Get a Taste of Wellness at Four Seasons Westlake Village

The Taste of Wellness package at Four Seasons Westlake Village is a great one-day immersion into the spa and wellness experience at the property’s California Health & Longevity Institute.

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Yoga class on the lawn at Four Seasons Westlake Village

Did you know that at the Four Seasons Westlake Village there is a whole wellness center? It’s called California Health & Longevity Institute (CHLI) and it’s one more very big reason to visit Westlake and the Four Seasons. CHLI offers medical and dental treatments, nutritionist consultations, healthy cooking classes, dermatology, fitness classes, and so much more that I wasn’t even aware of. People travel from all over to experience their services with top medical professionals in the serene and luxurious surroundings of the Four Seasons property.

Taste of Wellness

Working in partnership, the hotel and CHLI have introduced a new package for guests that introduces you to what the center has to offer. It’s called Taste of Wellness, and it only takes a half a day – or longer if you can spare the time to chill out in the spa or pool when you are done. You can choose from three different themes: Detox + Disconnect, Relax + Recharge, or Shape Up + Slim Down.

Relax + Recharge

The center and hotel invited me to try out Taste of Wellness, and since I was between a long trip and back-to-school coming up, I chose the Relax + Recharge package, which includes:

-Life Strategies Consultation
-Somadome Meditation
-Tranquility Massage

Those words all look great to me, but I didn’t know exactly what it all entailed, so I arrived and checked in near the spa (which is already my happy place) with curious optimism. I had no idea how blown away I was about to become.

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Check into CHLI in the south wing of the hotel, across from The Spa

Life Strategies Consultation

Dr. Ilana Kukoff is a fixer. She’s not a therapist, there to listen to you vent and cry and walk out of her office with puffy eyes, feeling like you got hit by a train, but so much better since you unloaded your problems. No, Dr. Kukoff is there to give you action steps to make your life better. I hadn’t prepared myself for meeting her, since I hadn’t known it was coming. After she introduced herself and described her background (she runs The Center for Child & Family Wellbeing at CHLI, grew up on the east coast like me, and has two grown and successful children, plus a book coming out this fall, etc.) she asked me what I needed help with.

After a moment of thought, I told her about my current crossroads: my older son is going to middle school, my duties as PTA president are over so I have time to work more, but I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up! Dr. Kukoff didn’t miss a beat. She immediately gave me a pad and pen, and said “Write this down. Number 1…” and gave me two pages of action steps that covered not only my career path but also my children’s school challenges, the name of an agent I should meet when I finish my novel, titles of books and magazines I should read, and some quotable bits I’ll have to use in another post!

My head spun pleasantly with all the new ideas in the wake of Dr. Kukoff’s personable energy. At that point I could have used that buzz to work out, because in addition to the services I experienced, the package includes access to daily exercise classes offered by CHLI, like yoga, pilates, cycling, barre, and “Aqua Blast.” Since I had to get back to my children in a few hours, I skipped the exercise. At least, that’s my excuse. Besides, it was time for lunch.

Ahi Poke Bowl

Ahi Poke Bowl

Sustained Living Lunch

The Taste of Wellness naturally includes lunch from the Wellness Kitchen, served in the main dining room at Four Seasons. Menu items were designed by Paulette Lambert, the nutrition director at CHLI and author of the cookbook by the same name (which is really fantastic – I went home with a copy and already made 2 dishes from it, which my whole family loved).

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For lunch during my day at Four Seasons I had the 1, 2, 3 Lunch! entree and chose tomato & burrata salad, the quinoa garden bowl with pistachios and blistered tomato, and, not exactly super healthy but it has fruit, the most incredible peach melba I’ve ever had. The Taste of Wellness package includes non-alcoholic beverages only, but I had to go outside the box and try the Antioxidant Mojito. It’s for the story, right? Conclusion: I heartily recommend.

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Somadome Meditation

After lunch I checked into the spa, which is really just the best place on Earth, and got a locker, a robe, and slippers. The spa clerk showed me to the Somadome, which is a giant futuristic egg stationed in a classically decorated wing of offices around the corner from the spa. The juxtaposition of the plush, cozy room and the new-agey egg was striking.

somadome four seasons

What followed was a 20-minute suspension of reality. Inside the egg, there’s no visual stimulus except for the glowing white interior. I donned headphones and chose the “Success” meditation, during which a calm female voice uttered motivational mantras, echoing herself, over thrumming electronic beats.

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About to meditate in the Somadome

It was super trippy at first, and I had to take photos, too, but after a few minutes I relaxed into it and completely zoned out. Just as the meditation track was ending, the clerk returned and knocked on the egg to transition me back to the ladies’ spa for my massage.

Tranquility Massage

You’re going to get the top of the line at Four Seasons’ Spa no matter what service you choose, but the Tranquility Swedish massage is what comes with this package. It’s a 50 minute relaxing massage with pressure as you like it. I added a foot scrub to it, too, since I’ve been traipsing around in flip flops all summer and my feet needed a little tune-up. My therapist, Roe, was a total pro and I left there feeling relaxed and ready to soak in the spa or lounge by the pool…

…except that whole parenting thing. My time was up and I had to head home. But the food for thought I got from Dr. Kukoff, the meditative state of mind from the Somadome, the relaxed muscles after my massage, and the nourishing food I put in my belly all conspired to give me a peaceful, slightly energized feeling when I got there.

Book Your Taste

I absolutely recommend this experience, especially as you’re gearing up for a change in your life, or you want to kick-start a fitness program or come down from some hard summer partying. If you’re a parent and you can set aside some time once the kids go back to school, a Taste of Wellness day will be perfect!

To book, call 818-575-3000 or visit the hotel’s website here.

The day package is only $299 per person, and it includes everything I mentioned above. That is a slam dunk amazing deal, considering the spa services alone! It would be a really nice gift, too. You can schedule your day as you like with the people who make the reservations – and I would even go so far as to say get your massage before lunch to avoid any unpleasant digestion noises that might embarrass you.

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This package is available to overnight guests, of course, so make it a staycation and keep that pleasant buzz with you all day and night and into the next morning. The Four Seasons Westlake Village feels like a world away from the rest of the area. A stay there is restful and good for the soul.

I experienced Taste of Wellness as a guest of Four Seasons and CHLI. All opinions are my own.

Meditation Is Good For You: OMG. I Can Meditate! App

This is my second post in a series about meditation and tools that can help you (here is the first). Several months ago, I told a friend about how I was meditating almost daily and how much I loved it, but that I needed something more, like an app that let you choose what kind of meditation you need. For example, if you’re PMS-ing and you need a coping app, or you need to steel yourself for a difficult meeting happening today, or you want to be more mindful with your children. “There should be an app for that,” I said.

Well. There is one, and it came out of the universe for me to try.

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OMG. I Can Meditate! is a guided meditation program available by subscription. There is a beginner level, in which meditation expert Lynn Goldberg coaches you through learning how to meditate.

I started using this app to meditate in the morning about a month ago. I have confidence in the fact that there is a distinct guided meditation for every day beginning with day one week one. I can’t be consistent and do it every single day, so I’m still only on week three, day 6. However, I have used the app enough times that Lynn’s voice has become familiar and comforting. In each segment her soothing voice guides you through relaxation techniques and using your “attention muscle” to focus on quieting your mind.

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I began this project with the intention of keeping a daily meditation journal. I got as far as day one and then lost my focus. I decided to be kind to myself and just use the app as it fit into my life. That proved to be successful not only with reviewing the app but also with keeping up with the daily meditations themselves. If I miss a day, I don’t kick myself, I just pick it up again the next day. Now every morning when I wake up and come downstairs, pour myself a cup of coffee, get settled on the couch looking out over my beautiful backyard, and start my meditation before everybody wakes up. It’s quiet time just for me and I love it. I suppose I could do this without an app, using some music a candle etc., but having the guided meditation at my disposal makes me do it. It’s easy, it takes the thinking out of the whole process, and makes it more likely that I will simply just do it.

The app has a very long list of features, and weeks and weeks of recorded guided meditations. There are special meditations for kids, for stress, for helping you fall asleep, and more. So far I’ve only used the daily meditations.

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Because it is a new product, it is susceptible to design flaws. I found the app clumsy to get started with, and every now and then the next meditation in the plan will take a very long time to download. And at six in the morning when I’m ready to do my meditation, and it’s not downloaded, my attention will wander and I will check email or Facebook. The opposite of meditation. The app also holds some intrinsic wisdom about you and your readiness for certain meditations. For example I wanted to try one of the relationship meditations, but it told me I wasn’t far along enough in the process to use that one. However, the developers seem to be working overtime – tech support was quick to address my concerns, and since I started using it the app has been updated at least once.

You can try the app for free, but if you want to continue after the first meditation the cost is $9.95 a month, or $5.00 a month if you pay for a whole year in advance. While there are plenty of free meditation apps out there, for that price you get some good value in Lynn’s recordings. I would recommend this for somebody who needs help learning how to meditate. I still don’t even know how to meditate. And I’ve been trying for a very long time.

omg meditate appOMG. I Can Meditate!

I am giving away 10 (TEN!) codes for 3-month trial memberships here at Agoura Hills Mom. Just leave a comment here to enter to win (one comment entry per person please)! Extra entry if you follow Agoura Hills Mom on Facebook or Instagram (one extra entry for each). Winner(s) will be chosen at random from entries received before 11:59 on Friday, May 22, 2015.

Meditation Is Good For You: YogaWorks

IMG_8984My friend Melanie in a meditative moment at Nicholas Flats

I’m a mother, a writer, a PFA president (that’s the same as a PTA for those of you outside The Bubble), a friend, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a cook, a cleaner, a chauffeur, and I can keep going.

Exhausted yet?

I am. Or at least, I often feel that way. I juggle all of my duties with a meticulous network of to-do lists and calendars, but things fall through the cracks all the time. I am a perfectionist and a control freak, and I have a short temper.

I sound delightful, I know. Wanna be friends?

My point is, the way I keep myself from losing my mind at any given moment is meditation. I don’t do it every day, and it comes in many forms. The universe wants me to tell you about it, so I am starting a series of posts about ways you can meditate. I know the universe is interested because over the last two months I got three separate pitches for meditation products, services, or centers. Plus, at the time, I was participating in a meditation challenge by Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra, a 21-week program that Oprah offers several times a year for free.

Meditation Class at YogaWorks

IMG_8981Class photographed with permission

If you are like me, and you have ever said “Oh, I can’t meditate, my mind is too busy,” then taking a class, where you have to go to a place and sit in a room with other people and you can’t just get up and go fold some laundry because you are too fidgety to sit still, might be a good way to start. YogaWorks in Westlake Village has a meditation class every Monday at 4pm. I participated as a guest a few weeks ago when the rest of my family was out of town.

I have never been to YogaWorks because my schedule only allows me to hit a yoga class here and there. My first thought when I entered was “Wow!” It’s huge. The desk clerk offered to show me a map of the classrooms so I could find my destination. Luckily the meditation class was right near the desk, so I wasn’t lost without one.

The class held room for about 30 people and it was packed. On a Monday at 4pm. For meditation. That says a lot. I managed to weasel into a spot right in front and even though the room was full I had enough space around me to twist and stretch out my arms.

IMG_8983Amy’s voice was calm and soothing, yet confident

Amy, an instructor who was sitting in for the regular teacher, led us through an opening series of breathing and stretching, similar to a warmup for any yoga class. Then she announced that she would be guiding us through visualization exercises for each of our seven chakras, or energy centers in the body. We lay on our mats in whatever position was most comfortable, and listened to her voice.

I found it easy enough to concentrate on Amy’s instructions to imagine my chakra as an energy wheel with an expanding number of lotus flower petals the higher up in my body we went. But I certainly found my thoughts wandering: I was composing this blog post, or remembering what I still had on my to-do list, or thinking about what I would eat for dinner that night. Later in the hour, I heard a man snoring nearby. I was startled to realize that I, too, had fallen asleep, because Amy had gotten to the seventh chakra, and I didn’t remember any talk of the 6th or 5th!

It was like an hour-long savasana, or corpse pose, in which you simply lie on the mat on your back and feel the bliss of being done with your yoga practice for the time being. It’s my favorite part, so naturally I loved this class. However, laying in one position that long had gotten uncomfortable for my back. If I hadn’t fallen asleep I would have shifted and raised my knees or put a blanket under me for support.

The end result, for me, was that I felt relaxed and energized at the same time. I worried that I would be too relaxed, like after a deep tissue massage, but even though I had gotten sleepy and zoned out, I was ready to glide through the rest of my day.

I chatted with another woman from the class as we rolled up our mats and put on our shoes. She said the class is usually that popular, and also recommended another yoga class at that location that incorporates meditation into its exercises.

Bottom line: I recommend checking this class out. YogaWorks lets you try classes for free for a week. After that you must become a member.

YogaWorks
2475 Townsgate Road
Westlake Village, CA 91361
(805) 371-3030