The Ashram, meaning “A Place of Peace”, has been hosting guests at their California location since 1974, providing week-long escapes from our daily lives (and stressors) and offering a completely transformative experience. This July and August, the program takes to Iceland for the first time and has hopes to extend their tenure there in the summer of 2020 to allow for more programs and guests.
Location, as usual, is key. Founder Catharina (Cat) Hedberg prides her company on selecting the locations for her retreats with purpose. Iceland, specifically the eastern coast of Iceland, is untouched and secluded, filled with stunning mountains, waterfalls, and green landscapes; a perfect place for a serene break from reality. “It’s totally pure and clean. Clean water. Clean food. Clean air. Clean energy,” Cat said. “It’s one of those places that you don’t find very often in the world.”
The program is known for its challenging and stimulating itinerary; mornings start with sunrise yoga, followed by a hike—reaching around 70 miles by the conclusion of the week—, fitness & restorative exercise classes, sports massages, and evening lectures, covering topics from mindful meditation to informative food demonstrations. Additionally, you can look forward to some of Iceland’s freshest fruits and vegetables from the organic farm near the site. Guests can expect the same original “Ashram formula” during the Iceland experience, with cultural elements sprinkled in, such as introductions to Icelandic music and folk tales (read: trolls and fairies) and fresh trout from the lake on site caught by the chef. To get a sneak peek at the menu, or to enjoy recipes long after completing a program, guests can check out The Ashram’s cookbook that came out last June.
The program, at any location, is competitive to reserve as they cap the group at 13 guests per program. The staff will have a discussion with potential guests before they are confirmed to attend to ensure that they are up for the challenge, both mentally and cardiovascularly, and that they understand that although restorative, this isn’t a typical vacation. There is, of course, a bit of wiggle room when it comes to modifying the hikes, but even more-so for Iceland than the other programs, you’ll miss out if you don’t get up on that mountain or wake up early enough to see that sunrise. And with 10,500 acres, the exploring is endless.
By the end of the week, you’ll feel fulfilled, rejuvenated, and reconnected to yourself and to our earth. “Iceland is an amazing ecosystem. An amazing country,” Cat said. “They take care of the land. Everything is so unspoiled. And that, I love.”