What was promoted as a Women's Wellness Journey turned out to be the trip of a lifetime for 10 women last November. Led by local health and wellness expert Lori Faren of Lake Oswego, the women ranged in ages from 40 to mid-70s, and came from Canada, the U.S., Australia and the U.K. Among the adventurers were Lake Oswego residents Joan Robbins and Erlin Taylor.
Faren was inspired to lead the women's group after she traveled to India with her father in 2018.
"We took a 28-day tour of India," she said. Organized by Bestway Tours and Safari, Faren's trip with her father proved to be a wonderful experience for them both. Faren's glowing blogs of the tour prompted Bestway to ask her if she would like to host a tour of her own.
"It was great to do this with my dad, but I thought, 'wouldn't it be fun to take a group of women?'" she said. She took what she enjoyed most from the original tour — visiting textile centers, eating Indian cuisine, attending cultural events and taking yoga classes — and curated a special tour of activities.
"Bestway has offices in New Delhi which allows them to take a hands-on approach in selecting only the best activities, accommodations and guides," Faren said. "They have been a specialist in unforgettable India tours for more than 38 years."
The women on her tour were of different abilities, stamina and interests. Faren said only a few knew each other before the tour began. One woman from Toronto learned about the tour via a Facebook ad; three women from Connecticut came together, then invited a childhood friend from Australia to join them; Robbins and Taylor had learned about the tour from Faren via Trainer's Club — where Faren teaches yoga. From around the globe they bonded quickly for their adventure in spiritual India.
The tour included four different yoga experiences at ancient monuments; an intimate cooking class with a local family; attending the annual Pushkar Camel Fair; visits to the textile weavers at Varanasi; and a visit to Rishikesh in Northern India, where the English rock band the Beatles trained in advanced Transcendental Meditation at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, also known as the Yoga Capitol of the World. They enjoyed floating down the Ganges River, accompanied by sitar and drum. They also visited an elephant and tiger sanctuary and carpet weaving centers.
"We stayed in beautiful four- and five-star hotels," Faren said. "And used 10 different modes of transportation: airplane, train, bus, tuk-tuk (auto-rickshaw), rickshaw, bicycle, ferry, small boat, camel, elephant and Jeep."
One of the highlights of the trip was seeing the Taj Mahal at sunrise, and again in full moonlight.
"It glows in the moonlight," Faren said. "They allow just 250 people in to view each night, about 50 people each half-hour. And it is viewing only, no photos. The security (level) was high."
Other highlights included visiting a spice market, attending a dance performance after being dressed in colorful saris, and shopping for unique Indian crafts such as marble tabletops, rugs, scarves and jewelry.
For the most part the women enjoyed the foods, noting they were all fresh foods made from scratch in a farm-to-table manner.
"I was struck by the dedication the Indians have to wellness and religion," said Taylor, when asked how the trip had changed her perspective.
In India, yoga focuses on the self first, Faren explained.
"There is a difference here: is it exercise or yoga? Exercise you repeat over and over, but with yoga you hold (the pose) and maintain one position," she said. "It is much more meditative, you following the breathing."
At the time of the interview the women had been back in the country for less than a week, and Faren was planning to survey the group for what might be next.
"Traveling with women is really special," she said. "This was a lovely trip for me, and we all bonded."
Faren is an expert in fitness, nutrition and personal growth with a passion for guiding others in living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. She is a certified World Beauty Fitness and Fashion pro and is the resident health expert on Portland's KATU Channel 2.
You can learn more about her and upcoming tours online at lorifaren.com.
Join Lori Faren for Transformation 2020
Lori Faren invites all to turn your New Year's resolutions inside out by participating in Transformation 2020, running Feb. 6 through March 5. With Elizabeth Borcelli, an ICF Certified Professional Coach, she is offering a two-part live workshop and online community for lifestyle results that last. The live sessions will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 6 and March 5 at Stafford Hills Club, 5916 SW Nyberg Road, Tualatin. Whether your goal involves wellness, personal or career growth, these women will share their resources, support and community to get you there. Price is $80. Register online at StaffordHills.com/Transformation.
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