“Inward Journey” Vacation
By Ann Nelson
After weeks of contemplation regarding where to go
well-deserved vacation, I
decided to stay home and spend the travel money I’d saved on an “inward journey”. The inspiration for this idea came after reading Warrior Pose. In his book, Brad Willis, aka Bhava Ram, talks about witnessing the world’s worst atrocities as a twenty-year,
award-winning war correspondent for NBC News.
experiencing a terrible accident, followed by chronic pain, drug dependency, advanced-stage cancer the loss
of his job, Bhava Ram’s book focuses on turning his life around through the practice of yoga and
meditation. Reading this book was a stark reminder of the profound effects a
regular yoga and meditation practice can have in your life. It proved to be a
wake-up call for me. I could no longer deny that I’d been slacking off on this critical ingredient in my
life and knew I needed to
get started again.
I made the
decision to stay in town and hire a yoga and meditation coach. After months of putting off my yoga and meditation practice, I knew I needed to be
accountable to someone. The “I’ll start tomorrow” plan wasn’t working. After a
few hours of phone calls, I found the perfect person who actually made house
Shauna MacKay to energize and renew my yoga and breathing practice was an easy
decision. Prior to studying Yoga Therapy for Cancer at Duke Integrative Medicine, Shauna spent ten years as a Health and Fitness Consultant. Her advanced
courses include work in Deep Relaxation, Meditation and Healthy Back. In addition to making house calls, Shauna
teaches group classes throughout Southern California.
When I made a
decision to hire a coach, I was well aware that procrastination was out of the question. Shauna helped me to stay on track
as she guided me through easy, practical breathing and stretching practices in a patient and gentle
I learned to exhale when
pulling towards my body in a yoga pose and inhale when I was expanding in a
posture. Shauna suggested I place a pillow underneath my back for an intense stretch before getting out of bed in
the morning. Her simple tips made a huge difference!
completing four private sessions at home and practicing yoga and meditation for
on my own, I decided to
enhance my “inward journey” by registering for a Brain Cleanse Program at The
Alchemy Arts Center in Santa Barbara. The concept of the program is simple.
Most of us, including me, are stressed out. We are well aware of the negative effects stress plays in our everyday lives, but what I didn’t know is that stress
impacts every organ in our body. The program at the center is specifically
created to gently
cleanse and nourish the organs with yoga exercises and an organic diet.
Founder Emma Narachi, a cranial
sacral practitioner and reiki master, was inspired to develop an optimum health destination after a visit to
an award-winning wellness
sanctuary and holistic spa in Thailand. She returned to Santa Barbara and set out to create a healing center
with real substance, one that would have a lasting impact on the visitors.
When I walked into The Alchemy, I immediately knew I had chosen the
right place for my “inward journey”. I wasn’t looking
for a spa with expansive grounds and lots of pampering. My needs were
simple. I was seeking guidance and support
from a professional staff, along with healthy food.
Executive Chef, Erik Stenberg deserves a
thousand gold stars for his healthy, organic kitchen creations. Erik, a
graduate from Johnson and Wales University’s culinary arts program, believes
that if we live a balanced life and listen to our cravings, we’ll feed
ourselves exactly what we need.
The brain cleanse curriculum ranges from 3 to 7
days. The schedule begins with a free consultation with wellness director, Eric
Baumgartner. Eric is well indoctrinated in the practice of medicine. His father
and grandfather were both traditional medical doctors and Eric seriously
considered heading in the same direction.
After spending a few years in pre-med school, he had a gut-level feeling that he needed to explore
various options. After traveling to India, Indonesia and other countries, Eric
could not ignore his true calling -— Chinese Medicine. Eric presently holds a Master’s
degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine and practices Acupuncture, Herbalism
and Nutrition. He is well versed in the treatment of fatigue, weight-loss and
treatments offered at The Alchemy are designed to move blocked-energy and
restore feelings of well being and balance. I chose to experience treatments that were new to me: The Chromalift is a holistic face lift created
from a perfect blend of Swiss
skin-care technology with the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine and power of light therapy.
Therapy assists to reintegrate parts of the body-mind that have been
disconnected with a gentle hands-on procedure. There really are no words to describe how I felt
after these treatments.
I’ve visited dozens of spas. This is simply the best!
yoga classes taught by Siddhi were powerful and unique. I’ve never experienced
such intense purging exercises in yoga and certainly was not anticipating a
homework assignment. But, I had to remember, this was the first time I had signed up for a “Brain Cleanse Program”. Our homework was to be discussed
in the next class: write our fears in one column and write what would happen to
our fears if they would be transformed into courage in the other column. Siddhi’s
understanding and nurturing style was perfect for teaching this program. Though her home is
in Santa Barbara, she teaches yoga all over the world.
wanted my visit to Santa Barbara to be simple and uncomplicated, I left my car at home. When the train arrived, I walked to The
Santa Barbara Hotel, a short distance away. This classy, historic hotel, with
the old-fashioned “do-it-yourself” elevator was located in the middle of the
restaurant and shopping district, and a one-
and-one-half block walk to The Alchemy.
vacation has reminded me of the importance of tuning into silence for few
moments each day. After hiring a good coach and spending a few days at The
Alchemy, I feel rejuvenated and lighter. I highly recommend treating yourself
to an “inward journey”. It is the perfect gift to give to yourself!
MacKay Yoga: www.shaunamackayyoga.com or call: (858) 699-9118
Arts Center: www.alchemyartscenter.com or call:
Santa Barbara: www.HotelSantaBarbara.com or call:
Ann Nelson is a freelance writer
residing in San Diego.