To the uninitiated, yoga can look extremely intimidating and, frankly, a little bit silly. Just think about it: a room full of people doing headstands, tying themselves in knots and performing poses named for dogs, dolphins and trees. As avid adherents know, however, there’s a lot more to yoga than meets the eye. Beneath the “oms” and contortions are serious health and wellness benefits, according to the American Osteopathic Association.
“The purpose of yoga is to build strength, awareness and harmony in both the mind and body,” says AOA’s Natalie Nevins, a board-certified osteopathic family physician and certified kundalini yoga instructor. “The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome. Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia.”
Plus, yoga can give you increased flexibility, increased muscle strength and tone, improved respiration and energy, a balanced metabolism, reduced weight, enhanced circulation and improved athletic performance.
The question, then, isn’t whether you should incorporate yoga into your next meeting. If you want attendees to enjoy the aforementioned benefits, you should definitely consider it. Indeed, a better question is: Where should that meeting take place?
In honor of International Yoga Day, which is celebrated every year on June 21, here are five suggestions:
• Atlantis, The Palm (Dubai, UAE). Like Vegas but without the gaming, Dubai is known for its over-the-top attractions -- including the Palm Jumeirah, a manmade archipelago that looks like a palm tree encased in a circle. Among the many luxe properties there is Atlantis, The Palm, an ocean-themed resort that offers 1,539 guest rooms, nearly 60,000 square feet of meeting space and the UAE’s largest aquarium, the Lost Chambers. Along with 65,000 marine animals from the Arabian Sea and beyond, the latter is taken over every Tuesday and Friday morning by a special yoga class that meets in an underwater observatory with 180-degree aquarium views.
• Grand Hyatt Baha Mar (Nassau, Bahamas). Thanks to its enormous size, the Bahamas’ Baha Mar has something for everyone. Along with three hotels -- the 299-room SLS Baha Mar, the 237-room Rosewood Baha Mar and the 1,800-room Grand Hyatt Baha Mar -- there’s more than 30 restaurants, bars and lounges; an 18-hole golf course; the Caribbean’s largest casino; a marine wildlife sanctuary; a spa; and a 200,000-square-foot convention, art and entertainment center. Instead of the major amenities that everyone buzzes about, however, what really makes the resort special are the lesser-known offerings that delight guests when they discover them -- like its on-site flamingos, which march across the property during a daily parade and also join guests for yoga classes on an outdoor lawn where they reside.
• The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club (Honolulu). The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club in Waikiki celebrates vintage Honolulu as it used to exist during its midcentury heyday. Along with 112 throwback guest rooms and event space for groups of up to 150 people, highlights include private poolside cabanas, nightly poolside movie screenings, a nightly adult swim and a sprawling penthouse lanai where the hotel regularly hosts guided meditation, Pilates and yoga.
• Miraval Arizona (Tucson). The Miraval Arizona is known for wellness. Along with 146 casita-style accommodations and over 6,600 square feet of meeting space, it offers a 30,000-square-foot spa, a nutrition-minded restaurant and more than 120 complimentary wellness activities, lectures and fitness classes every week. Among the latter are numerous yoga options, including an evening “Celestial Yoga” class that takes place beneath the stars, an “Aroma Flow” yoga class that combines yoga with aromatherapy, an “Aerial Yoga” class that utilizes hanging hammocks, and a “Boga Yoga” class that takes place in the pool on top of standup paddle boards.
Read more about The Mirval and nine other meetings-friendly wellness resorts here.
• The Meritage Resort and Spa (Napa, Calif.). Wine and wellness might sound contradictory, but at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa Valley, they’re complementary. Located on 9 acres of hillside vineyards that belong to family-run winery Trinitas Cellars, the resort offers 322 guest rooms and suites and 80,000 square feet of event space, not to mention walking trails through its on-site vineyards, a bowling alley with six lanes, a signature restaurant, a subterranean spa, two heated swimming pools and a fitness center with vineyard views. Plus, every week has a “Wellness Wednesday.” Taking place on an outdoor deck overlooking the vineyards, the event includes a 60-minute yoga class and spa bites by chef Vincent Lesage.