Rituel Wellness Sabbaticals amenities

Across the 101, up a mountain, down a hill, and through the gate of a Topanga Canyon estate lies a majestic otherland named Rituel, offering a novel one-to-eight-week Wellness Sabbatical that turns the whole idea of a wellness retreat on its head.

When I pulled up to Rituel early one Friday morning, I felt like I had entered a vortex in a country far, far away from the city—so much so, my Waze app barely knew where I was. Upon entering Rituel’s gates, I was shooketh by how stunning the grounds were — a sliver of land on the side of a mountain overlooking the Pacific Ocean. What I saw reminded me why people move to Los Angeles in the first place, and as an L.A. girl myself, I rarely have moments where I remember why I live in this very crowded place!

Before my Rituel experience, I wasn’t the type that appreciated words like “abundance,” “held,” “container,” or “gratitude,”——but my one-day Wellness Sabbatical made me understand what all of those words are supposed to feel like.

I dive into my day-long experience in depth below, but first, a little bit about the retreat and its founders. rituel la

Founder Eve Gaines launched Rituel as a safe space for women to dive deeper into their spiritual, physical, psychological, and emotional wellbeing.

“I always wanted to have a space where practitioners from multiple modalities, disciplines, and specialities could provide curated, comprehensive, and integrated support for people at a 360-degree level. After all, real healing is about care.” Eve’s background includes studies in Medical and Psychological Anthropology; Ecological Design and Organic Architecture; and Ceremonial Rites of Passage. It wasn’t until she met Brand Consultant, and now Rituel’s Brand Director, Trinity Rose that Rituel’s Wellness Sabbatical was born.

The Wellness Sabbatical, which consists of custom, fully integrative programming for either 1 week, 3 weeks, or 8 weeks, doesn’t require putting your entire life on hold, which—for us—is a completely unheard of approach.

“True healing comes from being known in an environment where you don’t have to keep explaining who you are and what your story is over and over again,” Eve shared. Rituel does just that by bringing together some of LA’s most highly skilled and versatile practitioners from every pillar of healing—spiritual, psychological, emotional, and physical—to work together during your time on the grounds.

A Naturopathic Doctor and Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctor may work with you on your holistic physical and nutritional needs while a somatic bodyworker and holistic chiropractor help you move blocked energy and stored emotional trauma throughout the body. A psychotherapist with a spiritual approach may help you safely digest, process, and integrate your emotional release. And an evolutionary astrologer may provide a roadmap for your psycho-spiritual foundation.

The Day I Spent At Rituel’s Retreat

I arrived at Rituel with no makeup on and a phone with zero service. I resolved that I would be completely present and anything pouring through my inbox would just have to wait.

I was greeted by Trinity and Eve, who were casually making me a cacao rose superfood latte in the outdoor kitchen, dressed in what you’d imagine queens from Topanga Canyon might wear. In that moment, I was the happiest I had been in years.

topanga retreat

After catching up with the women and learning about the grounds—which Eve and her husband had purchased many, many moons ago with only a dream of what it could become—I prepared for my day of introspection and personal healing.

10am | Opening Ceremony with Eve As a ceremonial specialist with a focus on female rites of passage, Eve led me through an intention-setting ceremony. Using artfully chosen florals from the property and traditional Native American energetic cleansing rituals, I took in my surroundings, let go of everything but the present moment, and grounded myself for a day of healing.

10:30am | Evolutionary Astrology Reading with Ali Ofstedal I had done evolutionary astrology readings before, but never one like this one. I went into my reading with an awareness of questions I needed answers to and existential crises I hoped to ground. Ali, who is like a bundle of warm, radiant energy, ran me through my birth chart as it related to my karmic past, my current present, and my hopeful future.

I found it spot-on and incredibly relieving to be able to contextualize and synthesize things I had been feeling, but didn’t know how to activate upon. Ali was well-versed in all things astrology, but she also led me through my Human Design (which I had never done), and I have not stopped researching my Manifesting-Generator type since.Rituel Wellness Sabbaticals

12pm | Therapeutic Massage with Carly Bindon, ND After discovering who I was and who I’m meant to become, I met with Carly, a Naturopathic Doctor, who has put her medical practice on pause to focus on transformational bodywork and therapeutic movement.

She took me down to Rituel’s “Treatment Tent,” which was this beautifully bohemian, indoor-outdoor space looking out onto the mountains, valleys, and ocean.

Our initial consultation involved her observing my posture, my breathing (which was obviously incorrect), and any painful or tight areas of my body. Let me just tell you, I was no stranger to somatic bodywork, but this was a whole new level of energy work. If you have had cranial-sacral work, this was not that.

Carly worked in intensive strokes on areas of my body where she felt energy was stagnant. I could feel rushes of vibrations and literal energy coursing through my body, bringing up different emotions depending on where it landed (anxiety was a big one!). It was a pretty powerful and profound experience, and it left me with many considerations as well as homework on better diaphragmatic breathing (I’ve been breathing incorrectly for years!).

Note that, oftentimes, it can take a couple of days to fully release what comes up with somatic bodywork, so if you feel some discomfort in the days to follow, that is totally normal.
Rituel Wellness Sabbaticals retreat1:30pm | Seasonal Ayurvedic Lunch with Chef Jo Ann Kim Now it was time for a break. Chef Jo Ann, who is a private chef specializing in Ayurvedic cuisine, prepared a beautiful lunch of dosha-loving meals that were as balancing as they were delicious.

From start to finish, each dish was thoughtfully crafted to support my day’s-worth of treatments for optimal nourishment, digestion (literally and figuratively), and grounding based on the six rasas (or tastes) of Ayurveda.

Made of local, seasonal, whole-food ingredients, Jo Ann delivered a palate-cleansing heirloom-peach salad, a chilled, fermented soba noodle soup, and a truly delicious quinoa, shrimp, lettuce cup situation alongside an out-of-this-world green goddess dressing that I may never get to have again.

As a snack in between my next treatments, she also created a sweet potato, pine nut, and black sesame paste accoutrement that was *chef’s kiss*.

2:30pm | Rebalancing Acupuncture with Rose Goodman L.Ac Next, I was passed onto Rose, who I automatically loved because we shared the last name. She took me back into the “Treatment Tent,” where we began the next phase of my journey.

I have been getting acupuncture for almost a decade, so I was curious to see how Rose’s method would offer something unique or different. I learned that she practices Five Element Acupuncture, which aims to balance the five elements of your body that you share with nature—wood, wind, metal, fire, earth.

What I found really interesting was that a lot of Rose’s observations aligned with Carly’s, making it clear that I had some obvious areas that required more attention. Throughout my session, Rose would use tuning forks, which sent a wave of balancing vibration through my chakras. Yes, I could feel my chakras opening.

It was a deeply gentle experience, followed up by a couple of minutes spent decompressing with Rose on the deck of the tent.

4pm | Healing Sound Immersion with Natalie Vallé As I headed back to the main grounds, where there is another healing tent, I started to feel sad because I could sense that my time at Rituel was coming to an end.

Natalie, yet another radiant Topanga energy in the midst, set up an intimate, plush space for me to recline into for my sound bath. I lay down, facing the sun with the breeze passing over me like a blanket.

For the next hour, I was in a total trance. Natalie not only opened up my already opening chakras, but she may have opened up all of nature’s chakras too. Without being touched, I felt like I had been carried by the surrounding sounds of this very, very special sound bath.

5pm | Herbal Bath Prepared by Eve I won’t lie to you. When I saw “Herbal Bath” on my itinerary leading up to the Sabbatical, I wondered how this would work. However, by 5pm, I no longer had any concerns about how things would be handled on this wild, wild day in the canyon.

In the back of the tent, there was an outdoor, free-standing tub filled with handpicked herbs, flowers, and botanicals—most of which came from the property itself.

Eve explained the spiritual significance and physical benefit of each component and left me on my own to enjoy the quiet for as long as I needed as the sun started to hide behind the hilltop landscape.

In that moment, I felt a surge of—I’m gonna say it—gratitude as I took in what the day had included. I was in the middle of nature, luxuriating in a bath that may as well have transported me into my Divine Feminine Era, feeling truly held by everything and everyone.

I rinsed off in their outdoor shower and prepared myself for reintegration.

6pm | Integration, Culmination & Honoring The time had come. I was going to have to go home. But not before Eve sat down with me to close out the day. I pulled cards from a very special Tarot deck, which, to no one’s surprise, perfectly reflected many of the feelings and themes that had been brought up throughout the day. Eve and I discussed ways to reintegrate and what I could expect over the coming days, and then I sadly left the gates of Rituel, knowing that I had to do everything I could not to let the spell break once I got back on the 101.

Taking A Wellness Sabbatical

These are Rituel’s core offerings:

3-Week + 8-Week Sabbaticals | The 3 and 8-week programs are the deeper, more committed programs of Rituel’s three offerings. Running in the spring and fall, these longer Sabbaticals allow for a group of four participants to receive treatments privately while in the context of a cohort.

You can expect to be on Rituel’s grounds four times per week, receiving two treatments for half of the day with the opportunity to stay on the property to rest, read, restore, and reintegrate as you please. In addition to your sessions, you’ll also have a once-per-week workshop that will provide you with relevant skills to help you integrate what you’re learning onsite into your everyday life (meditation, breathwork, sound baths) and practitioner-guided “homework,” so you can keep building toward a sustainable life practice outside of the sabbatical. Yes, that includes therapy! You’ll also have an offsite session with Rituel’s designated therapist once per week to help you continue your deep work in the off hours.

1-Week Sabbatical | Offered year-round, the 1-week Sabbatical is a consolidated version of the longer programs, geared toward one person and customized to their individual needs based on your chosen level of intensity. Although the commitment of the 1-week Sabbatical is less than the 3 or 8-week program, it still includes the same types of treatments and reintegration processes, just without the workshops.

If you have any specific or dedicated needs like deep trauma or cancer*, Rituel will bring in specialized practitioners on a case-by-case basis, so as to better support you during your experience.

Final Thoughts

Writing this piece has been challenging because there are not enough words to encapsulate how big and special my day at Rituel was. The privacy and intimacy of my experience is hard to fully explain, but what I can say is that the philosophy, mission, and execution of Rituel’s vision all align, which is rare for many wellness retreats looking to impart true change in people’s lives.

What I also loved was that I now had a whole new team of practitioners I could contact once I left my Sabbatical to continue my healing journey on my own time, which I learned was every part of Rituel’s intention.

Was reintegration back to daily life hard? Yes. But given Eve and Trinity’s focus on making these big shifts a sustainable part of one’s journey, I felt empowered to incorporate the things I had learned while also acknowledging that I would have to re-engage with my bold inbox and my vibrating phone once more.

As far as I know, Rituel is one of a kind, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it or do it again myself.

Book with Rituel using code CHALKBOARD10 for 10% off any service! Good now through all of 2024!  

*The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programs.

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