When Nancy King celebrated her 80th birthday with a vision quest ceremony in rural Quebec, she carried a lifetime of self-doubt into the forest with her. Today, she's free from all that. Find out what happened.
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Posted in: Wellness
by Judith Fein.
Photography by Paul Ross
Not too long ago, I was sitting in the waiting area of a hair salon, indulging in a guilty pleasure—reading trashy magazines. I skipped over the plunging necklines of movie stars I’ve never heard of, bounced over an article or two about how to hook your man like a flounder, and my eyes settled on a pop quiz: how is your fitness level?
Treadmill? Yes, ma’am.
Do you go to the gym twice or more a week? Check.
Is walking part of your daily routine? You bet. I walk at least 75 minutes a day in the hills and arroyos (river beds) around my home.
Swim? Uh huh.
Hula hoop? Love it.
Tai chi? I’m there.
Yoga? Kundalini style.
Biking? Nope. Hurts my butt.
Hiking? Well, if I can go really slowly on ascent.
Mountain climbing? Next life.
White water rafting? Sure, if it’s class 2 or under.
Paragliding? I like to watch it. Does that count?
I stopped the quiz and scrolled down to the results, which informed me that I am probably fit, but not an adventurer.
So, I wondered, does that mean I’m unqualified for adventure travel? And then my always-active mind skipped to: what is adventure travel anyway?
by Elyn Aviva
I needed a break. Big time. I’d been doing too much for too long. Traveling. Writing. Doing. Coming up with projects, ideas. More doing. And doing some more. I loved it all, and I loved my husband, Gary, but I needed a break. Alone. And somewhere preferably in Spain, where we live.
I started scanning last-minute Internet offers. My idea was a comfortable little cabin in the woods; someone bringing me wholesome food; and occasionally taking short, shady strolls through verdant vegetation.
Suddenly a vision floated before my eyes. My Camino de Santiago pilgrim friend Judy Colaneri and her husband, Juan Carlos, own Fuentes de Lucia, a “boutique” hotel/retreat center in the mountains of northwestern Spain. They had been asking me to visit for years. I checked the website. It wasn’t an isolated cabin in the woods, but it looked like a charming place, located in a beautiful Asturian Natural Park.
A “dynamic yoga retreat” was scheduled for the week I wanted to be there. I wasn’t sure I was interested in “dynamic” or “yoga”—it’s been too many years since I sat on the floor or managed to mold into an asana—but the retreat part sounded good.
I emailed Judy and received an immediate reply. In fact, she wrote, she had already put my name on the door of Room #7. That’s auspicious, I thought. After all, according to the Bible, the Creatrix rested on the seventh day. And that’s just what I wanted to do.
Alright, we all know by now that drinking red wine is supposed to be heart-healthy. So then, shouldn’t slathering a glass of Merlot on your body be good for the skin? Such is the theory, sort of, at the Caudalie Spas. There are currently only four in the world, and I am luxuriating in a ‘vinotherapie’ massage in the Relais San Maurizio Hotel in the heart of the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. The vintage is being absorbed into the skin rather than ingested into the bloodstream.
As is also true in Bordeaux, France, Rioja, Spain and New York City (Hmmm; don’t exactly think of the latter as a major wine-producing area…), here wine is king! And the appreciation of its many attributes – which, as those who know me can attest, I try to experience as often as I can – is a venerated practice. So it seems appropriate that the consumption of wine extend beyond traditional imbibing.
I am married to a man who loves to compete. He is long, lanky and as strong as an ox. Much less competitive but also athletic, I have shared many challenges by his side for more than two decades—from running and cycling to rock climbing and skiing. While he strives to win, I just want to sweat, stretch and inhale some fresh air.
Every year since our wedding 21 years ago, we’ve celebrated our anniversary with a trip—like biking in Croatia, skiing in Park City, Utah, museum and pub hopping in London, and golfing in Hilton Head, North Carolina. As soon as each trip is over, I start thinking about our next springtime getaway—a rare chance for us to have extended time together, away from our three beautiful kids and the stresses of daily life.
When it was time to plan last year’s trip, I was intrigued after hearing from a friend about Esencia, a small 29-room resort on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. I love Mexico not only for its food, climate, and culture, but it also makes for an easy trip—a non-stop flight from New York to Cancun, and then a one-hour drive.
Once the beachfront estate of an Italian duchess, Esencia is a 50-acre white-walled property that looks out over the Caribbean. It is a peaceful oasis with two pools, a day spa that uses ingredients like juniper berries and rosemary grown in its on-site garden, and a welcoming open-air restaurant called Sal y Fuego.
But what really grabbed me was learning that Esencia offered yoga—every morning, free of charge, outside in the open air.
This was my chance. A rare opportunity for my point-scoring, lap counting, time-keeping husband to perhaps let down his competitive edge and try something that would greatly benefit his body—and soul.
by Bethany Ball
By my late twenties, I’d been unhappy with my body for a while. I had put on and dropped the same twenty pounds over and over again. Thin, I felt glamorous, but was in fact starving. My ideal weight was not one I could maintain. And heavy was something I was always fighting against. I needed to find a new journey to health and wellbeing.
For years I’d gone to the gym and it made me feel energized and strong. But it made my body bulky. My already naturally broad shoulders resembled those of a line backer. They’d bulked up after years of competitive swimming. My thighs were too heavy to fit in the narrow boot cut jeans, fashionable at the time. Boyfriends described me kindly as “athletic,” when I’d dreamed all my life of being lithe.
Working out made me feel powerful, but that feeling of power morphed into a feeling of being overly caffeinated. I would walk out of Crunch gym, after my regular work out, feeling twitchy and sometimes irritable. I used to call my work out my “Prozac” but, in fact, it didn’t relax me. I no longer felt powerful, I felt combative. Going to the gym made me hungry, sometimes ravenous. In college it was not unusual for me to whip up a batch of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, eat them all, and then march over to the gym for a couple of hours. I would push my heart rate up to 110 percent, measuring it with two fingers on my wrist. I was “exerlimic” – binge eating and then exercising to the point of exhaustion.
Seeking advice, I emailed an old friend. I considered him a good source of basic wisdom, and he knew my body pretty well. I had been a photography model for him a couple of years before when I’d lived in Santa Fe, after college. Also, he wasn’t the type of guy who would brush off a very genuine comment like, “I hate my body and I don’t know what to do, since going to the gym isn’t working for me anymore.” He responded, “Why are you going to the gym all the time, anyway? Do you want to beat someone up?” He suggested I start doing yoga. “Some of the most beautiful people I know inside and out do yoga. You ought to give it a try.”