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With its fresh air, forests, and majestic Rocky Mountains, Banff is the perfect place for a little self-care, by way of a wellness staycation.
If you’re from Alberta, chances are you’ve been out to the Rockies countless times. You’ve probably done all the usual activities: skiing, hiking, skating, visiting the picturesque Lake Louise, soaking in the hot springs, browsing the shops in downtown Canmore, grabbing drinks in Banff. Maybe you’ve even tried dog sledding, or done some backcountry camping.
However, there are a wealth of experiences in Banff and the area that you might not even know about, designed to nurture your body and mind while breathing in that fresh Rockies air and absorbing some good energy from the mountains. And, bonus: you’ll get to see a new side of Banff that you may not have otherwise known about.
From a plant medicine walk and forest bathing to aerial yoga, there are plenty of activities to give you a whole new view of the Rockies, and to nourish your physical and mental well-being while you’re at it.
Here are three adventures to add to your bucket list for a wellness staycation in Banff.
Plant medicine walk
It’s healing simply to spend time outdoors, but did you know that the natural world also offers a wide variety of consumable remedies and wellness compounds? Mahikan Trails is an Indigenous-owned company that proudly shares traditional culture and knowledge, and their medicine walks teach about the gifts of the Boreal Forest.
The medicine walk allows participants the opportunity to hike with an Indigenous guide, who will share their knowledge and the traditions of the Boreal Forest, and teach how nature’s offerings have allowed them to thrive in the wilderness through the generations.
Visitors will learn about the medicines found in the forest and different aspects of the Cree Iroquois culture, and they will experience Banff in a way that they likely wouldn’t have discovered on their own. Guides are well-versed in the art of storytelling, and participants are sure to be entertained as they learn and explore. You’ll even get to sip on some bush tea during the walk!
Try the medicine walk from Cascade Ponds in Banff, or join Mahikan Trails in Sundre or Canmore. The company also offers workshops, including haircare, bath, and body, crafting, and plant medicine first aid, along with snowshoeing and winter walks at the Grotto Canyon.
When: Daily departures in Sundre, and Banff and Canmore walks can be booked for groups of six or more with seven days’ notice
Where: Based in Clearwater County, Alberta, with tours out of Sundre, Banff, and Canmore
Cost: Tours starting at $60 per person; call or email [email protected] for more information and to book
With what seems like nonstop jam-packed schedules, too much screen time, and a lack of inner peace these days, everybody could use a moment to slow down and reconnect with themselves (and nature). And that’s exactly what Ronna Schneberger of Forest Fix aims to do.
Forest bathing is derived from the Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku (and no, you don’t need to get naked or wear your bathing suit – this is done fully clothed). Shinrin means “forest” and yoku means “bath,” so the phrase translates to mean “to bathe in the forest atmosphere” or “taking in the forest through your senses,” according to the Forest Fix website.
Schneberger guides forest bathers through a series of exercises amongst the trees in the Rockies, each designed to improve mindfulness and help you connect with nature through your senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. Throughout the walking meditations, you will be offered a series of “invitations.” Schneberger invites participants to allow whatever comes to them naturally, and to share what feels comfortable. Sessions wrap up with a cup of nature’s tea and a chance to reflect.
In addition to guided walks, Forest Fix offers EcoYoga, corporate wellness programs, leadership development, mental fitness coaching, virtual sessions, and a number of other workshops and retreats.
When: Dates to be arranged at the time of booking
Where: Forest Fix is based out of Canmore, with walks and hikes available in Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise, and beyond, plus remotely
Cost: Starting at $40
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While you’ve likely done yoga at home, Banff Yoga Practice isn’t your average studio. With everything from Vinyasa to pre-natal, and even aerial yoga, BYP’s classes are sure to leave you feeling extra invigorated as you head back out into the fresh mountain air.
Banff Yoga Practice is a place where everyone can feel a sense of community, whether you’re a yogi regular or just dropping in while visiting the town. Teachers strive to create a deeper sense of healing within their classes and guide you to find balance, be mindful, and remember to breathe.
The studio also offers Reiki training, retreats, Yoga Teacher Training, breath workshops, and much more. Check out Banff Yoga Practice’s website for class options and times, and to learn more.
When: Doors are open for classes from 6:30 am to 8 pm Monday through Friday, and 8:45 am to 6:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday. See schedule for class times and details
Where: #102B – 111 Banff Avenue, Banff
Cost: $19 for a drop-in class, with passes and membership options available