Just the term "wellness vacation" conjures up images of relaxation, bliss and total nirvana. And according to Linden Schaffer, Founder and Director of Pravassa—a company that offers a plethora of services dedicated to mental and physical wholeness and balance—a wellness vacation is all about finding that feel good balance in every aspect of life—from fitness to connecting with ourselves and others.
We were so excited to sit down and talk with Linden about everything from the definition of a wellness retreat, to her favorite vacations & dream vacation, to how Pravassa was born & what they are up to over on their site:
YOGANONYMOUS: What is a wellness vacation/retreat?
Linden Schaffer: A Pravassa vacation is about letting you experience the world from a place of wellness. When I talk about wellness, I'm not just talking about your physical fitness and diet, although that is a big part of it, but overall wellness involves your mental fitness, community engagement and interaction as well as how you connect to yourself. On our trips, you're able to experience fitness in an amazing setting around the world while opening your mind and engaging in your surroundings.
YOGANONYMOUS: How was the idea behind wellness vacations/retreats conceptualized? What's your starter story?
LS: The first wellness vacation I planned was actually my wedding. I didn't realize it at the time, but I had laid out the basis for Pravassa about a year before I actually launched my company. My wedding took place on an Estancia outside of Buenos Aires where a small intimate group of guests gathered to learn about Argentine culture, participate in yoga & thai massage classes, and enjoy the local organic food, the best grass-fed beef around, with vegetarian options of course.
I'm a travel junkie so about 6 months after my wedding, I was relaxing in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt with a friend talking about what I wanted to do with my life after 15 years in the fashion industry. I was listing all of my favorite things to do, yoga, pilates, meeting people from new countries, learning about life outside the US, keeping a healthy diet, travel. My friend suggested there was a way to turn this into a business so the idea of Pravassa was hatched. Upon my return to NYC I pitched my idea to another friend, who also happens to be a yoga instructor and I was hired on the spot.
YOGANONYMOUS: If you had to pick 3 of your favorite vacations/retreats what would they be and why?
LS: Bali will always rank at the top of my list. What makes Bali so special are the people and the religion that's practiced there, Hindu Dharma. The Balinese are just such happy people. They are wiling to share just about anything. They invite you into their homes and welcome you into their ceremonies and their daily thanksgiving just seeps into your bones when you're there.
Argentina will always hold a special place for me, not just because my husband is from there, but the city of Buenos Aries is alive in a way New York used to be. The country is not without their share of problems, but again, I've found the Argentine people so willing to share. You can sit in the cafes for hours and make new friends, you can find some of the best boutique shopping in the world here, not to mention it's the heart of Tango. Of course you can't forget the food culture. Sunday's center around being outdoors with the family and asado, which is Argentine barbecue.
Turkey is also a magical place. In Istanbul and down the coast you can just feel the history of this nation from the moment you arrive. The Hagia Sophia is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. I am actually working on a trip here for next year so that my clients will have the opportunity to experience this incredible place.
YOGANONYMOUS: What would your dream vacation/retreat be?
LS: That's a tough one because I live by the 'have passport, will travel' motto! But if I had to pick something, it would be either a private African safari where I'd spend the days watching wildlife or a trekking through Cambodia to Angkor Wat. I'm working on turning these into Pravassa trips as well.
YOGANONYMOUS: Can you tell us a little bit about the Pravassa website and the other things you offer in addition to wellness vacations?
LS: Since wellness is a ongoing practice, like yoga, you can do it from anywhere. With the website, we seek to provide free information on how to be well from home or the road whether you're traveling with us or not. Every Monday we launch our Weekly Wellness Challenges which gives people the opportunity to change something in their daily life one week at a time. Challenges such as sleeping naked, singing in the shower, and shopping local are all attainable and fun. We also post reviews of fitness classes in NYC, LA and around the world. We blog about tips for a better night's sleep, our experiences on various cleanses and we post videos from location when we travel around the world. We do all of this so people have access to things that will improve their health, wellness and quality of life.
YOGANONYMOUS: Can you please tell us how to find you on the internet—FaceBook, Twitter, etc?
Pravassa, a wellness company based in New York City, understands the need for you to cleanse your body and refocus your mind on a daily basis. We bring people together who are looking to rejuvenate, restore and restart their way of life. Offering wellness advice, fitness and spa reviews and as well as travel opportunities around the world, Pravassa provides the opportunity to shift perspective, expand the mind and be open to new experiences, which have positive, life-changing effects.