Stress and eating habits share a complex relationship. Stress depletes energy because the body uses up resources to handle the stressor. Consequently, the body seeks high-fat, high-sugar foods to replenish these depleted resources. With this energy boost, the body becomes more equipped to manage stress, and this results in a drop in cortisol levels. Yet, habitual reliance on these foods can evolve into comfort eating.


In this context, practicing yoga emerges as an alternative to disrupt this cycle and manage stress without resorting to comfort foods. Engaging in yoga reduces stress and cortisol levels, which lowers cravings for high-fat, high-sugar foods. We also become more relaxed, which leads to calmer emotions and less emotional volatility, and this, in turn, reduces the tendency for comfort eating. Additionally, reduced stress results in improved sleep, better digestive health, increased energy for physical activity, and heightened mindfulness, all of which contribute to diminishing the urge for emotional eating.

How Stress Triggers Emotional Eating

When stressed, the body releases cortisol as part of its ‘fight or flight’ response. This hormone acts as a natural alarm system which prepares us to either confront or flee from a threat.


Then the body reduces stress through various responses. One way is by releasing hormones like endorphins and serotonin, which counterbalance the effects of cortisol. Another way is by adjusting brain pathways in areas that play a role in controlling stress. Additionally, there seems to be a dietary response mechanism where, under stress, we consume more high-fat, high-sugar foods which in turn lowers cortisol levels. This connection between diet and cortisol levels has been demonstrated through research. One recent study, for instance, looked into whether eating foods high in fats and sugars could help reduce stress. In this study, 54 participants aged 18 to 49 were split into a high-sugar group and a control group, and each faced a stressful situation. Researchers then checked their saliva for cortisol to gauge their stress response. They found that those who ate more sugar had a less intense cortisol response, meaning that their cortisol increased less and peaked at lower levels. These findings suggest that high-calorie foods, especially sugary ones, might help dampen the body’s stress response.


This inclination to eat high-sugar foods under stress helps explain why we seek out these foods when feeling pressured or anxious. Over time, this behavior may turn into a habit where we consistently reach for sugary or fatty foods whenever we are stressed. As a result, emotional eating can become a common way to handle stress.


Practicing Yoga to Lower Stress: Insights from Research


There are various activities that help lower cortisol levels and mitigate stress response. Engaging in aerobic exercise, spending time in nature, pursuing creative arts, and socializing with friends or family are all effective in reducing stress. Yet, among the many options, yoga stands out as particularly beneficial, as shown by multiple research studies. One study, for example, involved a 3-month yoga and meditation retreat with 38 participants. After the yoga retreat, the participants not only reported reduced feelings of anxiety but also showed an improved cortisol awakening response (CAR). As CAR signals a more balanced stress response upon waking, this finding suggests that yoga and meditation have a positive impact on the body’s stress response system.


Another study followed 55 first-year medical students who were experiencing high stress levels due to academic pressure. They were divided into a yoga and a control group. The morning cortisol levels of both groups were measured at the beginning of the study. Then the yoga group was instructed to practice asanas for 1 hour a day over 12 weeks while the control group did not receive any specific instructions.


After the study, researchers used statistical analysis to measure morning cortisol levels. While the control group showed a slight increase in cortisol levels (3.4%), the yoga group experienced a significant drop (4.8%). This reduction was statistically significant, which makes it unlikely to be due to chance.


Another study focused on a specific type of yoga, laughter yoga where people pretend to laugh and do yoga breathing. In this study, researchers divided 35 participants into three groups: one engaged in laughter yoga, another did relaxing breathing exercises, and the last group didn’t do any special activity.  Following the sessions, all three groups underwent a stress test aimed at intensifying their stress levels. Their saliva levels of cortisol and alpha amylase, indicators of stress were also measured repeatedly.


Interestingly, the results showed a distinct pattern in the laughter yoga group. Only this group had lower cortisol levels after the stress test, which indicates they experienced a lesser stress response.


This is a significant finding, as it suggests that laughter yoga might have the ability to mitigate stress, in contrast to relaxation breathing or no activity. This points towards the potential of laughter yoga as a simple yet effective tool for managing stress.


Harnessing Postures, Breathing, and Meditation for Stress Relief


Yoga effectively combats stress through its three foundational practices: physical postures, controlled breathing, and meditation. Postures alleviate tension through stretching and promote relaxation through calming techniques. Controlled breathing activates respiratory receptors that signal to the brain to initiate relaxation and reduce stress response. Meditation, on the other hand, strengthens the prefrontal cortex, which is central to regulating the stress reactions.


Physical Postures


The physical postures in yoga, known broadly as asanas, play a key role in the process. They help lower stress levels by combining stretching and relaxation. The stretching component targets tension and tightness in the muscles and joints which are often a direct manifestation of stress. Furthermore, relaxation communicates to the nervous system that there are no immediate threats or stressors present. This triggers a reduction in the production of cortisol which reduces overall stress levels.


Vrksasana or the Tree Pose is a good example of this balance. The stretching aspect comes into play as you balance on one leg and place the other foot on the inner thigh or calf. This stretches the muscles in the standing leg and hip. The relaxation phase occurs when you release the pose, stand on both feet, and breathe deeply. This moment of grounding and stability signals the nervous system to enter a relaxed state, which aids in stress reduction.


Setu Bandhasana or the Bridge Pose, follows a similar pattern. While lying on your back and lifting your hips, you stretch the front body. This helps release tension in areas like the chest and thighs. Then, as you lower your hips back to the floor, this movement transitions you into relaxation. This gentle return to a resting position helps shift the body into a calmer state and reduces stress levels.


Controlled Breathing


Complementing the asanas, pranayama, or deep, controlled breathing, further enhances this relaxation process. When we practice it, this altered breathing pattern is recognized by specialized respiratory receptors which are sensitive to the rate and depth of our breaths. Once these receptors detect the slow, deep breaths typical of a relaxed state, they send signals to the brain to start the relaxation response. This involves activating the parasympathetic nervous system which acts to decrease heart rate and blood pressure and relax the muscles, leading to a state of relaxation.

Several breathing techniques effectively engage this natural mechanism for stress reduction. The 4-7-8 breathing technique is one such method. It involves inhaling quietly through the nose for four seconds, holding the breath for seven seconds, and exhaling forcefully through the mouth for eight seconds.

The effectiveness of this technique lies in the longer time spent on each phase compared to normal breathing. This extended duration helps stimulate the respiratory receptors more than usual.

Another method, alternate nostril breathing, involves alternating the flow of air through each nostril. You close one nostril while inhaling and then switch for the exhale.

With this method, the respiratory receptors are effectively activated due to their sensitivity to varied breathing patterns. These receptors are designed to detect changes in the rate and rhythm of breathing; so, when a pattern deviates from the norm, they become more alert and active.

A third technique worth mentioning is Bhramari Pranayama or Bee Breath. With this technique, you inhale through your nose and produce a humming sound like a bee while exhaling. Here, the effectiveness of activating the respiratory receptors comes from the vibrational humming sound. These receptors respond not only to the depth and rate of breathing but also to vibration. As the sensation of this vibration activates the receptors, this signals the brain to initiate relaxation response.




Meditation, another core aspect of yoga, targets stress management by enhancing the function of the prefrontal cortex. This, in turn, improves its control over the body’s stress response.


The prefrontal cortex is a part of the brain responsible for high-level functions like rational thinking, decision-making, emotional regulation, and focus. Meditation, which mainly involves maintaining attention, enhances the brain’s focusing capabilities. Because all brain functions are interconnected, boosting focus improves other prefrontal cortex functions, including emotional regulation.


When the prefrontal cortex gets better at emotional regulation, it effectively moderates the amygdala’s responses, the brain’s primary center for emotional and stress reactions. When faced with situations that trigger an intense emotional response, a well-trained prefrontal cortex can send inhibitory signals to calm the amygdala down. This improved control leads to a more balanced and controlled emotional response to stress.


One practice that facilitates such brain training is mindfulness meditation. It achieves this by focusing on the present and observing immediate experiences without attachment to any of them. These experiences, such as your breath, bodily sensations, and thoughts, act as anchors to refocus attention on the present moment. This repeated refocusing improves the brain’s capacity for attention and concentration which in turn improves its ability to regulate emotions and respond to stress.


Focused attention meditation is another approach to enhancing brain function. This practice involves the focusing of attention on a single target, such as the breath, a sound, or a visual object. When attention drifts away, you consciously redirect focus back to the chosen object. This process strengthens the brain’s capacity for sustained attention, thereby improving its ability to manage stress responses. Moreover, singular concentration helps quiet the constant stream of thoughts and worries that often triggers stress and anxiety.


The Impact of Stress Reduction on Emotional Eating


When stress goes down and cortisol levels drop, our cravings for high-fat, high-sugar foods – the body’s mechanism to reduce cortisol – also diminish. With reduced cravings, we are less likely to turn to these foods for comfort. But there is more. With stress under control and a prevailing sense of calm, we experience milder emotions. This stability reduces the likelihood of mood swings and emotional volatility which often lead to comfort eating.


Furthermore, as stress levels drop, the quality of our sleep improves, and we enjoy deeper, more restorative rest. This improvement balances the hormones ghrelin and leptin, which regulate our appetite. Keeping appetite in check, in turn, reduces the likelihood of overeating in response to emotional triggers.


Stress reduction also leads to better digestive health. Under stress, we may experience gastrointestinal discomfort, which can be mistakenly interpreted as hunger. As stress diminishes and this discomfort subsides, we are left with only genuine hunger signals. This clarity ensures that we eat when we are truly hungry and not in response to misinterpreted physical cues.


Additionally, decreased stress results in increased energy levels. When stress is managed effectively, the body conserves energy that would otherwise be spent on maintaining a heightened state of alertness. With increased energy as a result of this conservation, we are more inclined to engage in physical activity. Regular exercise or participating in active hobbies can then serve as a distraction from the habits of emotional eating.


Also, as stress is reduced and the mind becomes less preoccupied with stressors, room is created for increased presence and awareness in each moment. This heightened mindfulness helps us to become more attuned to our body’s signals, including those related to hunger and fullness. We are better able to distinguish between physical hunger and emotional cravings and less likely to eat in response to emotions.


Lastly when stress diminishes, it frees up mental and emotional resources previously engaged in managing stressors. With these resources now at our disposal, we are more inclined to explore activities such as physical exercise, creative endeavors, or social engagements. These activities enrich our lives and provide the fulfillment and satisfaction previously sought through emotional eating.

Wrapping Up


Exploring the link between stress and our eating patterns reveals a clear path forward through the practice of yoga. By engaging in yoga’s three elements – physical movements, breathing, and focused meditation – we activate a natural counterbalance to stress. As yoga reduces cortisol, which often causes cravings for high-fat, high-sugar foods, the urge for such foods declines. Simultaneously, it leads to fewer emotional fluctuations which often compel us to seek solace in eating.

In 2023, yoga retreats continue to resonate as sanctuaries of holistic wellness where tranquility, rejuvenation, and personal growth flourish in abundance. These serene getaways, often nestled in beautiful locales, serve as portals to a world of mindfulness, healthful living, and personal transformation. 


Amid these transformative experiences, the role of a serene shelter is indeed paramount. Thus, the accommodations at these retreats provide not just comfort and privacy but also the much-needed personal space for reflection, rest, and rejuvenation.


As guests delve deeper into their transformative journey, the culinary aspect takes center stage. The dining options in these settings present a delightful play of flavors, textures, and nutritional value. This fusion of taste and health nourishes both body and soul, mirroring the overall emphasis on wellbeing. 


Beyond hospitality and cuisine, retreats feature a mosaic of activities that captivate, delight, and enlighten. Be it swaying to the beat of indigenous dances or surrendering to the thrill of outdoor activities, monotony is a stranger here. This cultural immersion and adventurous exploration are facets of retreats that seek to broaden the horizons of the participants.


Not to forget, after the flurry of excitement and exploration, retreats serve as gateways to tranquility and self-care. An array of therapeutic treatments awaits guests, aimed at restoring balance, alleviating discomfort, and rejuvenating the body. The holistic offerings range from soothing massages to specialized therapies, all set in an ambient atmosphere that is enhanced by the scents of essential oils and warmth.


Going beyond simple treatments and activities, wellness retreats offer a more comprehensive and encompassing approach to health. They don’t just nurture the body but also cater to the well-being of the mind and spirit. Immersive programs guide guests through a variety of wellness activities, from yoga and meditation to creative workshops and nature exploration, which foster a balanced journey towards self-discovery and personal growth. 


By engaging guests in a variety of mindful activities, retreats create an environment that encourages reflection, introspection, and connection, helping guests to cultivate mindfulness and a deeper sense of inner peace. By also nurturing the symbiotic relationship between physical health and mental serenity, retreats offer an integrated approach to holistic wellness, emphasizing the interconnectedness of all facets of wellbeing.


Anamaya, Costa Rica: Ocean Panoramas and Wellness

Nestled within the captivating coastal town of Montezuma, Costa Rica, Anamaya presents itself as a charming health resort and retreat center. Set amidst lush jungle surroundings, the center offers a panoramic view of the ocean, creating an atmosphere of peace and tranquility. 


Embracing the serenity of its location, Anamaya focuses on fostering well-being and personal growth. The center provides an array of engaging workshops, relaxing spa services, organic meals, and excursions that reveal the beauty of Costa Rica’s heart.


Tranquil Accommodations at Amaya 


Carefully crafted with a commitment to environmental preservation, the private cabins at Anamaya feature locally crafted furnishings, organic fabrics, and non-toxic materials. This thoughtful design creates a tastefully crafted living space that blends with the natural surroundings.


Sunset to Supper: A Flavorful Dining Journey


Guests at Anamaya can look forward to a delightful culinary experience at the in-house restaurant of the resort, where a welcoming ambience awaits. The restaurant excels in crafting wholesome, flavorful meals inspired by the creative minds of chefs, staff, and guests. 


The rotating menu offers diverse breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, catering to dietary preferences such as vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free. The meals also incorporate superfoods like broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, and avocados, known for their nutritional richness. The ingredients used are predominantly organic and locally sourced, with many being procured from the resort’s own farm and neighboring organic farms.


Cultural and Adventurous Experiences


Immersed in the vibrant culture of Costa Rica, Anamaya presents a myriad of engaging activities for its guests. The experiences start with rhythm and flavor as guests immerse themselves in an oceanfront salsa class or learn to cook traditional Costa Rican meals with a unique Anamaya twist.


Beyond the cultural experiences, a world of activities awaits. Guests can embark on a boat tour to Tortuga Island, featuring a snorkeling excursion and a leisurely time soaking in the sun. Additionally, retreat goers can join a sunset beach trip to Santa Teresa, which also includes a tour of Anamaya’s organic farm. This beach excursion is a guest favorite and provides a captivating end to a day full of exploration.


Adventurous souls can explore the surrounding wilderness with a thrilling zipline canopy tour, situated in close proximity to Anamaya. This high-flying adventure showcases the jungle and its inhabitants from a unique perspective and includes a refreshing stop at the upper Montezuma waterfall pools.


Healing SPA Treatments


After a day filled with exhilarating activities, guests can unwind through a wide array of therapeutic treatments designed to restore balance and rejuvenate the body. The diverse offerings include focused therapeutic massages to address injuries and discomfort and deep tissue massages for muscle strain and distress. The spa also offers relaxing massages to ease tension and promote circulation and eastern massages that target stress relief and facial radiance. Further, Anamaya presents specialized methods like Shiatsu, a pressure-intensive therapy for releasing tension and discomfort, and Chi Nei Tsang, an age-old abdominal massage technique for detoxification and enhancing organ performance. With all massages, a harmony of essential oils, warm towels, and versatile techniques converge to foster a healing atmosphere and ensure guests depart feeling enlivened.

Tailored Retreats for Mindful Relaxation


Anamaya offers exclusive private retreats designed to provide a holistic experience. Each day of the retreat is thoughtfully curated, beginning with a morning ritual of gentle movement and meditation that awakens the senses. This peaceful start to the day is complemented by breakfast rich in local produce. As the day unfolds, retreat guests can partake in strength practices and invigorating dance, carefully crafted to enhance strength and stimulate mental agility. 


The afternoons during the retreat offer a flexible, personal space for relaxation and self-exploration. Retreat-goers have the liberty to spend these hours as they wish – they could meander to the nearby beach, enjoy a siesta in a hammock amidst the rustling trees, delve into a long-postponed book, engage in conversations with fellow guests, or pen down thoughts in their journal.


Evenings at the retreat are marked by a sense of closure, introspection, and a dedicated focus on yoga. To ease into the tranquility of the night, guests are offered a session of gentle yoga, designed to unwind the body and mind. This mindful practice serves as the perfect transition into the evening, leading up to a communal dinner where the flavors of Costa Rican cuisine can be savored in good company. 


COMO Shambhala Estate: Holistic Wellness in Bali

Nestled on the Ayung riverbank, near Ubud, Bali’s cultural heart, you’ll find the renowned COMO Shambhala Estate. Reflecting COMO Shambhala’s philosophy, the estate offers a comprehensive approach to holistic wellbeing, inviting guests on a transformative journey. It combines nourishing cuisine, cutting-edge wellness facilities, and a team of knowledgeable guides and fitness experts to provide a truly immersive and rejuvenating experience.


Accommodation: Blending Contemporary Chic and Balinese Tradition


Designed by acclaimed architects Koichiro Ikebuchi and Cheong Yew Kuan, the accommodations merge contemporary sophistication and traditional Balinese aesthetics. Elements such as traditional alang-alang roofing and locally sourced wood and stone are elegantly incorporated, paying homage to the elemental forces. Moreover, the suites, villas, and residences are strategically situated amidst lush greenery, offering guests an immersive experience in nature. 


The estate’s garden rooms, integrated into dwellings that harmonize with nature, provide an inviting accommodation option for guests. Equipped with queen or king-size beds, these rooms allow access to shared facilities such as the dining spaces, relaxation lounge, and swimming pool. 


The terrace suites come with the added luxury of personal outdoor spaces, including a garden or scenic terrace. In the pool villas, modern aesthetics blends with Balinese architecture, an experience complemented by the vistas of the adjacent forest. 


Dining: A Journey of Taste and Wellness


Dining at COMO Shambhala is as enjoyable as the accommodations. The retreat provides visitors with an engaging exploration of Indonesian cuisine, along with the balanced, yet refined offerings of the COMO Shambhala Cuisine.


Set in an ex-Javanese home, Kudus House offers guests a scenic setting to experience the varied tastes and spices from across Indonesia. With service during breakfast and dinner, this restaurant delivers a close-knit and culturally immersive dining experience.


Alternatively, Glow provides meals all day long, emphasizing the health-conscious COMO Shambhala Cuisine. The menu includes dishes that are simple, nourishing, and full of flavor, like nutrient-dense blends, juices, and salads. Guests can expect to find choices like their daily special of gluten-free or wholegrain pasta, the indulgent Grilled Stockyard gold beef sirloin, or wok-fried fresh egg noodles teeming with a variety of ocean delights. These selections reflect Glow’s focus on offering tasty and health-friendly meals. 

Wellness Programs: A Tailored Journey toward Renewal


Beyond the realm of exquisite dining, COMO Shambhala promises a holistic experience tailored to each guest’s unique needs and preferences. The emphasis extends beyond mere relaxation and revitalization to embrace a comprehensive approach that includes numerous health goals.


Each journey begins with an initial assessment by a seasoned wellness practitioner. The result is an individualized plan that outlines a wholesome eating schedule, wellness activities, and therapy treatments. 


Following this thorough assessment, guests are invited to partake in a myriad of activities like meditation, yoga, and Pilates. For those seeking physical rejuvenation, massage and wellness treatments await, all administered by skilled therapists. 


As part of the program, guests will enjoy serene accommodations accompanied by nourishing meals. The thoughtful inclusion of a dedicated personal assistant enhances the overall wellness journey, providing a seamless and immersive experience throughout the stay.

Activities: Enhanced Wellbeing through Local Culture and Nature


Building upon the wellness program, COMO Shambhala Estate presents an array of activities that contribute to a holistic sense of wellbeing. These carefully curated experiences capture the essence of the retreat, incorporating elements of the local culture and the beautiful natural surroundings. 


One standout offering is the COMO Shambhala Serenity Ritual, an immersive journey featuring a flower bath, massage tailored to the retreat’s philosophy, and a foot bath. As a perfect finale, guests are treated to an afternoon tea in the tranquil setting of a dedicated pavilion. 


Guests can also join the Water Purification Ceremony at the Tirta Empul water temple. By participating in this ritual, they can tap into the ancient wisdom and sacred energy that resonate throughout the site.


Beyond spiritual experiences, there is a world of adventure, culture, and cuisine that awaits exploration. Just a short distance from the peaceful estate, a journey unfolds down the Ayung River. Here, surrounded by the lush greenery, guests are invited to participate in an adventure of white-water rafting. The magnificent vistas, the rush of the wild waters, and the thrill of navigating the tumultuous rapids all contribute to a unique experience. 


The peaceful journey along the Tjampuhan Ridge offers a welcome contrast to the invigorating Ayung River. Starting from the historically significant Gunung Lebah temple, this pathway leads guests toward the heart of Ubud’s origins. It is at the confluence of the Wos rivers where the birthplace of the town lies. As guests experience this spot, they connect with Ubud’s rich historical narrative, thereby deepening their understanding and appreciation of this remarkable location.


The Rice Field Walk also offers a unique and different kind of learning experience. Wandering through rice fields, guests are provided with insights into the importance of these agricultural practices for Balinese life. Concluding this immersive journey into Balinese life is the Ubud Essential Tour. Here, guests are invited to browse through bustling shops, visit ancient temples, explore art galleries, and enjoy Ubud’s rice terraces. 


After these enriching experiences, a return to the estate promises a unique gastronomic adventure. Within the confines of the main kitchen, guests have the opportunity to craft their own menu, guided by the estate’s master chefs. Whether their preference lies in exploring the nourishing Shambala cuisine or creating a traditional Indonesian delicacy, the choice is entirely theirs. After the culinary journey, guests can enjoy their creations in the cozy and inviting atmosphere of Glow.


Ashiyana, Goa, India: A Tranquil Retreat Amidst the Vibrant Tropics

Amidst the tropical biodiversity of North Goa’s pristine Mandrem Beach, Ashiyana emerges as a serene retreat and a second home for those in search of solace and rejuvenation. Crafted as a sanctuary of tranquility, Ashiyana subtly persuades visitors to retreat from the hum of digital life and find inner harmony through yoga. Through the art of this timeless practice, Ashiyana invites guests to embark on a soulful exploration and cultivate a sense of inner belonging that is universal and enduring. 


Accommodation: Luxury, Simplicity, and Indigenous Charm


Setting our sights on accommodation, Ashiyana presents a variety of options, each uniquely crafted to create an aura of tranquility. With its walls in soothing shades of blue, the Jodhpur room stands as an icon of serenity. This tranquil place is furnished with plush comforts and adorned with antiques, creating an atmosphere of timeless elegance. For those seeking a more opulent experience, the Shahi Suite offers unparalleled luxury. The suite’s sprawling living area, decorated with Rajasthani finery, along with an exquisite balcony view, ensures a majestic experience.


Adding to the assortment of accommodations are the Eco Lodges, designed with an Indonesian-inspired aesthetic. With views of the palm grove, extensive use of wood, and Moroccan-inspired bathrooms, these lodges possess a distinctive allure. Further, Ashiyana’s range of Palm Grove rooms offer simple luxury amidst serene surroundings. With ensuite bathrooms, mosquito nets, and fans, these rooms ensure a comfortable and soothing retreat amid nature’s serenity.


Dining: A Multicultural Gastronomic Adventure


As well as tranquil accommodations, Ashiyana presents a dining experience that blends flavors from around the world, ensuring a memorable gastronomic expedition. Helmed by acclaimed chefs Tek and Rathi, the Ashiyana Goa restaurant serves dishes that marry the robust flavors of Indian, Nepalese, and Thai cuisines with the subtleties of western gastronomy. The restaurant serves two exquisite meals daily – a post-yoga brunch to replenish energy and a sumptuous dinner.


The buffet menu mostly features vegetarian selections, brimming with seasonally sourced vegetables and fruit. Twice a week, seafood specialties are incorporated into the spread. Every meal is thoughtfully curated to cater to a wide range of palates and dietary requirements, prioritizing balanced nutrition. 


The dining environment further enriches the experience as guests, therapists, instructors, and staff convene as a family. The expansive dining table acts as a convivial space for discussions and forming new bonds.


Throughout the day, guests are welcome to help themselves to an array of refreshments, including herbal teas, hot ginger lemon, masala chai, and triple-filtered drinking water. 


Mindful Engagements and Soothing Treatments


In the realm of activities, Ashiyana offers a variety of pursuits which promote holistic wellness and introspection. The assortment ranges from Satsang, yoga Nitra, chanting, and guided meditations to Qi Gong, ensuring a mix of dynamic and restorative experiences throughout the week. Within the tranquil premises of Ashiyana Spa, guests can indulge in personalized yoga sessions, massages, and other wellness treatments. With a focus on signature lifestyle coaching and Ayurvedic practices, the spa ensures a holistic approach to well-being.

Holistic Wellness Journeys and Detox Programs 


Moving further into the Ashiyana experience, guests are presented with ample opportunities to customize their wellness journey. They can choose to partake in open classes, delve into personalized yoga therapy, or enroll in the distinctive Holistic Elixir Program. This integrated program blends pranayama, meditation, massage, and yoga therapy, creating an ideal balance for optimal wellness. The program commences with a thorough evaluation of the guest’s emotional, mental, and physical health. Drawing from this assessment, the therapist tailors a wellness program that incorporates holistic practices and lifestyle alterations to enhance each guest’s overall well-being.


As guests continue their wellness journey, they encounter the distinctive Panchakarma – Virechana detoxification program. A harmonious blend of age-old Ayurvedic methodologies and other therapeutic techniques, Virechana is renowned for its methodical purging process. This therapy meticulously cleanses the gastrointestinal tract and dispels entrenched toxins, helping to revitalize metabolism, enhance digestive efficiency, and instill a newfound zest.


As part of the therapeutic regimen, guests are invited to experience an introductory session on the foundational principles of Ayurveda, along with a one-on-one consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor. The wellness journey is further enriched by immersive therapeutic experiences, including sessions of Abhyanga, classic massage, and Ayur Balance massage. 


The Farm at San Benito, Philippines: Embracing Holistic Wellness Amidst Nature

Situated in the charming environs of Lipa, Batangas, The Farm at San Benito captivates with its fusion of refined elegance and untouched natural beauty. This tranquil sanctuary, merely a 90-minute commute from Manila, is spread across 52 hectares of fertile terrain. A glance over the panoramic landscape reveals majestic mountain peaks, offering guests a rejuvenating escape and connection to the bountiful surroundings.


Cocooned in nature’s embrace, guests immerse themselves in a serene sanctuary, where personalized care, nourishing meals, and rejuvenating retreats combine to create a transformative journey towards wellbeing. 


Luxurious Living in Tropical Elegance 


The Farm at San Benito offers an eclectic mix of lodgings that combine contemporary tropical aesthetics with a hint of tradition.


A marvel of design, the Palmera Suites feature towering 12-foot-high ceilings and generous semi-private gardens and lanais. The suites are thoughtfully created to encompass both indoor baths and alfresco showers, further solidifying the guests’ connection to nature. 


A step further into nature’s embrace, the Bamboo villas provide a view of verdant forests that melt into the horizon. Each of these villas is thoughtfully equipped with a cozy living area, a breakfast nook, and a capacious lanai. These comfortable furnishings create a relaxing and serene atmosphere that is conducive to reflection, relaxation, and revitalization. The villas are also furnished with spacious walk-in closets and indulgent bath facilities, both indoor and open-air, enhancing the guests’ daily routines with a touch of luxury. 


For those seeking a premium experience, the Lakan sets the gold standard in lavishness. This esteemed accommodation hosts two spacious bedrooms, each equipped with an ensuite bathroom. The central living area offers a space for relaxation while the enclosed gardens, adorned with koi ponds, provide a serene oasis. Further enhancing the luxury, the Lakan is furnished with dedicated quarters for housekeeping staff, a bar area, and a handy kitchenette. A private swimming pool completes this opulent offering, creating an ultimate sanctuary of comfort and privacy. 


Dining Experience with a Wellness Focus 


Dining at The Farm at San Benito is an exceptional experience that blends taste with health, underpinned by a farm-to-table philosophy. The wellness cuisine emphasizes organic, locally grown foods, each dish reflecting a commitment to nourishment and sustainability.


ALIVE!, the retreat’s vegan restaurant, serves living foods cuisine abundant in key enzymes and phytonutrients that support overall health and contribute to the body’s resilience. Every dish is created using fresh produce harvested from the retreat’s own gardens. 


Drawing inspiration from the wisdom of Ayurveda, their vegetarian restaurant PRANA showcases Indian cuisine infused with aromatic spices and herbs. Each dish pays homage to a heritage of flavors and traditions, providing a delightful and nourishing experience.


PESCE, their pescetarian restaurant, embraces the essence of the Mediterranean Blue Zone diet. The menu at PESCE comprises organic living foods like fish, vegetables and fruit, and whole grains. This balanced mix creates protein-rich meals that support health and longevity. 

Treatments: A Blend of Tradition and Innovation


An integral part of The Farm’s wellness experience is their Healing Sanctuary Spa. As a resort committed to holistic approaches, their spa draws inspiration from the time-honored healing traditions of the Philippines. This distinctive approach blends with the use of eco-friendly elements, including a variety of medicinal herbs, 100% virgin coconut oil, and therapeutic-grade essential oils. These components work together to enrich the healing process and provide a rejuvenating experience for guests.  


Adding to the holistic experience, the Acqua Hydrotherapy Sanctuary further elevates the concept of optimum health. The sanctuary exemplifies a fusion between evidence-informed treatments and the power of scientific knowledge. Building upon this foundation, guests are invited to participate in a comprehensive multi-step hydrotherapy program designed to promote overall well being. This unique approach goes beyond traditional treatments to achieve holistic wellness that rejuvenates the self. 


Retreats for an Immersive Wellness Journey 

Yoga and Raw Food Retreat: A Journey toward Holistic Wellness


With a welcoming approach that caters to both seasoned yogis and beginners, the yoga and raw food retreat guides individuals at every stage of their mindfulness path. 


Here each day begins with invigorating yoga and meditation designed to balance the body and mind. The journey continues at the dining table, where guests are introduced to the nourishing world of vegan cuisine. Furthermore, a unique workshop on vegan food preparation gives participants the opportunity to explore and understand the intricacies of plant-based cooking.


Alongside these experiences, visitors benefit from nutritional assessments, fitness evaluations, and holistic health consultations. Delving deeper into health, a cellular screening provides microscopic insights into one’s well-being while a therapeutic session of myotherapy rounds off these comprehensive offerings.


Beyond the realm of healing treatments, the retreat invites guests to partake in a variety of wellness activities. These offerings include serene nature strolls, functional fitness sessions, sound healing, mandala flower meditation, and organic farm tours.


Menopause Retreat: Empowering with through Holistic Wellness


The essence of this retreat lies in its masterful approach to the complexities of menopause. Their team employs a careful analysis of the needs of each woman while providing an assortment of treatments to bolster guests at each juncture. 


Embarking on the retreat, participants are greeted with a holistic health consultation guided by an integrative doctor. This comprehensive analysis utilizes a personalized assessment of symptoms and systems to uncover discord among the spiritual, psycho-emotional, and physical dimensions.


A nutritional consultation then follows, which consists of an evaluation of the guest’s lifestyle background and dietary habits. This information allows the nutritionist to devise a meal blueprint tailored to the guest’s dietary requirements. Retreat-goers also receive guidance and support to ensure that the meal plan accommodates their lifestyle.


A cellular health screening is also conducted to offer guests a glimpse into health-consciousness. The screening utilizes a dark field microscope to analyze live blood cells and uncover toxins and nutritional imbalances. It also identifies signs of homeostasis disruptions, oxidative load, and heightened immune activity.


A cutting-edge diagnostic tool further aids in gauging the levels of minerals, vitamins, and heavy metals. This assessment helps identify potential causes of illness such as deficiencies in essential vitamins, imbalances in mineral levels, and heavy metal toxicity.


Lastly, the retreat places a special emphasis on detoxification with treatments like kidney cleansing and liver compress. The kidney cleansing procedure uses selected botanicals to eliminate harmful toxins and reduce the load on the kidneys. The liver compress employs healing herbs such as bitter ground and yarrow to rejuvenate this vital organ. It is particularly beneficial for those dealing with high levels of stress or taking multiple medications.


Tia Wellness Resort, Vietnam: Unwind and Rejuvenate at a Tranquil Wellness Sanctuary

Nestled on a stretch of beach in Da Nang, the Tia Wellness Resort is a sanctuary for guests seeking a holistic wellness experience. The resort boasts private pool villas that radiate grace, carefully curated meals, and individualized spa services and yoga sessions. Guests are offered the opportunity to enhance their dietary choices, harness the power of breath for inner equilibrium, and master yoga movements for efficient stress management. A sojourn at the resort promises a rejuvenating return home. 


Accommodation: Pool Villas for Comfort and Relaxation


Accommodation at the Tia Wellness Resort is nothing short of luxurious. Their one-bedroom pool villa is a perfect blend of style and comfort. The villa is composed of a bedroom, modern open-plan living room, and bathroom, all connected to a private garden courtyard featuring a swimming pool. Guests can enjoy an array of amenities, including high-quality bath products, a wellness mini bar replenished daily, an extra-large bathtub paired with a double vanity, and a rain shower. 


The two-bedroom pool villa presents an even more spacious setting, making it ideal for families or larger groups. It includes two bedrooms, a bar, and an open-plan living room connected to a garden complete with a swimming pool. The amenities in this villa mirror those in the one-bedroom variant, offering guests an enhanced level of comfort and luxury.


Dining: A Blend of Wellness and Flavorful Creations


Dining at the Tia Wellness Resort is an experience rooted in health and wellness. Their culinary philosophy, aptly named “Eat Light, Feel Bright,” steers guests towards dietary selections that promote holistic wellness. To further facilitate this, the resort uses a unique scale, where dishes that score five points or less are categorized as light. This innovative approach motivates guests to integrate healthier eating habits into their lifestyle.


The resort’s flagship restaurant, The Dining Room, is a visually engaging locale where the interplay of light and dark incites sensory delight. Furthermore, the restaurant offers an eclectic mix of dining experiences, from contemporary a la carte selections to tasting platters infused with local flavors. The restaurant’s open kitchen allows guests to witness firsthand the artistry involved in the preparation of each culinary masterpiece.


Positioned between the resort’s pool and the expanse of the ocean, The Ocean Bistro offers guests a more casual dining experience. It tempts guests with an array of uncomplicated meals, from crisp salads and light bites to fresh seafood. Guests can savor their chosen dishes within the bistro’s cozy ambiance or opt for a more laid-back dining in the serene surroundings of the resort.


Transforming as the sun moves across the sky, the Art Lounge is a dynamic and lively venue within the resort. During daylight hours, it serves as a café where guests can try dense superfood snacks, rejuvenating lattes, and Vietnamese coffees. As twilight approaches, the lounge morphs into a cozy bar where guests can unwind with a selection of beverages infused with local flavors.


Signature dishes at these restaurants include the Pork Belly Clay Pot, a traditional dish with rich flavors; the Chicken Coconut Curry, a perfect blend of creamy and spicy; and the Lemongrass Beef, offering a burst of lemongrass aroma with every bite.


Spa Treatments for Relaxation and Restoration


At the Tia Wellness Resort, an extensive array of wellness treatments awaits guests in an ambiance of relaxation and revitalization. Traditional spa therapies and aesthetic services combine with innovative wellness practices, including a blend of acupressure, aromatherapy, and Reiki. 


One more traditional treatment is the Bamboo Roll-Out where guests experience the application of warmed Vietnamese bamboo. It is skillfully rolled to stimulate the blood flow and invigorate the deeper tissues, particularly in the leg and back regions. In the Lymphatic Detox therapy, guests are treated to light, rhythmic strokes concentrated around the lymph nodes. This aids lymph movement and stimulates the body’s inherent cleaning mechanisms, with specific attention to the facial, abdomen, and leg areas. 


Drawing inspiration from the art of Thai massage, Stretch and Release involves careful stretching to enhance joint mobility, harmonize the energy flow, and promote optimal circulation. Narrowing its focus to the feet, the Crystal Wand Foot Reflexology therapy deploys the healing power of acupressure and crystals to foster inner equilibrium. 


Also adding to the repertoire of unique offerings, the Himalayan Heart Stone therapy introduces guests to an immersive, calming experience. Using warm salt stones, this full-body massage melts away tension and invites deep relaxation. The stones, hewn from Himalayan salt, are packed with beneficial minerals that not only promote skin wellness but nurture a sense of overall harmony.


Harnessing the healing power of touch, the Warm Body Flow therapy is a holistic full-body massage. This targeted treatment alleviates muscle tightness, deepens breathwork, and encourages the heart to open up to a sense of tranquil submission. With a careful composition of various elements, this treatment stands as a well-crafted journey towards tranquility and revitalization.


Retreat Inclusive Program: Wellness, Creativity, and Personal Growth


The Tia Retreat Inclusive program invites participants on a four-day journey where every moment is an opportunity for self-discovery, wellness, and personal growth. Each day of the program is aptly woven with activities and experiences that celebrate both the energy of life and the tranquility of relaxation. 


Each morning begins with a yoga flow that is not your regular stretching routine. Drawing from the Vinyasa and Hatha traditions, this practice strengthens the body, enhances flexibility, and invigorates energy levels. As participants breathe and move with the morning sun, they set a vibrant tone for the activities that lay ahead. 


After this invigorating start, participants are welcomed to a leisurely breakfast. This meal isn’t just about satisfying hunger but is a time to reflect and appreciate the morning’s yoga session. 


Next in the day’s journey is a masterclass centered around breathwork. This isn’t just about breathing in and out. It is an intentional, heart-driven exercise that allows participants to decelerate, reconnect with their core, and cultivate inner peace. It’s like finding a quiet corner within one’s mind where the heart reigns supreme, away from the usual clutter of thoughts.


By the time lunch hour arrives, a spread of plant-based delicacies is laid out. The meals are not only delicious but thoughtfully curated to resonate with the retreat’s ethos of holistic wellbeing.


The afternoon unspools into a creative workshop where participants engage with a palette of hues and textures. They immerse themselves in pursuits such as painting, drawing, and the creation of collages. This artistic exploration is less about the resulting artwork and more about cultivating profound self-understanding and embracing an authentic essence. 


As the sky paints itself with the colors of dusk, participants are introduced to lifestyle Tai Chi. Drawing from the wellspring of Qigong and Shibashi Tai Chi, this practice involves 18 easily replicable movements that participants can carry back home. Each movement, performed in sync with breathwork, helps bring about deep relaxation, readying participants for the evening’s tranquility.


The day comes to a close with a hearty plant-based dinner, followed by a retreat therapy session. It’s a time to reflect on the day’s journey and prepare for the fresh experiences that the next day brings.


Wrapping Up 

In a world filled with busyness and constant digital presence, escaping to a wellness retreat provides a much-needed break. Combining the tranquil elegance of accommodations, the mindful practice of dining, revitalizing treatments, and wellness programs with a holistic focus, retreats create a sanctuary for the weary soul and a transformative journey towards wellbeing. 


In the refuge of these retreats, guests find solace in accommodations designed to facilitate their transformative journey. Each element, from the architectural design to the interior decor, is carefully crafted to encourage tranquility, introspection, and connection with the natural world. 


At wellness retreats, the culinary journey also plays a transformative role in the guests’ experience. By combining delicious flavors with wholesome ingredients, these retreats offer guests the opportunity to enjoy great food while boosting their health and energy. 


Furthermore, these retreats offer guests a blend of traditional and innovative treatments. Combining various healing traditions and the power of nature, these therapeutic offerings promote holistic wellness and enrich the healing process for guests.


While the physical aspect of wellness is vital, retreats go beyond that by nurturing the mind and spirit as well. The comprehensive programs they offer include a variety of activities, including yoga, meditation, and creative outlets, all designed to foster personal growth and self-awareness. By engaging in these holistic practices, guests are able to nurture their mind, body, and spirit, leading to a deeper sense of wellbeing and self-discovery.

An array of retreats dots the landscapes near and within Tennessee’s Upper Cumberland, adding to the charm of Knoxville and its surrounding regions. These retreats house a range of accommodations, from deluxe suites to rustic cabins, each offering a unique perspective of the valley’s stunning views. Alongside comfortable living spaces, retreats offer distinct dining experiences and dishes inspired by worldwide culinary traditions. Far more than just meals, these dining experiences create opportunities for community-building and mindful eating.


At the core of these retreats are carefully designed programs aimed at enhancing overall wellness. The variety of activities on offer is extensive and includes traditional yoga and meditation, therapeutic wraps and mud baths, and immersive sound healing sessions. Other highlights are rebirthing breathwork sessions, restorative Nada Yoga, and instructional cooking classes. For those inclined towards exploration, guided hikes to stunning vistas and waterfalls offer an opportunity to connect with nature. From wellness programs and yoga immersion to personal development and nature exploration, these retreats provide a space for introspection, rejuvenation, and inner peace.


Isha Institute of Inner-sciences

Hidden away in the beautiful landscape of Tennessee’s Upper Cumberland, the Isha Inner-Sciences Center is a mountain getaway designed to promote overall wellness. This center focuses on pure yogic science through one-on-one wellness retreats, group trips, and traditional meditation and yoga programs. Visitors from worldwide corners travel to this unique spot to unwind, retrospect, and find solace in its blend of solitude and tranquility.




The institute features an array of accommodation choices, from luxurious suites and practical studios to charming cabins. Nestled on a wooded hillside with beautiful views of the scenic valley, the deluxe suites boast plenty of space which makes them ideal for families with older children and couples. Some suites even offer additional comforts like balconies and cozy fireplaces and all come with private bathrooms. The studios, which feel like single-room flats, also feature their own bathrooms and are a good fit for families and couples alike. Lastly, the cabins offer a private and serene lodging option with stunning valley views and are complete with a twin bed and an attached bathroom. 




Drawing inspiration from worldwide culinary traditions, the center serves up two wholesome vegetarian meals. These meals are intentionally designed to align with the rhythm of those who are committed to the practices of classical yoga and meditation. Such routines often call for a simplified meal schedule that includes a substantial mid-morning brunch and a hearty dinner, complemented by an assortment of fruits and juice in the afternoon. Those seeking something outside the standard meal times will find the Welcome Center lobby open round-the-clock. It features a refrigerated vending machine filled with a variety of healthy snacks such as raw nuts, fruit juice, and kashi bars and even comforting options like organic chocolate milk and chai tea. 


Retreats and Programs 


The center offers a rich variety of programs, each thoughtfully designed to foster a holistic sense of wellbeing. Notably, the individual wellness retreats and the free yoga days reflect its approach of combining physical and mental practices to promote overall health and harmony.



Known as Isha Rejuvenation programs, the individual wellness retreats blend the timeless wisdom of Ayurvedic and Indian Siddha traditions with a host of restorative practices. They provide a variety of healing methods, including therapeutic wraps and mud baths, massages, and yogic exercises, as well as restorative herbal tonics. These programs integrate the principles of alternative therapies and allopathic medicine with the knowledge from diverse Indian healing traditions. This fusion forms an unique approach and invites participants to begin a journey towards holistic wellness.



The free yoga days at the center offer a full immersion into the world of yoga and meditation. They begin with a gentle round of Upa Yoga, followed by a session of Isha Kriya, a meditation practice aimed at experiencing inner peace and wellbeing.



Next, the agenda introduces the concept of inner engineering and offers participants a chance to interact with an Isha teacher. Following this, the Living Isha Presentation sheds light on how to thrive within the supportive environment of the center itself. It emphasizes the various choices visitors have, from studios and apartments to individual homes, which enable them to shape a lifestyle in this unique environment.



The day also includes a Nada Yoga session, a form of meditative practice that helps enhance mental and physical health, as well as a healthy cooking class that shares how to prepare a highly-pranic vegetarian dish. The day wraps up with another round of Isha Kriya and Upa Yoga, leaving participants feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and filled with a renewed sense of wellbeing. In addition to these sessions, there are daily guided hikes to scenic vistas and waterfalls which allow everyone to connect with nature’s tranquility and beauty.


Elohee Retreat Center, GA

Encompassing three sites for retreat and discovery, Elohee comprises the forest-shrouded Thanksgiving House, the Bald Mountain Center, and the scenic Landsong trails. With extensive trails to explore, a canyon waterfall, and expansive mountain vistas, Elohee offers a wealth of transformative experiences. These include empowerment and yoga retreats, restful weekend getaways, and women’s wellness programs, among others.



With its cottages and tent camping facilities, Elohee caters to a range of preferences and comfort levels. The charming cottage village is situated along a gravel path at the foot of the mountain and is interconnected by sections of the red trail. The cottages host groups of up to 50 people and come with three types of rooms: king bed and twin beds with a private bath and single twin with a shared bath.



To ensure the comfort of guests, all cottages are fitted with amenities such as adjustable blinds, ceiling fans, and a heating and cooling system. The decor of the rooms is a result of the founders’ personal touches and their families’ artistic contributions. The beds are covered in soft, white comforters to complement the understated decoration while the bamboo flooring amplifies the contemporary, retreat-like atmosphere.



In contrast, Elohee’s tent camping is tailor-made for those who seek a more outdoorsy experience. It consists of two basic campsites and two raised platforms, along with a facility for showering and bathing conveniently situated near the camping area. 




Elohee’s culinary philosophy is centered around the belief that wholesome, flavorful meals are key to a fulfilling retreat experience. The focus is on preparing meals using local produce and organically grown ingredients so that guests can enjoy meals that are fresh, nutritious, and aligned with their commitment to mindful eating. The dining experience at Elohee is more than just about nourishment, however, it is also about fostering community and connections over shared meals.



Situated in the Mandala Hall, the communal dining space can accommodate up to forty people, with an adjoining outdoor patio for nature-inspired meal experiences. This flexibility of dining setting extends to the menu itself, ensuring that every guest, whether pescatarian, omnivore, vegan, or vegetarian, can enjoy a nourishing meal experience.



At Elohee, the retreat offerings span a broad spectrum, including nature immersion, heath and wellness, breathwork, personal development, women’s retreats, restful weekends, and yoga, among others. Each retreat is designed to cater to a specific need or interest while ensuring a transformative experience for participants.



One such retreat is the Sacred Breathwork, Instinctual Yoga & Sound Healing program. This particular retreat is curated to help guests establish new, positive patterns through integrative yoga sessions. This process is further supported by rebirthing breathwork sessions where each breath drawn is accompanied by the calming vibrations of sound healing using flutes, singing bowls, and other instruments. A shared sound journey is also part of the experience to nurture unity and harmony within the group. As part of the retreat’s climax, participants gather for a mountaintop fire ceremony evening to celebrate the collective journey they have undertaken. 


In addition to collective healing sessions, there is time set aside for self-reflection, journaling, and group circle discussions to foster a sense of community and shared experience. The program further includes walks through Elohee’s picturesque landscape, including lush fern corridors, trails offering mountain vistas, paths meandering alongside streams, and walks to a venerable 400-year-old Hemlock tree.


Blackberry Farm

Spanning across 4,200 acres of serene landscapes in the Great Smoky Mountains, Blackberry Farm has served as a peaceful retreat for over eighty years, welcoming guests, friends, and families in search of tranquility. From its humble beginnings as a mountain sanctuary, Blackberry Farm has transformed into an acclaimed resort known for inviting leisure activities, gourmet cuisine, and alluring scenery. A serene escape from the fast pace of life, the retreat invites guests to experience the charm and tranquility that is quintessentially “Blackberry”.


From the original historic rooms to the luxurious cottage suites, Blackberry Farm provides a wealth of lodging choices to suit different preferences and needs.


Preserving the rich heritage of Blackberry Farm, the historic rooms provide an intimate encounter with the past. They are uniquely decorated with antique items and radiate the charm of a rustic country house. Guests can choose their preferred bedding arrangement, from twin-sized to queen or king beds.


Situated in the Guest House, the estate rooms are an ideal choice for those seeking a truly indulgent retreat. These nine rooms are available with either a twin-sized or a king bed and come complete with an outdoor space and spacious bathrooms. The Guest House itself is a welcoming communal space furnished with dual fireplaces, plush sofas, and a veranda affording splendid mountain vistas.


For guests seeking privacy and opulence, the cottage suites offer an unrivaled experience. These suites feature a king-sized bed, a wood-burning fireplace, and a porch adorned with rocking chairs. With spacious bathrooms boasting whirlpool tubs and double vanities and stocked pantries of alcohol-free drinks and complimentary bites, these are some of Blackberry’s most coveted accommodations.


Lastly, the farmstead cottage stands as an elegant dwelling for an upscale retreat experience. The living area is decked with state-of-the-art audio-visual technology, valuable antiques, and bespoke furnishings, all promising comfort and sophistication. The cottage hosts a living porch encased in glass and equipped with a fireplace where guests can bask in the peaceful ambience of the surroundings. Luxury extends into the dressing suite and spacious bathroom which boasts twin vanities and a whirlpool tub. The farmstead cottage experience is further enriched with the inclusion of a personal golf cart for guests to navigate the expansive grounds at their own pace.



Crafted by a team of culinary professionals, from chefs and cheesemakers to bakers and sommeliers, the dining experience at Blackberry Farm showcases dedication to locally sourced ingredients drawn from their own farm and the surrounding region. 


Honoring this commitment, lunch spotlights fresh, local ingredients. Dishes like honey-cumin grilled quail, crispy saison-brined fried chicken, and pan-roasted king salmon make up a menu that is as inviting and flavor-forward as it is nourishing. 


Consistently, the dinner selection maintains focus on local ingredients and is no less spectacular. With dishes such as honey-rosemary roasted chicken, chili-roasted gulf shrimp, and brown butter-basted salmon, the menu reflects the center’s Smoky Mountain heritage while maintaining a modern approach to cuisine.




Blackberry Farm offers a wide range of activities to cater to various interests, from outdoor pursuits such as paddle sports and cycling to immersive experiences like farmstead tours and culinary demonstrations. For those looking for a holistic experience, the center’s yoga and meditation programs stand out. 


Within the yoga program, there are several group classes tailored to different skill levels and preferences. The introductory course, “Yoga Basics” is designed with beginners in mind and targets key aspects of yoga such as mindfulness, proper posture alignment, self-awareness, and breath control. It also presents a welcoming environment for those nursing injuries and veterans of yoga who wish to enhance their mastery. 


The flow yoga class marks the next step in the journey as it is intended for those already familiar with basic yoga principles. The essence of this class lies in blending fluid movement, breath, and individual poses to dissipate stress and foster a stronger bond with one’s inner self.


Also aimed at relieving stress and achieving inner balance, the restorative yoga class combines soothing poses and meditation. This class particularly focuses on easing tension, replenishing depleted energy, and establishing equilibrium within the nervous system.


Alongside these yoga classes, the center provides guided meditation sessions aimed at cultivating mindfulness and proper breathing techniques. These sessions are designed to empower participants to navigate the complexities of life with greater awareness and acceptance. 


Seven Springs Retreat Center in Maryville

Spanning 126 acres of privately owned land, the Seven Springs Retreat Center finds its home in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Here, seven natural springs are nestled within a temperate rainforest which houses a remarkable diversity of 17,000 plant and animal species.


From its roots as a thriving agricultural hub and greenhouse business, this verdant land has nourished cattle, chickens, and expansive vegetable gardens while also contributing thousands of plants to the local community. Today, Seven Springs has evolved to serve a deeper purpose – to inspire, cultivate consciousness and awareness, and encourage personal growth amidst natural beauty. Here, guests can find a peaceful refuge as they explore transformative retreats and events designed to enhance their spiritual and emotional wellbeing.




At Seven Springs, guests can immerse themselves in a blend of nature and culture through the choice of accommodation. Two different options await visitors, the globally inspired yurts and more rustic, bring-your-own tent camping sites. 


In the yurts, guests are welcomed by a blend of artwork and traditional textiles which tell stories from the countries that the host family visited. The Mexico Yurt, for instance, captures attention with its rich cultural detailing. Adorned with a hand-loomed Oaxacan blanket and a rug created by artisans from Teotitlán del Valle, it merges comfort with the essence of Mexican heritage. In a different corner, the expansive Peru Yurt offers a journey into the heart of the Amazon. Displaying Shipibo tapestries, its design elements hint at deep indigenous roots. Four single beds accentuate the interior, each adorned with traditional fabrics weaved in the Sacred Valley.


The Guatemala Yurt, a 15-foot structure, showcases dynamic hues and patterns characteristic of Maya Guatemala. The walls display tapestries from communities that border Lake Atitlan while the queen bed features nature-inspired textiles. 



At the heart of Seven Springs’ dining experience is a chef with a passion for sustainable, organic, and plant-based cuisine. Originally from Alabama, she spent years communing with nature, which led her to earn degrees in environmental science and technology and plant sciences. Now, she brings her expertise and dedication to Seven Springs, where her love for cooking meets her commitment to health and the environment. Having lived a vegan lifestyle for over twenty years, she uses plant-based ingredients to create wholesome meals and a culinary experience that champions health-conscious choices. 



At the Seven Springs Retreat Center, guests can select from an array of wellness services designed to complement the retreat experience. Each retreat package includes a stay in a private yurt along with the wellness service of the guest’s choice.


Guests may opt for a custom yoga experience designed to suit their interests. A Vinyasa flow class is also available for those without specific requests, accommodating all levels of experience with the provision of necessary props and blocks.


Another wellness offering is a private sound bath, a restorative session that combines the healing powers of sound and nature. With an assortment of instruments like drums, chimes, gongs, and bells, guests are guided into a state of meditation that promotes holistic healing. 


For those inclined towards the outdoors, the retreat offers a guided nature hike around the estate. Led by a local ecologist, the hike offers insights into the diverse plant and animal life native to the area. Far from being laborious, the stroll makes for an engaging journey through various trails and is tailored to the guests’ preferences. 


Guests can also explore the retreat’s medicinal herbal gardens to delve into the world of therapeutic plants. This educational stroll equips them with know-how to recognize a multitude of herbs, whether found in their garden, the confines of their yard, or the wilderness. Discussion about each herb’s healing properties and the ways to utilize them adds a holistic dimension to the experience.


Lastly, the retreat offers comprehensive health consultations where guests are supported in exploring multiple dimensions of a healthy lifestyle. With insights drawn from language empowerment, Ayurveda, and yoga, these personalized sessions aim to enhance guests’ relationships with their diet, physical activity, surroundings, and their inner self.


Blackberry Mountain, Walland 

Located in Walland, Tennessee, Blackberry Mountain stretches across 5,200 acres within the scenic Great Smoky Mountains. Nearly half of its expanse, sizeable 2,800 acres, is devoted to conservation to ensure the pristine landscape of the mountains remains undisturbed. Grounded in preservation and the provision of unique experiences, the retreat’s philosophy invites guests to engage with the beauty of the Smoky Mountains. With a strong focus on ensuring comfort and readiness to facilitate outdoor adventures, Blackberry Mountain crafts an elevated retreat experience




Accommodation at Blackberry Mountain is varied and curated to ensure an immersive experience with nature. The offerings include stone cottages, treehouses, and mountain homes, each with its own unique charm and comforts.


Designed to blend with the mountainside, the stone cottages offer expansive views of The Great Smoky Mountains. These cottages feature local materials and artisanal craftsmanship in elements like iron windows, stone archways, and oak flooring. Their highlight is an outdoor patio fitted with a fireplace, an ideal spot for guests to unwind in the mountain evenings.


For those in search of a more secluded experience, the treehouses provide an excellent choice. These intimate accommodations are designed to provide privacy while remaining within a short golf cart ride from the Hub and Lodge. Featuring open-plan bathrooms, these treehouse lodgings offer a romantic setting for couples. 


Similarly, the mountain homes offer a private experience amidst natural landscapes with sweeping views. Each home comes with spacious bedrooms that include king-sized beds, individual bathrooms, and separate spaces for relaxation. They are also equipped with dining areas and large-scale kitchens that can comfortably serve 10 to 12 guests, which makes them ideal for group gatherings. A stone fireplace in the living room adds a cozy element to the space. The year-round enclosed porch, complete with a grill and an additional fireplace, provides an extra space for relaxation.



At Blackberry Mountain, the dining experience is all about creativity, healthy ingredients, and diverse flavors and cooking styles from all corners of the globe. The meals included in the stay start with dinner on the first day and wrap up with a farewell breakfast on the last day. If guests wish to have lunch on their first or last day, it is available for an extra charge. A dynamic four-course menu is also on offer, spotlighting fresh, locally sourced produce and foraged ingredients. Diners can look forward to dishes like lemon and herb-seared salmon, a hearty roasted turkey club, and grilled chicken brined in buttermilk.



A wealth of activities caters to the diverse interests of guests, including sessions in an art studio, body therapies, skincare treatments, forest bathing, fitness workouts, and crystal reiki, among others. 


For those seeking to harmonize their mind and body, the center provides a variety of yoga classes. Welcoming practitioners of all levels, ‘Yoga Basics’ concentrates on the cornerstones of yoga – breath, alignment, and asanas. The restorative yoga session offers postures that promote a peaceful mind while the Sunrise Vinyasa class features dynamic movements that energize the body and stimulate digestion. The power yoga class is more challenging and encourages practitioners to push their limits and enhance their endurance and strength. Finally, ‘Beyond Asana’ presents a combination of different yoga aspects, including Dhyana, Pratyahara, Pranayama, and Asana to create a holistic experience. 


In addition to yoga, the center places a strong emphasis on meditation as part of its wellness offerings. Suspended sound bathing meditation invites guests to relax in a silk hammock while experiencing the restorative impact of sound and vibration. Guided crystal meditation offers a therapeutic journey with the help of crystals, all while in the state of savasana. The last meditative practice, ‘Chakra Balancing Meditation’ offers an exploration of the body’s chakras and their influence on physical health, emotional stability, clarity of mind, and spiritual connectedness.


Wrapping Up

Scattered across the landscapes near Knoxville, a variety of retreats offer unique designs, ambience, and accommodations. These places to stay range from the rustic charm of tent camping to the comfort of stone cottages and upscale mountain homes. 


Enjoying meals here turns into an exploration of global cuisines that promotes mindful eating and fellowship. It is not just about dining but embracing a culture of gratitude, conscious living, and community spirit.


Activities at these retreats are not monotonous but cater to a wide range of personal preferences. These include offerings such as yoga and meditation, sound healing sessions, fire ceremony evenings, and group circle discussions. Beyond introspective pursuits, there are also opportunities for outdoor adventures, immersive culinary lessons, and nature hikes. From the introspective to the adventurous, each retreat offers a mix of opportunities to engage, learn, and rejuvenate.

DISCLAIMER: Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new routines, programs, or nutrition plans to ensure you receive the best medical advice and strategy for your specific individual needs.

Yoga is in vogue today and there are plenty of reasons why. In today’s busy and hectic world that we live in, people have time for everything, from work commitments to household responsibilities but not for themselves. It is becoming harder and harder to find time to get some exercise, relax, and focus on self-care. And here, precisely, lies the purpose of yoga practice, teaching us to be more mindful and present and more connected to ourselves, at least for a while.


The enthusiasm for a balanced and healthy lifestyle and meeting one’s personal needs are high and practicing yoga offers a way into achieving those goals. The practice is so popular, and accessible (a wide variety of YouTube videos, DVDs, books, studio classes, podcasts, and apps are available), that people have ample opportunity to give yoga a go.


Yet, with so much information out there, there is always a risk it could be misinterpreted. Some people associate yoga with challenging poses and contortions while others think of it in terms of fitness and weight loss. Still, others associate yoga with religion, sages and hermits, and new-age mysticism.


So, what is yoga really about, how did it originate and change through the centuries, and what are the different styles you might experience today? Here are the answers to get you started with a mind-body practice that can support your emotional, cognitive, spiritual, and physical health.


What Is Yoga


Yoga is a Hindu mind-body practice, which combines a variety of activities, including meditation, breathing techniques, and physical postures. Postures or asanas are performed to strengthen and stretch the body’s muscles, ligaments, and joints. The regular practice aims to improve balance, strength, flexibility, range of motion, and mobility.


While yoga poses range from simple backbends and stretch to more complex balancing postures, they are always performed in sync with breath control. Deep, conscious, controlled breathing which matches the rhythm of exercise is at the heart of yoga practice. Deep breathing calms the body, soothes the nervous system, improves blood circulation and blood flow, and supports the function of vital organs.


Focusing on each aspect of breathing also enables yogis to stay present, at the moment, and aware of the here and now. As such, conscious breathing is a form of meditation. And at the core of meditation is present moment awareness – stillness in thought that heightens our connection to sensations, sounds, and sights, enabling us to observe here and now.


Combining physical postures, conscious breathing, and meditation, yoga brings physical wellness and mental clarity. The body responds favorably and with regularity, the practice results in muscle toning, lower blood sugar, balanced insulin levels, improved spinal health, increased blood flow, lubricated joints, increased lung capacity, and regulated blood pressure.


The bonus of conscious breathing and meditation leaves the mind feeling peaceful, deeply relaxed, and more centered in the present moment, letting go of the future and past.


The Remarkable History of Yoga



Before moving on to explore the different types of yoga, here is how it evolved to be what it is today, from the early oral tradition to the diverse styles of yoga that we now have.


The history of yoga dates back to 2,500 BC and its origins can be traced to Northern India and the Indus Valley civilization. The first mentions of the word yoga are found in the Vedic scriptures – religious texts with rituals, mantras, and songs used by the Brahman priests.


While the original practice involved diverse and often contradictory techniques and beliefs, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, written by Sage Patanjali around 400 CE, outlined the key elements of yoga philosophy and practice, systematizing them into sutras or aphorisms.


It was only in the late 1800s that yoga teachers began to travel to America and Europe to share their teachings. Yoga and meditation exploded in popularity in the U.S. in the 1960s and since then it has become a way of life for millions of people.


Today, there are many different types of yoga, from more relaxed and gentle to fast-paced and more physically demanding.


Types of Yoga: How to Choose the One for Yourself


If you’ve been considering starting your yoga journey you must be wondering which style of yoga to choose. Here’s a little breakdown of each of the most popular styles.


Hatha Yoga


Hatha yoga focuses on practicing asanas or physical postures and syncing them up with breath control. The focus is on proper alignment and doing each pose correctly, holding asanas for at least one minute. In comparison to slow-paced Hatha, yoga styles like Ashtanga are more dynamic, and poses are held just briefly.


Ashtanga Yoga



Ashtanga is more rigorous, structured, and routine based than Hatha and Vinyasa which are more flexible and freestyle. The same poses are performed in the same order each time, with mantra chanting at the beginning and end of a yoga practice. Combining inverted postures, core strengthening, and deep stretches, Ashtanga is also more physically demanding and requires a level of endurance, flexibility, and physical strength.


Vinyasa Yoga



Vinyasa is also more strict, fast-paced, and physically challenging than Hatha, with poses flowing from one to the other. Breath and transitions, which are essentially postures themselves, connect one pose to the next.


While Vinyasa is less structured than Ashtanga, the Sun Salutation sequence is at the core of the practice, moving from Downward Facing Dog to Plank to Four-Limbed Staff Pose to Upward Facing Dog. Yoga beginners may find the Sun Salutation physically demanding at first, but Sun Salutation has its place in the practice as it warms up the muscles and prepare them for more challenging postures.


Kundalini Yoga


Kundalini yoga involves a combination of postures, breathing exercises, singing, and chanting. Unlike Hatha yoga where the main focus is on asanas or physical postures, meditation, mantras, and breathing are at the heart of the Kundalini practice. Yoga students practice different types of breathing such as Dog Breath, alternate nostril breathing, and Breath of Fire.


Kundalini yoga also incorporates a number of mantras to set the energetic vibration for the practice. In essence, while other styles of yoga are more physical, Kundalini places a strong emphasis on mudras /symbolic gestures/, kryas /breath control techniques/, bandhas /energy flow locks/, meditation, and mantras.


Iyengar Yoga



One of the newest styles of yoga – Iyengar was developed by yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar yoga about 75 years ago. Here the main focus is on sequencing, alignment, precision, and the use of props like pillow-like bolsters, blocks, and belts. It is also common to see chairs, straps, and blankets in yoga studios, helping practitioners to get into poses with the best possible alignment.


Anusara yoga, which is a version of Iyengar, also emphasizes correct alignment but is more fluid and integrates spiritual techniques into every practice. Classes start with the Anusara invocation to enable practitioners to connect physical postures with feelings of devotion, grace, love, and self-honor.


Aerial Yoga


Also called suspension and anti-gravity yoga, this style combines Pilates, asanas, and the use of a swing or hammock. Students practice some of the yoga postures found in Hatha, Iyengar, and Vinyasa yoga while floating above the ground.


As asanas are performed in a hammock, this allows practitioners to do yoga poses without adding pressure on their spine, shoulders, and neck. While it might look a bit technical at a first glance, Aerial yoga is suitable for everyone who is fit and has good core muscles.


Wrapping Up


Yoga is a body of knowledge, mind and body practice, and a process of self-discovery through meditation, observation, and exploration. Owing to its thousands of years of history, it has evolved as a practice with a variety of techniques and styles.


From more traditional like Hatha and Ashtanga to newer ones like Iyengar and Aerial yoga, some practices are gentle and restorative while others are more demanding and physically challenging. For beginning practitioners, some of the vital questions when it comes to yoga are whether the newfound style matches their goals, personality, and fitness level. And most importantly, whether it feels right.


Choose the one style that best serves your goals, and practice with care and mindfulness.

DISCLAIMER: Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new routines, programs, or nutrition plans to ensure you receive the best medical advice and strategy for your specific individual needs.