My Experience at YO1, India's Holistic Wellness Program

a travel diary


When I first learned of YO1, an Ayurveda-inspired holistic wellness center nestled on 1,300 acres of property in the Catskills, I couldn’t wait to see what it was all about. As a yogi I know a bit about Ayurveda, an Indian system of medicine focusing on using nature to heal oneself, but was excited to learn more and dive in. Joe and I were invited to experience all the center has to offer over a weekend and were beyond impressed by the service, practitioners, meals, programming and property. I knew as soon as we walked in that I was in the right place when the front desk concierge greeted us by saying, “Namaste.”

Upon arrival, we toured the property, which includes 131 guest rooms (ours was a suite overlooking a snow-covered lake), 36 massage therapy rooms, six wet rooms for treatments like mud therapy, 40 private baths and whirl pools, seven yoga rooms, a meditation room, a 5,000 square foot. pool, gym, juice bar, dining area and even a room full of sinks for the Kriyas, purification techniques that include flushing out the nose and eyes with oil or water, which happened at 6:30 each morning.

The Resort

You’re probably wondering why they named the property YO1, which was one of the first questions I asked. It’s the Western answer behind the true meaning in Sanskrit, which is “yovan” (pronounced like YO1) meaning “youth.” With preventative medicine as a top priority, it makes sense. The center caters programs for those who are interested in stress reduction and relaxation, detoxing (no caffeine, liquor, salt or sugar), lifestyle management, pain management, weight management and infertility.

The Food

We were then greeted by two counselors, who came from India to bring YO1’s vision to life. The first, Rajagopal Manda, was a naturopathy counselor who took our weight, blood pressure and discussed our daily routine with us. It was there that we all decided that stress and relaxation was to be the focus of our stay. Next, we met with an Ayurveda counselor, Muralidharan Ramalingam, who read our pulses and asked us a series of questions to help determine our predominate dosha. Although we had a common goal of reducing stress, with Joe being a Pitta and me being a Vata, we had separate therapies and vegetarian (vegan for me) meals according to our dosha types. The entire experience was completely customized for our unique needs and bodies. Here’s an article I wrote after a visit to Canyon Ranch about how to eat for your dosha type.

I learned that even though my predominate dosha type is Vata, it’s also the one that I need to focus on balancing out. Joe needs to balance his Vata as well. This may seem like another language to you, but here’s an easy quiz you can take to help determine your dominate dosha and learn about the characteristics of each to familiarize yourself. When it came to balancing our doshas through relaxation, we received our carefully planned itineraries for the day each night. Our schedules ran from 6:30am until about 8pm. The all-inclusive program included four juices and two meals per day, countless spa-like therapies, acupuncture, reflexology, yoga classes and a lecture each night.

We lived in our robes, which was such a treat. As a beauty editor for over 12 years, you’d think I’ve experienced it all in a spa-like setting, but Ayurveda treatments are different. My favorite was a full body massage called Abhyangam, where sesame oil mixed with different herbs was massaged all over my body and then I sat in a steam shower to make sure it absorbed. It was great for inflammation, circulation and moisturization. I was beyond impressed by the wellness practitioners. Those who weren’t from India were trained by people who were and were just as passionate and knowledgable about the treatments.

Even though only two meals were offered per day, they were abundant three-course lunches and dinners. In between, we were encouraged to have four juices per day according to a menu curated just for us. The juice bar is always open and someone is always there, ready to serve. The staff was beyond welcoming and by the first meal, everyone knew us by name.

Overall, YO1 was grand and impressive. As wellness continues to go mainstream, I believe more and more people will become interested in holistic treatments and seek out programs like this. Ideally, I’d go once or twice per year for a mindful refresh. You can learn more about YO1 or book a stay yourself here.