sessions to learn the movements and about the healing power of qigong and tai chi. After the retreat, you’ll be able to do these meditative and nurturing movements at anytime to improve your health and well-being. (Refer further below to learn more about qigong.)
  • Mindful breathing and meditation to dial down the stress so you can rebalance, restore yourself and look forward to a freer life.
  • Guided, cosmic journaling to focus on what you want from life and to choose the way you want to experience it, no matter what else happens. (Refer further below to learn more about cosmic journaling.)
  • A journal that you can take home and keep using after the retreat.
  • A live, stargazing, dark sky experience with a local guide. For the best viewing, this will take place before the moon rises. You’ll be able to lean back in your comfortable moon chair, have constellations drawn in the sky while you enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or herbal tea and be wowed with fascinating astronomical facts. You’ll be able to look through a powerful telescope to get up-close and personal with special stars and deep sky objects. After the retreat, you’ll be able to stargaze on any night and feel deeply connected, calm and in harmony with the entire universe.

Group of people looking up at the stars

A Dark Sky Sanctuary viewing experience with a local guide

  • Tai chi and qigong in the moonlight with the soothing lunar light upon us.
  • A guided, scenic tour of the island’s remote beaches, bush and bird life, including a short walk up Windy Canyon, with its wind-funnel shaped rock formations and stunning views.

Funnel-shaped rocks formations amongst mountainous bush

Windy Canyon

  • Return premium flights with Barrier Air (Auckland – Claris (the airport on Gt Barrier) – Auckland); approx 35 minutes each way and with amazing views of the island and the Hauraki Gulf. Barrier Air operates from the Air New Zealand domestic terminal at Auckland Airport in Mangere. Face masks will need to be worn on the flights.

View of landing strip from the air

About to land at Claris Airport, Gt Barrier Island

  • Airport transfers on Great Barrier Island.
  • Two nights’ accommodation in modern, fully self-contained studio units and villas at Sunset Waterfront Lodge. Every one of these has its own kitchen as well as bathroom facilities. Private double, twin and single accommodation options are all available.
  • Meeting new and like-minded friends

Please note: For the health of everyone, face masks may need to be worn during all indoor group sessions on the retreat and on our mini bus while on the island.

Please get in touch if you’d like to kōrero (talk more) about this retreat.

Testimonial: “Jocelyn is very well prepared and organised. What she talked about was well explained and easy to understand. She is personable and caring.” (Participant in the Stardome mini-retreat, March 2022) 

What’s not included:

  • Meals: All of the accommodation units are fully self-contained with kitchens to prepare and cook your own meals. You can BYO or buy provisions from the general store next door to our accommodation, which also has fresh coffee and yummy breakfast, lunch and dinners for those who prefer to eat out.
  • A meal package can be purchased before our retreat for those who’d like meals to be included. Pricing TBA.
  • Alcohol and drinks. You can BYO or buy from the café/general store next door to our accommodation.
  • Souvenirs and gifts
  • Transport to and from Auckland Airport
  • Parking at Auckland Airport
  • Personal, medical or trip cancellation insurance
  • Medical services
  • Items for personal use
  • Laundry
  • Face masks, please bring several.
  • Hand sanitiser for personal use outside of the group sessions.

How good would it feel to finally be on the right path to the life and health you want? Very liberating! Unleash your power to live well at this restorative retreat on the island sanctuary of Aotea/Great Barrier.

Who is the instructor?

Jocelyn Watkin has helped people of all ages and abilities to reduce stress and improve their overall health, fitness, balance and well-being with qigong and tai chi since 2003.

She is the founder and director of Kia Ora Tai Chi with extensive experience in teaching qigong and tai chi face-to-face or online for regular weekly classes, workshops and retreats, at schools, a medical centre and a retirement village.

She is registered as a group exercise (with own choreography) contractor with the New Zealand Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs), which is the recognised quality mark throughout Aotearoa/New Zealand.  She is approved as a strength and balance group exercise provider with the Accident Compensation Commission and has numerous tai chi and qigong instructor qualifications. She also has a New Zealand Diploma of Teaching.

Testimonial: “I really enjoyed your style, Jocelyn. Friendly, caring, informative and non-judgemental. You made me feel relaxed and welcome. Thank you.” (Participant in the Stardome mini-retreat, March 2022)

More about Aotea / Great Barrier Island

View of the island from the air

This idyllic island stands at the entrance to the Hauraki Gulf and is just a short 35-minute flight from Auckland Airport.

It protects the inner waters of the gulf from storms in the Pacific Ocean. Hence, Captain Cook gave the island its European name, Great Barrier. It is the perfect place to create your own protective inner barrier against the storms of life.

Māori named the island Aotea, meaning white cloud (ao = cloud, tea = white), as it appears in the distance like a white cloud on the horizon.

The isle has stunning natural beauty. Due to being relatively remote and with a small population, it has remained unspoiled and a haven for native birds and plants.

The entire island was awarded International Dark Sky Sanctuary status in 2017, one of only 15 in the world. It truly is heaven under the stars.

Who is this retreat for? 

It is for anyone aged 18+ who is seeking ways to improve their own health, self-healing and well-being with qigong and tai chi and/or wants to de-stress and have a better life/work balance.

Many of us have revised what we now want from life but are not sure where to start or how to make this happen. If you feel a little lost, flat or frustrated with not knowing what steps to take, this retreat will help you to find peace and purpose

Ideal for beginners as well as advanced tai chi and qigong students.

Testimonial: Jocelyn makes tai chi such an enjoyable experience! She makes everyone feel welcome, no matter what age or level of experience. I love Jocelyn’s humour and her patience too. Tai chi has helped me focus on my breathing and posture. I feel invigorated after each session.” (Cynthia, February 2020)

Our accommodation: Sunset Waterfront Lodge at Tryphena

You’ll be able to relax in your own comfy and private villa or unit, which is fully self-contained with kitchen and bathroom facilities. Loll on your deck or patio listening to bird song and the sound of the sea. Bed linen and towels are all provided.

The lodge is aptly named. You can take a short stroll across the lawn to watch the sun set and breathe in the fresh sea air.

Double, twin share and single accommodation options are all available.

Our qigong, tai chi and journaling sessions will be held in a specially-designed and private marquee on site, which is surrounded by natural bush. If you peep through the ancient pōhutukawa trees you’ll be rewarded with glimpses of the sea.

The next door Mulberry Grove General Store and Café has all you need for groceries, fresh fruit and vegetables, wine, souvenirs and other essentials like fresh coffee daily, along with meals to dine in or takeaway. 

What is qigong and tai chi?

For thousands of years the Chinese have had a secret. A secret that has allowed them to treat illness in its earliest stages, a secret that enables athletes to perform amazing, seemingly superhuman feats of strength and agility; a secret that promises a long and healthy life to those who understand and regularly practice it. That secret is a deep, meditative breathing exercise called qigong (pronounced ‘chee – gong’).

In Chinese, the word “qigong” is made up of two characters: ‘Qi’ = air, breath and life energy; and ‘gong’ = working hard to develop a high skill level. Therefore, qigong means: ‘the skill of getting more breath, energy and life’.

Qigong is designed to calm your mind, rejuvenate your energy, boost your health and strengthen your bodyOne of the ways it does this is to increase your oxygen flow right down to your smallest fingers and toes. It will warm you and will help you to feel good all over.

Is qigong the same as tai chi? No, tai chi is a subset of the much older practice of qigong. Often described as “moving meditation”, tai chi is a Chinese martial art and exercise programme that combines mental focus with deliberate, mindful steps and postures. It is very gentle on your joints. It is sometimes referred to as “taiji” or “tai chi chuan”.

How magical would it be to have the key for greater health and wellness? Absolutely, you too can enter this enchanted place. At this retreat, you’ll learn the ancient art of qigong so you can unlock the knowledge on self-healing, nurturing and how to improve your own health, and well-being

What is cosmic journaling?

Writing or drawing in a journal (also known as journaling) can help you to process and understand what is happening in your life and what you want for your future. You don’t need to write in sentences if you don’t want to. You can also draw, mind map or doodle, if you wish.

Cosmic journaling will help you to develop a plan of what you want for your future self. You will reduce frustration and anxiety, free yourself from uncertainty and indecision and take back the control of your thoughts and your life.

It can help you to overcome the overwhelm and create a plan for lasting change and freedom.

Jocelyn learned about the power of journaling when recovering from post traumatic stress nearly 25 years ago. It enabled her to break the power stress had on her and also freed her thoughts to plan for a better and different life.

Testimonial: “Jocelyn was very relatable because quite often what was being taught had been used by her in real life.” (Participant in the Stardome mini-retreat, March 2022)

What is your COVID-19 policy?

We will abide by the NZ Government’s health advice and regulations as they apply in November and also those required by the operators of facilities and services for the retreat on Aotea/Great Barrier Island. Jocelyn has been fully vaccinated for Covid-19, including with a 2nd booster. All participants at this mini-retreat may need to wear a mask for all indoor group sessions and also when on shared transport, including flights. Hand sanitiser will be provided for group sessions.

Places are limited to just 10 participants

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.
Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.
And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do an
succeed at.
It matters that you don’t just give up.” 
– Professor Stephen Hawking

Online cosmic journaling, Thurs 11 Aug 2022


If you’ve ever thought that life might have more in store for you but you can’t figure out what steps to take to get there, then this cosmic journaling session is for you.

Imagine how good it would feel if you had the chance to see higher and clearer than ever before? Infinitely wonderful. With this “Soul Giraffe” mindful journaling session, you’ll have this opportunity to find out.

Journaling will be your vantage point as you consider your life and what (if any) changes you want to make for the future. Jocelyn will provide guidance, writing prompts and the metaphor of a giraffe to help you to glide along the path and with an elevated view of the horizon. Deep, meditative breathing (qigong) is included.

Who is the journaling guide and teacher? Jocelyn Watkin. You can find out more about her here.

(Note: Jocelyn acknowledges the “Soul Giraffe” inspiration is from Yanik Silver and his Cosmic Journal.)

Online with Zoom this coming Thursday evening, 11 August,6.30 – 7.30pm.

Cost to attend (which includes a replay): Anything from $1 and upward
If you’d like to take part or if you’d like to enable a friend or family member to attend, please make a donation to the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand on Jocelyn’s fund raising page for Mindfulness Month. Jocelyn’s online sessions usually sell out for $15 – $20 per person, per session. However, any amount will be very welcome. Even just $1 will make a difference, as every bit counts. Jocelyn is donating her time for this fundraiser.

Here is the link to Jocelyn’s fund raising page: https://events.mentalhealth.org.nz/fundraisers/jocelynwatkin/mindfulness-month 

Please make your donation by 9am on Thursday 11 August and Jocelyn will send you the Zoom link to join the “Soul Giraffe” mindful journaling session at 6.30pm later that day.

Jocelyn will offer a second journaling session online with Zoom on Thursday 25 August, 6.30 – 7.30pm.

Find out more

Restorative journaling sessions for Mindfulness Month, August 2022

Small figure at the base of a big wave

Post-traumatic stress: I felt like I was about to be swamped by a huge wave all of the time. That small figure beneath the big land mass in the photo, that was me, frozen like the towering wave-like rock above me.

I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress several years ago. Thanks to a lot of help and support from my husband, family, friends and my doctor I was able to recover.

Restorative journaling was also key to my recovery. The mindful process of journaling enabled me to break free from the hold that stress had on me, which enabled me to plan for a better and different life.

I’m keen to support the mental health of all New Zealanders and especially the vital work of the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand (the foundation).

The foundation, along with The Kindness Institute, has organised Aotearoa/NZ’s first ever, nationwide month of mindfulness, which will happen over August. This will be an ideal opportunity for me to share my knowledge about restorative journaling so I can help others. You can find out more about me here.

To help you to make the most of Mindfulness Month and to raise funds for the foundation, I offer two mindful, restorative journaling sessions online with me to support mental health and wellbeing: Thursday 11th August 2022 and Thursday 25th August 2022, both to be held from 6.30 – 7.30pm (evenings). I am donating my time for these sessions.

In these sessions, you can draw, mind map or doodle or just write.

If you’d like to take part in these online sessions or if you’d like to enable a friend or family member to attend, please make a donation to the foundation on my fund raising page for Mindfulness Month. My online sessions usually sell out for $15 – $20 per person, per session. However, any amount will be very welcome. Even just $1 will make a difference, as every bit counts.

Here is the link to my fund raising page:    https://events.mentalhealth.org.nz/fundraisers/jocelynwatkin/mindfulness-month

Once you’ve made your donation, please let me know. You can email me or use the contact form on the Kia Ora Tai Chi website. I will then email you the Zoom link for the two online mindful, restorative journaling sessions.

Of course, you can still donate even if you choose not to participate in my journaling sessions.

Whatever you decide to contribute, thank you so much for your commitment to the foundation and to New Zealanders in need of support with their mental health.

Online learning: Nurture yourself with healing qigong

Nurture yourself with healing qigong so you can blossom with good health.

Qigong (pronounced ‘chee – gong’) is an ancient, Chinese exercise programme of deep, meditative breathing and flowing movements.

This is your opportunity to learn qigong in an interactive, online series of three sessions, which have been designed to improve your overall health and wellbeing, release tension, calm your mind and stimulate energy flow (qi) throughout your body.

Each session will include:

  • Quietening your mind
  • Comfortable ways to align your posture to allow free movement of healing qi (energy flow) throughout your body.
  • Deep, mindful breathing to stimulate your qi and influence your body.
  • Gentle physical exercise
  • Qi and energy awareness exercises
  • Tranquil meditation and contemplation
  • Explanations, discussion and guidance with Jocelyn

Session 1, Online, Thursday 21 July, 6.30pm: Playing with waves, relaxing and calming breathing combined with gentle movements to feel the qi (flow of energy) in your body

Session 2: Online, Thursday 28 July, 6.30pm: Swimming dragon in the mist, graceful yet powerful movements to cultivate more qi and to tap into the energy that surrounds us.

Session 3: Online, Thursday 4 August, 6.30pm: Enter the flow, learning to form a ball of energy and to guide it to help soothe your body and support its healing process.

Pricing for “Nurture yourself with healing qigong” (all in $NZ):

  • Session 1: $20 per person, including the video replay
  • Sessions 1 & 2: $15 per person, per session for a total of $30, including the video replays.
  • Sessions 1, 2 & 3: $13 per person, per session, for a total of $39, including the video replays.

Jocelyn’s evening class students in Manurewa can choose to use 1, 2 or 3 of their prepaid class fees instead of making an additional payment.

PayPal, credit card and online banking options are all available. Note: payment by credit card and PayPal will attract a processing fee of up to 3%. Please use the form on the “Contact Us” page to request the payment option of your choice. We’ll reply with all you need to know to easily arrange your payment.

Are you looking for an in-depth opportunity to learn more qigong? I offer a rare 3-day/2-night retreat experience on the healing power of qigong.

Red and white blossoms against a bright blue sky

Are you ready to blossom into better health?

Where: Aotea / Great Barrier Island, Hauraki Gulf, Auckland

When: Friday 11 to Sunday 13 November 2022 (3 days/2 nights). Places limited to just 10 participants.

How magical would it be to have the key to even greater health and wellness with qigong? Absolutely, you too can enter this enchanted place.

This retreat is for anyone aged 18+ who is seeking to vastly improve their own health, self-healing and well-being and/or wants to de-stress and have a better life/work balance.

Find out more: https://www.kiaorataichi.nz/gt-barrier-island-retreat/

Free healing qigong session, Thurs 14 July 2022

Are you wanting to boost your overall health and well-being? If you feel a little lost, flat or frustrated with not knowing what steps to take or if you’re keen to know more about self-healing, please join me to learn one of the secrets of qigong. (Pronounced chee-gong.)

Login for a free, online 30-minute session with me (on Zoom) on Thursday evening, 14 July 2022 at 6.30pm, so you can learn a simple, natural and instinctive qigong practice to help you with healing and to boost your health. Beginners are welcome.

Afterwards, you’ll be able to do this qigong exercise at any time, any place to feel calmer, reduce discomfort and pain and to help you to sleep.

Please contact me no later than Wednesday 13 July to receive the Zoom link to attend. You can get in touch using the contact form on my website or phone/text me on 027 493 9851.

Who is the instructor? Jocelyn Watkin is the founder, director and lead instructor of Kia Ora Tai Chi. She has trained and qualified in taiji, tai chi and qigong since 2003. You can find out more about her here: https://www.kiaorataichi.nz/about-us/

What is the secret of qigong?

For thousands of years the Chinese have had a secret. A secret that helps to increase longevity, a secret that assists the body to heal from injury, illness and trauma.

That secret is qigong, a deep meditative breathing exercise that connects the mind to the body.

One of the main reasons people want to learn qigong is that it helps with overall well-being and healing. Fortunately, those of us in Western counties now have access to this secret.

How does qigong help your body to heal from injury, pain or illness? A number of clinical trials have confirmed that qigong is proven to increase blood oxygen saturation in your body. That alone is excellent for healing.

(Clinical trial: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8328418/#:~:text=This%20preliminary%20study%20of%20Qigong,may%20have%20useful%20therapeutic%20value. )

There are many different aspects to assist the body and mind to heal, such as:

  • Medical treatments and interventions
  • Sleep and rest
  • A healthy diet
  • Moderate exercise
  • Reducing stress.

Qigong can help and support the body with all of the above.  

Qigong’s deep, meditative breathing supports your parasympathetic nervous system (also called the ‘rest and digest’ system). The movements, when co-ordinated with your breath and awareness of energy can help you to slow down, relax and to release tensions in your body.

If your body needs energy to repair and heal from injury or illness, qigong breathing can help to increase oxygen level and flow (energy) right down to your smallest cell.

Qigong exercises will massage and stimulate internal organs, which can also help with healing.

Qigong is about releasing stress, not suppressing it.

To reduce inflammation, you need to reduce the damaging effect that constant stress has on your body. Qigong breathing can help you to let go of stress so you can settle your mind and body.

Healing is multi-faceted and we need a number of different things to help us to heal our minds and bodies and to recover from illness, injury and trauma. Qigong can support this process.

If you’d like to learn one of the secrets of qigong, I’d like to teach you online on Thursday 14 July at 6.30pm in a free, 30-minute session. You will learn a simple, natural and instinctive qigong practice to help you with healing, to release stress and to boost your health.

Please get in touch no later than Wednesday 13 July to receive the Zoom link to attend by using the contact form on my website or phone/text me on 027 493 9851. Beginners are welcome.

Are you looking for more in-depth qigong? All welcome to attend my self-healing qigong retreat on Great Barrier Island, November 2022. It is called, “Discover your power to live well”: https://www.kiaorataichi.nz/gt-barrier-island-retreat/

This is a retreat to rebalance and rejuvenate your body, soul and strength with sensory, sacred qigong and restorative journaling.

This retreat is for anyone aged 18+ who is seeking ways to improve their own health, self-healing and well-being and/or wants to de-stress and have a better life/work balance. Find out more: https://www.kiaorataichi.nz/gt-barrier-island-retreat/