This year I was lucky to have visited a number of yoga retreats, Ayurvedic resorts and other blissful healthy sanctuaries, of which there is an immense number all over the world these days.
Relaxing under the palms, indulging into all sorts of treatments, practicing yoga amidst lush greenery, worshiping delicious locally sourced veggie food, drinking herbal elixirs of indescribable colour (they are good for you), having Ayurvedic oil dripping from my hair, and suffering over colon cleansing (no further details on this one) in Himalaya’s foothills are just some of the things I have experimented with.
But doing that for several days and then going back to your normal lifestyle, as if nothing happened, would be a waste of time and money, in my humble opinion.
I’ve been trying to distill each of those experiences down to something that I could take home with me.
When I stayed at Kaliyoga retreat in Southern Spain, I realised that all I need to be healthy is a daily yoga practice and fresh vegetarian food. Simple as it sounds, these two things form the core of a healthy lifestyle to me.
I have also learned that I find it hard to do nothing. Swaying in a hammock and not thinking about my Blackberry, or what I’ve got coming up after the retreat, or how all of my friends and family are doing, was not easy.
It required an effort, but I got there some days later. The sun and Andalucian Mountains helped. I’m now trying to make it part of my lifestyle. Over the weekends, I no longer nudge myself for doing nothing. As one of my yoga teachers pointed it, “You are not doing nothing. You are resting”. So now I’m resting.
A wonderful experience was Barberyn Ayurveda Resorts in Sri Lanka. I knew about Ayurveda before, but was eager to explore it further. My programme of treatments at Barberyn included a lot of very oily massages and a special Ayurvedic diet. I found it pretty incredible how Ayurvedic massages with special oils can help you release all the tension and stress (decrease your Vatta energy, that is; now that I’m familiar with some Ayurvedic terms). At least one Ayurvedic massage a month is now my own treat to myself (if I was being good).
Ayurvedic diet is a huge topic in itself, so I got a book on Ayurvedic cooking. It’s never easy to stick to any diet in today’s lifestyle, but I start small: I have learned about the benefits of most common spices and am now adding them consciously to my food to achieve a particular effect. I also start my morning with a glass of warm water and a few capsules of Triphala and Turmeric to stimulate digestion. Little things matter, and making them part of daily routine can bring big results.
Then it was Tao Garden in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This was a whole new world to me. The place has been set up by Mantak Chia, known for his Taoist teachings. I knew next to nothing about Taoism before arriving there.
But it was up in the air, and everywhere on the walls in the form of posters. This place marries up Western and Eastern holistic medicine. The result is an interesting selection of treatments. I was practicing Tai Chi classes in the mornings and learning how to smile into my liver, stomach and spleen in the evenings.
The day was packed with all sorts of treatments, the most unforgettable one being Chi Nei Tsang Healing Harmony, a combination of Chi Nei Tsang and Tok Sen. The former is a pretty painful (actually, hardly bearable!!) abdominal massage whereby the therapist massages all your internal organs through the abdomen. The pain is release of blockages, I know, but, dear me, it hurt. The latter part of the treatment was a rather unusual tapping of all my body with a big wooden hammer. All good for you though.
The colon cleansing bit was also part of my experience at Tao Garden. No matter how unpleasant it is, I’ve realised this needs to be part of my healthy routine and has got to be done at least once a year (the resort advises four times a year, at the end of each season; right).
After my Tao Garden experience, I’m also keen to learn a bit more about Taoism, and I particularly liked the idea of Inner Smile… it just makes sense.
Ariadna was introduced to the philosophy of yoga by her uncle when she was in her teens. Since then, wellbeing has been her passion, hobby and a lifestyle choice. Over the past years she has been discovering and trying various tools and techniques that can help people live a healthier and happier life; from various types of yoga to ayurveda and holistic massages to reiki to flower remedies and superfoods and so on. She is a believer that small things can make a big difference and is interested in discovering how wellbeing can be incorporated into a busy city lifestyle. Follow Ariadna on Twitter:@AriadnaWell