Retreat attendees entering the main hall
With breathless views, open-hearted employees, and the space to host any size event, Shankara Ayurveda Spa at the Art of Living Retreat Center is the perfect getaway for spiritual health explorers looking to experience a new or renewed sense of bliss. Nestled among the trees and perched at the top of Heavenly Mountain near Boone, North Carolina, the one thing that cannot be replicated by any other spa property is the view. In one word… stunning.
Purchased in 2012 by the Art of Living Foundation, the property sits on 380 acres of mostly undisturbed, natural land. The Center has undergone an amazing transformation to prepare it for the growing consumer groups seeking natural ways in which to transform their wellbeing. The Art of Living Foundation (AOLF) is a non-profit, educational, and humanitarian organization founded in 1981, by philanthropist and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. All of AOLF’s programs are guided by Sri Sri’s philosophy: “Unless we have a stress-free mind and a violence-free society, we cannot achieve world peace.
The guest portion of the property contains 17 guest and permanent resident buildings, including the Shankara Ayurveda Spa. It also holds one large ashram and five smaller open-space buildings for multi-purpose use (meditation, yoga, celebrations, ceremonies, etc.). At the head of the property is a large visitor center and restaurant. The campus also includes hiking trails, a labyrinth, pottery studio, and an organic garden for guests. From the moment you pull up to the property you know you are somewhere special.
Guests enjoying the view in the spa waiting area.
Regardless of the reason for a trip to the Art of Living Retreat Center, a visit to the spa is a must. Equipped with hotel rooms, visitors are able to stay within the spa building, which allows overnight guests to move easily to and from treatments.
The entire third floor of the hotel has been transformed into the spa and the building has 27 hotel rooms and 3 spa suites. When viewing the spa menu, you will quickly discern that this will not be your typical spa visit to get your hair and nails done. Staying true to Ayurveda principles, there is an authenticity to the spa offerings which include treatments such as Netra Tapana (bathing the eyes in ghee) and Nasya (clear breathing treatment).
The practice of Ayurveda, while becoming more mainstream, is still relatively unknown to many people. But, as we continue our quest for more natural ways to take care of ourselves, these ancient practices are gaining well- deserved attention. A visit to Shankara Ayurveda Spa is a great initiation into the traditional practices of Ayurveda. The Abhyanga massage is one of the world’s oldest massage therapy techniques. Warm oil is rhythmically massaged into your body, loosening toxins, relaxing the nervous system, and providing profound rest, nourishment, and rejuvenation. For those not quite as adventurous, there are Swedish and Deep Tissue massage choices as well.
Warm oil slowly released onto the forehead is part of the Ayurveda Spa Treatments.
Executive Chef Raju Bhujel serving up fresh guacamole
Following Ayurveda principles, the meals adhere to vegetarian guidelines and offer guests an opportunity to experience a wide array of cuisines. From Thai-style curry and Italian to Japanese and traditional Indian, there is enough variety to keep even the heartiest meat-eater happy.
Executive Chef Raju Bhujel takes personal pleasure in educating guests on how to create healthy and hearty dishes that are full of flavor and packed with nutrition, “In India, we are used to using vegetables in many different ways, so we always have a variety of options on how to prepare different vegetarian dishes. I believe in creating things simply, with a few ingredients and the right combination of spices.” The meals are served buffet style in the main hall and guests are welcome to enjoy their meal in the large dining area, which offers panoramic views of blue skies and mountaintops.
Author Debra K, enjoying a moment of stillness
Regardless of the type of stay guests participate in, everyone is invited to attend the center’s regular schedule of classes. The center offers daily meditation, yoga, and chanting classes. Some have fees, so speak with an event coordinator about participation. Instructors are happy to work with newbies to ensure they have a pleasant experience and learn more about meditation, stress reduction and increasing joyfulness.
Seeking to become the premiere transformational retreat location of the Southeast, the center is off to a great start. Classes hosted by the property include silence retreats, meditation courses, pottery classes and the following;
- PanchaKarma Cleanse which includes accommodations, meals, educational classes, spa treatments and Ayurveda assessments. This cleanse is a transformation experience that immerses attendees into the Ayurveda philosophies of wellness.
- The Art of Living Happiness Program helps guests unleash the power to create a joyous life that is on-purpose, the confidence to stretch and grow beyond limiting beliefs, and the ability to lead a deeply fulfilling life.
The center is also open to those who wish to lead and facilitate their own retreats. Currently, outside facilitators are offering a wide array of classes that include yoga, detoxing, meditation, writing, and art.
If you find yourself in a place where you are seeking more inner peace, personal transformation, and greater connection with self and others, a trip to the Shankara Ayurveda Spa at the Art of Living Retreat Center just might be the trip you need.
Contact Diane Trieste, the Spa Director, to organize your transformation at 800-368-5168 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Diane and her team will be happy to set up a wellness program tailored for you!
In The Journey into Wellbeing on PBS, Debra K. uncovers the secrets to living a high-energy, vibrant life. A former Fortune 250 executive who turned her passion for natural health and wellness into her life’s mission, Debra K. is also co-founder of imassage, Inc. and author of “Success from the Start”. Known as the natural health explorer, she is a regular writer, blogger, and national speaker. You can follow Debra on Facebook and Twitter @DebrasJourney.
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