Perched atop a mesa in Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods Resort and Club offers multidimensional concierge wellness services and programs at STRATA Integrated Wellness and Spa.
At STRATA Integrated Wellness and Spa, medical wellness meets nature. The location features a team of more than thirty acclaimed, board-certified physicians and award-winning therapists across more than forty disciplines.
STRATA integrates the best of Western and Eastern medical science with nutrition, fitness, meditation, and mindfulness coaching. The purpose is to provide guests with a fresh perspective, a greater level of whole-person wellness, and a renewed sense of possibility.
We spoke with team member Mikaila Foster about STRATA, where medical wellness meets nature, and how she incorporates wellness into her own life.
How long have you been with STRATA and what do you do with this property?
As a yoga teacher at the Garden of the Gods Resort within STRATA Fit, I support many of the STRATA integrated wellness programs. I have enjoyed teaching weekly group yoga classes, retreat yoga classes, and partner yoga. Recently I developed a Golf Fit program focused on mobility, stability, strength and power for club members to ultimately enjoy the stunning on-site golf course without pain or injury.
I often teach yoga outdoors on our Mesa Terrace overlooking majestic views of Garden of the Gods Park, a registered National Natural Landmark. During classes, we are often graced with deer and rabbits out on the grass enjoying the peaceful energy of the property.
I teach vinyasa-style yoga. The practice is less about getting your body into physical poses, and more about using each asana (pose) to connect deeper to your body, mind and spirit. I incorporate pranayama or mindful breathing into each class to honor our life source and uncover our inner light, while often connecting that breath to movement and mindful intentions. As a physical therapist, I enjoy offering thoughtful hands-on assist to each yogi who consents to personal touch. This brings the power of human touch into the yoga experience and facilitates a deeper awareness and connection in our body.
Today, there are so many hotels, resorts, retreats and tour operators offering wellness programs and packages. Tell us a bit about STRATA and what is the main point of distinction?
The history of Colorado Springs is fascinating. When the city was founded by General Palmer in 1871, he was enamored and instantly had a grand vision of a sophisticated town to attract both U.S. and international visitors for the health benefits of the plentiful sunshine, dry climate, and clean air. That vision came true with many beautiful resorts in our city. However, none as comprehensive and health-focused as STRATA at Garden of the Gods Resort.
There is a healing energy present at STRATA at Garden of the Gods Resort and Club, as you are surrounded by mountains and enchanting red rock formations. This sets the stage for your experience, though ultimately the genuine energy of the team members and integrative providers makes the experience transformative. The three separate, but collaborative aspects of STRATA are: Med, Body, and Fit.
Guests are offered a uniquely holistic approach to wellness where their self-care meets healthcare. There is something beneficial to offer each guest within each realm of STRATA to help you find a deeper connection to yourself and your inner light.
What pandemic-inspired policies and procedures has STRATA implemented to keep travelers healthy and safe?
In many ways, we have followed one of the Eight Limbs of Yoga Yamas (social ethics). This includes ahimsa: meaning do no harm and act with kindness. Most STRATA team members are vaccinated and demonstrate the highest quality of care for our guests and other team members regarding safety with COVID protocols. We continue to offer group fitness classes over Zoom, along with telehealth appointments for STRATA Med. We offer hand sanitizer throughout the resort and the staff adheres to strict hand-hygiene policies.
Additionally, we offer many beautiful outdoor seating spaces and options for individualized programming. This allows guests to maintain distance, but still experience all the various wellness options on site.
What does STRATA offer that might attract the readers of LA Yoga?
STRATA Fit offers high quality yoga classes outdoors with spectacular views of the Garden of the Gods Park. There is an expansive fitness center sharing those views over the infinity pool, private Pilates reformer classes and private yoga classes. STRATA Med complements these offerings with a la carte IV Nutritional Therapy, Chiropractic Medicine, Naturopathic care, Acupuncture and Ayurvedic sessions.
While yoga classes offer the physical asanas and pranayama, STRATA also offers mindfulness sessions with a licensed psychotherapy team, mindful hiking experiences, and ayurvedic interventions incorporating herbal formulas to augment healing. All combine to help guests accept a lifestyle, routine, and diet that is uniquely harmonizing. Additionally, STRATA Body offers various therapeutic massage options, facials and a full-service salon. We often have special guests for live music and sound bath events arranged, in advance, with guest interest.
How do you incorporate wellness into your own daily life?
As a yoga teacher and physical therapist, I truly believe that movement is medicine and when we move our best, we live our best life. Movement, after all, is how we play, how we work and often how we love through dancing, lifting up children and embracing our loved ones.
However, I also value the importance of a balanced anti-inflammatory diet, sufficient hydration (especially at Colorado’s high elevation), mindfulness, nature, breathwork and mental health care. I move my body daily including hikes with my sweet dog, yoga, Lagree and cycling. I meditate weekly and participate in weekly therapy sessions to maintain mental clarity and stay connected to myself.
In addition, I believe rest and restorative treatments to be key for wellness. So I strive to schedule monthly therapeutic massages and chiropractic care as needed to help me continue to move and feel my best.
Spending time in nature is a powerful aspect of wellness, and we are fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful states.
While in nature, I often enjoy finding a deeper connection to that space with various breath work exercises including box breathing (4 seconds inhale, 4 seconds apnea (holding the breath), 4 seconds exhale, 4 seconds apnea.
During this time, I also find myself deeply grateful for the blessings in my life. One of my favorite gratitude practices is to notice one thing I am grateful for that I have seen with my eyes, heard with my ears, felt on my skin, tasted with my tongue, and smelt with my nose.
This practice helps illuminate the beauty in life and the beauty in how we experience the world around us.
What are the top wellness trends you are seeing at STRATA?
Since COVID restrictions have decreased, more members and guests are participating in group fitness classes, not only for the valuable physical exercise, but for the powerful collective energy in each class which provides a sense of community and belonging to all who are present.
I hear more members share their success stories and impact from sessions with the STRATA chiropractors, naturopaths and acupuncturist, using these treatments to ultimately help them get back to moving well to enjoy the activities that they love without the hassle of accessing care in the traditional health care system.
Do you feel technology is important as it pertains to wellness, and if yes, how and why? If no, why not?
I often feel conflicted about the role technology plays in our wellness. Of course, it is fun and often helpful to track our steps, calories or activities each day – and I especially love when some of the smart watches remind us to breathe and even help with slowing our breath. I also look forward to the potential of how our smart devices can bring both fitness and medicine to us at our convenience, anywhere in the world.
However, I also sometimes see technology as an unhelpful distraction. Perhaps a smart watch goes off during a yoga class or cycling class and disrupts a powerful moment, or perhaps we focus so much on ‘closing our rings’ on our watch that we do not take the adequate time to rest and restore our body.
I believe that stays at STRATA would be most powerful with limited distraction from both cell phones and smart watch devices, allowing each guest to be present in the moment and allowing themselves to be truly present in the magnificent nature surrounding them. This also allows us to practice another one of the Eight Limbs of Yoga, dhyana (de-concentration), which allows us to let go and drop efforts into easeful meditation.
Do you and, if yes, how do you incorporate the local community or culture into the programing at STRATA?
We often plan community events around holidays including a Turkey Trot and a Halloween Trunk or Treat for the children in the area.
In Colorado, there is a loving but also competitive culture in our community, which we nourish with various competitions each month to excite the community. Additionally, there is rich history to be explored nearby from the Pioneer Museum downtown, the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, Cave of the Winds and the beautiful Garden of the Gods Park itself.
What is your final note of advice for living your best life?
Take time to pause and be present in each moment to enjoy the small things. Find gratitude in the strength of your body, the power of your thoughts and the love in your community. Nurture each of those aspects of your life, for when you move well, think well and love well – you ultimately live well.
Co-Founder and President /CEO of the Wellness Tourism Association, Anne Dimon has been a travel writer and industry journalist for close to 25 years, and has traveled the world as a columnist/contributor to a variety of publications. Anne is also Owner/ Editor of TravelToWellness.com launched in 2004 as the first online magazine/resource for the wellness-minded traveler. Prior to her life as a journalist, Anne was president of her own public relations company specializing in hospitality. She has also worked in the hotel industry as a director of public relations. An acknowledged wellness travel expert and industry consultant, Anne is also the co-author of The Travel Institute’s new Wellness Travel Specialist Course.