Dealing with the end of summer is never easy, especially living on the east coast where the season passes by in the blink of an eye. Never fear, Shankara Ayurveda Spa is here. Nestled on top of a mountain in North Carolina, the relaxing getaway is located within the sprawling Art of Living Retreat Center. With spectacular views, meditation, yoga, vegetarian dining, a pottery studio and more, this wellness center is just what the doctor ordered before the dreaded colder months approach. We spoke exclusively with Dr. Venkat Srinivasan, the Center’s Manager of Operations & Guest Experience, for a sneak peek of what’s in-store.
Why is the Center the perfect venue for a girlfriends’ getaway trip?
“Deep rest, natural rejuvenation and the silence of the mountains are just three of the many reasons people come. The mountains are such a quiet, serene location to refresh. And the treatments at the Shankara Ayurveda Spa are authentic and very restorative.”
How should one mentally prepare for such a trip, especially those that might be close-minded and rarely venture out of the city?
“I would say, ‘enjoy’. Take it as an opportunity to tune out from the bombardment of calls, texts and emails in order to tune into what’s happening inside. Also, I would suggest having some goals in mind to help guide your journey. This will help us prepare a program for you, if desired.”
Is there a particular time or season you would recommend booking a trip to the Center?
“From late April through October is gorgeous. October is renowned in the region for the natural display of fall colors and most facilities in the area book out months in advance. Spring is beautiful with an incredible display of flowers and trees that continues well into summer. Summer stays cool and temperate with fresh mountain breezes. And, in winter there are fantastic ski opportunities.”
What are the essential things to do while visiting?
“I would say the bucket list for a visit to Boone includes activities at the Center and sampling some of the natural offerings outside the Center. We’re located in the heart of nature. Within 20 minutes there are seven different hiking trails in the Appalachian Mountains, as well as kayaking, canoeing and biking opportunities. On-site at the Center, people enjoy the Ayurveda therapies, the yoga and meditation classes, pottery classes and the outstanding programming we offer throughout the year.”
What kind of behavior and attitude would you encourage from attendees to maximize their stay while there?
“I encourage people to take part in the different programming and activities we offer. I’ve seen that people who spend a few days and dive into something new—whether it’s a sequence of Ayurveda treatments, Panchakarma, or one of our many workshops—really enjoy the environment. At the same time, people who come to be with themselves love the silence and beauty of the mountains.”
The Art of Living is well known in India and has 151 locations worldwide. Is every location the same?
“The Center is actually our only residential Center in the United States. While the Art of Living does function worldwide, ours is a very unique space that offers powerful programming and authentic Ayurveda, all in a gorgeous setting in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here is a new video of some of the powerful change that’s happening in Mexico through the Art of Living’s programs.”
How have yoga and meditation personally changed your life?
“Yoga and meditation have made a huge impact on my life over the past 12 years. When I took the Happiness program, I learned the Sudarshan Kriya breathing technique. Since then, life has been truly joyful, vibrant and full of enthusiasm.
“There have been ups and downs but the breathing practices and meditation techniques that I have learned in the Art of Living have helped me remain calm, centered and able to move through them easily.
“Previously, I used to be such a nervous wreck and bothered with small things. Now, the programs have given me the tools and awareness to observe my own mind, thoughts and emotions, and not to be caught in them for too long. It also improved my confidence, inspired me to be engaged in service, and instilled leadership qualities.”
How would you describe working with founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar?
“Working with the founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been an immensely enriching and rewarding experience. I have gotten the opportunity to travel with him a few times and observe him in close quarters. It was really inspiring to see him walk the talk and live & express the human values such as love, compassion, and peace for which the Art of Living Foundation stands. Each minute of his day is spent in serving others and in creating a happier world for future generations and us.
“When I experienced the programs he designed, I realized it would have required a brilliant scientific mind to have created them. I knew this happiness and joy had to be shared with everyone around us. I’m grateful he dedicated this center in Boone to the people of North America to find greater happiness and peace.”