Posted by: Kath Usitalo | January 13, 2010

Get Well Soon: Upcoming Women’s Retreat Is A Big Deal

Forest Dunes Wellness Director Lee Womack leads a yoga session in what is the pro shop during golf season

I know enough about Ayurveda to know that my doshas are out of balance and my chakras don’t harmonize. (Or is it the other way around?) So when I was invited to sample a Women’s Wellness retreat inspired by Ayurvedic principles, I packed my yoga clothes and headed north to Forest Dunes Golf Club in Roscommon to learn more about the ancient practice—and myself.

The Sanskrit word Ayurveda means life knowledge or science. It’s a traditional system of medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years in India, and is considered alternative medicine in this part of the world. Ayurveda employs foods, herbs and spices, meditation, massage, and exercise, including yoga, to create balance among the 3 energies or Doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha.

Snowshoeing past the Forest Dunes club house

You needn’t be an Ayurveda believer or practitioner to enjoy the February 5-7 Women’s Dynamic Winter Wellness Weekend. Just bring a sense of curiosity and adventure —and $350—and you’ll be refreshed and rested after two nights lodging in the peace and quiet of the remote, 1,200-acre property; your taste buds will get a workout at healthful and tasty meals; and you’ll have no distractions to keep you from your spa treatment, yoga session, and snowshoe hike or cross-country skiing in the fresh northern air. Did I mention the cost for all this is just $350?

Lentil cakes and salad

Forest Dunes Wellness Director Lee Womack addresses the 3 levels of being—mind, body, and spirit—in a program designed for women who traditionally see first to the needs of others, and are often too busy to take care of themselves.

Run down and cranky, the saying, “When mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy” comes to mind, but softspoken Lee more delicately phrases it, “Giving from a full cup is a joyous thing to do. Why should we not take care of ourselves first?”

She promotes the value of meditation and journaling and includes time for both, as well as a yoga session held in a soaring space wrapped on 3 sides with windows. As we followed Lee in working through the salutations, boat, cat-cow and child’s pose, the snow gently fell outside and it seemed as though we were doing yoga in a snow globe.

The makeshift meditation room is actually the golf pro shop that during the warm months services the day and residential members of the top-rated Forest Dunes Troon Golf Private Club. Lodging is in the handful of model homes on property, somewhat like a B&B with guests sharing living areas and retreating to bedrooms (most with private bath). It would be fun to get a group of girlfriends together and have the house to yourselves. The spa where Lee gave each of us a restorative mud facial and neck and shoulder massage is small—just one treatment room—but comfortable and attractive with steambath and nearby fitness center.

Our Splattered Jeep in front of one of the Forest Dunes model homes that accommodate Wellness Weekend guests

All meals are served in the beamed dining room of the 22,000-square foot, Adirondack-style club house. The special Wellness Weekend menu is mostly vegetarian, tasty and well-seasoned. Lee explains, “You’ve got to incorporate the 6 tastes (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, astringent, and bitter) in every meal so you feel satisfied.”

Guests receive a recipe booklet to carry on the good eating at home; I know I’ll be making the lentil cakes, soups, and muffins. The 4 condiments served with Chapati whole wheat Indian flat bread could be dangerous to have on hand, though; I’d want them with every meal.

The retreat piqued my interest in learning more about Ayurveda and kapha (my dominant dosha), and how to bring more balance to my life. I had absolutely no excuse not to exercise, and—once I got out there—I enjoyed it.

As Lee says, “You can become addicted to high energy, feeling great and being happy—why wouldn’t you (want that)?”

Cucumber, cilantro, and sweet and spicy apricot chutneys and chili salt not only flavor foods but cleanse and aid digestion and improve circulation

NOTE: Forest Dunes also offers Stay & Ski and other winter packages, including a Valentine’s Day getaway.



  1. Sounds heavenly! I miss things/opportunities like this living here in the wilds of the UP!

    • I think you’d find it worth the trip. Get a girlfriend to join you and come on down!

  2. This sounds like so much fun!! You got an extra $350, Cindy Lou? We might just have to do a road trip…

    • I think you would really like Lee Womack (as well as her program).

  3. I wanted to share an incredible source on Ayurveda, the ancient medical science of Natural Healing. This site has free educational content, videos, articles, and learning tools. I was amazed to see that this ayurvedic school has online videos of their classes for FREE! … to visit their website click on or copy:


    Rick Roux

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