It’s been a heck of a year, hasn’t it? If ever there was a year to test your capacity for resilience, it would be 2020. After such a momentous year, what we all could use right now is a little “me time” – a little pampering, and a little bit of peace and quiet to let our minds roam free.
We all need some time and space to Zen out, and allow our stresses to slowly uncoil from inside.
This is your time to take a deep breath – hold it – and then exhale slowly. Let the pressures and worries of today’s crazy world drift away as you sink into a peaceful yoga practice, relax with a massage, or be mindful in nature. If you’ve lost your Zen, or just temporarily misplaced it, find it again in Ontario’s Highlands with one of these five wellness experiences you can experience safely.
Find Peaceful Warrior
Is it even possible to hold onto stress and anxiety after a quiet and intimate yoga practice? We think not. Find peace and relaxation with a three-day yoga retreat at Madawaska Kanu Centre (MKC) in Hastings County. MKC’s Creekside Riverside Yoga Retreat
Join Nathan and Jess from Creekside Yoga as they guide you through daily yoga practices meant to help you find your Zen, no matter where it’s been hiding during these stressful days. After the day’s practice you can wander MKC’s wooded retreat to soak up some nature before ending the day with a nourishing meal and cozy sleep in one of MKC’s on-site cabins.
- If the weather’s warm, bring a swimsuit and take a dip in the nearby Madawaska River.
- MKC is Feast On certified, which means each meal you’re served is guaranteed to be fresh, local, and delicious.
Discover Equine Love
Animals are lucky enough to be in an almost constant state of Zen, if only we could be the same! A few hours spent in the company of a horse teaches us about honesty, self-discovery, and communication. Soak up some of the unique energy animals have to offer at Abbey Gardens with one of their guided hikes that includes – you guessed it – the sweetest equines ever.
Explore the world from a pony perspective where the horses are the teachers – learn how Abbey Gardens uses two Ojibwe horses, Wawasum and Akoozi (along with their mini-horse sidekick, Flapjack) to teach lessons about life and Zen through A.P.P.L.E. (Abbey Gardens Pony Powered Learning Experience). Join Abbey Gardens for a Friday Pony Trek in your social or family bubble and embark on your own self-discovery . Please note pre-registration is required.
- While you’re at Abbey Gardens, why not do your weekly grocery shopping at their food hub, where you’ll find a wealth of locally sourced products ranging from beer to baked goods.
Find Good Medicine
Hiking isn’t always about getting in a workout, and these days it’s nice to slow down and reconnect with our spiritual roots. Book a tour of Bird Mountain with an Algonquin-Métis thunderbird (traditional bird shaman), Tim Yearington.
Tim calls this finding good medicine on the path out in nature. As you hike up Bird Mountain, allow yourself to be led by nature to find the answers to the big questions about life, love, and learning. Connect with the earth and the sky and discover the sacred nature of the natural world and our role within it.
- Tim’s hikes are accessible for most people; check in with him before booking an experience if you have any concerns about accessibility.
Be Mindful in Nature
Join yogi and forest therapy guide, Donna Raetsen, for a spiritual awakening in Haliburton Highlands. Hosted by Yours Outdoors, the Soul Wander is a three-hour experience that will explore your connection with the natural world. Move and walk gently with the earth and let the connection rejuvenate you.
- Enhance your outdoor Zen experience with a relaxing wander through the nearby Haliburton Sculpture Forest.
- Yours Outdoors offers a range of wellness and educational oriented experiences to choose between. Visit their website to see even more options.
Destress and Reconnect
If the stress has been building up over the past few months, it’s time to catch up on some relaxation. Destress and reconnect with a Grail Springs Retreat Centre package that will take care of your every need from the moment you step over the threshold, including luxurious accommodations, guided nature experiences, plant-based meals, yoga, meditation and more. Feel the weight lift off your shoulders without having to think about anything but your own self-care.
If you’re looking for a spa experience, Haliburton Highlands’ Wind in the Willows Spa will make you feel beautiful and pampered, from head to toe. Enjoy a couple’s massage, a soothing facial, or one of their body treatments for a full day of bliss.
- Check out Grail Springs’ meditative thermal circuit while you’re there.