LIFESTYLE GUIDE: NORTHERN NEW MEXICO WELLNESS
Why New Mexico is the West Coast’s Best (and Most Overlooked) Wellness Retreat?
Many city dwellers love the high desert of New Mexico for its lush, ink-blue landscape; culturally rich architecture; magically still (some may say hauntingly so) ambience; and infusion of art - in museums and craft cocktail bars alike. And while it’s revered for its off-the-grid lifestyle, northern cities and communities such as Santa Fe, Taos, Ojo Caliente and Albuquerque are fast becoming known as the epicenter for wellness.
Still, this isn’t your typical hotbed for healing. There is a legendary spa that offers sulfur-free mineral pools, said to heal ailments such as indigestion and arthritis, and sound bath sessions held in a centuries-old sanctuary. And yes, in true New Mexico form, there is a ranch - a horse ranch! - run by its resident Horse Lady, who offers her guests a true glimpse into the rustic lifestyle by way of equine therapy, home-cooked meals, and their very own adobe-style fireplace. The possibilities for a luxurious getaway are endless. Welcome to the Land of Enchantment.
Healing Through Horses
On a peaceful ranch in Abiquiu, not far from the iconic red rocks of Ghost Ranch, near where Georgia O’Keeffe once laid down roots, Judy Schneider, aka the Horse Lady, offers personalized equine-assisted therapy. A far cry from horse camp, the ranch is really ‘a place for women who are experiencing emotional obstacles in their lives to come heal,’ she says. The retreat, which can be experienced as a group or solo, for up to seven days, consists of one-on-one time with Schneider, the animals, as well as the serene setting itself. There are day trips to a neighboring spa, or home visits from local holistic practitioners out of the ranch’s sweet and secluded treatment space, Desert Rose. Accommodations can be found at the neighboring Abiquiu Inn, a quaint and rustic mountain house boasting a farm-to-table restaurant with a seasonal menu and local beer. As for the late-night entertainment? Consider the adobe-style fireplaces, better known as kivas, your new Netflix and chill.
Ojo Caliente Spa & Resort
Located halfway between Abiquiu and Taos, Ojo Caliente is an unincorporated community best known for its natural hot springs. Considered to be one of the oldest health resorts in the U.S., Ojo Caliente’s sulfur-free mineral pools are legendary for their healing abilities, and thus frequented by tourists and locals alike. Take the cliffside Iron Springs, which features warm, iron-rich water that bubbles up from the pebbled floor and is believed to aid in blood flow and benefit the immune system, or the Arsenic Spring, should you seek relief from arthritis, stomach ulcers, or chronic skin conditions. A sight to be seen, and soaked up, is the cavernous Soda ‘Steam’ Pool - it looks just like it sounds, like a pot of boiling water due to the naturally high water temperature; it supposedly helps those with digestive issues, too. After a day of soaking, steaming, or mud bathing, thanks to the abundance of clean wet clay on site, spend time among the property’s thousand-acre trails or at its highly acclaimed bar and restaurant - it will be a meal well earned.
Sound Bath with Jvala Moonfire
Taos-based Jvala Moonfire’s path toward sound healing began during her 14-year stint in India, where she completely immersed herself in the practices of mantra, breath, and energy healing. Having lived and studied in the caves of the Himalayas and in the sacred city of Varanasi, alongside her guruji who also taught Madonna Sanskrit circa Ray of Light, Jvala believes ‘sound is a potent pathway to the silent awareness of the soul.’ Now, she teaches sessions, sometimes at the sanctuary of the Kumari Nadu temple, using mantra, toning, and the vibrations of crystal singing bowls to expand consciousness and invoke healing. It’s out of this world. For a session, email her at email@example.com.
Taos & Arroyo Hondo
For those who are looking for natural hot waters at little-to-no cost, head down to Manby Hot Springs (known to locals as Stagecoach) where the 97-degree rock pools are located in the ruins of an old stagecoach stop on the Rio Grande. Linger, but not for too long: A short drive will bring you to a crystal clear blue mountain stream that’s surrounded by old growth forest. From there, continue into the mountains toward the Taos Ski Valley to hit the Italianos trail. As the altitude increases, so do the groves of shimmering Aspen trees.
Ten Thousand Waves
Just 10 minutes northeast of Santa Fe center, in the mountains of the national forest, lies Ten Thousand Waves, a hotel and spa modeled after Japan’s natural hot springs known as onsen. The spa’s man-made pools, which stretch across 20 acres of rocky land, where fragrant junipers and piñons abound, offer both unisex soaking as well as a private space for women only - in true Japanese tradition, one must bathe in the nude in order to truly reap all the mineral-rich benefits. For further relaxation, consider a Shiatsu-inspired facial massage, or a solo sitting in the meditation room. One night’s stay in a ryokan-style hut will surely transport you to another place entirely - mind, body, and soul.