Eat well, sleep long, dance

Alla Pulvermakher and Michael Rayhelson dance their way to wellness at the last retreat held by Sergey Podlazov and Shinsato. - Photo courtesy of Sergey Podlazov
Alla Pulvermakher and Michael Rayhelson dance their way to wellness at the last retreat held by Sergey Podlazov and Shinsato.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Sergey Podlazov

Seattle couple taps Whidbey Island for wellness retreat

There’s a man and a woman who have come to the island just to show your body a good time.

Sergey Podlazov’s and Lorina Shinsato’s “Dance to Wellness” retreats are designed to help you get back to the garden of a healthy body that you may have lost sight of in the present day culture of fast-eating and stressful living.

Such a retreat is a place where you can learn, through dance and healthy eating, how to find a new awareness of what the body needs and revive your connection with the only vessel you’ll ever have.

The next Dance to Wellness retreat is Friday through Sunday, Oct. 5 through 7 at Willow Pond Lake House in Coupeville.

There will be an additional retreat Nov. 16 through 18.

Podlazov is the host and founder of Dance to Wellness. Several years ago he was inspired to start ballroom dancing after seeing the film “Scent of a Woman” and its wildly romantic tango scene.

After feeling the positive effects of his new hobby on his body and his self-esteem, he decided to share his experiences in an innovative way in a retreat setting.

Podlazov’s partner, Shinsato, is a licensed massage practitioner, specializing in craniosacral therapy, Swedish massage, reflexology, visceral manipulation and deep tissue massage. She is presently a fourth year doctoral student in the Naturopathic Medicine and Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine program at Bastyr University in Seattle.

The couple’s goal is to bring awareness to people about some simple choices they can make to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

“We believe that people have a lot of control but don’t know about it,” Shinsato said.

“We can educate people about certain terminologies like ‘natural’ versus ‘organic’ and can explain what ‘healthy’ really is.”

Whidbey Island, they said, is the perfect setting to do just that.

Willow Pond Lake House sits on a 50-acre idyll of meadow and forest overlooking Saratoga Passage just north of Greenbank.

There is a large vegetable, flower and fruit garden from which patrons are encouraged to sample.

Among the fields are two buildings used for the retreats, including a five-bedroom, single-story house and a separate building where the dance classes are held.

The main area of the house is open and relaxed with a centrally located fireplace and sitting area adjacent to a large open chef’s kitchen with two ample farmhouse tables. The inside of the house is a study in comfort and light, boasting an abundance of cozy chairs and windows that look out every which way onto the peaceful green serenity of Whidbey Island.

Podlazov and Shinsato have hired a crack team of dance instructors in Andre and Liu Yeremin, nationally recognized competitive dancers who own the Dance Voyage Studio in Kirkland.

During the retreats, guests are treated to 4 ½ hours of Latin and ballroom dancing lessons. All levels are welcomed and a partner is not required for registration as there will always be someone to dance with.

The retreat offers a therapeutic introductory massage by Shinsato as well as wellness counseling and workshops on nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices, plus a retreat completion gift bag.

Guests can also choose to have extra massage services and private dance lessons for an additional fee. There is also an outdoor hot tub for guests on site and an abundance of trails for those who might fancy a good stroll in the woods.

Podlazov and Shinsato prepare all the included meals and encourage participants to join them in the kitchen if it pleases them.

“We enjoy inviting guests into the kitchen because cooking together is fun and it’s a great way to get to know everybody. Food always tastes better if you’re in on the process,” Podlazov said.

“But, we understand if some people don’t want to cook, too. We don’t make anybody do anything they don’t want to do.”

“Also, saying grace and thinking about what we eat and the people we sit down with is good for the digestion,” Shinsato said.

The couple acquires some of their retreat produce from donor Pioneer Organics in Seattle, but they also like to shop at the local farmers markets on the island to encourage the idea of buying locally. The nearby O’Connor family’s apple orchard provides the cider, while wine is bought from Greenbank Cellars Winery.

Good food, physical activity and a calm environment are necessary to this couple’s recipe for good health.

The idea, Podlazov said, is to give people a place to escape from their daily grind and spend the weekend re-engergizing themselves. The combination of dance and wellness is a powerful tool.

“People not only get to express themselves through dance but it teaches them how to breathe, how to stand and have good posture,” Podlazov said.

“It gets them to pay attention to the little aches and pains of their bodies; the signs that the body gives but people aren’t in tune with because they’re too rushed in their daily lives,” Shinsato added.

They are determined to bring back the culture of dance like those who brought the communities of our ancestors together when dance was a common occurrence.

Chivalry is alive and well in dance, and dancing with a partner is good for both sexes, they said. It can teach people how to interact better in general.

For Podlazov and Shinsato, to stay in good physical shape and grow spiritually is a priority and that means they turn off their computers on the weekends.

They have a passion in their lives they wish to share with others: To eat well and to dance.

To find out more about the Dance to Wellness weekend retreats go to or call 425-890-2597.

Patricia Duff can be reached at 221-5300 or

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