Coming To My Senses At Spa Anjali: A Colorado Mountainside Retreat

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I arrive at the Westin Riverfront in the late afternoon on a November day, tired, exhausted and restless.

Several months with long working hours and little sleep and a recent trip to Europe had left their toll on my body and mind and I am in desperate need of a timeout.

It’s the middle of November, a time of the year that people in Colorado lovingly refer to as “mud season” – not enough snow on the slopes for skiing and too much mud on the trails for hiking or mountain biking. There is not much to do for outdoor enthusiasts during that period but it’s a perfect time to head for the mountains for a personal retreat. A time to regroup and come to one’s senses.

And that’s exactly what my plan was: To spend a quiet weekend at the Westin Riverfront Hotel and Anjali Spa in Avon, Co, doing nothing but reading, journaling, maybe going out for some walks along the river and definitely attend yoga classes and visit Spa Anjali for a long overdue massage treatment.

Checking into the hotel is quick and easy and I was pleased to see that my room was in fact a studio suite with a kitchenette, fireplace, cozy sitting area and a big window through which I can still make out the silhouettes of the close by Beavercreek mountains.

Tired as I am, I decide to lay low, not go out for dinner and instead order a light meal from the room service menu. The Westin menu offers plenty of healthy food options, including antioxidant-rich SuperFoodsRx® dishes, which pair certain whole foods to boost their nutritional benefits and flavors.

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After a good night’s sleep, I awoke early the next morning, refreshed and in joyful anticipation of my first retreat day! I start the day with a short, brisk walk along the Riverfront just outside the hotel and then step into the “Lift”, the hotel’s cafeteria for breakfast. Since I planned to attend an AirReal Yoga class at 9:00am, I opt for a light breakfast and go for the Superfood Grain Bowl – an amazing concoction full of power foods, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Colorado quinoa, farro, brown rice, kale, soybeans and mushroom dashi provided everything my body needs to feel restored and rebalanced. After this nourishing breakfast, I decide to head down to the lower floor where the spa, fitness area and yoga rooms are located.

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Their large, bright, airy state-of-the art fitness center is heaven for a fitness enthusiast like me who works out at least 5 times a week and favors spinning classes over everything else. I am deeply impressed to see anything my heart would desire for a whole week of daily, varied workouts: Cardio and weightlifting equipment, spinning bikes, a Pilates reformer studio, a cycling studio, suspension training systems, an outdoor swimming pool and more the 70 group classes per week that offer everything from full body conditioning to dance workouts and yoga. Whew!

AirReal Yoga was just recently added to the program and is currently the only AirReal Yoga program in Vail Valley.

It uses a loop fabric like a hammock that swivels freely on a single point and helps with proper alignment and smooth flow through yoga twists, revolved postures, and Vinyasa sequences. The hammock allows students to deepen their stretches, correct their alignment, refine their posture and safely perform inversions. Last but not least, it serves as a prop to hold on for balance and provides guidance for yoga poses that seem to be impossible to do. I can hardly wait for the class to begin.

SHOT 8/31/16 3:08:41 PM - Pilates, Yoga and Movement Studio photography at The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa At Beaver Creek Mountain in Avon, Colorado. Also includes a ski season prep workout by Mikaela Shiffrin. Shiffrin is an American World Cup alpine ski racer with the U.S. Ski Team, specializing in the technical events of slalom and giant slalom. She is the reigning Olympic, World Cup, and world champion in slalom. (Photo by Marc Piscotty / © 2016)

We were a mixed group of students – some of us had taken several AirReal Yoga classes before, some are new to AirReal Yoga and some of us have never done ANY yoga before. Quite a challenge for any instructor but Tanya, our AirReal Yoga instructor, did an excellent job providing a relaxed, fun environment that encouraged us to play and explore new Yoga poses with curiosity and an open mind. I love the way the hammock supports me and turns inversions into light, free, enjoyable poses that elongate my spine and allow me to breathe deeply and gently float into a relaxed state of mind. After this one-hour yoga class I felt taller and lighter and, as someone who just defied gravity, more confident.

From the yoga studio, I walked straight into the Anjali Spa. No passing go, just went for it!  I was booked for one of their Chakra Blessings, a collection of treatments that promise to help clear negativity, balance energy and create an optimal state of wellbeing. My treatment was the Down to Earth – Muladhara Blessing. Muladhara, the root chakra located at the base of the spine, relates to our basic needs, our sense of security and survival. The treatment is recommended when we are lacking energy, are burnt-out or exhausted and have become disconnected from our root support and foundations. Sounded like the perfect treatment for me!

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After checking into Spa Anjali, I was guided into the relaxation area and locker room. Both are spacious rooms, the locker room with all amenities you can wish for, the relaxation room beautifully decorated with comfortable lounge chairs and couches. I had a few minutes to relax before Will, my massage therapist, enters the relaxation area and guides me into the treatment room. The Muladhara treatment starts with a foot scrub with Himalayan salt blended with rose geranium, lemongrass oils, and sandalwood. The treatment products are from ila Spa, a UK-based company that uses only 100 percent pure and organic ingredients. Founded by Denise Leicester, a qualified nurse, aromatherapist, yoga teacher and yogic healer, ila Spa products can only be found at a handful of spas in the US.

Beautiful, relaxing music complements the treatment and I learn from Will, that Denise Leicester not only creates the products and develops the treatment protocols but also produces the music for the treatments.I found that pretty cool!

The treatment continues with a slow massage that uses essential oils of vetiver, ginger, patchouli and jatamansi, a Himalayan herb that promotes peacefulness and deep relaxation. Warm poultices with Himalayan salts, which are full of negative ions are applied to my body to balance any negative energies that are stored in my body. Tibetan singing bowls add to the immensely calming effect of this beautifully orchestrated treatment. At one point during the massage a Tibetan singing bowl is placed on my sacrum and it’s in that moment that I experience a deep feeling of stillness, balance and confidence slowly rising up from my center and spreading through every cell of my body. I am in a state of complete peacefulness. Gone are my fears and concerns. Nothing matters. I feel strong, confident and know from the bottom of my heart that I can do anything.

After the treatment ended, with a light head and face massage, I slowly get up from the massage table while Will waits outside for me with some water and raspberry sorbet. Can there be anything more delicious than a sorbet after such a grounding and relaxing treatment? I think not!

The effects of the treatment stayed with me for the whole day. I really didn’t feel like doing much at all, I just enjoyed the beauty of the hotel, the spectacular mountain views from the lobby, the coziness of my room and a light dinner that again features super food ingredients such as salmon, lentils and a well balanced salad with arugula and grapefruit.

The next day it’s time to checkout and head down the mountains. I know that everything is good. I really felt as if I am re-energized, rejuvenated and ready to take on the world again… much thanks to this wonderful property to which I will be returning as much as possible for a full system reboot.

Namaste, Ulli

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Ulli Lagler Peck

Ulli Lagler Peck is founder and owner of The Wellness Agency, a travel consulting firm that specializes in design, management and marketing of wellness retreats. The Wellness Agency works with hotels, resorts and spas around the world and helps them implement high-quality, authentic wellness programs that provide proven benefits for their guests' health and wellbeing. Ulli firmly believes that wellness retreats open doors to a healthier, happier way of life and that everyone should attend at least one wellness retreat once a year.

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