Incredible Wellness Destinations: Goddess Amina Peterson Of Atlanta Institute of Tantra (ATL Tantra) On The Secrets To Creating The Perfect Wellness Destination

Incredible Wellness Destinations: Goddess Amina Peterson Of Atlanta Institute of Tantra (ATL Tantra) On The Secrets To Creating The Perfect Wellness Destination

Take the time you don’t usually have to love on your body. Stretch in a way that consumes time luxuriously. Take your sweet precious time rubbing moisturizer in your skin. Go for a long, slow walk with no particular destination, just feeling the body’s movement. Savor your humanity.

The pandemic has shaped the way we travel and live, with a growing trend leaning towards health, wellness, and a holistic lifestyle. More than ever, individuals are seeking not just getaways, but immersive wellness retreats that help rejuvenate the body, mind, and soul. Destinations that provide a serene environment, unique wellness offerings, and an unparalleled experience are in great demand. In this interview series, we are talking to property owners and hospitality companies who are at the helm of these wellness havens. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amina Peterson.

With a career spanning the diverse realms of healing and empowerment, Goddess Amina (Peterson) has dedicated her life to encouraging self-discovery and the utilization of pleasure, as both a healing tool and a birthright within the fields of holistic wellness, sexual education and social activism. The founder of the Atlanta Institute of Tantra (aka ATL Tantra), Goddess Amina works with clients, teaches classes and hosts retreats across the globe.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I’m a Chicago girl at heart, but I come from a big family with southern roots. Both of my parents have children from other marriages, and I am the middle child of 9 siblings. My maternal grandmother was from Scooba Mississippi and spent most of my free time in the kitchen with her, developing a love for cooking. In fact, my alter ego is a world famous chef!

I grew up moving around quite a bit and the travel bug came to me early in life. By the time I was 18 I had lived in Wisconsin, South Carolina, Arkansas, Michigan, Illinois and Iowa. My mother, an educator deserving of many awards, kept a curiosity of the world afire in all of her children. An inquisitive child with a hyper-active imagination, I fell in love with reading as it has always been the cheapest way to travel. Since languages came easy for me, by the time I was 12 I was fluent in Spanish and studying Japanese. In my late teens I learned Arabic so that I could read the Quran and pray correctly and Italian because… ITALY!!

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

A lack of information and a deep curiosity really inspired me to pursue my career, but there were several stops along the way. I worked briefly as a surrogate partner in 1997 and that opened my mind up to the world of sexual therapies. In 2004, I received an esalen style massage that changed my life and the trajectory of my career. At the time I owned a successful café on Chicago’s South Side, but that massage made me realize I wanted to work with the body. Over the next few months, I would close the café, get divorced and begin my studies in the world of bodywork. The rest — as they say–is history.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

Asking for help is hard for just about everyone. However, I am grateful that I spent a good chunk of my life straddling the career fence, with one foot in sexual healing and the other in the non-profit world of activism and fundraising, where it became second nature to ask for help and handle rejection. Because of this I have so many people to thank, each of whom have helped me along the way in one way or another. People who have said yes to my requests, believed in my vision and capacity along the way.

The biggest shift though was when I met my now husband. He asked me to teach him “how to be this free,” and that request led to the creation of ATL Tantra. Up until then I was mostly working exclusively with clients 1:1 and hosting workshops and healing circles. He has supported my work and been the biggest cheerleader and living testimony.

It has been said that sometimes our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or takeaway did you learn from that?

My biggest mistake was hiding. I was really scared to let people who weren’t actively seeking me out know about this work. Coming from a big, southern family where connection and belonging is so important, I really thought if my siblings or cousins found out about my work they would distance themselves from me. They NEVER gave me any reason to believe it, it was my own internalized shame around the work that I was projecting into our family dynamic. My family is so loving and supportive, and I actually missed out on some very valuable time with them hiding from myself.

Since living outloud in my work, my biggest takeaway has been how liberating it is to allow my authentic self to be loved fully. Leaning into the uncomfortable experience of letting those you love see all of you — even and especially the parts you hold shame around — reveals so much about who you are. For me this has been so eye opening. It has positively shifted the way I show up in all of my relationships, platonic, romantic and familial.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” — Rumi

This quote guides my work. So many people think they need to fix something about themselves and the self-help industry really capitalizes on that idea. I believe we are already whole and worthy of love, we just have to remove some of the blocks in the way. That is the work I love!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

After hosting 3 years of living in and hosting retreats in Costa Rica, I recently partnered with La Semilla Ecolodge in Panama to host my upcoming retreats in 2024–2025. Panama is such an easy international destination and a lot of people who come to my retreats are getting their first passport stamp. This new location creates a bit of a home base, a sense of familiarity and ease for new and seasoned travelers alike.

I also launched “The Pleasure Revolution,” which is a series of talks, writings, recordings and classes about pleasure after 40. As I get closer to 50, I have realized that there are simply not enough conversations being had about intimacy in the aging body. I am changing that!

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview about wellness destinations. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or personal experience, why do you think travel can lead to better wellness? Can you share a story?

Travel helps to put things in perspective. Our view can become without exposure to new cultures, customs, and ways of life. Travel challenges our assumptions and exposes us to different ways of thinking and being. Travel also forces us to step outside our comfort zone and growth can be uncomfortable.

In my travels, I have had to learn to rely on the help of strangers while struggling through language barriers and navigating, strange and unfamiliar lands. It has been challenging and scary at times, but it has also boosted my confidence and developed my resilience. Change is not as scary as it once was and my mental health is better for it.

Plus, I grew up in an urban environment and moved to Hawaii, where I lived for almost 15 years. My nervous system was so dysregulated from the constant stimulation and hyper vigilance required to live in a big city. Studies show that spending time in nature reduces stress, improves mood, and promotes overall well-being. Travel has allowed me to reconnect with nature in ways that have been life altering.

What are a few things which distinguish your property from thousands of wellness properties around the world?

A big one that many don’t take into account is its proximity to the airport. La Semilla is 25 minutes away from the airport. After a long day of international travel, a lot of wellness properties require an equally long commute away from the major cities where most airports are. Our property, which is nestled in the mountains above Panama City, feels like it’s a million miles away from the hustle and bustle, but in reality is just a short drive.

With only 9 rooms, it gives the unique sense of community and privacy at the same time.

Plus, with a variety of healing modalities, from energy work to somatic therapy, from plant medicine to movement based healing, this space stands out in a crowded arena of wellness centers.

What type of experience do you want your visitors to have when they visit?

Mostly, I want visitors to experience the rest and pleasure that a more regulated nervous system offers. I want them to find the spaciousness they need to give into the joy that usually has something threatening its existence.

What makes your property a beautiful escape for a body and mind recharge?

The trees are the lungs of this planet and sometimes just breathing in the fresh air that the jungle offers is enough to recharge. We are right next to a national park with tons of trails for hiking, but you can really reap the same benefits lounging poolside under the canopy of trees at the space.

Can you share any transformative stories or testimonials from guests that visited your property?

This weekend we are hosting our first guests at the space, but I can share transformative stories from other events I have hosted across Central America. As I mentioned before, many of our guests are joining me for their first international travel experience. It has been beautiful watching people find spaces that feel safe for them and exploring the world from that starting point.

Why do you think the experience you offer is so needed nowadays?

There simply is no other space that is culturally diverse, sex-positive, and wellness centered available.

Do you think travel enhances our mindfulness, optimism, or sense of gratitude? How? Can you please explain with an example or story?

Travel awakens our senses. When we move through the world, we get experience through our body. The taste of unfamiliar spices, the smells of new cuisines, the texture of new climates on our skin — all these sensations create a deeper connection to the place and its people. Mindfulness and gratitude are embodied experiences, and the constant state of “new” we experience traveling forces us to be in the present moment.

What are your “5 Habits You Should Develop In Order Make Travel Into An Opportunity For Wellness & Personal Growth?”

1 . Take the time you don’t usually have to love on your body. Stretch in a way that consumes time luxuriously. Take your sweet precious time rubbing moisturizer in your skin. Go for a long, slow walk with no particular destination, just feeling the body’s movement. Savor your humanity.

2. Slow down and allow yourself to get some REST! A packed itinerary & FOMO can you have you staying up late for no reason, but the morning is where you get to take the pulse of a new destination. I used to pack my trips with a list of “must-do’s” that left me needing a vacation from my travel. Embracing slow travel has created a more healing approach to travel. Get to sleep early and consider sleeping with the blinds open so that the sun can wake you up, settling your body into the new time zone or area code.

3 . The tendency to eat only what you are comfortable and familiar with can leave you feeling drained and depleted. Be adventurous with your food choices, prioritizing healthy, local and seasonal foods that offer you energy. I love finding a cute, healthy café to eat with the locals and make new friends.

4 . Keep a travel journal with you and find moments through out the day to check in with what you are noticing in your body. What sensations are you experiencing? What emotions are being awakened on this journey? How is desire and pleasure being nurtured? This practice allows you to stop and enjoy a glass of wine, a cup of tea or even a meal solo as you reflect on your own experience in the world.

5 . Bring a gratitude practice with you to move through often while you are traveling. Empathy and grace will allow you to appreciate the simple things — a short conversation with a stranger, delicious meal, or a breathtaking view. Whatever opportunities you get to enjoy, take time to reflect on your experience, expressing gratitude for your joys and your challenges.

My quick gratitude practice in 4 steps, which I adapted from a training with the Strozzi Institute, is as follows:

  1. I extend my hands down to the earth, honoring the land that I am visiting and expressing gratitude for welcoming me.
  2. I extend my hands up to the sky, remembering this is the same sky that is where I have traveled from, grateful for the rain, sunshine, moon and stars.
  3. I extend my hands out, taking up space and feeling into the world around me.
  4. I wrap my arms around myself, celebrating my bravery to embark on the journey I am on.

Based on your experience, where do you see the future of wellness travel heading in the next 5–10 years?

I see slow travel, with a focus on community, becoming a bigger trend in wellness travel. The pandemic opened us up to the opportunity of travel that is not just a few days of vacation but weeks and months. This travel is opening us up to deeper relationships across cultures and generational healing.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them :-)

There are two people I would love to meet with. I remember my mother reading Nikki Giovanni poems to us as kids, and I honestly want to sit and have a breakfast and slow morning with her, where we talk about Black love, slowness and pleasure. Like really waxing poetic, you know?

The second is Janelle Monae and that should be a lunch date. Her last album’s visuals were a slice of my life and I feel like we should be friends.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success.

About the Interviewer: Wanda Malhotra is a wellness entrepreneur, lifestyle journalist, and the CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living. CMB empowers individuals with educational resources and vetted products to help them make informed choices. Passionate about social causes like environmental preservation and animal welfare, Wanda writes about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact and sustainability, simplifying wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at .

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