Detox

Ayurveda, the European way

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Editor’s Review

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

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A revival of the Ancient Hamman Ritual

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In times gone by hammams were used by Kings and Queens of the Ottoman Empire who would host their key social engagements within these ornate bathhouses.

Today, hammams are back in fashion with many resorts adding them to their wellness offerings and treatment menus.
Also known as a Turkish bath, a hammam is the Middle Eastern variant of a steam bath, or a wet relative of the sauna. Although the first ones originated in Arabia, bath culture was a central part of Roman life, Turkey popularized the tradition by making hammams available to people of all statuses.

The advent of the modern spa and the convenience of baths at home have defeated this old concept. Modern-day hammams often reflect the rich design features of the original bathhouses and continue the tradition of water, air and heat-based body treatments. The treatment benefits include removing dead skin cells, deeply cleansing the skin, ridding it of impurities while stimulating blood circulation and the lymphatic system in remedial heat.

Various resorts and hotels such as The Anantara Spa group offer a number of hammams in various destinations with treatments that follow the traditional ritual procedure.

The Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, located in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s Liwa Desert, houses the Royal Moroccan Hammam and offers the traditional journey in the ritual experiences – first steam which purifies the skin, followed by lying on a heated marble bed for a cleansing and polishing ritual using traditional black olive soap and a kessa mitt. The skin soaks up the natural goodness of a mineral-rich rhassoul mask, followed by a hair treatment and mini facial. After time in the heated jacuzzi and ice room, a back massage completes the ritual.

Other hammams include Banana Island Resort in Doha and the Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa close to Abu Dhabi City which offers both Turkish and Moroccan Hammam Experiences.

Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas www.anantara.com.

Absolute Sanctuary unveils Fitness Wellness in Asia

TravMedia_United_Kingdom_medium-sized_1233849_ABSOLUTE SANCTUARY RESORT PHOTOAbsolute Sanctuary in Koh Samui  is Asia’s first Fitness Wellness resort.

This new Fitness Wellness concept combines physical and mental well-being to promote long lasting health. Through its affiliation with Absolute You, Absolute Sanctuary has integrated designed exercise programs including Yoga, Pilates Reformer, Core suspend, rhythm cycling and food programs with world- class Detox programs , emotional and healing  spa therapies to offer cutting edge fitness wellness programs, the benefits of which will last a life-time.

Executive Director, Claire Bostock, explains that over the last decade there has been a growing market of niche travellers looking for a holiday experience where they can immerse themselves in their passion for fitness.  Absolute Sanctuary sees itself as a perfect fit for these travellers seeking a holiday to unplug from the world and reboot themselves with a getaway that promotes good energy and well-being. With our new Fitness Wellness positioning, it is also timely to revamp our look and feel to exude what we stand for – a place for people to Reconnect with themselves, Recharge their mind, body and soul, Revitalize their inner being and Re-energize their life,”

The 38-room boutique resort has launched 2 new wellness programs: Lifestyle Change and Meaningful Holidays. The lifestyle change program is a structured 30 or 60-days program for people looking to completely transform themselves and committed to achieving the best that they can be with the support of our program. The meaningful holiday is a short 3-day getaway that moves away from packaged programs to a more relaxed getaway leaving guests free to design their own dedicated wellbeing experience.

www.absolutesanctuary.com