Ok friends, I’ll come out and say it. It’s taken me a while to write this post. Between wanting to finish reflecting on the retreat and needing to make the time to write, I found myself moving this post further and further forward on the calendar. I thought at some point I would be done processing and would write then (and that I’d somehow magically have a ton of time to do it), but I’m calling it. It’s the same with fitness… you’ll always have an excuse to do it another day, so don’t give yourself the chance and just do it!
First, some background:
The Napa Valley Wellness Retreat was co-hosted by Bare Health and the Inn on Randolph. It began on Wednesday, February 21st and wrapped us and our five retreaters in luxury and calm all the way through the morning of Sunday the 25th. We had so many amazing local vendors that offered up special health and wellness services they don’t usually advertise. And the weather was GORGEOUS. Of course that’s no surprise because it’s Napa, but we were all really happy to take advantage of it!
Before I go any further, I want to profusely thank the vendors that poured their hearts into giving us this incredible experience. THANK YOU!!! They went way out of their way to accommodate us and it was obvious from the minute the retreat began until we hugged goodbye. We literally had some of the best food, wine, yoga, massage, and other experiences of my life. I can’t even list them all out here, but I’ll go into detail as we move along, so hopefully you can feel like you were there with us by the end. And who knows, maybe next year you will be. Because this really should become a thing. I can’t imagine going through a February without it!
Some of our vendors are well known and loved in the area and others opened up brand new businesses to us. Regardless, the quality was consistently high, leaving us blown away time and time again.
In no particular order, our local experience makers included:
So now that you know who played a part in our adventure, let’s move on to:
We gathered together as a small group to focus on improving our well-being. A lot of us were feeling anxious, so the retreat really honed in on teaching us how to release our tension into the air and out of ourselves. Our wellness approach blended health and fitness through a Napa Valley lens, because it really is possible to be healthy and drink wine daily too.
Every step of the way we were pampered by amazing local vendors. All of our chefs made custom designed and curated vegan foods for us even though they don’t usually cook that way. By the end, we felt reset, detoxed, and totally present in the Napa Valley moment.
The retreat was held at a local boutique luxury inn called - you guessed it - the Inn on Randolph. But boutique luxury doesn’t even begin to capture how cute this place is. Between the super soft linens, the champagne, and the Cabernet patio, I don’t think I’ve had a more lavish stay in wine country.
The Inn is located in a gorgeous olive toned 1800s home in Napa’s biggest historic district. You can feel its old bones before even stepping foot on the front porch. It has all the details you’d expect of a Victorian home like gorgeous wood trim and flooring, ample door frames, and tons of natural light from huge windows. Amazing touches include multiple fireplaces (I can’t even remember how many honestly, ha!), the most lovely outdoor hangout spaces, and PLUSH BATHROBES! I know they’re not part of the inn but I’m still dreaming of them... Anyway, it’s the perfect space for mindfulness as it sits on an acre of lush English gardens. And it was perfectly positioned for our getaways because it’s only a five minute walk from downtown!
Day 1 - Wednesday
Day 2 - Thursday
There was so much to squeeze into each day of the retreat that we woke up before the sun on most days. After getting ready, we all headed down for morning yoga (yes we really did do yoga or some other form of exercise at 7:30am every single day) led by Lindsey Kling of Dharma Movement. Since anxiety was very present in all of our lives at the time, Lindsey was super thoughtful and themed all of our poses and essential oils around releasing that energy.
After we’d gotten our bodies moving, we headed over to the dining room for a green smoothie based breakfast to help balance our insulin levels throughout the day. Chef Dianne is always a gourmet GF, local, organic, farm to table chef, but she usually doesn’t prepare vegan cuisine so it was really special that she went above and beyond to make vegan food. All of our breakfasts were inspired by my favorite vegan foodie blogger, Oh She Glows. If you don’t follow her, you absolutely have to, because she’s amazing! Anyway, each morning Chef Dianne would pair the smoothies with an additional vegan offering that changed daily. On Thursday we started with a veggie bang because the pairing was a new year glow smoothie bowl! The preparation was beautiful, perfectly smooth, and powered us for our second morning workout which lasted from after breakfast up until lunch.
Then we moved on to a postural analysis and pain relief session. Postural analysis is such an important part of what we do at Bare Health, but a lot of people don’t know what it is. When we shared this science based practice with our retreat mates, we saw instantaneous shifts and changes. Just by looking at them, we were able to find their pain points, locate where they hold stress, and where they’re pronating or shifting weight. Correcting their balance and giving exercises to continue gave them the tools to make some powerful changes to their everyday lives. This analysis was one of our biggest gifts to our retreat mates, and we’re happy to report that they’re all still practicing their postural exercises with positive results.
After training, we popped over to Oxbow Public Market for a vegan lunch at C Casa. Oxbow is a really cool, really huge marketplace with seating along the Napa River and tons of incredible local food providers. Everything is artisanal, local and carefully crafted. It’s great for groups because there’s tons of variety, so you know everyone will be able to find something they’ll love.
C Casa is a lovely little eatery that focuses on fresh seasonal foods - usually tacos and other things like that, but they also offer small plates, salads and more. Our plates were piled high with tons of mixed greens, cilantro, sweet potato and avocado, just as any good vegan lunch should be.
Thursday was such a great example of the Napa lifestyle because we worked ourselves hard, ate amazingly vibrant local foods, and after exercising we moved on to coffee and champagne!! Not together though, but pretty close haha.
After our afternoon workouts, we came back to Oxbow to visit one of my favorite coffee roasteries of all time, Ritual. They shared some of their favorite drip coffees with us, originating from all around the world. Their smooth flavors had huge range, going from juicy and complex all the way to a balanced bean forward (rather than fruit forward) taste.
Once we had a nice coffee buzz going, we thanked our hosts and walked over to Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant. We were really tired from walking so long, so they took pity and treated us to champagne! Just kidding, it was only a five minute walk haha, but the champagne was REAL! We drank it sitting by the Napa River, which was beautiful.
From here we took a little break until we headed over to Basalt for LITERALLY the best vegan meal I’ve ever had!!! Chef Nick prepared a five course dinner and everyone agreed he brought veggies to another level. He’s so brill. Here’s what we had:
During this incredible feast, Mallory McEligot (the super talented VineLiving blogger) poured wine for Silver Trident Winery. They came up with the smartest, best pairings for each dish. It was hard to stop eating and drinking, but eventually our hearts and bellies were full, so we went back to the inn to relax and get ready for an early morning ahead.
Day 3 - Friday
After some deeply replenishing, solid sleep, we woke up early for postural training to align the body before a killer but super fun run led by me and Matt. Bare Health offered a personal trainer for the postural analysis for every retreat member so they could get 100% individualized attention. Afterwards we were all starving so we went to the dining room for green smoothies and a sun-dried tomato, mushroom, and spinach tofu quiche (if you’ve never had a tofu quiche you have GOT to try it!! So good).
It was good Chef Dianne things it light because pretty soon after breakfast we met with Chef Fiorella of Stonehedge Winery to learn all about ayurvedic cooking. Ayurvedic cooking is a style of cooking that focuses on using food as fuel and healing the body from the inside out. I really love this style of cuisine because it pairs well with digestive and immune systems, something I’m always trying to make stronger. Chef Fiorella had a really fun approachable teaching style. By the end we’d learned how to make broccoli soup, poached pears with satsuma and dates, and farrato with butternut squash and kale. If your mouth is watering reading those dishes, don’t worry - I’ll share the recipes at the end of this post :)
Moving on! I’ve mentioned a few times now how anxiety was very present during the retreat. So in addition to providing ways to soothe that during the retreat, Matt and I gave a talk on stress management. This gave everyone a chance to learn techniques to take home with them so they could hopefully say goodbye to an anxious life. One really fun part of this class was when Gianni Nola and Maria Woodruff presented on essential oils as a powerful form of stress relief. Everything smelled so amazing, I just wanted to plant my nose in their oil droppers!
Aside from essential oil therapy, one of our favorite stress management techniques is to take a moment to go outside, be with nature, and get active when you feel yourself starting to get anxious. So after our presentation we followed our own advice and went on a gorgeous guided paddle boarding adventure down the Napa River (thanks Bailie!). And guys you won’t believe this - there was a SEA OTTER AT THE WHARF!!!! That seriously never happens. It was so special and it felt like he was there just for us.
To cap off our beautiful day, after our paddleboarding, we went to Aonair Winery for the coolest, most rockin out yoga session I’ve ever seen. Aonair Winery is set up in Howell Mountain and it is literally majestic. We arrived as the sun was setting, Grant was already outside over flowing champagne and being an amazing host with a ton of enthusiasm.
Literally Lindsey Kling led our private sunset yoga flow blasting the Red Hot Chili Peppers! It was so fun, I loved it. And of course, since we were already at a winery, after we were done with our yoga flow we moved on to a tour of wines and caves. Grant and Megan Long the owners of Aonair even spoiled us with a barrel tasting of unreleased wine, followed by a dinner of paleo naan with tofu tzatziki and roasted carrots cooked by Chef Mercedes. It was the best yoga, wine and vegan experience I have ever had.
Day 4 - Saturday
Saturday morning we felt ambitious, so we began our day with postural and pain relief exercises followed by yoga, green juice and basic chia seed pudding. During our morning grazing we held a smoothie challenge, which was so fun! The challenge had two main points: to teach retreaters how to make micronutrient fulfilling smoothies to power themselves through the day, and also to teach that smoothies can be totally different, even with the same ingredients, just depending on how ingredients are portioned out.
Everyone began the challenge with the same ingredients (which did NOT include protein powder!!!):
Once people were set up, they mixed smoothies according to taste. Since we encourage everyone to drink green smoothies as part of their breakfast routine (for health, not weight loss!), it’s important to find the right combination of flavors. The challenge was funny because everyone was given the same ingredients, but kept saying “wow, your smoothie is better than mine with the same ingredients!” Haha :)
Next we went for a power walk, followed by some beautiful vegan takeout meals curated by Chef Mercedes of Lady and the Vine. We dedicated the rest of the evening to relaxation and healing. This began with massages courtesy of Alexis Munoz, CMT of Body & Soul, who just opened up a new practice and is already killing it. After a few hours of deep relaxation, we opened our bodies and minds up to all the tuning forks, gongs, crystal bowls and meditation that sound healing has to offer. Then we were treated with acupuncture and sound healing. Faune soothed our anxiety with her acupuncture needles and Darleen and Susan focused on helping us release negative energy. Darleen and Susan guided us through a balancing and harmonizing journey via meditation, sound healing and reiki. I firmly believe these are two of the best forms of therapy money can buy.
At the end, we discussed our journeys. Everyone’s experience was different. Some fell into a light sleep, bodies floating mid-air. Others had flashbacks to childhood or beautiful visions. And some felt deep, consuming sadness and anxiety. These heavy feelings took center-stage at first, giving retreaters time to acknowledge them before they were released. We rediscovered ourselves through this experience and I don’t think any of us will ever forget it.
Spiritually joining hands after this, we moved on to a final dinner . We talked over the time we shared: our favorite parts, the things we need to work on, and life in general. This was a pretty nostalgic dinner because we knew the retreat would be ending soon, forcing us to return to real life.
Day 5 - Sunday
On our final morning together, we woke up and right away got to our postural exercises to align our body for the day and then practiced our last yoga morning session. We enjoyed some vegan banana bread baked to perfection and said goodbye.
Okay, thanks for sticking with me as I took you on our retreat. It was such a beautiful, life changing experience for me, Matt and our retreat guests. We loved filling our time with tons of green juice and incredible vegan food while focusing on building health, wellness and joy. And in true Napa style, we spent our days sipping on some of the best wine in the world. Ahhh take me back!!
This retreat could not have been held without our vendors. Our guests left with the knowledge and confidence to implement plant based nutrition, wellness, and stress and pain relief into their everyday lives. And of course, it was super fun to relax and enjoy all that Napa has to offer!
And guess what we are doing it again next year with the Inn on Randolph. So if you want to experience this trip for yourself you can sign up now! Dates will be February 27th- March 3rd. Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot or pre-pay on our website here.
You didn’t think I’d forget those magical ayurvedic recipes, did you ;) Here they are - enjoy and thanks for reading!
Special thanks to Talia Chakraborty for helping Bare Health with this article.
Just another girl who is trying to inspire others. Passionate about health and fitness. And a love of coffee and peanut butter.