Discovering Shanti Retreat is a bit like discovering a whole new world on the other side of the looking glass. But the best part is that it’s not a fantasy, it’s real, and it’s right in your backyard. This beautiful island haven for yoga, meditation, and relaxation is only a short four kilometer jaunt away from the ferry terminal in Marysville.
Fall 2013 marks ten years for Shanti, and two weeks ago I attended their anniversary celebration, complete with a special cookbook launch and garden party. My first impression was one of rapture. The grounds are stunning – home to a seemingly endless private shoreline, old growth trees, an overflowing organic garden – as well as a warm and inviting heritage property. And let’s not forget about the food. Oh, the food! I spent a good six hours tasting my way through several courses of a creative all-local vegetarian feast, with dishes ranging from grilled Portobello sliders and spicy bean chili to freshly baked biscuits with roasted garlic butter, and a crisp for dessert made with apples from a nearby Wolfe Island orchard.
The Shanti experience wouldn’t be possible without Wendy and Darin, its co-creators and hosts. It was quite clear on that sunny autumnal afternoon as glasses clinked and live music played, amidst the happy buzz of old friends, yoga devotees, and new fans coming together, that Wendy and Darin have poured an incredible amount of passion, dedication, and hard work into this place.
What perhaps impressed me the most was the genuine kindness and openness I found at Shanti. That dynamic is captured well by its staff and patrons. “I’m very pleased with the excellent team of people that are a part of Shanti. It’s a collaborative effort,” says Darin. “It’s very rare to find a place where you can unplug from the demands of daily life and nurture yourself in body, mind and spirit. I’m very thankful that we’re able to share this place with the community.”
Shanti Retreat offers diverse weekend retreats and mid-week getaways for yoga practitioners of all levels and abilities until the end of November. If you’re looking for a quiet, more relaxing escape, Shanti also functions as a cozy bed and breakfast with affordable rates, delicious food, and access to its diverse amenities so you can craft your own adventure. Think: canoes and kayaks, hidden wooded trails, hammocks, a infrared sauna, the custom yurt.
The Shanti philosophy encourages those who visit to find ways of creating a pause between cause and effect; to reconnect with themselves and others at a profound level. It’s a lofty but admirable goal, and one with the heart of yoga practice – peace and wellness – in mind. “We suggest that one remain open to that which is new,” Wendy remarked. “Often we resist that which is new because it seems so unnatural at first, but with time it can become the new normal. The new norm is a more energized body, and focused and alert mind. It’s important when practicing yoga to be aware of your body rather than being lost in your thoughts. In this way you can more easily be present in the now rather than being preoccupied with doing.”
Find Shanti Retreat on Facebook and Twitter. If you’d like to purchase a copy of the Shanti at Home, that can also be arranged. For asanas of the week, a closer glimpse of the good life at Shanti, and inspiring ideas for living well, visit their blog.