VAIL — On Saturday afternoon, local physical therapist and owner of the Align Vail studio in Edwards, Laina Eskin, had more than a dozen women testing their balance. The innovative movement session was an integral piece of the three-day Vail Living Well Experience, “Women: Living in Balance,” presented by the Sonnenalp Hotel in conjunction with the DiscoverWell nonprofit organization.
“I think it’s such a healthy thing for women to be with women, and to open their minds and their hearts to hear, see, feel and experience things that don’t require us to be in control and take responsibility,” said attendee Elie Gaines, of Scottsdale, Ariz., about her weekend experience. “It’s wonderful to be here as ourselves, and to not feel like we have to put forward an image of perfection.”
Eskin’s dynamic session was one of many pieces that make up the framework of the Vail Living Well vision and philosophy. Discussions, outdoor activities, meal sharing and collective discourse were all elements of the weekend — coming together to create not only a theme of balance, but an agenda that reflected it.
“For me, these experiences illuminate the vision that comes straight from my heart,” said Jamie Stone, co-founder of DiscoverWell with her husband, John Stone. “That is what I am seeing here — the engaging and sharing that creates a connection between presenters and attendees.”
As DiscoverWell and the Sonnenalp Hotel prepare for the Vail Living Well Summit this September, Jamie said it’s the quality of the presenters that sets the Living Well Experiences and the upcoming summit apart from other health and well-being events.
“These presenters are at the top of their fields,” Stone explained. “These are the people who are doing the research — not someone else’s research — and the ones who are on the cutting edge.”
Stone emphasized that what has made “Women: Living In Balance” so special — along with the upcoming summit — is not only the quality of content, but also the caliber of the qualified.
“It’s just so enlightening to be with all these women,” Gaines said. “They are such well-read, intelligent, profession, community-minded and open individuals, who each have brought their own experiences to the table and broadened the horizons of others.”
Saralyn Mark is an international pioneer in women’s health, and her work with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has lifted her work and insight even farther off the ground. Mark facilitated the discussions throughout the weekend, and she said one noteworthy experience will inevitably lead to another in September.
“I have watched this group of women come together and share their experiences,” Mark said. “I can really see the richness in the relationships forming, and hopefully they will each take something valuable back home with them to add more balance into their lives.”
Mark said the upcoming summit will give both women and men the opportunity to keep the dialogue going.
“It seems that every question on these topics of health and well-being leads to another question,” she said. “It just shows that we have really opened a window here.”
Attendee Ann Sweeney, from Kansas City, said she valued how the presenters at “Women: Living In Balance” were all so willing to share their knowledge and education.
“What’s cool about this experience is that those who have come here to present are also here to learn,” she said. “So they are an integral part of it; they’re not just coming to give a speech and leave.”
The Vail Living Well Summit in September will cover a wide range of topics to highlight ideas and integrations of health and well-being. Cheryl Chessick was a presenter at the 2012 Summit and said this weekend’s Living Well Experience explored smaller, more contained subjects, which provide great segways into further investigation and discussion — here and at home.
“You have to listen to everything, and then I think you have to go back and implement what you can, because you can’t work it all in right away,” Chessick said.
At least there will be enough to keep minds and bodies moving until September.
“The main reason the Sonnenalp has been working with Jamie and John to create these experiences is that we didn’t want the Summit to stand on its own,” said Patricia McNamara, director of sales and marketing at Sonnenalp. “We wanted things throughout the year for our guests and local commuters. Truly, living well, living better and living longer is instrumental, not only for the success of the Sonnenalp, but also for the success of the Vail Valley. We want to make sure these programs flourish throughout the year.”
The Vail Living Well Summit will be held Sept. 19-21. For more information about Vail Living Well and the programs and events that it produces, visit www.vail livingwell.org, https://www.facebook.com/VailLivingWell or call Vail Living Well’s concierge at 970-343-9918.