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Health and Wellness Retreats for Women

Updated: Jun 13

Part 2 of "What Types of Retreats Are There?"


Yoga Retreat for Women

Table of Contents

About the Author - Lisa Dunford Dickman


Introduction

Picture yourself surrounded by beautiful nature, breathing in fresh air and accessing your inner Zen through gentle stretches and mindful meditation…. and you’ve just imagined a health and wellness retreat for women. 


By stepping away from the familiar in a mindful, structured way on retreat, you’re creating space for introspection, growth, and renewal. Investing in any kind of health and wellness retreat is investing in your own personal evolution.


Midlife can be an especially beneficial time from women to go on a retreat. Life is in flux. Your awareness of the importance of health increases. Work priorities are often changing. 


Additionally, your children may have grown, leaving you with an empty nest and more time on your hands to fill with hobbies and other interests.

 

Choosing a kind of health and wellness retreat for women at midlife can help you recharge and make positive changes before heading into your next chapter. 


Depending what your purpose for going on a retreat is, you have many options for the type of health and wellness retreat you choose. 


Here we’ll cover a variety of the kinds of health & wellness retreats for women that are available, including: culinary retreats, yoga retreats, travel retreats, art retreats, fitness retreats, mindset retreats and more. My own Open to the Magic (in Africa!) Retreat falls within the travel/adventure category!


Note that this is Part 2 of a two-part series. If you’re looking specifically for spiritual and religious retreats, check out Part 1.


When we’re considering what health and wellness retreats for women are, we’re really talking about structured, personal retreats. Business and corporate retreats, and family or couples retreats, are beyond the scope of this article.


3rd eye meditation - Ladies retreat

A Brief History of Health and Wellness Retreats for Women

Originally, health and wellness retreats for women in the US concentrated exclusively on weight loss and curing illness. Today’s health and wellness retreats for women have a much wider focus. They may include activities like movement, mindset training, healthy cooking and meditation.


There is considerable overlap in health and wellness retreats for women with spiritual retreats, especially in yoga retreats and energy healing retreats. For example, some exercise-based retreats may also be a spiritual experience, and vice versa.


yoga retreat for women - among the ruins

Yoga Health and Wellness Retreats for Women

These days, yoga retreats are one of the most popular and fast-growing segments of health and wellness retreats for women. Stunning nature forms the backdrop for many of the yoga retreat offerings around the globe. (Think beautiful beaches and verdant jungles.)


On any yoga retreat, you’ll likely have a fairly full schedule. Typically, the day begins with a yoga session, where you stretch, flow, and center yourself amidst the beauty of your surroundings. Later, there might be time for meditation, various workshops and activities, spa treatments, quiet reflection, hiking - and of course, more yoga!


The nutritious meals offered at yoga retreats for women can range from vegetarian to vegan, or simply emphasize fresh, whole foods. 


Fitness ladies retreat

Other Movement Health and Wellness Retreats for Women

Similar to yoga retreats, the kinds of health and wellness retreats for women that focus on other systems of movement or exercise are structured around those specific activities. 


Examples of other movement retreats include those for Pilates, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, NIA (Neuromuscular Integrative Action), dance, various martial arts, many different sports and more.


I’ve had my eye on one of the PranShakti Dance Retreats offered by my friend and colleague, Dr. Deb Kern. She offers both one-day mini retreats focusing on ecstatic, life force dancing in Austin, TX - and longer retreats near where she’s living in Mexico. 


If you want to combine dance, martial arts, and mindfulness, Soma Ranch in Montgomery, TX offers NIA based retreats. As a holistic fitness practice, one of the key tenets of NIA is the “joy of movement,” which sounds good to me!


spa ladies retreat

Spa Health and Wellness Retreats for Women


Way back at the turn of the 19th century, when Dr. Kellogg ran a health sanitarium (the same one for which he invented the famous breakfast cereal), retreating for your health was considered a serious and somewhat austere affair.


Not so today! Today’s spa and weight-loss resorts tend to offer over-the-top luxury. 


Think luxe Egyptian cotton-robes, marble baths and gorgeous natural backdrops… Spa resorts are the kinds of health and wellness retreats for women where you are the most pampered.


Most spa resorts feature comprehensive “menus” that offer a variety of exercise classes at different levels, an extensive array of workshops, luxurious resort amenities, and a selection of spa appointments for guests to enjoy.


Spa retreat packages are usually all-inclusive of room, activities and food. Whether you choose weight loss-focused meal regimens or not, healthy cuisine is de rigueur.


Among the United States’ most renowned spa retreat resorts are Canyon Ranch in Arizona and Golden Door in California, the latter of which has hosted celebrities from Elizabeth Taylor to Oprah Winfrey.


Near where I live in Texas, the top two Health and Wellness spa retreats for women are both near Austin. Lake Austin Spa Resort mixes boating and water sports with wellness. In the morning you can do your downward-facing dog and get green smoothie advice, then in the afternoon head out on the water. 


Miraval Austin is situated in Hill Country, with gorgeous, sweeping vistas. In addition to movement and mindfulness options, Miraval offers horseback riding and a farm where workshops are taught. Before you even book, they provide guidance on setting your health and wellness retreat intentions, which can be very helpful.


culinary retreat

Culinary Health and Wellness Retreats for Women

A culinary retreat is the kind of health and wellness retreat for women where you'll learn about mindful eating practices that help you savor each bite, nourish your body, and cultivate a deeper appreciation for food. 


In between cooking sessions, there’s often plenty of time for other activities. You might start your mornings with sunrise yoga or meditation, take leisurely walks through the surrounding nature, or go on regional food-related outings.


Spa resorts like Miraval, discussed above, also have culinary programs. There are also plenty of independent culinary retreats out there - often in fantastic, faraway places.


For example, Hannah McKittrick, whom I have known and admired for years, offers culinary retreats in Southern Italy. Participants I know have returned raving not only about the heavenly pasta (gluten free even!) and the picturesque seaside setting, but also about feeling much lighter after the experience. 


Transformational retreat

Transformational Health and Wellness Retreats for Women

At the heart of transformation is seeing a truth we haven’t seen. We all have thoughts, beliefs, or patterns that no longer serve us. But for most of us they are operating in the background, like an unconscious computer operating system.


Change becomes possible only when we uncover the unseen. Transformational retreats are specifically designed to help us make that shift, enabling us to release old patterns, embrace new truths and rise into an elevated energy.


Transformational health and wellness retreats are typically guided by experienced life coaches. Like other retreats, they incorporate serene natural settings and a range of wellness practices. Moreover, they feature exercises designed to heighten your awareness of the underlying patterns governing your behavior, paving the way for profound personal transformation.


A typical intention in a transformational retreat is to release a default pattern so you can move forward lighter or freer in some way. 


One of my mentors, Darla LeDoux holds  Sourced Experience Retreats, which are intense, interactive workshops that are laser-focused on shifting what’s holding you back. They’re held in different US locations. I’m attending one in Tuscon this year, 


Colleague, friend and fellow Trybe-member Wendy Lee, hosts  Heal from the Hustle Retreats in Cold Spring, TX, to help women in restoring their inner power and authority using different healing modalities and her compassionate  presence.


The purpose of my own Open to the Magic (in Africa!) Retreats is to support soul-centered humans in loving and transforming what’s necessary so they can take big bold steps towards their dreams - even if they don’t know what those dreams are yet! (But more about that below!)


Safari retreat

Travel and Adventure Health and Wellness Retreats for Women

Transformation and travel go hand in hand. It’s hard not to come away changed when you connect with a completely new place and its people on a deeper level. So, travel and retreats are a natural pairing as one of the kinds of health and wellness retreats for women.


As in other types of retreats, there may be different healing modalities, movement or exercises, and meditations included, but on travel and adventure retreats, the location is also a major player. 


I know fellow retreat leaders who lead surfing retreats in Costa Rica, elephant adventures in Thailand, yoga retreats in the Galapagos and business momentum retreats in Guatemala. 


The reason I chose South Africa for my own sea-to-safari Open to the Magic Retreat is because of the primal magic of the land and animals. It’s impossible to look eye-to-eye with a lioness just 20ft away and not feel deeply SEEN - and not in a scary, “I’m going to be eaten” kind of way!


It’s easy to understand what is real and what isn’t real when you’re in the African bush. The life and death struggle with the cheetahs and impala in front of me? Real. What my daughter-in-law might think of me? Not so real. 


Being out in nature on safari all day, communing with truly wild animals and feeling the energy of the different ecosystems are all part of the healing experience. No matter where a travel retreat takes you, the locale contributes to the experience and the magic. 


artistic ladies retreat

Creativity Health and Wellness Retreats for Women

Unleash your inner creative and express yourself in ways you never thought possible! That’s the promise behind a creativity-focused retreat.


No matter your favorite creative medium (painting, writing, music, dance, etc), you can find a retreat out there tailor-made for you. 


Taking time to nurture your creativity is like giving your soul a big, warm hug. It's a chance to connect with what truly lights you up.


An added benefit to going on a creative retreat is the camaraderie. Many of the creative arts are solo pursuits. Getting in a room filled with like-minded creative individuals can be life changing in itself. 


As in other types of health and wellness retreats, the days revolve around the creative activity of choice, but there will often be other mindfulness practices or excursions built into the schedule as well. 


As I write this, I’m preparing to travel to a Shamanic Painted Drum Retreat in California next week. We’ll be focusing on learning rhythms and painting our drum heads, but we will also participate in a fire ceremony and have an excursion to the beach. 


Accommodations and amenities in creativity-oriented health and wellness retreats for women vary widely. Many offer bucolic natural settings, but the amenities may be a good deal more rustic than the spa resort retreats mentioned above. 

craft Ladies retreat

Final Thoughts

A health and wellness retreat is a chance to prioritize your own well-being. By midlife, many businesswomen, wives, and mothers have been putting others first for decades. 


Midlife is a time of transition, a time when you start to reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re headed next. A retreat offers the perfect opportunity to embrace this journey of self-discovery; to pause, reflect, and realign with your passions, dreams, and desires. 


A health and wellness retreat is an opportunity to investigate new interests or reconnect with old ones. Cooking, the arts, travel, fitness and movement are among the many possible retreat pathways to explore.


You might go on a culinary retreat in Italy, hike and ride horses between meditations in Wine Country, or be bold and brave on a safari in South Africa. You could embrace your inner artist in New Mexico or do a yoga retreat in Texas. 


Whatever retreat you choose, it could be just the thing you need to step into the next chapter of your life with grace, confidence  - and a whole lot of joy!


About The Author

Lisa Dunford Dickman is a transformational coach, a traveler, a writer and a retreat leader. She helps soul-centered women take big, bold steps towards their dreams, even when they don’t know what those dreams are - yet! Lisa’s greatest joy is leading her sea-to-safari, “Open to the Magic!” transformational retreats in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.


Lisa has lived in six countries and speaks four languages. (Five if you count Texan!) Before becoming a coach, she roamed the globe for 15 years writing Lonely Planet travel guidebooks. Today Lisa, her husband and their dogs call a riverfront east of Houston home.


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