I have been having one of the best spa experiences of my life at Stoweflake Resort & Spa in Stowe, Vermont. Most of the women at this five-day "Balanced Life Retreat" are here because they have studied with Dr. Claudia Welch, an Ayurveda teacher. They came even though they didn't really know what the retreat was going to be about. They just trusted it would be wonderful because they trust Claudia (or they trust their friends who trust Claudia).
Funny, brilliant, passionate, and honest, Claudia decided that we would working with prana, or energy. But she couldn't promise us exactly how we would do it. To stay true to the energy of the event, she didn't want to create a rigid agenda. She said working with our breath might even be boring at times. "Are you okay with that?" she asked. We were.
So we happily agreed to follow where she leads, and it has been a even as the path takes unexpected turns, like a family crisis she is dealing with when she is not teaching. "Without a plan, it's been better than I ever imagined," one person said.
Claudia invited two people she had "spent about 17 minutes with", but felt instant trust in, Sama Fabian, a genius yoga teacher from Wales, and Caroluna, an ethereal singer from California who invites us to explore energy through voice. The quality of the teachers is everything I expected. The warmth and intelligence of my felllow retreatants is a wonderful surprise. But the real gift is the realization that together we are creating prana, and exchanging it with each other, and that this will only happen this one time, in this exact way. And it is exquisitely beautiful just as it is.
Today I'm busy packing, getting ready to go to a Balanced Life Retreat led by Doctor of Oriental Medicine and Ayurvedic practitioner Dr. Claudia Welch, at Stoweflake Mountain Resort in Vermont. It's a five-day retreat with yoga every morning led by Sama Fabian from Wales, lectures by Dr. Welch, and voice workshops with Caroluna. It's sounds like an all-star cast to me, and I have high expectations.
To get ready I've been reading Dr. Welch's book "Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life" (buy now), and I have found it to be a true revelation. She integrates a Western view of hormones with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda in a relatively simple way. Given the complexity of all three systems, it's a remarkable accomplishment.
She does it by categorizing sex hormones (estrogen and progesterone) as yin; they nourish, lubricate and build us. Stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are yang, and trigger our "fight or flight" response. We need both to live. When they are in balance, we feel healthy. We have plenty of energy, sleep well, and Read More...
I live on a mountain a couple of hours from New York City. When it's sunny and warm, I have a beautiful walk right outside my door. But many days (sometimes many in a row), it rains. And I don't like to go outside when it's cold. Put those two together, and that's a lot of days when I'm stuck inside.
Now I have a secret weapon. I pull out my Doonya Bollywood Dance Workout DVDs, with dance routines created by the beautiful and energetic Priya Pandya and Kajal Desai. I LOVE Bollywood music and moves, but I don't live near a studio that offers Bollywood classes.
Priya and Kajal teach you the moves in Beginner Breakdown, get your heart rate up in Cardio Dance and Conditioning, and give you express workouts in Abs, Glutes & Cardio. They're $12.99 each or you can all three for around $25 -- a truly great deal and what I recommend. Buy now.
I love how Priya and Kajal emphasize proper form and give you the regional background of the different styles of dance. The dance routines themselves are beautiful and energizing, and the better you get at them, the more fun they are. Read More...
Spas and moms go together. I wrote about a few things you can do for Mother's Day and here are some more interesting Mommy-friendly offers going on around the country:
- Every Wednesday during May, Glen Ivy Hot Springs in California offers mothers, grandmothers and moms-to-be too, a two-for-one Taking the Waters admission with the purchase of two 50-minute spa services. Access to Glen Ivy's gardens, lounge areas, and the healing waters of 19 pools usually costs $39 per person with the purchase of a spa treatment.
- Red Mountain Resort in Utah has a Celebrating Motherhood package for $280 per person, per night (double occupancy) that includes your room, healthy meals, exercise classes and guided hikes (a specialty here), healthy life classes, cooking demonstrations, plus a massage, a manicure and pedicure. The package is available May 1-31, 2013 and requires a minimum of three nights.
- Spa Week has a special deal on its Spa & Wellness gift cards -- 15%-off for About.com readers, so you can get mom a $100 card for $85.
- During May, Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa is offering "Mommy and Me Pedicures" at Spa Django. Sit side by side with Mom while enjoying strawberry floats andtwo 50-minute pedicures ($125). Only for daughters 17 years and younger.
- The Claremont Hotel & Spa in Berkeley is offering baby-safe spa treatments like pre-natal massages, acupuncture sessions, and personal training sessions designed for mothers-to-be. Special packages of belly-friendly treatments called Mama Bliss and Belly Joy offer substantial savings over purchasing the services individually and offer continuity of care through all or part of the pregnancy.
Another "The Biggest Loser Resort" will open this June at the Eaglewood Resort and Spa in Itasca, Illinois, just minutes from Chicago's O'Hare airport. It's the first Biggest Loser Resort to reside in the AAA Four Diamond -rated property, with a championship golf course and a 75- foot indoor pool. It joins three other Biggest Loser Resorts in Ivins, Utah; Niagara, NY; and Malibu, California.
The Biggest Loser Resorts licenses its name from NBC's hit weight loss series. The boot camp-style wellness and weight-loss program is a minimum of one week, and caters to adults of all fitness levels (and teens 14 and older).
The program combines morning hikes with daily fitness classes, including kickboxing, yoga, spinning, biking, water aerobics, and others - all under the close supervision of certified personal trainers. The Biggest Loser Resorts also feature onsite health practitioners, dietitians and nutrition experts, as well as executive chefs who prepare calorie-conscious, nutritionally balanced spa cuisine meals. They also also offer spa treatments such as massage, facials, and acupuncture.
The Biggest Loser Resort-Chicago, is scheduled to open in June 2013. Advance reservations are currently being taken at (877-825-8878). For more information about The Biggest Loser Resorts, please visit www.biggestloserresort.com
Surfing and Hawaii go together, and the most famous spot for elite surfers is Oahu's North Shore in winter, when the monster swells from the Pacific coming rushing in along a 7-mile stretch. It's tamer in summer and the swimmers, kayakaykers, and snorkelers come out to play.
Year-round the place to stay is Turtle Bay Resort, a low-key property that has just reopened an expanded and newly conceived spa as part of a larger renovation. "Turtle Bay is so close to Honolulu and yet a world away," says Amy McDonald, a wellness consultant who worked on a spa makeover that is part of a larger renovation. "There is something so special about the North Shore culture that I feel Turtle Bay has been able to preserve and yet make more modern and relevant."
Nalu is the Hawaiian word for wave and ocean surf, and kinetic refers to movement. The idea is that water and movement come together to support wellness in Nalu Kinetic Spa. The 11,000 square-foot spa has dramatic window walls that bring the raw, restless power of surf indoors. Read more about Turtle Bay and its new spa.
Hidden Pond in Kennebunkport, Maine, is holding two Garden Wellness Weekends, June 7-9 and October 18-20, 2013. Farmaesthetics founder Brenda Brock and her team, including a holistic esthetician and raw food nutritionist, will teach you ways to capture plant vitality in hand-made herbal skincare products customized for your skin. Hidden Pond's master organic gardener will offer planting tips.
The retreat begins Friday night with an early evening cocktail reception. On Saturday morning enjoy yoga by the garden or an invigorating outdoor hike, followed by a workshop where you create your own skincare preparations using on familiar herbs, flowers, oils and grains.
In the afternoon, enjoy free time where and book a spa treatment at Hidden Pond's Tree Spa, where three treatment rooms are suspended eight feet above ground, literally in the treetops, and connected by wooden walkways.
The Tree Spa's therapies use herbal skincare preparations from Farmaesthetics and fresh ingredients Read More...
Some of the best times I've spent with my mom have been at the spa. She's so adorable in a robe and Ritz-Carlton slippers! And with Mother's Day coming up Sunday, May 12, spas are working overtime to develop packages that will tempt you to bring mom in for the day...or the week.
Red Mountain Resort in Utah has a Celebrating Motherhood package for $280 per person, per night (double occupancy) that includes your room, healthy meals, exercise classes and guided hikes (a specialty here), healthy life classes, cooking demonstrations, plus a massage, a manicure and pedicure. The package is available May 1-31, 2013 and requires a minimum of three nights.
Spa Week has a special deal on its Spa & Wellness gift cards -- 15%-off for About.com readers, so you can get mom a $100 card for $85.
I'm thinking about getting my mom a membership or gift certificate to Massage Envy. She used to get massage regularly, but now she's not as quick to spend money on herself. There's one very close to where she lives, and I know there's a great therapist there.
These are just a few ideas. I'm sure I'll have more....
Several spas and resorts in Carlsbad, California are offering special deals during the month of May, 2013. The deals vary, but here's one I like. La Costa Resort and Spa offers a room, two 50-minute spa treatments, a $30 daily spa cafe credit (per adult) and unlimited group fitness classes for as low as $199.
The price is higher during peak demand periods, like the weekend, but it's still a good deal. Usually one 50-minute massage is $165 at La Costa! Carlsbad is about 30 miles north of San Diego.
Carlsbad has been a wellness retreat since 1882, when Capt. John Frazier first discovered a mineral spring whose water cured his stomach ailment. The chemical properties of the mineral water were so similar to the water of the healing springs found in a famous European spa resort in Karlsbad, Bohemia, that the blossoming southern California town took "Carlsbad" as its name.
Spas participating in Carlsbad's Wellness Weekends include:
- Ocean Crest Spa, Hilton Carlsbad Oceanfront Resort & Spa
- The Spa at La Costa, La Costa Resort and Spa
- Aviara Spa, Park Hyatt Aviara Resort & Spa
- Ocean Pearl Spa, Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa
- Skinsational Spa
The sooner you make your reservations, the more likely you are to get the time and dates you want.
Spa Week is becoming so famous it got a mention in People magazine. Editors asked which spas offering $50 services this week have a celebrity clientele.
It turns out that singer-actress Megan Hilty of Smash likes Euphoria Spa, a small neighborhood spa in NYC's Tribeca. I do, too! Euphoria is offering two spray tan treatments for $50 (originally priced $130.) Spanish-language star Sofia Vergara favors Skintique Miami, which is offering microdermabrasion (a $110 value).