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Dahlonega Spa Resort, GA
Peace, quiet, and downward-facing dog
Every yoga practitioner quickly learns to love one posture: savasana, the flat-on-your-back, arms-and-legs-flopped-out attitude of rest that concludes every class. But despite years of yoga, I had my first savasana epiphany lying on the varnished plank floor of a lodge in rural Georgia. As rain rhythmically pinged the tin roof and trees swayed in time outside, I finally experienced the mind-emptying total relaxation that earns savasana the name “corpse pose.” What’s truly mystic is that the journey from high stress to moment of Zen came after a quick drive up GA 400 to the Blue Ridge foothills and Dahlonega Spa Resort.
Dahlonega, site of the first U.S. gold rush and home of the Military College of Georgia (aka North Georgia College & State University), seems an unlikely place to achieve enlightenment, but for nearly a decade, R&R Resorts has promoted this Southern-tinged cousin to its yoga retreat centers in Costa Rica and Tulum. Sprawling over seventy-two pristine acres, Dahlonega Spa Resort includes a wide-porched farmhouse and a cluster of wood-shingled cabins that give off the vibe of an old-time Scout camp but are in fact new additions, holding a yoga studio, spa, and secluded accommodations. You can come for a reclusive escape (no TVs or telephones in guest rooms), attend an intensive retreat (like this month’s Yoga with Heart workshop), or book one of the semistructured packages. My daughter and I scheduled a two-night “wellness getaway,” which includes meals, two yoga classes, and a spa session. (March to November all-inclusive rates for this package range from $361 to $739 per person.)
We checked into one of the private cabins before attending our first yoga class. And after that mind-altering savasana, we walked through the rain to the main building for dinner—ravenous despite a precautionary pit stop on the drive up. “There might be nothing but quinoa and wheatgrass for the next three days,” my daughter had warned. As it turned out, DSR served fresh, healthy food in abundance. The four-course dinner selections included pan-roasted pork loin, roasted chicken breast, and a vegetarian-friendly stuffed portobello mushroom, paired with selections from local vineyards. We passed up triple-chocolate mousse in favor of blueberry cobbler and blueberry sorbet.
Balance—physical and mental—is a yoga leitmotif that aptly describes the resort, where the focus on escaping modern stressors is paired with simple indulgences. Our cabin was modestly furnished but hardly monastic (assuming monks don’t buy Martha Stewart matelassé bedding). The spare decor only underscored the scenic beauty, like the stout gray rabbit taking shelter from the rain under the porch of a neighboring cabin.
The next morning we walked along a trail that wound past a creek and dipped down a steep hill, where docile black cows grazed in a startlingly green meadow. More outdoorsy types can find adventurous hikes nearby, including Amicalola Falls, the highest cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Mellower travelers will appreciate tours of neighboring wineries; BlackStock Vineyards & Winery is just a mile away. We opted to laze on our cabin porch until it was time for massages, expertly performed by highly skilled staff. Later we soaked in the enormous hot tub as spring breezes rocked the towering trees around us.
Another epiphany came as we walked back to our cabin after dinner. Looking up at the inky sky, we were mesmerized by stars as bright and bold as the illustrations in an elementary school science book.
Photograph courtesy of Dahlonega Spa Resort