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The powerful combination of Santa Barbara's innately healing natural properties and a talented collection of local lifestyle gurus makes life-changing, mind-altering and body-bending transformational experiences an everyday possibility here. It's exactly what today's travelers are after with the popularity of wellness vacations on the rise and the still-burning afterglow of this summer's massive Eat, Pray, Love marketing blitz. Whether you dug the book/film or not, I don't think anyone would argue with the power travel wields to change lives, hearts and minds.
You can embark on an inward-bound journey in Santa Barbara under the gentle guidance of experts like locally-based SOMAdventures. SOMA stands for "sustainable, outdoor, momentous adventures" and was founded by Scott Crawford, who has an impressive background in fitness and psychology. With the help of his hand-picked team of specialists, SOMA provides custom-tailored, goal-specified, integrated training, holistically combined with mental-wellness consulting, Pilates training, yoga, nutrition education and bodywork. Catering to all ages and fitness levels, programs begin with an in-depth health and fitness evaluation and can include beach and mountain training, overnight to week-long retreats, as well as life-coaching services.
The Destination Coach specializes in life-coaching and also plans customized retreats for individuals, couples and groups. The destination "coach" is Nicki Parr, who helps her clients see their lives from a fresh perspective and establish new personal goals while they are here in Santa Barbara. She continues to work with her clients after they return home using Skype or the good, old-fashioned telephone. Her retreats can include signature destination pleasures like guided wine tasting, hiking and kayaking. She'll even plan an "Eat, Pray, Love" style retreat for you with culinary tours, yoga classes and love-yourself life coaching sessions.
The highly-lauded La Casa de Maria Retreat Center in Montecito has been operating since 1955 and is open to individuals and couples for private spiritual retreats in addition to their ongoing calendar of specialized retreats. Perched in a tranquil mountain setting overlooking the Pacific, White Lotus Foundation is the place to go for yoga retreats and training courses. Guests are invited to take advantage of the grounds' hiking trails, massage services, library, swimming holes and meditation sites. The personal yoga retreat option is a bargain at $95/day for a yurt and full access to the grounds. It's typically available Monday through Thursday when group programs aren't going on.
For soul-seekers who prefer an independent, à la carte approach to their wellness travel planning, Yoga Soup in downtown Santa Barbara offers a rich assortment of workshops, classes and events that combine nicely with activities like massage, hiking and beach walking. Paradise Found is a gem of a spiritual bookshop that offers readings and counseling sessions with intuitives and healers. And, tapping into the "you are what you eat" sentiment, Market Forays will teach you how to become a slow foodie and change the way you relate to food forever.
All of the people behind these various services and entities are incredibly nice, authentic and open and will take great care of you should you choose to enlist their assistance! More spa and wellness resources are available on our website here.
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