The two forms of retreat are generally quite different in the format they will follow.
Generally, a wellness retreat will be located in a luxury hotel or spa with wellness facilities, such as a spa or fitness center offering different kinds of personal treatments. This may be combined with some form of health retreat, offering a variety of treatments, therapies and activities including spa treatments, aromatherapy, massage. Sometimes a yoga retreat may also be called a wellness retreat held at a spiritual retreat center with yoga and meditation. Some will also promote weight loss programs.
In many wellness retreats, the participants aren’t always required to be particularly active in the process and the therapists or treatment specialists will perform the treatment upon them.
On an ayahuasca retreat, the changes that the individual will experience are significantly more transformative. Most significantly, the participant is usually required to be more ‘active’ in terms of their part in the transformation process. The location at an authentic retreat center is likely to be in the Amazon rainforest in Peru, Colombia, Ecuador or Brasil (the countries where the plants are native).
Generally speaking, an ayahuasca retreat is a much more intensive, usually life-changing experience when compared to a wellness retreat – with individuals generally going through significant life shifts within the space of a week or two.
There are of course similarities, usually both retreats will include some form of healthy eating – usually ayahuasca retreats will require abstinence from alcohol, sugar, spicy foods and anything that may hinder the process of the medicinal plants used in the retreat. This is often referred to as the ayahuasca diet. The more advanced centers such as Gaia Tree Center in the Amazon also use complementary therapies to help deepen and integrate the transformation process with plant medicines – using meditation, body-mind integration practices and breathwork.
Many wellness centers also include walking, hiking as part of their schedule – at an ayahuasca retreat you may have the opportunity to go into the Amazon jungle to connect more deeply with nature, though due to the nature of the retreat process – most participants will not want intensive physical activity as part of the process.
At any reputable ayahuasca center, there will be a screening process for physical and psychological conditions which may put the individual at risk.
In broad terms a wellness retreat is more suitable for a vacation or holiday – whereas an ayahuasca retreat is a deeper, more transformative journey into the psyche. The journey with ayahuasca while it may seem more demanding than your average vacation is ultimately more rewarding offering deep, long-lasting benefits for the participants. Centers such as ours (Gaia Tree) offer a holistic healing approach working with traditional ayahauasca ceremony as the base for total body and mind transformation leading for many to a profound spiritual growth and on a path to inner peace. The ayahuasca experience really cannot be compared to any other form of spiritual retreats. The healing process is really a deep process of personal healing.