Have you ever felt an overwhelming desire to get away from it all and take a real break from your hectic life? Then you take that long awaited and overdue vacation, and when you return, feel like you never left? Maybe your vacation was tiring because it was done uber tourist style - jam packed with a week or two of trying to “fit it all in”. Or even if it was a relaxing respite, you noticed that the calming benefits had the staying power of 24 hours. Personally, I have had enough of these experiences to yearn for something that affects me in a deeper, more holistic way. How about you?
It is my belief that travel has the potential to rejuvenate when it becomes less of a “see all” or “escape from” event and more of an intentional part of one’s overall quest for wellness. Retreats, excursions, and ordinary trips can revitalize when they are initiated with soulful intention, energized with present moment attention, and sustained with the heart of a pilgrim (seeker).
Wellness Travel is growing faster than any other type of travel. This heightened interest seems to reflect the collective stress of a society that is searching for an antidote to today’s frenetic pace. We all know that our technology driven modern life can drain and be unsettling. Often precious moments of life are lost in favor of attending to unrelenting data. Ever constant personal and work texts and emails, the multiple personalities of social media, and exaggerated news stories vie for our attention as real threats like climate change and political divisiveness erode our basic sense of security.
As we struggle to keep an absurd amount of balls in the air, we are told that we must also take care of ourselves and counter all this by taking deep relaxing breaths and fitting in time to meditate, exercise, and eat right. Can the solution really be to add to your to do list? It is no wonder that more people are noticing their distress and seeking ways to rebalance themselves with holistic practices like yoga, meditation, and Wellness Travel.
Travel has always been about self-discovery, finding clarity, and eliciting change. Our ancestors left the familiarity of home as pilgrims and explorers in search of sacred places, adventure, healing, solitude, and nature. Ancient pilgrimage routes are traveled today by modern pilgrims and seekers; Machu Picchu in Peru, Stonehenge in the UK, and the Camino de Santiago in Spain are a few examples.
Today’s travel industry is responding to the interests and demands of sophisticated, adventurous, and health minded travelers who seek getaways that feed their passions for activity, culture, and culinary experience. Wellness Travel runs the gamut from challenging treks and pilgrimages for the hard-core seeker to high-end resorts that cater to the well-heeled traveler’s every wellness whim. In between the budget and ultra-luxury options are a plethora of yoga retreats and nature trips to take people off the beaten path for outer as well as inner exploration.
Wellness Travel has the potential to differentiate itself from ordinary tourism in the following three ways.
1. Being Intentional! Purposefully asking for some sort of change, insight, clarity, healing, or ease.
2. Being Mindful! Paying attention to what is happening in the Now and being open to the teachings of the present moment.
3. Being Soulful! Encountering the sacred; being-touched at the core of your being.
Wellness travel fosters a connection with one’s most essential self by encouraging slowing down, eating well, and spending time in nature. Because Yoga is the epitome of a mind-body-spirit integration practice, classes are often on the itinerary or available. Yoga teaches mindfulness, promotes relaxation, complements other activities, and, perhaps most importantly, instills pragmatic guidelines for living that travelers can bring home with them.
Discovering your personal passion for travel will nourish your spirit. Likewise getting off the beaten track can help you get back on track. Wellness travel is hot and the options are endless! A good travel agent can help you match your interests with the right ventures. Wherever your journey keep in mind that intentional travel can make ordinary travel extraordinary.
Shannon Leavitt – YogaLift owner, coach, CPT, Yoga instructor, RD- Yogalift.com