Spas of America – Shankara Ayurveda Spa at the Art of Living Retreat Center

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As a writer for Spas of America I enjoy sharing information on great locations across the country.  Here is my article on the Shankara Ayurveda Spa in Boone, NC. The original article can be found on Spas of America.

Shankara Ayurveda Spa at the Art of Living Retreat Center

The setting for Shankara Ayurveda Spa is awe-inspiring. It’s located at the Art of Living Retreat Center, which is on top of North Carolina’s Heavenly Mountain. The location gives the feeling of a destination wellness center while offering some of the best mountain views I’ve seen.

I arrived at the Asheville, NC, airport, which is about 90 miles from the property, and enjoyed my drive through the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Upon reaching the summit, my first view was of the expansive campus reminiscent of traditional Indian architecture and built specifically to embody the positive energy being facilitated by the people and classes being held on the property.

Art of Living Retreat Center, Spas of America
Situated at a height of 3,700 feet and spread over 380 acres, Shankara Ayurveda Spa is one part of the experience at the Art of Living Retreat Center. Including a boutique hotel with three spa suites and 27 rooms, vegetarian dining, an alcohol-free environment, as well as wellness and fitness activities, the Center is perfect for a solo trip or a retreat with a group.

My first stop was the spa building. I visited in March, and while it was still a bit chilly, the weather was great for outdoor hiking and exploration. In spring and summer, the grounds are filled with wildflowers. I was greeted at the spa by Diane Trieste, director of Shankara Ayurveda Spa.

Upon arrival, guests are provided with a personalized activity schedule and menu of spa treatments. The spa rooms are nicely appointed with large windows to enjoy the amazing scenery. I loved finding fresh flowers, a personalized note and a bag of Himalayan salt waiting for me.

Diane met me in the lobby for a tour of the spa, which is spread over three floors of the spa building. The first floor includes reception, a boutique, a relaxation area where I had breakfast every morning, the gym and a steam room.

The third floor is where the magic happens! The large spa relaxation area has lovely wood floors and is painted in soothing shades of gray and deep purple. There are comfortable chaise lounge chairs facing the large windows that look out on, again, the incredible mountain views. A tea bar offers guests the opportunity to brew fresh tea. All of the treatments are based on Ayurveda, which is the art and science of tuning the body into balance.
Art of Living Retreat Center, Spas of America
I experienced the Abhyanga-Shirodhara Oil Massage combination, which is one of the world’s oldest massage therapy techniques. During the treatment, warm oil is rhythmically massaged into your body, loosening toxins, relaxing the nervous system, and providing profound rest, nourishment, and rejuvenation. I regularly partake in massage, and this session took me to another planet. The rhythmic strokes of the therapist, combined with the warm oil dropping onto my forehead, were an amazing experience and something I look forward to trying again.

While I could have stayed in the spa for the duration of my stay, I had a whole campus to explore. I was drawn to the dining hall because the building has an amazing deck along one side that offers captivating views of the mountains and ridges. The vegetarian dining is cafeteria-style, with three meals served daily and no alcohol. I like to eat healthy, so this was perfect.
Prepared by Chef Raju, every meal was filling and tasty. Chef Raju is from Tibet and has worked in the United States for several years, but this is his first position where the menu is vegetarian. It was fascinating to talk with him about how he is creating the menus from scratch and the interesting food swaps he’s making for meat, garlic, eggs, dairy butter, etc.
He’s created an amazing dessert: Vegan and Gluten-Free Coconut Cookies. Imagine a decadent macaroon without the guilt and you have this cookie. After devouring one, two … oh well, I stopped counting. I posted the recipe on my Recipe Redo blog; you’ll thank me later.

I also took several meditation classes, practiced yoga, walked the labyrinth and visited the pottery studio. The Art of Living Retreat Center includes a meditation center that can hold up to 3,700 people, and additional halls for events. Founded by humanitarian and spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the Center is the centerpiece of the Art of Living Foundation (AOLF) in North America. The AOLF is present in 152 countries and reaches an estimated 300 million people with a vision of individual and social stewardship in society.
Art of Living Retreat Center, Spas of America
While still on site, I started planning my next visit. Two programs the property specializes in are Panchakarma and The Art of Living Happiness Program. Panchakarma is a six-night retreat that’s a signature offering at Shankara Ayurveda Spa. Led by a team of Ayurveda experts, the retreat is customized to each person and includes more than 10 treatments, cooking demonstrations, yoga, meditation, organic meals and take-home education. This is a must on my “to do” list.

The Art of Living Happiness Program emphasizes reduced stress as well as a greater sense of happiness and enthusiasm. I learned that, during the weekend retreat, you will discover your unlimited power and freedom – not as a concept, but as a direct experience. Sign me up!

With thoughts of happiness and Panchakarma dancing in my head, it was time for me to leave the mountain. After four days of not turning on the TV in my room and eating healthy and delicious vegetarian fare, I was ready to go back home and put what I’d learned into practice.

If you find yourself in a place where you are seeking more inner peace, personal transformation and greater connection with self and others, a trip to the Shankara Ayurveda Spa at the Art of Living Retreat Center just might be the trip you need.


Art of Living Retreat Center

Shankara Ayurveda Spa at the Art of Living Retreat Center Boone, NC

Watch the sun rise over endless mountaintops, rejuvenate with an Ayurvedic treatment at The Spa, or feel the quiet of a walk in the forest. The Retreat Center supports both community groups and and transformative solo travelers. This is a place to make all your own, and our staff is here to help you do just that.

Plan your visit today.

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