A Spring Nurturing Retreat
‘Tis the season of renewal! My friends at SOMA Get Fit invited me to experience their Spring Nurturing Retreat, and nurturing and rejuvenating it was. SOMA (Sustainable Outdoor Momentous Adventures) was created by health and fitness guru Scott Crawford, who offers customized fitness and wellness experiences incorporating Santa Barbara’s natural assets. Those assets extend beyond the mountains and the sea to include a team of 15 specialized practitioners in areas such as yoga, massage and nutrition.
SOMA designs vacation packages and retreats for individuals, couples and groups that can range from half-day to weeklong programs. After spending eight hours in their care, I can vouch for the fact that they are experts at spoiling their clients in addition to helping them realize goals, be it long term fitness, a break from a busy work life or pure pampering.
My retreat started at high noon. Scott picked me up and we headed to the Romero Canyon trailhead for a hike. We only passed a few people during the peaceful yet invigorating hike that took us high up into the front country mountains overlooking Montecito and the Pacific. We kept a quick pace, stopping at a few spots to take in the views and admire the wildflowers. While we hiked and chatted, Scott honed in on my fitness challenges, helped me set some easy-to-achieve goals and provided great advice for meeting them. The 3-4 mile hike would be the extent of the “hard,” sweaty stuff — the rest of my retreat was all about nurturing.
Our next stop was the serene Vedanta Temple where we met June Chadwick. June teaches the Alexander Technique, something I’d never heard of until I received the itinerary for my retreat. While it’s a methodology that can’t be taught in a single session, June did a lovely job of introducing me to the core concepts and showing me how it works. Essentially, it’s all about being aware of how you hold and move your body, whether sitting at a desk or going through the everyday motions of sitting down and walking. June said the Alexander Technique is popular with actors and athletes — she initially got into it as a teenager in music school and credits it for helping her overcome scoliosis. Through awareness and micro-movements, the body can be retrained to move in a more aligned and balanced way. After June adjusted me, I felt like I had grown an inch! Following the therapy, we relaxed in a sitting area where Scott had set up a refreshing fruit and juice break.
Hydrated, taller and slightly sunburned (note to self: must wear sunscreen on a hike!), I was ready for some yoga. The final phase of my retreat took place at the Tennis Club of Santa Barbara on Foothill Road. Scott frequently collaborates with the family-owned health club, and I was warmly welcomed by one of the owners, Amber Bottlesen, who showed me to the women’s lounge and changing area. Scott left me in the gentle and capable hands of Deborah Donohue for a restorative yoga and healing touch session in a private studio space. Deborah led me through a slow series of hip and hamstring opening poses, and her hands-on adjustments helped me go deeper into each pose.
Operation bliss was already a success, and I still had more nurturing to come! While the studio was prepped for the massage, Deborah and I snacked on salads poolside, enjoying the tranquil canyon setting and late afternoon light. I peppered her with questions about her background and learned that in addition to teaching yoga, she’s an established writer and journalist, works as a healer and has an extensive background in hospice care. We could have gone on chatting for ages but my massage was calling.
SOMA has a special relationship with Chivas Skincare, an emerging SoCal brand. Goat milk is the base of the organic line, which is also made with herbs grown on their Fillmore farm and fair trade essential oils and shea butters. All of SOMA’s bodywork and facial treatments incorporate Chivas products that were customized just for them. Scott started with the Chivas exfoliating scrub and then kneaded me into a state of Zen during the combined Swedish/deep tissue massage. Enter esthetician Carissa Cassone, who worked her magic on my face and neck. The relaxing Detox Facial was calming and hydrating, and while the various products settled in, she massaged my hands, feet, neck and head. By the time she was done with me, I was ready for bed! After a very solid sleep that night, I woke feeling quite renewed, completely spoiled and all aglow.
Contact SOMA online or at 805.403.1855 to book a customized Spring Nurturing Retreat or Spring Cleanse Detox. Prices start at $399 for individuals, or $299 per person for groups.