Discover The Pros and Cons of An Ayurveda Retreat

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?

Manos Diet Centre at Devaaya, Goa

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?

You may enjoy this kind of food on retreat

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!
India-01190From 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).

Mind health

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!

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About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of Frommilestosmiles. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 90 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money-saving travel tips


  1. I would love to spend there a week or two. Last year I had a long surgery and after that I had to take a lot of medications, I took some weight and felt really bad. I feel that my body now is full of toxins I just want to get rid of. I think that a place to relax, eat nice food and try some meditations would help me a lot. Thanks for your interessting and inspiring article.
    I’m also a hote lblogger so it is nice to read about different kinds of accomodations 🙂


    • Omg I think you would massively benefit as the experience is designed to detox. I wouldn’t want this to put you off but it would be wise to prepare yourself for some mental anguish as detoxing is a little like going to rehab (I imagine) and can be very emotional. It is totally worth it though

  2. It’s a tossup whether or not I would enjoy this, but I’d certainly like to give it a try. I think the lack of food is the thing that I would find most difficult. It seems like a great way to unplug as well. Seems like a great and exceptionally budget-friendly option.

    • The lack of food on one I did in the Himalayas was really tough but I felt so amazing at the end, it was seriously worth it! Plus it was awesome to just get away from everything for ten days.

  3. Thanks for your honest overview! I would also consider it just to relax, but we also must consider the other side of things, just as you said in your post… Loved what you said about the euphoria of going away being worth the stay! Lol! Yeah, I would probably feel like that too… Thanks for changing my mind!

  4. It definitely sounds ironic that today we pay to travel halfway around the world to be deprived and exercised lol, but I agree that deprivation is a good thing when done with a purpose and done right, and I think we’ve become so accustomed to having everything at our disposal in our lifestyles at home, that we need an escape and new environment to fully commit to a rejuvenation.

    Ayurveda retreats sound like something I would definitely consider – thanks for an honest overview of the pros and cons. I love that it doesn’t break the bank – I think it’s easy to assume these types of retreats are only for the rich and famous, but I love that it’s affordable for everyone 🙂

    • Oh gosh isn’t that true. I prefer to visit these without my husband as for some reason he cannot get his head around going on holiday and being deprived lol. It’s so worth it afterwards though!

  5. To me, Ayurveda always seemed like a hippy dippy thing and I had no interest in it at all. I would be open to the possibility of giving a retreat like this a shot as your article really helped me understand it better. Thanks!

  6. Anne, this looks & sounds like absolute bliss! As a recent convert to yoga, I love the idea of immersing myself on a retreat like this. Especially one that provides such delicious, nutritious food, and a range of massages. I may give the enema a miss though! Now I just need to find a time when I can leave my business for 10 days… Ah the joys of the self-employed!

  7. Thanks for this. I would also consider an Ayurveda retreat. I can persevere to achieve a healthy living which is also cost effective.

  8. A great place to take a break away from the city life. Also happy to know that it does not cost a lot.

  9. I’ve heard a lot about Ayurveda, but not yet tried. I think after reading your article would try once.

  10. Really enjoyed your review…very balanced indeed. I haven’t been to a Yoga Retreat, but would love to visit one one day, and I am quite sure I will enjoy it too 🙂

    • I’ve done three now and it’s a fab way to get away from it all, unplug and destress. It definitely can be a roller coaster depending on how restrictive the retreat is (some most definitely aren’t restrictive whilst others really are) but I always feel amazing at the end!

  11. I loved the reference to Gillian McKeith! Wish I could lie down for a massage right now. Thanks for giving us the inside story of an Ayurvedic retreat.

    • Ha ha definitely made me realise I would not want to go on her programme. It’s a little too intense being asked such questions but after a few days on retreat you feel like someone else has taken control of your body anyway. In a good way, of course! I would love to go on another but it’s finding the time and forcing myself to go without my hubby as it is not really his thing.

  12. So forgive the question from the unknowledgable, but was this Himalayan or an island off of Goa? Can you share the website of the retreat? Thanks!

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