The University of Rhode Island’s W. Alton Jones Campus opened a new studio this summer at their Whispering Pines Conference Center for yoga and meditation retreats.

Staff at Whispering Pines have renovated a former meeting room into an 810 square foot yoga studio, which can accommodate 25 students. Located in West Greenwich, the campus sits on 2,300 acres of forests, lakes, and streams.

For the past 50 years, the conference center has been used for meetings, conferences, family reunions and weddings. Now, with the creation of this studio, those who wish to plan and host their own yoga or meditation retreat have the space.

“The closest place that you can go and have a yoga or meditation retreat is up in the Berkshires in Massachusetts at Kripalu, or Omega which is up in New York,” Ann Marie Evans, conference coordinator at Whispering Pines, said. “At Whispering Pines, we’re so close to everything here in Rhode Island.”

The campus has miles of hiking trails that guests can explore in addition to canoes for enjoying the lake located at the center of the campus, Lake Eisenhower.

“The grounds there are amazing,” Joan Dwyer, owner of All That Matters Yoga and Holistic Health Center in Wakefield, said. “Anybody who did a retreat there would be fortunate to access the water, and the food there is great.”

Three conference rooms and three living rooms are available for guests, in addition to 32 overnight guest rooms. Each guest room has its own heating and air-conditioning system, a flat screen television, a private bathroom, an iron and ironing board, a hairdryer, and “all the comforts of home,” says Evans. “It’s really a peaceful environment,” she adds. “It’s a place where you can get away from everything and relax, and just get away from the daily grind.”

Gourmet meals are included in the package, which consist of a full American breakfast, lunch and dinner, all buffet style. Also included is a mid-morning coffee break with pastries, an afternoon snack of fruit and homemade cookies, hors d’oeuvres before dinner, as well as marshmallows and graham crackers for s’mores by the campfire. They always offer vegetarian options, as well.

“We live in a crazy world and if we just go, go, go, and forget to get out of our head and in our body, and we forget to breathe, and we don’t have any tools for relaxing, then we feel crazy,” Dwyer said. “There’s these really simple tools to get into our body and be happy. There’s yoga and eating well and meditation, and once you start doing them, they start doing you, you just start feeling really great, so it’s a very wonderful plug-in place for the lifestyle that we have now.”

Additional studios are still in the planning stages, the soonest of which will open in January, February and March respectively.

“A one-hour yoga class takes 4% of your day, but it will affect 100% of your day,” Dwyer said. “I think finding the right yoga for you… is worthy of checking into.”

Those interested in signing up for a retreat or learning more about the yoga studio can contact the Whispering Pines Conference Center at 401-874-8100 or Ann Marie Evans at aevans@mail.uri.edu.