Deep in a lush corner of the Catskill Mountains, there?s a silence that?s almost palpable. After your ears adjust to the lack of city life, you can hear the sounds of nature creeping in: rustling leaves, chirping birds, and the slow breathing of retreat-goers guiding their limbs into therapeutic poses as a yoga instructor looks on. This is a common scene at Sivananda Ashram Yoga Ranch, an Ayurvedic escape founded in 1974 on 77 acres of countryside. Surrounded by organic vegetable patches, flower gardens, and trees,visitors find it easy to immerse themselves into the healing studies of the ranch?s multiday programs.
As the sun peeks over the mountains and each day begins, practitioners gather at the Krishna temple to meditate, chant, and listen to a lecture. What follows?depending on the retreat?is a combination of a two hour yoga class, guest lectures and workshops, and meditation sessions. Some retreats are weekend getaways for yoga civilians, and others focus on yoga-teacher training, permaculture, and Native American spirituality. Throughout all programs, hiking opportunities abound.
Visitors stay in dorm, private double rooms (without private bathrooms), or apartment-style accommodations, (with bathroom and shower), and join fellow guests at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. for vegetarian meals based on yogic and Ayurvedic nutrition. Ingredients are organic, as local and seasonal as possible, and free from chemical preservatives. To soothe their minds and muscles after a day of strenuous work, visitors can also take in a view of the mountains from inside the ranch?s wood-burning banya-style sauna.
Nobody will mistake Mountain Therapeutics for an ancient Buddhist temple, but the two have more in common than one might think. This is all thanks to licensed massage therapists David Schoenberg and business partner Marisa DelMonaco, whose mutual interest in Buddhist teachings led them to master traditional Thai yoga massage. With a history that stretches back three millennia, this form of bodywork requires a deep commitment on the therapist’s part. This did not deter David. If anything, he was attracted to the ways in which Thai yoga massage exemplifies the Buddhist principles of kindness and compassion.
Today, David administers the slow, rhythmic strokes of Thai yoga massage within the serene confines of their shared studio. When he isn’t using their thumbs, palms, elbows, and feet to seek out sen—or energy—lines across the body, he works to alleviate chronic pains with neuromuscular therapy and increase muscles’ range of movement with myofascial therapy. Considering the holistic emphasis of most of their massages, it’s not surprising that he also offers detoxifying colonics and nutritional coaching to ensure that clients aren’t getting all of their iron from anvil shavings.
Bikram Yoga Danbury's instructors have mastered Bikram yoga, which pairs 105-degree rooms with the body stretching and contorting of typical yoga. Bikram yogis lovingly call their rooms “Torture Chambers,” due to the sweltering temperature and the 26 muscle-testing, seated, standing, and levitating poses that comprise each class session. The studio schedules morning sessions as early as 6:30 a.m. and fills its evenings with pulse-elevating classes and calming silent fireworks displays. Though the studio rents out yoga mats and towels and sells bottled water, the instructors advise students prepare for class by hydrating thoroughly and bringing along their own mat to allow for appropriate bonding between yogi and sticky mat. Check the FAQ for more info.
Marianne Chapin, owner of Kneading Hands Yoga for the past 10 years, takes a well-rounded approach to stress relief and wellness by marshalling years of yoga teaching experience. To help her run the studio, she has assembled a team of eight certified instructors who bring a wide range of skills to yoga classes. Available classes, all of which take place in a spacious and clean studio, include relaxing and meditative Hatha yoga, strength and stamina boosting hot-yoga sessions where temperatures of up to 98 degrees render muscles more pliable, and Pilates classes that build core strength and focus.
Like many licensed massage therapists, Sara Ashline at Heartspace Yoga & Healing Arts is a master of the flowing effleurage and focused petrissage strokes of the Swedish technique. But Ashline believes that massage can deliver more than just relaxation, which is why she studied both fertility and pregnancy massage as well as the Pinocchio modality, which turns wooden puppets into real firewood. She offers her bodywork services at Heartspace Yoga & Healing Arts, a community center dedicated to yoga, meditation, and other wellness activities.
At New City Yoga, programs for adults and children alike focus on challenging the mind and body with a mix of modalities including yoga, tai chi, ki gong, and energy healing. Yoga classes focus on physical well-being with strengthening and toning work, and they also benefit students emotionally by introducing techniques that can improve emotional health by breaking unhealthy habits, including how to get the Cookie Monster off your speed dial once and for all. Along with meditation classes and private healing-massage sessions, the center also hosts energy principle and other meditation-based workshops.