Best detox program 2017 at the Art of Living Retreat Center

In the News: 2017 Best Detox Program

By Andrew
August 9, 2017

Top 10 Spa Awards: Best detox program Art of Living Retreat Center
We are delighted to share with you our exciting news…Organic Spa Magazine recently awarded our Shankara Ayurveda Spa the “Best Detox Program” in the United States!

Here’s why:

“…offers traditional Ayurvedic treatments like shirodhara, abhyangha and marma therapy, consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor and some of the best and most authentic yoga and meditation teachers anywhere.”

Best Detox Program

“Originally built as a Transcendental Meditation Retreat Center by a follower of the Beatles’ Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, this bucolic 381-acre property outside Charlotte, NC, was sold to the nonprofit, The Art of Living, in 2011. With more than 10,000 centers worldwide in 155 countries, this is the centerpiece, where guests will find abundant peace and tranquility.
Commit to an authentic Ayurvedic detox (panchakarma), or the signature Happiness Program, which features breathing exercises, yoga, meditation and shared wisdom, is life-changing. The recently renovated Spa offers traditional Ayurvedic treatments like shirodhara, abhyangha and marma therapy, consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor and some of the best and most authentic yoga and meditation teachers anywhere. The cuisine is exclusively vegetarian, much of it from the organic garden on property.


For us, this award is a reminder of the strong legacy we inherit. Ayurveda is an amazing tradition that offers a holistic approach to wellness and self-care, which is time-tested, approachable and all natural. And natural Ayurvedic modes of detox have been helping people rejuvenate for thousands of years. We are proud to be able to offer this type of programming in the US.

Come and stay with us soon!

If you haven’t checked it out yet, Organic Spa offers inspired, interesting articles on lifestyles of wellness. You can check out the original announcement here or contact us by email at [email protected] or call 800.392.6870.


Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


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Healing Journeys of Ayurveda: Peggy’s Story

June 15, 2017

Part of what we do at the Center is empower you towards a life well-lived. We don’t want your experience to end when you drive away from the mountains – which is why so many of our programs include an educational component so that you can continue to enjoy the transformative effects of Ayurveda at home. Peggy recently joined us at the Art of Living Retreat Center to celebrate the beginning of a new season of her life. What she found was not only a week’s worth of rejuvenation and self-reflection, but a new knowledge base to bring her experiences home. 

TAGS: art of living Shankara spa , art of living spa , Ayurveda , knowledge , kriya , meditation , spa treatment , transitions

Ayurvedic Weight Loss (Part 3): Herbal Supplements

By Dr. Harrison Graves, MD
September 30, 2016


In our last blog we learned how stress reduction is one of the keys to successful weight management. The Sudarshan Kriya, as taught at AOLRC, was recommended as a wonderful breath technique for managing stress and reducing anxiety. Today our blog is about three herbal supplements useful for rejuvenation and weight loss. They are Ashwagandha, Triphala and Chyawanprash.
Some Ayurvedic herbs maintain ideal weight by stoking up the digestive fire and enhancing absorption of nutrients. Others boost energy and reduce the effects of stress. Here are three herbal remedies that are suitable for everyday use, regardless of one’s body-mind type, or dosha.


Ashwagandha, sometimes called “Indian ginseng,” is one of the most powerful herbs used in Ayurvedic healing. In Sanskrit, Ash-wa-gan-dha means “the smell of a horse.” It is a horse that can “impart the vigor and strength of a stallion.” It is recommended as an energy booster, treating stress and fatigue. It is also used to enhance sexual potency in both men and women. Ashwagandha root can help stabilize blood sugar, lower cholesterol and improve memory.
A recommended amount is 600-1000 mg twice a day.


Tri-phala means “the three fruits.” Often prescribed as a bowel tonic and mild laxative, it is an Ayurvedic wonder made of three herbs: amalaki, haritaki and bibhitaki.
Packed with antioxidants, this potent combination does much more than treat constipation. It pulls toxins (ama) from the intestines and enhances absorption of nutrients.
A recommended amount is 500-1000 mg once or twice a day. Click here to order.


Traditionally known as the “Elixir of Life”, Chyawanprash is the most widely used Ayurvedic supplement in the world. Many take Chyawanprash it as an energizing tonic, a rejuvenative for mind and body.
Chyawanprash (pronounced “cha-wahn-prash”) is an Ayurvedic jam, whose recipe was given to us by the sages of long ago. “Prash” means “specially prepared.” Originally it was specially prepared for the elderly sage, Chyawan, to restore his youth and vigor. It is a collection of 37 herbs, mixed into a nutritive jam made of Amalaki fruit, honey and ghee. Some say it tastes like a spicy apple butter.
Amalaki, also known as amla, is renowned for its rich antioxidant content. It has one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C in the plant kingdom.
Chyawanprash supports all three doshas. It enkindles the digestive fire without aggravating pitta. It balances vata and kapha while strengthening the body against the effects of a stressful lifestyle. Ayurvedic herbs are especially useful when used alongside an Ayurvedic home cleanse.

Note: The transliteration from Sanskrit to English has resulted in a variety of spelling variations, including: chyavanprash, chyavanaprasam, and chyavanaprjasha.

Dosage: 1 teaspoon/day with meals. Often taken with milk.

Medical Caution: Though Chyawanprash has been used safely in India for centuries, it should not be used if you have diabetes, are pregnant or nursing.


To review, Ayurvedic weight management draws from all three areas of Ayurveda’s holistic approach to wellness:
Ayurvedic Foods — fresh, organic and vegetarian — loaded with healing spices and the six tastes, and eaten according to dosha
Ayurvedic Lifestyle (think Yoga and stress reduction)
Ayurvedic Herbal Supplements

Healthy vegetarian foods, combined with healing herbs, exercise and stress management are the keys to successful weight management.


Review Question: Which Ayurvedic herb is sometimes called “Indian ginseng”?

Comments? Please share your comments about your favorite Ayurvedic herbal supplements in the comment box below.


The information on this website is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. For more information pertaining to your personal needs please see a qualified health practitioner


Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


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5 Ayurvedic Tips For Late Summer

By Dr. Harrison Graves, MD
August 31, 2016



In Ayurveda, there are six seasons instead of four: spring, early summer, late summer, fall, early winter and late winter.  The later summer season  is called Varsha ritu or “rainy season.” August and September mark this transition from summer to fall, from heat to coolness, from spring vegetables to late summer harvest. Seasons change and so should we. We should change our eating habits and our activities to be in tune with each season — especially when it comes to the foods we eat and the activities we enjoy. In this blog you’ll find some food for thought:  5 Ayurvedic tips for late summer season.   


Eating According to Season

Food has an essential role in keeping you healthy.  For that reason it is very important that you adjust your eating in accordance with the seasons. In late summer,  digestion slows down.  Agni is low. As the weather starts to cool, eat more  rice and barley —  foods that are easy to digest. Salty and sour intake should also be increased during this time.  Try a delicious juice of pomegranate  mixed with honey and lime for a Pitta reducing treat.


Late Summer and the Doshas

During late summer, all doshas can go out of balance, especially Vata and Pitta. For that reason, Ayurveda  recommends seasonal purification practices like Panchakarma, especially for this time of year. Pitta needs to be cooled down after the long hot summer. Vatas need to stay grounded and hydrated. Herbal teas like Tulsi (Holy Basil) make an ideal late summer drink, especially for Vatas. You can spice up your Tulsi with cardamom, ginger or coriander seeds.

Regardless of your dosha, here are five Ayurvedic tips to help you with that transition from late summer to the early fall season:


5 Ayurvedic Tips For Late Summer

  1. Eat foods that are easily digestible, warm and light. Barley, rice and wheat are recommended. Tender coconut is a good pacifier for increased Vata and Pitta conditions.
  2. Cut back on leafy greens, uncooked vegetables and salads. Increase sweet, sour and salty foods.
  3.  Drink room temperature water (instead of ice water) to keep Agni in balance. Avoid ice cream.
  4. Consider taking an Ayurvedic liver formula daily during September—it will help support the cleansing of old pitta from the blood and liver.
  5. Take Triphala each night before bed to cleanse Pitta gently from the small intestines.

If you can incorporate the above tips into in your daily routine, you can enjoy a healthier fall season ahead. As the leaves begin to turn from green to gold and red, adjust your diet and activities accordingly. Be in tune in with Nature and the seasons…the Ayurvedic way.


Review Question: What late summer tea is especially good for Vata?


Comments?  Please share your own Ayurvedic tips and food recipes down below — those which are ideal for late summer and early fall.


Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living Shankara spa , Ayurveda , ayurveda detox , harrison graves md , natural lifestyle , Panchakarma , wellness , yoga

Shankara Ayurveda Spa: Awarded Best Ayurveda Program in the US

By Andrew
July 29, 2016

We are delighted to share with you our exciting news…

Organic Spa Media Co. recently awarded our Shankara Ayurveda Spa the “Best Ayurveda Program” in the United States!

Here’s why:

You simply will not find a more authentic or effective Ayurvedic program outside of India

“This beautiful retreat center, with gorgeous vistas that overlook the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains in Boone, NC, is the real deal. You simply will not find a more authentic or effective Ayurvedic program outside of India, where this program-and its founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar-are renowned. Everything, including the architecture of the prominent Meditation Center, is designed to help guests gain focus, lift their spirits and fulfill their human potential, with the help of loving and attentive staff, therapeutic Ayurvedic spa treatments, yoga and meditation, and amazing workshops and retreats from Panchakarama to the world-famous Happiness Program.”

Come and stay with us soon!

Visit our website or contact us @ [email protected] or call 800.392.6870



Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

Ayurvedic Detox (Part 3): Panchakarma

By Dr. Harrison Graves, MD
July 22, 2016



Ayurveda, the holistic medicine from India, has given us the ultimate way to detoxify the body-mind: Panchakarma.

Panchakarma, or the “five actions,” is a time-tested cleansing process that releases stored toxins and restores the body’s innate healing ability. It is a series of therapies that helps remove deep rooted stress while balancing the body-mind types – vata, pitta, kapha.

Panchakarma was developed thousands of years ago by the physician-yogis of India. Its five actions refer to the five cleansing and rejuvenating procedures described in Ayurvedic textbooks. Panchakarma in the West mainly uses three of these five Ayurvedic methods for removing toxins, each prescribed based on one’s body-mind type.

Scientific studies have proven that the natural purification treatments of Panchakarma can successfully eliminate environmental toxins such as PCB’s and pesticides from the body.

A Panchakarma program is only effective if special detoxification diet is consumed along with the treatments. The staff at the Shankara Ayurveda Spa are keenly aware of this and every individual undergoing Panchakarma receives a special diet which is monitored by the doctor.

The Process

Think of Panchakarma as a three step process: mobilization of toxins, elimination of toxins, and body-mind rejuvenation.

Step 1: Mobilizing Toxins
Panchakarma begins with oleation — the application and ingestion of oils and ghee to loosen and mobilize toxins from the stomach and intestines. Deep soothing massages are given, using warm oils like coconut and sesame, that have been infused with healing herbs.

Step 2: Elimination and Release
After oleation, comes Swedana, or sweating therapy, in the sauna or steam room. Sweating allows toxins to be eliminated through the skin while improving circulation and releasing tension. In addition, the toxins mobilized in Step 1 are released using a series of daily basti’s, or therapeutic enemas. Basti is much more than an enema, however. It refers to a special type of colon cleanse that uses herb infused oils to remove fat-soluble toxins from the intestinal tract.

Step 3: Body-Mind Rejuvenation
Once the toxins have been released, the time is ripe to nourish the body with natural foods, with meditation and gentle yoga.

The Shankara Ayurvedic Spa Experience

Panchakarma Retreat for wellness at the Ayurveda Spa.

A Panchakarma Detox Retreat at the Art of Living Retreat Center Spa is pampering and de-stressing experience, customized just for you. It includes:

  • Initial Ayurvedic consultation with pulse assessment followed by daily check ups with an Ayurvedic Health Practitioner so that you experience the best treatments for you
  • About 2 1/2 hours of daily Ayurvedic treatments, customized to your personal wellness program
  • Abhyanga (warm oil massage): One of the world’s oldest massage therapy techniques, herb-infused oils are massaged into the body, loosening toxins, relaxing the nervous system and providing rest, nourishment and rejuvenation.
  • Swedna (steam room therapy)
  • Combinations of several different treatments, such as shirodhara, karna purna, nasya, marma, kati basti, netra tarpana as recommended for you
  • Therapeutic, organic diet designed to optimize your experience in treatments
  • And much more, like Ayurvedic cooking classes and daily satsang/kirtan

* * *

Releasing Emotional Toxins

Emotional toxins can be just as damaging as physical toxins – for example, the suffering caused by a toxic relationship at home or undue criticism at work. It’s important to remember that your mind and heart are continually digesting energy and information as well as foods.

The inability to clear these toxic emotions like anger, jealousy or grievances can lead to stress related illnesses, from ulcers to hypertension to stroke. If your emotional agni, your inner fire, is strong, you will be able to reinforce the positive emotions that nourish you – like happiness, contentment, joy and gratitude – and eliminate the negative emotions that no longer serve you.

Cleansing the Mind: Mantra and Pranayama

Both Ayurveda and Yoga recommend mantric chanting and conscious breathing as an important part of holistic healing. Some mantras, like Aum and OM Shanti, are soothing to the nervous system. Other mantras, like the Gayatri, a mantra for higher consciousness, are chanted for wisdom and illumination.

In addition, pranayama, breathing exercises like nadi shodhana, can rapidly relieve anxiety and soothe the worries and hurries of the mind.

According to Ayurveda, good health depends upon our ability to fully assimilate all aspects of life, taking in that which nourishes us and eliminating the rest. If we don’t completely digest our food, experiences and emotions, toxins will accumulate in our body and mind, creating imbalance and, ultimately, disease.

Learn more about Panchakarma

If you’d like to find out more about Panchakarma and how it can help improve your quality of life, especially in relation to the aging process, you can check out the ebook:

ayurveda guide download

Interested in learning more about how Ayurveda can improve your health? To find out more, schedule a free consultation with our Ayurveda specialist.


Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living retreat center , art of living Shankara spa , Ayurveda , ayurveda cleanse , cleanse , Detox , harrison graves md , Panchakarma , Retreats , Swedana
ayurveda shirodhara therapy

Shirodhara: Ayurveda’s Bliss Therapy

By Dr. Harrison Graves, MD
July 11, 2016

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar tells us that “the first step in yoga is to let go, to relax.” A relaxed body will lead to a relaxed mind. Letting go doesn’t have to be difficult, however. It can even be blissful.


One of Ayurveda’s favorite ways to relax and let go is Shirodhara, perhaps the most soothing oil treatment “the Science of Life” has to offer. Shirodhara (Shiro = head and dhara = flow) comes to us from Ayurveda, the 5000 year old system of holistic healing from India. It’s purpose is to reduce stress and induce a state of deep relaxation. Shirodhara has been used to help relieve insomnia, anxieties, fears, stress headaches and other nervous system disorders. Guests normally experience a deep relaxation during the treatment.

Letting go can be a blissful process.

The Process

During the treatment, a thin stream of warm, herb-infused oil (like sesame) is gently poured from a copper pot onto the forehead for a prolonged period of time (about 50 minutes). The trained therapist gently directs the stream over the third eye and other important marma (energy) points found across the forehead. The end result is a state of calmness and deep relaxation — a feeling of balanced rest for the body and mind. It is called “bliss therapy” because of the profound effect that Shirodhara has upon the consciousness.


The benefits of Shirodhara are magnified when when performed immediately after an Ayurvedic massage, or abhyanga. Just as abyhanga calms the restless body and Shirodhara calms the restless mind.

Having recently experienced the soothing effect of a Shirodhara oil treatment at AOLC, one client, E.D., told me, “I wanted it to never end.”


Shirodhara and the Doshas

At the Art of Living Shankara Spa, heart-centered LMT’S (Licensed Massage Therapists), specially trained in Ayurvedic therapies, perform the treatments.  An experienced Ayurvedic master selects an herb-infused organic oil specific to each guest’s mind-body constitution: Vata, Pitta or Kapha dosha.

Shirodhara is especially grounding for Vata types. Depending on your constitution, it can also be an important part of panchakarma, the classic Ayurvedic cleanse for rejuvenating and detoxifying the mind and body. To find out more about the variety of Ayurvedic services that are possible, please check out the Ayurvedic treatments page.

Ayurveda shows that you can make letting go a blissful process.  

Experience deep relaxation and tranquility as you learn how to let go. For learning to release from a spiritual perspective, check out this video of Sri Sri on “Letting Go and Holding On.”


(Note: Special thanks to Medha Garuda, Ayurvedic Programs Coordinator at AOLC, for her kind assistance in preparing this blog.)

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

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