Get Grounded in Your New Hood: 5 Mindful Moving Tips



I am born and bred New Yorker, but two years ago, I made the decision to pack up my life and move across the country from Brooklyn to San Francisco, motivated by a new job, a rekindling of a romance, and most significantly, by a deep desire for a big adventure. My love for New York City runs deep, but I was longing for a change of scenery, and the glamorized “left coast” felt like the perfect place to make some new memories.

Moving across the country—at least logistically—was far easier than I thought it would be: I packed, sold what couldn’t be transported, booked a one-way ticket, and went. But emotionally, the move tugged on my heart strings as I underestimated how difficult it would be to leave my east coast tribe. Now that it’s been two years I can say confidently that I love my life in California.

Life transitions are never easy, but leaning on my wellness practices helped. These are the top five things I learned, which work not only for a move, but for any major shift we experience in life. 

  • Ditch What You Don’t Love: Only things that you absolutely love should take up space in your life. From the teachings of Marie Kondo: If it doesn't spark joy upon touching it, it isn't worth holding on to. This made my packing extra light (I boarded a plane with two big suitcases!), but unpacking was also a super pleasant experience because I had a true affinity for every single item that I kept.

  • Walking—Do a Lot of It: The best way to see a new city is by strapping on your sneakers and exploring. About a month into my move I challenged myself to take a solo trip to a new part of the city each week. These excursions help me navigate my new home and helped distract me when I would start to feel homesick or overwhelmed.

  • Focus on Present Sensations: I tasked myself to keep my thoughts focused on present sensations. Every time I caught my thoughts spiraling I would encourage my mind to come back to my surroundings and focus on what I was seeing, feeling, smelling, and hearing. This practice kept me focused and mindful while exploring my new 'hood and allowed me to notice all the little details that would have previously eluded me—from the cherry blossoms in Golden Gate Park to the sand dollars on Ocean Beach. This mindfulness practice was extremely beneficial during my move, but it can help you stay grounded no matter the transition.

  • Find Creative Ways to Discover Community: Finding like-minded individuals to spend time with is one of the most effective ways to make a new place start to feel like “home”. I used Meetup to find events related to my passions and met tons of people with similar interests. ConsciousCityGuide is another great resource for events in the health and wellness space—both platforms have enabled me to find my new tribe. 

  • Embrace Free Time: After living a jam-packed life in New York City, I found it jarring and often lonely to have a less than full social calendar. However, once I shifted my mindset to gratitude for all the free time now available, I began to appreciate the freedom to pursue creative passions I had previously been neglecting—from daily journaling to watercolor painting. 

Have you experienced a major transition in life where your wellness practices helped ground you? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below. - Leah Abrahams

Nyepi Balinese New Year: The "Day of Silence"

While many countries ring in the New Year with loud parties, fireworks and celebrations, the island of Bali takes a different approach: 24-hours of complete silence, known as the Nyepi holiday. The holiday starts with the Ogoh-Ogoh parade. For months leading up to Nyepi, young men from each village gather and pull their artistic skills to create monsters, known as Ogoh-Ogoh, from light materials such as wood, bamboo, and paper. As tradition goes, the Ogoh-Ogoh get paraded down the streets after sunset to call out the spirits on the island. After a festive ceremony of music and dancing, the monsters are then burned in an effort to release the ashes of the spirits and to cleanse the island for another year. Once set free, the island falls silent for a day— the airport closes down, Internet is not accessible, and you are not allowed to leave your home or hotel; this is a sacred day of meditation. 

Follow our journey from this year's legendary Balinese holiday.

Interested in experiencing Nyepi next year on a customWELL vacation? Get started here.

6 Immunity-Boosting Travel Tips



We’ve all been there: You’ve been counting down the minutes until your upcoming vacation, only to be knocked out by a cold or virus merely hours after arriving at your destination. Contrary to popular belief, flying won’t make you sick – but a compromised immune system will, and the recycled air in airports and airplanes is a prime place for germs to spread. While hand and seat sanitizers can work wonders while in flight, a healthy immune system is the best way to combat sickness, particularly leading up to long travel day. Scroll down for our top six pre-travel supplements, elixirs and lifestyle hacks to keep you healthy in-transit and beyond.

VITAMIN D:  Vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defenses, according to research from the Mayo Clinic. Although our bodies produce Vitamin D when exposed to the sun, it can be difficult to get adequate amounts during the long winter months. Supplements are a great way to boost the immune system, just make sure you look for at least 600 international units (IU) per day when choosing one. Prefer to go the whole food route? Fatty fish, cheese and egg yolks are all rich in Vitamin D. Bonus: Vitamin D can also help aid in digestive health and brain health—a win-win. 

CHAGA MUSHROOM ELIXIR We’re huge fans of Four Sigmatic’s superfood mushroom beverages, and when it comes to boosting immunity, and we swear by the Chaga Mushroom Elixir mix. One packet contains extremely high antioxidant properties that support your daily wellness, energy levels, and protect your immune functions. Simply throw a packet in your carry on, ask the stewardess for a cup of hot water and voilà—you’ve got yourself an instant immunity elixir. 

MAINTAIN YOUR ZEN: Your first line of defense against illness is adopting a healthy lifestyle, and this means doing everything you can to reduce chronic stress. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, can alter the immune system and suppress digestion when consistently activated. Help keep stress at bay by adopting a consistent yoga practice, practicing daily meditation and developing deep breathing techniques. The great news is these practices travel, which means staying zen on the road is doable. 

EZC PACK: When it’s time to bust out the big guns (think: it’s been a long flu season and you’re boarding a red eye flight), we turn to this kit of heavy-duty Echinacea, Zinc and Vitamin C supplements. Starting this tapered pack five days before travel will enhance your body’s normal immune defenses and help you stay healthy amidst a plane of coughing strangers. 

PLENTY OF SHUT-EYE: Lack of sleep can wreak havoc on our immunity and leave us susceptible to colds and other viruses, our founder Linden Schaffer knows all about this and upped her sleep game when starting Pravassa. She details this along with the science behind sleep in her book Living Well on the Road. While all our bodies are different, getting between seven to eight hours of sleep per night is key and a non-negotiable in the days before you travel. Your immune system will thank you! - Leah Abraham

Inspired Conversations: Pravassa's Linden Schaffer



Pravassa founder Linden Schaffer sat down with Inspired Conversation's Amy Schuber for a conversation on all things wellness travel. In the podcast episode, Linden discusses how she turned her passion for wellness travel into a career, and explains how she pivoted from a job in the fashion industry to launching her own business. Linden also shares some of her own wellness travel tips, such as a pre-packing her staple items and the benefits of fasting in-flight.

Click here to access the Inspired Conversations podcast, where you can listen to Linden's journey firsthand and learn more about the Pravassa travel experience.

Changed By Travel: Katie Jehenson

 Photo: Katie Jehenson in India

Photo: Katie Jehenson in India

I am used to city living. I grew up in Chicago and currently reside in New York—both large metropolises that consist of similar elements, yet are undeniably different. Search online and you’ll find endless lists proclaiming why one is better than the other, ranging from the quality of museums, access to public beaches and the age-old question of preferred pizza type (thin crust vs. deep-dish). Rather than adding to that debate, I’ll say that spending time in each city has made me appreciate the other.

Some people consider it silly to visit other cities if you live in one—seen one, seen them all. I suppose there is some truth to that idea, but for a moment, put aside the far reaching effects of globalization and consider the unique sights and traditions to be observed; urban life around the world isn’t the same everywhere.

Wander the streets of Rome and you’ll stumble across the Coliseum; stand on a Barcelona rooftop and you’ll discover Antoni Gaudí chimneys. Behold the site of Mumbai’s dabbawalas delivering home-cooked meals to office workers since it’s expensive and considered unhealthy to eat out. These are just a few of the noticeable differences that cities show you. Of course, there are less appealing aspects like you find in any urban environment, but it’s all part of life.

In Tokyo, my husband and I stayed in the Shibuya District at a hotel near the famous Shibuya Crossing. We parked ourselves on a corner to observe the nightly ritual where hundreds of people surge into five crosswalks on a green light. The people move en mass, but at a seemingly similar pace, in concert, so there is no pushing or shoving to be witnessed. No one scurries past with a harsh word or eye roll, as I have grown accustomed to when making my way through Times Square or Rockefeller Center.

Once the procession of people subsided, we were left to focus on the crossing itself lit up with a variety of billboards and television screens advertising the latest pop music, fashion and electronics. The bright lights, flashing screens and flood of people reminded us of being in Times Square or Piccadilly Circus, but there was something different—there was a sound ringing from an unidentifiable source. It took a few minutes for us to realize that sound was coming from the screens. Rather than a silent advertisement, a pop song was actually playing for all to hear. It was an incredibly stark contrast to the subdued nature of the crossing!

Shortly after returning to New York, I wound up walking through Times Square and noticed the silence. It may sound ridiculous, but I appreciated that the bright billboards weren’t speaking to me. Most people think I am slightly crazy when I tell them my newfound appreciation for Times Square, but it just goes to show you never know what might make you #changedbytravel. - Katie Jehenson

Ask Katie to plan a wellness travel experience for you now. 

26 Amazing Temples Around the World



Whenever we hit Asia on our must do list is visit temples, temples and more temples. The history and cultural significance of each beautiful place has provided many #changedbytravel moments over the years. AFAR Magazine did a round up of 26 Amazing Temples Around the World, which has us reminiscing about our jaunts through India, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Japan. 

Want to experience these beauties yourself? Start planning your customWELL vacation now!




We've said good-bye to another year and have gotten the stress of the holiday season behind us. January is the perfect month to settle in for some serious downtime. Take your cue from the early sunset and focus on getting a great night's sleep. Not sure where to start? Try adding these tips to your day and see if they help create a new sleep routine.

1) Eat a light dinner.

2) Shut off the TV and computer 1 hour before your ready to sleep.

3) JOURNAL BEFORE BED to get out of your head.



4) Leave your phone in the living room.

5) Take a bath TO RELAX YOUR MUSCLES and nervous system.



7) Reserve your bed for sleep and sex—no other activities.

8) Invest in a foam mattress so you don’t feel your partner move.

9) Do a 10-minute yoga for sleep sequence.



10) Play soothing music or mantras.

- Linden Schaffer



4 Reasons to Stay Active in Winter

 photo via  Shutterstock

photo via Shutterstock

It's not even March and we're already sick of the cold winter weather. We admit it happens every year. As the sunlight dwindles so does the appeal of the outdoors. Yet continuing to stay active in the cold months is vital for your wellbeing. Here are four reasons you should make movement a priority:

1. Boost Immunity. Research continues to show that consistent exercise, including a simple daily walk, strengthens the body's immune system. By increasing circulation, your white blood cells are more able to keep viruses, bacteria, and the flu at bay. Work a walk into your every day routine by going out to pick up lunch or taking the stairs in your office building.

2. Restore Energy. Your body already works overtime and the short days of winter can make you feel as if the day has come and gone before you've accomplished anything. Active rest like listening to a soothing guided meditation or visualization can keep your blood pressure, muscular tension, and nervous system in check. 

3. Try New Things. If you spend your time outdoors in the summer weather, use a nice, warm indoor setting as an enticement to explore in a new way. Check out the nearest rock climbing wall, try a spin class or an intenSati workout, walk through an art gallery, or book a fusion cooking class. Bonus points if you bring along a friend for motivation and company!

4. Maintain Weight. Of course we know we should be choosing salads over creamy soups this time of year, but the cold winter elements including lack of vitamin D can wreak havoc on our cravings. Manage your stress and food cravings by keeping your fitness routine in check. This way you can indulge a bit without a second thought. Then when you return to a more balanced diet in the spring, you won't feel like you have excess weight to shed.

Thai Cooking | Chiang Mai

You can always learn about a country and it's culture through the food. We try to participate in a cooking class or market tour in every place we visit to really ground in and begin to understand how people live in other parts of the world. The Thai Cooking 101 class we found at Basil Cookery in Chiang Mai, Thailand was the perfect blend of traditional foods with a healthy spin.

Located in the hip neighborhood of Nimmanhaemin, just outside the old city, class starts with a market tour to shop for all the ingredients in the 7-course cooking class. (Yes - you better be hungry!) Classes are either led by Boom, a beautiful Thai women who speaks very clear English, or her husband Tom, with all recipes passed down from her mother and adapted to make them healthier by cooking with less oils, more spices, and using organic ingredients.

With so many choices, we opted for the the following menu: Tofu Drunken Noodles, Red Curry with Bamboo Shoots, Hot & Sour Prawn, Stir fried vegetables with Holy Basil, Papaya Salad, Red Curry paste and Mango Sticky Rice. Whether you are a gourmet chef or just learning like us, anyone can follow the classes directions and whip up a delicious selection of Thai flavor combinations. Sitting to eat between every course left us wanting to take a long walk back to our hotel. We received a cookbook and graduation certificate at the end of the session and cannot wait to try these dishes back home.

COST: 1,000 Baht per person                                                                                LENGTH: 5 hours


Want to add this cooking class to your customWELL Thailand vacation? Start planning now.

3 Ways to Mindfully Explore Bali

When it comes to travel, the universal thread that connects all our journeys is the desire to get away. Whether that means lying on a beach, heading into the woods surrounded by the quiet force of nature or getting lost in the music of a pulsing nightclub, the goal is to disrupt our daily routine, destress, and feel free. Add Mindfulness to your trip and receive the added bonus of being fully present, multiplying the restorative effects of your vacation. Bali is one of our favorite travel destinations where Mindfulness is effortless. 




We’ve written a lot about how to reduce jet lag when traveling, but watching the sunset does more than just help sync your circadian rhythm. It ties you to the land you are visiting. “In Indonesia the sunsets are magical. Every night you can see a dance of different colors as the sun dips behind the horizon with a view of mountains, palm trees, or beach in front of you,” says our founder and frequent Bali traveler, Linden Schaffer. It can take as few as 5-minutes to watch the sunset, which is a grounding activity and visual meditation of it’s own.  




The beauty of visiting a new location is the exposure to people, traditions and foods, which are different than what you’re used to at home. Bali is a haven for gluten-free, vegan travelers as many traditional healing recipes are plant-based. On our most recent Bali trip, lead by Dr. Andrea Paige, she reminded us “Eating something inflammatory can have an effect in your body for up to 5-days. So eating simply is key.” With gorgeous scenery all around and fresh fruits and vegetables in abundance, sitting for a mindful meal in Bali is easy to do.




Traditional healers are a way of life in Bali. Locals visit their village Balian or healer for a variety of reasons ranging from medical to mystical advice. According to the Balinese, each healer has been chosen by an otherworldly power to act as a vessel for healing and transformation. Whether you believe in this linage or not, it promises to be “A truly meaningful experience,” said Nikki Sigal of her recent Balian visit during Pravassa a trip.

Want to mindfully explore Bali with Pravassa? Choose how you spend your vacation with us:

On Demand Itineraries  |  CustomWELL Travel  |  Small Group Trips