In the depth of winter,
I finally learned that within me
there lay an invincible summer.
– Albert Camus
When the solitude of a Cape Cod winter draws you inward, it’s a perfect time to give your spirit, body and mind a chance to renew. Cape and Islanders lead winter retreats ranging from restorative vacations in exotic destinations, to weekend workshops closer to home. We’ve gathered some retreats to inspire you. Check our directory for more great ideas.
DESTINATION: SUNSHINE AND YOGA
Daily yoga classes in a lush tropical resort setting, delectable healthy meals, and activities like waterfall hikes and whitewater rafting may be just the antidote to the winter blues. Jill Abraham, owner of Power Yoga of Cape Cod in Harwich, presents this package in a Power Yoga in Costa Rica retreat Feb. 20 to 27, with yoga teacher Eric Elven.
The Power Yoga retreat, held at Pura Vida Wellness Retreat & Spa, includes 90 minutes of Power Yoga each morning. “It’s a fitness-style of yoga, made accessible to people,” Abraham says.
In the evenings, Abraham and Elven offer workshops on Ayurveda, sound healing, meditation, pranayama breathing and posture clinics. The week winds up with a dance party.
For Kripalu yoga instructor Catherine Paulson, practicing in idyllic settings comes naturally: she’s also a Master Gardener and teaches Yoga in the Gardens at Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich. From January through March, Paulson leads yoga sessions at eco-friendly Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast.
“The energy of the space that that land holds is truly amazing,” Paulson says. “I’ve seen some great decompression happen over the years.”
Paulson welcomes families in her program, and guides her yoga class to complement what other activities people have planned for the day. For example, she’ll work on shoulder stretches for kayaking.
Husband-and-wife yoga teachers Nancy Curran and Don Bartolone follow the sun from their summertime Yoga on the Beach classes in Mashpee, to Key West between November and May. Daily yoga classes are offered at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, and Saturdays at Southernmost on the Beach resort.
“There’s a strong sense of nature that surrounds you,” Curran says. “There’s definitely an energy vortex around there that supports anyone seeking a spiritual connection.”
Drop in for a Key West class or a Sunday yoga brunch, or create a personalized retreat from one day to a week long. “I’m pretty adaptable and I love working with people who are looking to take time out and go inward,” says Curran.
Most winters, Zack Dixon, Iyengar yoga instructor and owner of Quiet Mind Studio in Wellfleet, leads retreats to Mar De Jade, in Chacala, Mexico. This year, he’s taking a break from international travel but is looking ahead to 2011 excursions. “It’s really a time to rebalance and bring in things that support you,” Dixon says about his retreats. Dixon also holds an annual, local Cape Cod retreat called “Escape to the Cape” right here in Wellfleet.
If Mexico and yoga sound inviting this winter, you can join Tricia Duffy of Everybodies Yoga, in Orleans, and travel to the remote village of Yelapa, Mexico from March 5 to March 13. Accessible only by boat from Puerto Vallarta, this yoga studio is tucked away on the side of a mountain, overlooking a tropical bay in the rainforest jungle. Attendees are met by donkeys at the pier, who carry their luggage up the mountain to living quarters beneath the open air yoga studio. “Its like going back in time; doing yoga in a pristine setting, walking past chickens and donkeys, no traffic noise, waterfalls, all while having wifi access and a personal chef,” says Tricia.
Katrina Valenzuela, spiritual healer at Transformations Center for Healing and Holistic Studies in Barnstable, has Egyptian roots and feels it’s part of her life’s mission to take people to her homeland’s sacred sites. “You’re going to the energetic center of the planet,” says Valenzuela, who is also a Certified International Tour Manager.
Join Valenzuela for a deluxe tour and cruise of Mystical Egypt and the Nile, Jan. 29 to Feb. 9. The tour includes sites not typically seen by foreigners, such as a passageway under the Hathor temple in Dendera, which has mysterious astrological carvings. “The focus is on the gods, goddesses and myths of Ancient Egypt,” Valenzuela says. “We’re recollecting our soul energy.”
Whether it’s enlightenment, balance or exploring different cultures that you’re after, Dr. Debra Babcock, director of Harmony Network Chiropractic and Yoga in Mashpee, can arrange a retreat to almost anyplace you’d like to go. Her travels include such colorful destinations as Italy and India.
RECONNECT NEAR HOME
“What I know I can do is create a safe place for writers to write,” says Nancy Slonim Aronie, writer/editor, NPR commentator and director of the Chilmark Writing Workshop on Martha’s Vineyard. Aronie’s workshop, Writing from the Heart: Finding Your Own Voice, moves from its Chilmark home to winter retreat locations at Kripalu Center in Lenox, Mass., Wainwright House in Rye, NY, and New York Open Center in New York City.
Aronie’s workshop helps people get back to what they loved about writing, before their voice was stifled by harsh assessment from a teacher or parent. Her one rule for feedback to a fellow writer: Tell me what you loved. “You cannot have judgment and criticism when doing creative work,” Aronie says. “When you take chances, you go deep; and when you go deep, you get power.”
Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, is not only a setting for workshops like Writing from the Heart, but a training center for wellness professionals and a full-service resort with retreats based on a number of themes, from outdoor fitness to science and spirituality.
Dennis Kripalu yoga instructor Jennifra Norton recommends a weekend at Kripalu to transition smoothly into winter, to provide space and time to reflect on the past year, and to renew the well of life energy for the year to come. Register with Team Jennifra for the weekend of Jan. 15 to 17 and receive a 20 percent discount on accommodations.
Lenox, Mass., is also home to Canyon Ranch, where holistic health practitioners tailor individualized programs for guests to optimize mind-body balance. Reiki Master and Licensed Mental Health Counselor Janet Doucette, who formerly practiced on Cape Cod, says, “I feel honored to work at Canyon Ranch, for I not only get to help people with their goals of wellness, but I work within the beauty and symmetry of what feels to me to be a very sacred landscape of healing.”
Nearer the bridge, Peggy Patenaude offers spirituality retreats at LaSalette Retreat Center in Attleboro. “We all need to take time out now and again to regain balance, inner peace and direction, and it is a real privilege to assist others in this process,” says Patenaude, an experienced facilitator who started her business, Taking Time Out, in 2002. Favorite retreats include Couples: Keeping Your Love Alive, and My One Wild and Precious Life: Women’s Retreats. She also holds programs in Falmouth and other locations.
RETREAT ON THE CAPE
At Evensong by the Sea Retreat and Spirituality Center in Harwich Port, people of all faiths are invited to reconnect with the sacredness of God within and around us. The retreat center has a labyrinth for prayer and meditation, which Co-director the Rev. Marie David, an ecumenical Catholic priest, says, “provides a sacred space to release that which no longer serves us, to make room for the fullness of life that awaits us.”
Upcoming retreats at Evensong include Care for the Family Caregiver on Feb. 27, and Navigating Life’s Transitions on March 13. On April 16 to 18, David and Donna Wood Eaton from Cedar Spring Herb Farm host a retreat on Rituals for Healthy Living. “We’ll be taking a look at rituals we have in our lives and how we nourish ourselves,” says David. Retreat participants will go the Cedar Spring Herb Farm for a native ceremony surrounding food and a program,“Is your food your medicine?”
Retreats help people be more effective in their relationships and professions, too. The Gestalt International Study Center in Wellfleet offers workshops for individuals seeking personal growth, for practitioners – like coaches and consultants – who want to effect positive change in their clients, and for organization leaders. Applying the Cape Cod Model to Coaching, March 5 to 10, focuses on coaching applications of an intervention technique that supports an individual’s competencies and ability to move towards change. A Couples’ Workshop: Difficult Topics, Successful Conversations, Dec. 5 to 6, helps build intimacy. The architecturally striking meeting house may also be rented for retreats.
While attending a retreat in a different setting can change your perspective, it’s not always feasible to get away. Dr. Mitch Tishler, a holistic physician in Chatham, has developed a self-guided exploration to inner peace that can be used anywhere, through a downloadable e-book called “Seeing with Heart: To Journey from within” and related audio files. Dr. Tishler describes his program: “Initially, the ‘Seeing with Heart’ journey had only been available as a one-to-one experience. Now, because of available technology, you’re able to take this journey as a self-directed ‘Journey Solo.’”
If your ideal retreat is to refresh body and soul with a massage, skin treatment or relaxing hydrotherapy, Cape Cod offers some of the finest resort spas around. The Spa at Chatham Bars Inn has oversized treatment rooms with private steam showers and indulgent amenities. Soak in a warm mineral therapy tub at Shui Spa in Provincetown. Select individual services or a package of body, hair, nail and skin treatments at Beach Plum Spas in the Cape Codder Resort in Hyannis and Dan’l Webster Inn in Sandwich – manicures and pedicures are available for kids, too.
The weather might be bleak, but this winter, try a retreat to nurture the growth within. - cha
PLAN YOUR RETREAT…
Power Yoga in Costa Rica, co-led by Jill Abraham with Eric Elven
Feb. 20 to 27, 2010, Puravida Wellness Retreat & Spa. www.poweryogaofcapecod.com 774-237-2773
Yoga Vacations at Playa Nicuesa Rainforest Lodge, with instructor Catherine Paulson – package or individual rates. www.nicuesalodge.com 866-504-8116. April thru June, visit Samasati Nature Retreat. www.samasati.com 800-563-9643
Yoga on the Beach, with Nancy Curran and Don Bartolone. www.yogaonabeach.com
Yoga with Zack – Information on retreats and workshops. www.yogawithzack.com.
Yelapa, Mexico by Boat – Yoga Retreat with Tricia Duffy of Everybodies Yoga Mar. 5 to Mar. 13, 2010. www.everybodiesyoga.com 508-725-8464
Mystical Egypt and the Nile deluxe tour and cruise, offered by Transformations Center for Healing and Holistic Studies. Jan. 29 to Feb. 9, 2010. www.transformationscenter.com 508-362-7474
Harmony Network Chiropractic and Yoga – Debra Babcock, D.C. www.harmonychiroyoga.com 508-419-7070
Writing from the Heart: Finding Your Own Voice with Nancy Slonim Aronie www.chilmarkwritingworkshop.com 508-645-9085
Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health: www.kripalu.org 866-200-5203.
Kripalu Yoga in Dennis Village, with Jennifra Norton www.vitalityfound.com 508-432-5840
Canyon Ranch in Lenox www.canyonranchlenox.com
800-225-9878, ext. 5331 (Laura Orley, retreat guide).
Taking Time Out with Peggy Patenaude
Evensong by the Sea Retreat & Spirituality Center
Gestalt International Study Center www.gisc.org 508-349-7900
Seeing with Heart: To Journey from within – Journey Solo
e-mail Dr. Mitch Tishler. email@example.com
Chatham Bars Inn: www.chathambarsinn.com 508-945-0096
Shui Spa at Crowne Pointe Historic Inn: www.shuispa.com 508-487-6767
Beach Plum Spa at Cape Codder Resort or Dan’l Webster Inn www.beachplumspa.com Cape Codder Resort 508-771-3000 or Daniel Webster Inn 508-888-3622
Written by Susan Spencer.
Susan Spencer is an award-winning writer and photographer who lives in Whitinsville and Brewster, Mass. She contributes frequently to CHA magazine on energy, environment and health issues.