Remember how you felt when you were at your most relaxed this summer? Whether you were surveying the landscape from the top of a hill after an arduous climb or looking out at the still waters of a lake, chances are you vowed to maintain this sense of calm once you returned to normal life. Fast forward a few weeks and is that sense of wellbeing already fading? Even with the best of intentions, looking after ourselves – physically and mentally – can seem like a luxury, not a necessity, once the demands of everyday life resume.
Of course, it’s easy to feel relaxed on holiday but how to maintain this once you’re back into the routine of the daily commute/school run/social commitments? Prioritising our mental and physical health is no longer seen as a sign of narcissism, but as a vital means of safeguarding our wellbeing.
Yoga as a form of achieving spiritual and physical wellbeing is hugely popular in the UK and has become more of a lifestyle choice than merely a form of exercise. Chances are that yoga may already be part of your regular routine and you may be attending one of the 30,000+ yoga classes taking place each week across the country. As autumn approaches and the nights draw in, this could be the perfect time to put plan a yoga retreat – or a wellness break which offers specialist treatments, dietary advice, meditation and a range of outdoor activities.
Here are some good reasons why you should take the time to experience a wellness or yoga retreat.
Invest in yourself
With all the demands on our time, it’s easy to feel pulled between work commitments, family obligations and the rigours of daily life. Whilst wanting to be there for those we love, it’s also important to realise that your own reserves of energy aren’t bottomless and that, in order to look after those around us, we need to look after ourselves first. This isn’t selfish, it’s common sense.
For a truly incredible retreat look no further than Santani Wellness Resort, a luxurious wellness getaway in Sri Lanka, situated in the hills surrounding Kandy. The resort offers an all-encompassing wellness package to encourage healthy new practices to be successfully implemented in the reality of life post-retreat. As part of the yoga package guests are offered one-to-one coaching sessions as well as classes in Hatha Yoga, supported by classes in different forms taught by visiting practitioners.
Choose to eat in the open-air pavilion lounge before settling down in one of the mountain view chalets.
As Louise Reina, one of our travellers recently commented, “Santani resort is without doubt one of my favourite places I have stayed in – if you love views and walking, combined with yoga and fab treatments Santani has got to be a go to place!”
Commune with nature
Whilst you may be perfectly content to attend your weekly yoga class in the surroundings of your local gym, we imagine that you might be looking for a more spectacular backdrop for a wellness retreat. As well as offering fantastic opportunities to deepen your yoga skills, many retreats are in truly breathtaking locations,.
The Ananda Spa is situated in a 100 acre site in the Himalayan foothills of Northern India and promotes an holistic approach to wellbeing with Eastern and Western treatments, as well as an expansive spa offering over 80 experiences in its 24 treatment rooms.
Equally impressive is the 21 acre Vana in the north Indian state of Uttarakhand. Marvel at the fabulous architecture and glamorous surroundings of this hilltop retreat set amongst a sal-tree reserve before taking a dip in the outdoor pool.
For take-your-breath-away views, Wildflower Hall – near Shimla in Utter Pradesh – is hard to beat. At a height of 8000 metres above sea level, the vista from the open air whirlpool offers unbeatable views over the Himalayas. The building itself – an impressive example of British colonial architecture – is the former residence of Lord Kitchener, during his tenure as Commander-in-Chief of India. Opt for a massage or Ayurvedic treatment at bespoke locations around the hotel grounds before dining on local Himachali cuisine on the outdoor terrace.
If you’d prefer to re-charge closer to the sea, the Carnoustie Ayurveda and Wellness Resort may be your perfect escape. On the shores of the Arabian Sea and close to the backwaters of Kerala, this luxurious resort is set amidst verdant tropical gardens and is designed as a perfect restful and rejuvenating escape.
For some, simply being in a green and pristine environment can be enough. Forest bathing is a translation of the Japanese phrase ‘shinrin-yoku’ and refers to the benefits of spending time in the great outdoors. With forest cover extending to over 72% of Bhutan, there is plenty of lush green countryside in this stunning mountain kingdom.
Guests at the award-winning Gangtey Lodge in Bhutan can opt for a variety of experiences – from a blessing at a local monastery to indulging in a hot stone bath or hoisting a prayer flag (considered to bring good luck and prosperity). Similarly, the Como hotels in Paro and Punakha offer holistic, Asian-inspired treatments including signature massages, facials and body therapies.
Connect with others
For those embarking on a retreat, inner reflection is often high on their wish list, rather than making new friends. Yet, after the yoga classes and meditation, meeting like-minded people can be an unlooked-for pleasure during a retreat.
SwaSwara is a sanctuary in Kerala offering stays from five to twenty-one nights. Amongst the communal activities which can be enjoyed by guests is working with the resident artist in the art studio to sculpt, model clay and paint as well as joining other guests under the coconut-thatched roof of the meditation deck set on the hillside overlooking the Om beach below.
Situated in the Southern coast of Sri Lanka, renowned for its tranquil atmosphere and magnificent beaches, Ayurvie Weligama overlooks the Indian Ocean and is surrounded by beautiful mangroves and marshland with a breathtaking view of the famous Jungle beach of Weligama Bay. Ayurvie focuses on providing authentic experiences of the ancient South Asian healing system of Ayurveda combined with yoga, which asserts the delicate balance of the mind, body and spirit for wellness and good health.
The spacious interior of the resort is designed according to ancient Ayurvedic concepts, focusing on physical vital factors known as dosa, dhatna mala systems and energy channels known as Prana and Chakra systems. Some of the resort’s unique attractions include its spacious spa, individual therapy rooms for its visitors and the specially designed areas for relaxation, yoga and meditation.
Improve Your Understanding of Yoga
Whichever type of yoga you follow or your level of skill, a retreat offers a chance to explore yoga (and/or meditation) in more depth than you will ever find in a weekly class. With expert teachers on hand and some retreats offering one-to-one consultations, this is a fantastic opportunity to develop and broaden your knowledge and skill.
At Shreya’s Retreat in Bangalore, as well as practising Hatha Yoga and Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, guests are invited to explore different aspects of yoga, including prayer and meditation.
For those wishing to learn to teach yoga, there are longer courses to be found throughout India.
Physical and Digital Detox
A successful wellness retreat generally offers more than ‘just’ yoga sessions and can be an opportunity for a full physical detox.
Due to the remote location of some of the retreats we’ve mentioned, wi-fi can be patchy and some resorts even limit wi-fi access in public areas, encouraging guests to really feel like they’ve stepped back from the pressures of everyday life with a full digital detox.
It can also be beneficial to mix treatments and meditation with some of the other activities available at many retreats. Whether you decide to sign up for a cookery class, cycle through shady woodland trails or spend an afternoon sightseeing, the choice is yours.
Closer to home we can highly recommend the Green Ayurveda Spa near Wetherby, owned and managed by renowned Ayurvedic health practioners, Dr Majosh Jolly and Dr Swapna Jose from Kerala, South India. Luxurious day spa treatments as well as Royal Panchakarma therapies and natural skin care treatments from ancient India.
September is a perfect time to plan ahead. Think about including some rejuvenation time later in the year.
We are on hand to offer advice and guidance to help you plan your ideal wellness retreat. For more information please visit www.travelmaxwellscott.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org