‘Have you had a poo today?‘ the beautiful, nymph like Ayurvedic doctor innocently asks, peering intently at me across the monolithic desk in her consulting room. I almost choke on the water I am sipping, as I splutter a horrified response. It’s not considered polite conversation to discuss bodily functions over breakfast after all! I half expect Gillian McKeith to pop her head around the door, and ask for a sample. I’m soon to realise, that a week in an Ayurvedic retreat, strips you of your normal dignity, in your quest to shed pounds, toxins and bad habits.
Ayurveda Retreats – heaven or hell?
You may have heard stories of Ayurveda retreats being hellish deprivation and military precision timetables, but before you dismiss a retreat out of hand, here’s what you need to know.
What is an Ayurveda retreat?
Ayurveda is a traditional Indian medicinal practice which balances the body through a combination of diet, exercise, deep breathing, and herbal medicinal treatments. It may sound like voodoo (it sure worked some incredible magic on my frazzled mind, and sports injury ridden body!) but the results can be incredible.
Want to look younger? De-stress? Lose weight? Or improve your general health? No, it isn’t the latest miracle cream…it is a tailored Ayurveda retreat, and it won’t cost you the earth.
Ayurveda does not break the bank
A typical retreat in India will cost you around £700 per week and includes two treatments a day, full board, airport transfers, yoga, meditation, and access to a range of other facilities. You’ll also be spoilt with the love and support of your therapist, doctor, restaurant staff and resort hosts. All are united trying to make your stay as beneficial as possible, especially when you desperately crave a coffee or a bar of chocolate.
Which leads me on to deprivation…
Deprivation doesn’t have to mean doom and gloom
Visiting an Ayurveda retreat is all about deprivation. There, I’ve said it! It’s impossible to soften this aspect of a retreat. No alcohol, no caffeine, no sugar, and in some cases even no food! Sounds horrendous doesn’t it?
Now imagine you have travelled half way around the globe to visit an Ayurveda retreat. Such suggestions are usually met with abject horror, and mumbled comments of ‘holidays from hell.’
Surprisingly, it can be pretty darn nice. No worrying about what you will be eating for dinner, how many calories it has, or whether you will suffer with a hangover the next day.
Giving your body a break from all those toxins can be incredibly refreshing once you get used to the constant rumbling in your stomach. It’s guaranteed you will feel hungry, grumpy and miserable at some stage during your stay, but the incredible euphoria you feel on departure, more than makes up for the short-term suffering.
By the way, if you were wondering, that’s not just euphoria at the prospect of being able to rush to the beach and guzzle a beer.
Tailored Treatments to die for
Forget high-end spa resorts where you pay over $100 for a daily massage. Treatments on retreat come thick and fast as your body is pummelled into blissful oblivion daily!
From heated herbal massages, to lightning fast scrub massages, vigorous four-hand massages and relaxing aromatherapy massages, this is massage heaven. Plus you can indulge in infra-red saunas, wraps, facials and enemas (for those who dare!). (You may also like my husband’s hilarious thoughts on his massages hilarious thoughts on his massages).
An Ayurveda retreat is not just about detoxing your body. It’s also about detoxing your mind. The balance of treatments, diet and exercise is designed to de-clutter, and de-stress your mind. By God, it works too! Ten days in a Himalayan retreat left me feeling incredible, happier than I’d felt in years, more optimistic, and mentally rejuvenated. I shed a few tears along the way, but I also shed a ton of baggage, and returned to the UK lighter mentally than I’d felt in a long time.
For anyone suffering from stress, depression, personal difficulties or just feeling overwhelmed by the pace of life, a retreat is a wonderful antidote.
Gentle Introduction to Exercise
If you are unaccustomed to exercise, or returning from injury, a retreat is a great way to kickstart or renew an exercise programme. Programmes are tailored for each person, and usually include daily doses of yoga, supplemented by walking, jogging or other light exercise.
Don’t worry, you certainly won’t be engaging in boot camp type activities!
So what are you waiting for?
Give your body a break, and book your own retreat. Toilet talk awaits!