The last few years of pandemic have heaped on new stresses but also built our resiliency, and more and more of us are seeking wellness. We’re looking to not just lose weight and gain healthy habits, but to also holistically heal and grow. Luckily, health retreats are going over and above to keep up with our needs. Today, mindfulness is at the core of most health movements, allowing for a stunning array of traditional and unexpected retreat options that fit any interest or comfort level.
A Therapist’s Guide To Best Mindful Health Retreats in the US This Year
Mindfulness, although often connected with yoga, meditation, and therapy, is the act of being fully present in a moment and observing rather than reacting. Most of us are woefully out of practice but anyone can do it. And evidence continues to point to the connection between mindfulness and a healthier, more satisfying experience.
Since most of us struggle with turning off our brains’ reactionary commentary, mindfulness is best reached through our senses. Anything that involves sensory immersion can help us be more connected with ourselves in the world around us and ultimately our health, which means there is something for everyone with these 2022 health retreats around the United States.
Yoga builds mind and body connective health through fluid movement and meditative practices. Yoga classes and workshops are everywhere, one of the most common types of health retreat. But large festivals can add community, variety, and commitment.
Telluride Yoga Festival — Colorado
This June, the annual Telluride Yoga Festival offers over 100 events at the village-style campus in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. The four-day event pulls together world-recognized teachers for yoga, meditation, fitness, climbing, and wellness courses. Past attendees rave about the intimate setting and collective feel.
Wanderlust — Taos, New Mexico
For those needing more flexibility on their calendar, Wanderlust hosts events and festivals around the country and world throughout the year. The events kick off just after the new year with Winterlust in Taos, New Mexico.
Sound bathing retreats
Sound bathing encourages us to focus on strategic sounds in an otherwise still environment. Leaders combine tonal instruments like singing bowls, gongs, and tuning forks with percussive instruments and vocal techniques. Proponents of sound bathing believe strategic sounds can affect vibrational energies and brainwaves frequencies, reducing stress and pain.
Menla, New York
Menla, part of the Dalai Lama’s non-profit cultural Tibet House, is offering a fun and intimate sound, yoga, and meditation retreat this February. The three-day retreat promises a nurturing environment for all experience levels and free time to explore the surrounding Catskills.
Then, in June, Menla hosts the 11th Annual Sound Healing Retreat with the Sage Academy of Sound. Internationally known faculty members will teach medicinal songs, ancestral instruments, and daily yoga sessions. The four-day retreat includes lodging and camping options.
Detox wellness retreats
Toxic was the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year in 2018, a nod to our desire to rid ourselves of all the harmful influences in our lives. The good news is most wellness and health retreats detox through healthy eating, locking away devices, laying off the alcohol, and engaging in activities to cleanse the body. If you want to take it further, consider these detox deep dives.
Heart of a Warrior Retreat — Forestburg, Texas
Camp Detox’s four-day Heart of a Warrior Retreat is looking for 10 ready-to-work participants in late August. This Forestburg, Texas retreat includes classic detox activities and therapeutic introspection to explore personal vices and our cultural obsession with busyness. This retreat aims to help people be at peace with themselves.
Art of Living Retreat Center — Boone, North Carolina
Or go quiet with a silent retreat at the Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, North Carolina. The introductory Stepping into Silence is a four-day retreat offered throughout the year. Learn techniques to calm the mind for two days and then enter a silent period after dinner on day two. Benefits include deeper sleep, reduced stress, new cells in the hippocampus, and improved focus.
Forest bathing retreats
Have no fear if you’re not an outdoor adventurer. Forest bathing is a sensory immersion practice from Japan. Instead of hiking with a destination in mind, “bathers” mindfully take in all the smells, sights, sounds, and tastes of the forest. Research reports reductions in blood pressure and stress hormones in addition to perceived calmness.
The Lodge at Woodloch — Poconos, Pennsylvania
The Lodge at Woodloch in the Poconos features a range of wellness options but uniquely offers private forest bathing with their naturalist, a certified Nature Therapy guide. Other mindful experiences include nocturnal walks, eagle viewing, tea rituals, and foraging with an herbalist. This award-winning destination spa is all-inclusive with gourmet meals and 500 acres to roam.
Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health — Stockbridge, Massachusetts
If you’re looking for an intensive group experience, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health is hosting a mindful outdoor guide leadership course in late April. You’ll spend eight days in Massachusetts exploring forest bathing, outdoor skills, yoga, Ayurveda, and research on the benefits of nature.
Culinary and nutrition retreats
Mindful tasting is a common technique when teaching mindfulness in therapy. Participants slowly experience the texture, smell, and taste of a single piece of candy or fruit. Mindful eating as a daily practice helps us connect with our food’s quality, quantity, and food choices.
Cook Academy — Essex Junction, Vermont
The personalized nutrition education that many retreats offer is beneficial. But it often doesn’t engage participants in mindful practices that change our relationships with food. Instead, look for a retreat that gets you in the kitchen. The Essex Resort in Vermont houses the Cook Academy. Whether cooking, baking, or rolling sushi, these classes cover almost every theme you can imagine. Snag the gourmet getaway for access and make the stay complete.
Blackberry Farm — Walland, Tennessee
The famous Blackberry Farm in Tennessee covers the entire range of the culinary experience. Guests can garden and do artisanal cooking with the Farmstead Field School and then join various tasting experiences and cooking demonstrations. Other wellness options include Nourishing Table healthy eating classes, forest bathing, spa treatments, and outdoor activities.
While it may not be the most obvious of health retreats, creating art, regardless of skill, consistently lowers cortisol, releases dopamine, and reduces cognitive decline. Art-making creates the mindful “flow state” that activates a different part of the brain than other thinking patterns.
Mandalas art classes — Across the US
Mandalas, or repeating geometric patterns, are examples of ancient art and meditative practice from multiple religions that originated in Asia. Today they’re also used in coloring and sand art self-soothing techniques. Two-day workshops around the country help participants create and process a personal mandala.
Elemental Team Arts — San Francisco, California
Some artists worldwide are going back to the ancient practice of sand mandalas, raking massive designs into beaches. They report getting lost in the meditative trance of creation, and a strange satisfaction as the waves erase it clean. Many offer lessons on Airbnb experiences, but Elemental Team Arts in San Francisco offer monthly public workshops to help make a gorgeous sand creation.
If you’re not into mandalas, the creative retreat world is full of painting, calligraphy, knitting, woodworking, and other mediums that help bring on a “flow state.”
Mindful fitness retreats
If you’re anything like me, you benefit from turning up your tunes and pounding out a workout. But mindful exercise involves paying attention to your body before the pain starts. If you find yourself battling exercise, look to mindful fitness retreats to connect with movement.
Run Wild Retreats — Across the US and international locations
The simple act of paying deep attention to our steps as we walk is an ancient meditative practice. Kick it up a notch with the Run Wild Retreats for women. These worldwide retreats are typically four to seven days and fit three different fitness levels. Participants immerse themselves and build confidence.
SUP, Surf, and Zen — Cocoa Beach, Florida
Surfing also demands mindfulness to learn, making it a popular pairing with yoga and beachy vibes. Join the year-round, four-day SUP, Surf, and Zen retreats at the Full Circle Yoga School in Cocoa Beach, Florida.