Sewall House

»A yoga retreat disguised as an old-world Bed and Breakfast«


In the already old-world state of Maine is a white cottage furnished in a style that Teddy Roosevelt may have chosen. Welcome to Sewall House, where yoga, massage and the perfect host-couple make a completely unique B & B experience. Taking only up to eight guests at a time, this is a truly boutique getaway.

  • What we love
  • Feels like the home of a favorite friend
  • Most of the year the retreats are continuous – arrive any day of the week
  • Hosts Kent and Donna will happily pick you up (for free) at Bangor airport
  • What to know
  • Remote location
  • Teacher Training Courses now available
  • A five day stay is recommended but not mandatory
  • Why go
  • The rolling green of Maine
  • Old-world feel
  • The delightful host couple who make their guests feel like family

Stepping off the plane into Bangor airport means seeing the smiling faces of Sewall House's owner Donna and staff. It feels a little like coming home, and this intimate yoga retreat is designed for precisely that effect. From the soft comfortable beds in turn-of-the-century rooms to the home-made bread baked, this pretty white homestead houses the kind of folk you wish you were related to.

Sewall House is not new to Donna’s family. A young Theodore Roosevelt was guided in the woods for three successive seasons and up nearby Mount Katahdin by nature-guide William Sewall, Donna's great-grandfather, and stayed at Sewall House. This, his first exposure to wilderness, healed his lifelong asthma and was a contributing factor to his love of conservation, as well as a lifelong friendship with William Sewall. The tradition continued when Donna purchased the house to keep it in the family in 1997 and opened it as a retreat that summer. Donna has added a sauna, yoga studio and small jacuzzi and kept many of the original historic contents by redecorating using period-style wallpapers and other upgraded touches.

The yoga retreats here are rolling during the warmer months. This means that you can arrive any day of the week and be immediately absorbed into the ongoing activities. Guest numbers are deliberately kept low, with a maximum of eight staying at any one time. This allows flexibility in the scheduling, and an intimate atmosphere in which other guests quickly become friends. Donna recommends a stay of five days, and those who have been time-limited often end up deeply regretting only spending a weekend. While a weekend is a good start, there is something gradual about the relaxation that seeps into the bones here – it takes a while for the spirit to slow down and match its pace with the rest of the rural environment. November through April when the winter months settle on Island Falls, Sewall House is quieter and the continuous retreats cease. This is when private retreats for small groups may be arranged.

None of the activities are mandatory at any time of year which means that if a guest simply wishes to catch up on their sleep, they are more than welcome to do so. Most guests are more involved though, especially in the daily yoga sessions which are run by Donna – a skilled and accredited yoga teacher. Her classes vary in style, branching out from General Hatha into Kundalini and Yoga Nidra with Iyengar and Ashtanga influences, with some meditation and breathing and relaxation techniques thrown in for good measure. All skill levels are catered for and the small group sizes mean that personal attention is in abundance.

The food, by the way, is vegetarian and delicious, leaving even the most dedicated carnivore asking for more.
The mellow sounds of guitar compositions serve as background for the Kundalini Yoga workshops and DVDs that Donna produces.

The Teacher Training Course was first offered at Sewall house in 2009. Since then, a steady stream of dedicated students have come here to complete their three-week, 200-hour certification. Donna takes the classes in either Hatha or Kundalini styles as she is qualified to teach both. It is important that a student is able to commit to the complete course. Although deeply enjoyable, this is not a vacation – studies are intense and the daily schedule can be rigorous as it is 10 hours each day.

Donna offers her 200 hour yoga teacher trainings between May and September.

One of the first lessons learned by all guests at Sewall House is that yoga is not only back-bending and deep breathing. It is a way to elevate the consciousness and be truly aware of your surroundings. Nowhere is this a more pleasant lesson to learn than in the clean air of Island Falls, sitting on the porch watching the sun take its last bow before bed.

About the area: Island Falls

In the late 19th century, Island Falls in Maine was a favored getaway spot for president Theodore Roosevelt. Still known for its outdoor activities including the ever-popular fishing holes, Island Falls is a slice of America as yet unburied beneath concrete and malls. There are things to do here year-round – summer is for hiking and swimming, winter for exploring the snowmobile trails and spring and fall for their riotous displays of color and wildlife. The climate is typical of the New England area, with temperatures reaching 26 degrees C (80F) in mid-July and plummeting to -17 degrees C (0F) during chilly February nights.

Image credit: Sewall House

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