It has been a very busy year so far and it’s starting to show. I’m eating more of the wrong foods to cope with looming deadlines, my mobile takes priority, my weight is nudging the scales and my skin has lost that freshness. I have no time to just be….
Is this just me or are we losing a sense of our existence, how we feel, how we view the world, who we are. Is there a disconnect between mind, body and spirit? Are we e-people, controlled by technology?
Slow forward to the gentle slopes of Austria, where church bells ring in synchrony with the collar bells attached to goats grazing. Where the Alps form a protective wrapping around the landscape – unpolluted air, solitude, silence. What better setting for an Ayurveda Resort amidst this cradle of tranquillity and peace in Hinterthiersee.
I was visiting for four days for a dose of holistic healing, European style, which meant local and seasonal food, a western interpretation of treatments and, best of all, no jet-lag.
First was a consultation with the resident Ayurvedic doctor who proved intuitive and impressive in his pulse diagnosis and lifestyle evaluation. He delivered an accurate, informative assessment both with humour and an in-depth knowledge of Ayurvedic doctrines and healings. Based on my particular symptoms and constitution, a therapy plan was created which combined herbal medicine, a nutrition programme with detox and supportive treatments.
Ayurveda is a system of medicine with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent. It is the oldest form of medical science based upon the body’s protection of life against negative effects. Put simply, changes in the composition of the natural elements inherent within and around us affect our health. When our “doshas” (bio-energies) are disturbed, the body becomes imbalanced, causing illness. Diagnostic ayurvedic treatments can help to restore the body.
A salt rub is not for the faint-hearted, it’s vigorous and stimulating. Known as Upana, this Alpine scrub is used to release stressful energy and strengthen the immune system in preparation for cleansing and detoxing. Its effects are then sealed in with a sauna visit.
The spa area houses a number of saunas differentiated by heat temperature and purpose. The Kapha is a detoxifying steam bath, the Pitta a herb and clay sauna while the Vata is denoted as the gemstone and saltwater therapy. There are several infra-red cabins, a small gym, an indoor pool and various relaxation areas.
The resort exudes calm and intimacy which is visually reflected by a décor which splashes the colour purple alongside local timber panels to create an earthy feel. Spiritual energy seems to ooze from buddha statues and handcrafted sculptures dotted around.
Meal times are quiet and pleasant. Each guest has an assigned table, a daily personalised agenda with personal encouragement and affirmations which I would read at regular times during the day. I would also peep enviably at those guests not following a specific programme – enjoying seasonal, colourful dishes, artistically presented. For those of us on a stricter regime, the simple delicate detox dishes were served with encouragement and a knowing smile.
I was prepared for the “purging cocktail” concocted to rid the body of toxins and waste products. It was administered by the medical team on the second day – so no cheating was allowed. The remainder of the morning was confined to the room and close to the much needed facilities. I was grateful for the distraction of the mountain views from the balcony. Later, a belly massage continued the process, a treatment designed to strengthen and detoxify the tissues and release any blockages.
No caffeine, no sweet treats. I was suffering from a headache and tiredness from the previous day, natural reactions I was assured to a detoxification process. But to my delight, a head and body massage was on the day’s agenda, very timely. Billed as Shirodhara, this treatment is a traditional head treatment and body massage specifically to relieve stress-relating symptoms and it worked.
The atmosphere is cosy, friendly and supportive. Guests share their experiences in a positive light and are sympathetic to the effects endured. Many guests return here for their annual MOT, some travel with supportive partners but most are alone. Days can be active with Yoga, Pilates, Qi Gong, Tai Chi walks, forest bathing and lectures, all providing a social opportunity or non-verbal company.
Guest rooms are tastefully furnished with amenities needed for this type of stay – a hot water bottle to help with liver detox and flasks for hot water, thoughtful and considerate, just like home! And with 30 rooms and a staff of 50, service levels are high. The therapists are trained and conversant in the European Ayurveda discipline. Those I met monitored my progress along my ayurvedic journey.
When I left this inner sanctum to join the outside world, I felt consciously transformed, lighter in weight and freer of worries. My mind was now connected to my body and spirt. The church bells seemed to be louder and more in tune and I noticed more goats munching on the Austrian Alps. Ayurveda maybe ancient but it remains even more relevant today.
There are direct flights from the UK to Innsbruck and a one hour drive from the airport by taxi
Prices for a 7-day Pancha Karma programme are priced from € 1,525 excl. accommodation, single rooms from €166 pp/pn
European Ayurveda Resort Sonnhof, Tyrol, Austria www.sonnhof-ayurveda.at
European Ayurveda Resort Sonnhof is included in the niche destinations distinctive portfolio www.niche-destinations.com