Tag Archives: N. Dionne

Wellness in the Rockies: Transitional travel experiences on the rise

Wellness in the Rockies: Transitional travel experiences on the rise

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Wellness in the Rockies: Transitional travel experiences on the rise

Kootenay Lake appears to be a glacier-fed river on the map. But, its impressive length (104 kilometres) makes it the fifth largest lake in British Columbia (BC). Protected by the Purcell and Selkirk Mountain ranges, and bordering with Montana, Idaho and Washington states, many communities around Kootenay Lake became respite for American draft dodgers and counter-culture hippies in the 60s and 70s. As a result, a distinctive lifestyle arose – one that focused on personal development, simplicity and wellness.

Temple of Light at Yashodhara Ashram, Kootenay Lake; Photo: Daniel Seguin
Temple of Light at Yashodhara Ashram, Kootenay Lake; Photo: Daniel Seguin

Today, in addition to the recreational opportunities in the area, visitors are drawn to the locally sourced food, art studios and experiential healing options, which include Nelson’s Himalaya Salt Caves and Ainsworth’s natural, mineral-rich hot springs. The Yashodhara Ashram (Ya-show-dara), and its infamous Temple of Light atop a cliff on the east shore of Kootenay Bay, continues to offer respite for anyone who’s looking for it.

Photography, Andrej Galic
Photography, Andrej Galic

What is an Ashram?

By traditional standards, an Ashram is a monastery for East Indian religions. They’re typically secluded, allowing for proper attention to spiritual instruction, yogic activity and meditation. In the book Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author stops off at a more-traditional Ashram in India on her personal pilgrimage.

At Yasodhara Ashram, near Nelson, BC, they work to demystify the experience for westerners through practical, spiritual teachings, and an openness to all who come.

Photography, Joel Pelletier/NKLT
Photography, Joel Pelletier/NKLT

Yasodhara’s early beginnings

Swami Radha (formerly Sylvia Hellman) was a German-Canadian woman who had recently returned from extensive training in India. She had been tasked with bringing Eastern learning to Western ways of thinking. In 1963, Swami Radha stumbled upon the property known as Yasodhara Estates. Despite the original land owner having no clear connection to Eastern tradition, its title (akin to names of notable female characters from both Buddhist and Hindu scripture) was fortuitous – a sign for the Swami (spiritual teacher) to honour the divine feminine.

Himalaya Salt Cave; Photography Laura Benes
Himalaya Salt Cave; Photography Laura Benes

Since the beginning, the centre has been entirely lead by women. There was something special about this land – which inspired a very different type of Ashram.

Ainsworth Hot Springs; Photography, JMatt Brown/NKLT
Ainsworth Hot Springs; Photography, JMatt Brown/NKLT

A nurturing approach

Many residents of the Ashram participate in Karma Yoga (selfless service), by helping in the kitchen, tending to the acres of orchards and gardens, in addition to mending structures and other chores. The Ashram prides itself on its contribution to ecological sustainability. It’s been widely recognized for its efforts in bringing innovative, energy efficient technologies, and solutions, to its operations.

CAPTION: Photo: Daniel Seguin
CAPTION: Photo: Daniel Seguin

A generation of change

The use of the word ‘spirituality’ is intentional. Though many of the practices here have their origins, the Ashram honours all religions and spiritual beliefs throughout the centre. Classes and workshops encourage self-reflection.

Given the progressiveness of their philosophies, and a response to a cultural shift, this Ashram hosts visitors and residents from all walks of life, no matter their sex, faith, culture or orientation. Mature adults, particularly, are drawn to the opportunity to rediscover themselves. Life is defined by transition. You may have experienced the separation from (or the passing of) a spouse or a loved one. Perhaps you’ve recently retired, or you find that your role as a parent or a grandparent has been redefined. Adapting to a new reality that’s not centred around work or family may feel like a leap into the unknown.

Photography, Amy Allcock
Photography, Amy Allcock

What to expect

Yasodhara Ashram offers weekend retreats, as well as ten-day immersion programs – each is focused on a unique aspect of growth and discovery. Workshops and yoga classes are suitable for all levels.

Expect plenty of quiet reflection, and meals are eaten in silence. You’ll gain an understanding of the energetic chakra system, as well as tools to help transform pre-conceived attitudes, and deepen your relationships with yourself, and with others. Optional participation in the nightly satsang, which is an honourable gathering in the Temple of Light, includes songs, mantras and prayer.

Finally, expect to be captivated by the picturesque setting of the Yasodhara Ashram. It will definitely provide you with a renewed appreciation as it relates to your connection with the universe.

yasodhara.org

nelsonkootenaylake.com


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Travel: Golden Rules – Golden, British Columbia

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Travel: Golden Rules – Golden, British Columbia

By N. Dionne

As the story goes, in 1884 Golden, B.C. was looking for a worthy moniker that rivalled the neighbouring town to the east, which was a lumber camp located along the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) called Silver City. At the time there was nothing more coveted than gold, and this base camp (Golden) was larger and more-settled. Today, Silver City no longer exists.

Still a bustling CPR junction and milling town, with approximately 3,700 residents, Golden prides itself on its enviable positioning amidst five of the most-visited National Parks in Canada. Scanning 360 degrees from Eagle’s Eye restaurant atop Kicking Horse Resort, you have a bird’s eye view of Jasper, Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Glacier national parks (Revelstoke is just out of sight). The restaurant at Kicking Horse Resort is the highest in Canada at 7,700 feet above sea level. At this height you may feel like you’re levitating above the clouds, but on a clear day breathtaking views of mountain ranges and river valleys stretch in all directions.

Photography, courtesy of N. Dionne and Tourism Golden

MORE THAN A REST STOP

Known as an easily accessible gas stop along the Trans-Canada Highway, visitors didn’t generally venture into Golden’s downtown core. This small town may initially appear quaint and quiet, but as you meander through the streets, it’s hard to resist the positive energy that bubbles up around you. No matter where you stop, you’ll engage in conversation with a local resident – most likely transplanted from another part of the world – simply because they became enraptured with the area.

With this cultural diversity, visitors also benefit from culinary multifariousness. The Bluebird Cafe is a great pit stop for a quick bite or a take-away lunch before setting out for the day. At Whitetooth Brewing Company, request a fl ight of their craft-made batches, and make sure that their Session Ale is one of the four. For finer fare, Eleven22 (named for its street address in one of the oldest houses in the township) serves up a range of refined, and wholesome, dishes.

Kicking Horse Mountain

WISHING FOR WINTER

Considered to be the ‘Champagne Powder Capital’ of Canada, Kicking Horse Resort might not get as much snow as other resorts, but because of the colder temperatures, the quality of the snow is consistently better – rivalling other ski-in and ski-out experiences like Sunshine and Lake Louise. At Kicking Horse, the concentration of advanced terrain is the primary draw for those of an intermediate level, but for those who are looking for tamer courses, Crystal Bowl has a series of blue runs, as well as the best snow on the mountain.

The ideal skiing conditions is often the reason that many choose to settle in Golden. As a result, there’s an unwritten rule – if more than 20 centimetres of snow has fallen, it’s perfectly acceptable to put a sign in the window that says; Gone Skiin’.

For other arctic adventures, nordic trails are well-maintained for crosscountry skiing and snowshoeing, and remote terrain can be explored by dog sleds or snowmobiles.

Take in the incredible sunsets après ski while enjoying a comforting libation before the gondola download. And there’s nothing like luxuriating in a sauna or hot tub at the end of a fine winter’s day in Golden.

NEVER OUT OF SEASON

As the days grow longer, Golden’s fascination does not pale. If anything, the richness of the area is accentuated. Book a Via Ferrata (with a Swiss guide) along a fixed climbing route, or make an independent trek.

Cross-country and in-town biking paths offer a myriad of possibilities, including 50 kilometres of well maintained trails on Kicking Horse Mountain. During a leisurely horseback riding excursion in the Blaeberry Valley along the banks of the river where the Kokanee salmon run, you may spot a golden or bald eagle circling overhead. Kayaking and rafting are also popular activities.

Turquoise, glacier-fed pools rush over intricately patterned rock at the base of Thompson Falls. A short drive away, and a two-kilometre hike in, you can take in the marvel of Wapta Falls in Yoho National Park. In the spring, the torrents of water are strong, but come autumn, you’ll feel a gentle mist while walking along its base. A visit to Golden would not be complete without crossing the longest, freestanding, timber-framed, pedestrian bridge in Canada.

Boo at the Grizzly Bear Refuge

LOCAL INHABITANTS

Accessed by chairlift, the Grizzly Bear Refuge is located approximately halfway up Kicking Horse Mountain. The resident bear, Boo, prefers mid-morning and late afternoon appearances. During the fall months, caretakers provide him supplemental meals as he continues to forage his protected, 20-acre habitat in preparation for hibernation.

At Northern Lights Wildlife Centre, passionate staff members deliver educational presentations about the wolf population every 30 minutes. And before the sun sets, take a drive up Mount Seven to take in the expanse of the Rocky Mountain trench. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch sight of other local inhabitants as they set off from their perch – the intrepid parasailers.

tourismgolden.com

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