MONTICELLO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — From southeast Asia to Sullivan County New York, Thursday was International Yoga Day.
In India, Prime Minister Modri led a crowd of 50,000 people in various yoga poses. Then, he made a live satellite broadcast to a new yoga center in the Catskills where an Indian billionaire is spending a fortune to promote yoga as part of an ancient wellness philosophy.
As CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reports, locals hope it’s a shot in the arm for the struggling region.
The past is still present in Sullivan County — faded bungalow colonies and shuttered resorts, such as Kutshers, where families played and a generation of comedians entertained. The golden age of the Borscht Belt Catskills is gone, but perhaps the new age is dawning.
On property that once belonged to Kutshers you’ll now find YO1.
“It’s going to be holistic, comprehensive, wellness approach!” said Ganesh Gaddamanugu.
The $250 million wellness center is designed around principles of Ayurveda, ancient medical practices from India.
“Ayurveda believes the mind and body are intricately connected (to) each other and bringing the balance and harmony within them,” said Vish Guddadar.
Yoga is the foundation and is done in rooms overlooking Baileys lake.
Guests will be offered dozens of wellness treatments. Some of them are familiar, like hot tubs, while others, like an ozone therapy room, are more exotic. There’s also shirodhara, where a special oil is poured onto the forehead to treat so-called “third eye chakra.”
Many of the treatments focus on drawing toxins out of the body, including mud therapy using mud imported from India.
YO1’s founder is Indian media mogul, Subhash Candra, who notes another southeast Asian billionaire, Kt Lim, built the new casino four miles away.
“Casino excites people and we want to calm people down,” said Chandra with a laugh. “That’s the difference.”
It’s already making a difference to the economy. The chef buys from a dozen local farms.
“It doesn’t get any more better farm-to-table than a few hours,” said YO1 chef Gaurav Navin.
The center has hired hundreds of locals, including Monticello native Hayley Brennan.
“It used to be really booming and exciting and with all the hotels and celebrities who love to come here,” said Brennan. “It was a big deal, and I like that it’s starting to happen again.”
The center, built to rejuvenate guests, is helping to do the same for the region.