Women’s Retreats Are Changing Their Message From Weight Loss to Self-Empowerment – Bon Appetit

Posted: October 16, 2019 at 8:50 pm


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I was in a small, unfussy coffee shop close to my cottage in rural Nova Scotia when I saw the poster advertising a womens empowerment retreat at a rustic lodge on the shores of the warm Northumberland Strait.

Ive become increasingly curious about the growing interest in new-age spiritualism, and in particular, how women are seemingly using it as a way to address chronic dissatisfaction. Without knowing exactly what I would get out of it I contacted the retreat organizers to ask if I could attend the weekends events. Two weeks later I was sitting in a chair with my eyes closed in the middle of a log-walled room. Around me, dozens of women circled, taking turns whispering affirmations into my ear: You are brave. You are loved. You are special. Even as I rolled my eyes, I felt myself start to cry.

Oh god, I thought. Its working.

I felt simultaneously defeated and relieved.

The retreat, called I Am Worth It, was hosted by three wellness practitioners: a healing touch specialist, a reflexology therapist, and a naturopathic doctor. In addition to healthy meals, beach walks, and yoga, there were guided sessions that addressed letting go of past hurt, setting intentions, prioritizing self-care, and harnessing energy centers. It costs around $333 per person to attend. The duration of the retreat is two days. Rooms were shared.

Over the course of the two days, from early morning until well into the evening, women shared stories, exhaled a lot, dabbed their eyes with tissues, and formed a drumming circle under the full moon. Throughout we received advice from the practitioners, intended to help budge participants out of a rut once they returned home: make sure to get out into nature, light some scented candles while soaking in a deep tub, observe your chakras, and tell your mirrored reflection youre beautiful over and over until you start to believe it. We whispered affirmations in each others ears. At some point the naturopath explained that she tells clients, Were not going to talk about weight loss, but about how your parents treated you when you were little.

It was a rollercoaster of practical and obscure, out-there woo woo nonsense and disarmingly astute observation.

Wellness retreats are nothing new. Since the 2nd century B.C. and its Roman baths, people have fled to spas and health-minded resorts in an attempt to feel better. These early incarnations eventually evolved into the spa model of Golden Door in San Marcos, California, and Canyon Ranch in Tucson, Arizona, both of which offered opulent surroundings coupled with rigorous training geared toward weight loss and physical transformation. By the mid 2000s yoga retreats filled up Instagram feeds with photos of virtuous-looking activities, sun salutations on the beach, and fit people inhaling huge amounts of avocado.

And todays retreat culture has moved past the lose weight, feel great mentality, beyond a week of yoga and vegan meals in Puerto Vallarta, and squarely into the realm of self-empowerment.

These new retreat goers arent focused on losing weight, rehabbing, or escaping their problems. Theyre packing their emotional baggage and heading to places like Renew Breakup Bootcamp in upstate New York, a broken-heart retreat that helps women address subconscious patterns that keep them from the love they really deserve. At a Purpose in Paris retreat, participants cast negative self-talk into the Seine and make self-worth vows at the iconic lovelock bridge. In Miami, there are vision-boarding and manifesting retreats to help pinpoint limiting beliefs and evict the resident shit-talker living in your head. And one Costa Rica retreat combines self-defense, mindfulness, and self-care with the promise that your inner warrior princess is waiting to be unleashed into the world.

I believe people are understanding their need to turn focus inward and shine a light on the dark parts of themselves that maybe they weren't willing to face before, says Jennifer Sembler, whose Yemanya Travel company offers retreats for women with a 360-degree approach to mind, body, and spirit, including hiking, meditation, and life coaching sessions. This search for inner peace and truth is one of the driving forces behind this retreat movement, she says.

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Women's Retreats Are Changing Their Message From Weight Loss to Self-Empowerment - Bon Appetit

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October 16th, 2019 at 8:50 pm

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