Ease back into normalcy with India’s ancient Ayurveda practices at these wellness retreats and spas. By Bayar Jain
Set on the alluring coast of Kovalam, Somatheeram Ayurveda Village offers an effortlessly revitalising atmosphere. Here, wellness transcends physical well-being and encompasses mental healing as well. The key to building immunity, in this retreat, lies in slowing the ageing process and aiding the regeneration of body cells—a result achieved through their Longevity Treatment. Spread over 28 days, the healing journey involves snehapanam (eating a medically advised amount of ghee for eight to 12 days), virechanam (cleansing of body toxins), nasyam (treatment of the nasal tract using medicated herbs), pizhichil (herbal oil massage), njavarakizhi (herbal poultice massage), tharpanam (strengthening of the optic nerves), and a medicated steam bath, among other rituals. Tying all these treatments together is the use of Rasayana, an Ayurvedic medicine integral to these therapies.
Emphasising the feeling of sukh or happiness, this retreat is home to The Oberoi Spa, a tranquil wellness abode dotted with water bodies and located next to a forest in New Chandigarh. Those who wish to identify the root cause of their physical ailments and correct bodily imbalances can opt for the 90-minute-long Dinacharya therapy. A set of six treatments work in tandem to help one achieve long-term wellness. Starting with anjana, a liniment used for cleansing eyes, the treatment is followed by nasya and dhumapana—two treatments that work to clear the sinuses. Gandusha (holding of medicated ﬂuids in the mouth for oral health), karnapoorana (oil droplets in the ears to prevent earwax build-up), and abhyanga (a full-body medicated oil massage to ease pain and enhance good sleep) follow. To accelerate immunity-building, the resort serves up a special menu so you can feast without any guilt.
Step into this 300-acre coconut plantation and be enthralled by the wide range of wellness offerings paired with the subtly intoxicating aroma of coffee and spices. At Evolve Back’s Vaidyasala, the Ayurveda Village, ancient secrets of the world’s oldest healing system are harnessed to rejuvenate, regenerate, and revitalise. Whether one is looking to ease insomnia with the 45-minute long shirodhara, reduce weight with an hour-long udvartana therapy, or indulge in a pampering session with the padashubhakari treatment (an hour-long herbal feet massage), wellness seekers are bound to feel fulfilled. Those looking to heal fractures, increase circulation, and curb fatigue can opt for an hour-and-a-half-long sarvangadhara session. This ritual involves pouring of medicated oil or medicated milk in streams, after a relaxing body massage. A similar process takes place in the 30-minute-long kati basti therapy, which targets the lower back.
At Shreyas Retreat, the emphasis is laid on strengthening ojas, the vital energy of a person. The journey here begins with a detailed consultation and an eight-fold examination. The doctors aim to understand the composition of one’s body and doshas, post which therapies are customised. Consider the shirodhara for peace and calm, followed by a session of traditional abhyanga (a full-body herbal oil massage). The shirodhara treatment involves pouring of a stream of therapeutic oil—or milk, or buttermilk, depending on one’s body type and season—on the forehead to bring relief. A similar use of therapeutic oils ﬁnds place in the choorna pinda swedam treatment as well, in the form of a soothing massage. To elevate relaxation, this treatment is followed by a herbal powder massage and a round of externally-induced sweating to relax muscles. One can also try the nasyam treatment for more targeted relief in the chest area.
Tucked away in the verdant landscape of Kerala, near Bekal’s serene backwaters, the Jiva Spa at Taj Bekal Resort & Spa celebrates the energy, harmony, and balance of mind and body. Guests can engage in a range of signature Ayurveda experiences. Be it vishuddi, a detoxification treatment that cleanses the body by eliminating toxins to bring forth complete purification, or abhyanga, a therapy where medicated herbal oils are applied generously in gentle strokes by skilled therapists, the resort makes sure you feel energised. One can also opt for choorna swedam, a special Ayurveda therapy in which choorna, or a coarse powder of medicinal herbs, in a swedam (or poultice) is run all over the body in sturdy movements to ease blood circulation and muscle aches.
Bringing age-old facets of Ayurveda, yoga, and naturopathy practices under one roof, Mercure Goa Devaaya Retreat considers itself an ‘Island of Divinity’. Situated on the serene Divar Island, 10 kilometres off Panaji, this ﬁve-acre centre is surrounded by the soothing blues of the River Mandovi. This feeling of serenity permeates the various wellness offerings here as well, including nasyam. Believed to be one of the most powerful panchakarma therapies, the ritual involves passing essential oils through the nasal cavities. In doing so, the medicated oils help counter migraine and sinusitis and cleanse the nasal tract. For a more rounded impact, one can opt for the complete Panchakarma Package—available in options of 15, 22, or 30 days—which includes various therapies customisable for a targeted approach.
Translating to ‘your inner voice’, SwaSwara doubles as a place to refocus and recalibrate oneself. Aligned to this ideology are the various wellness offerings. The Ayurvedic healing at the resort is meant to carve out a path towards sustained well-being and healthy living, instead of offering a one-time ﬁx for ailments—starting with the dinacharya, where doctors chalk out a wellness regimen to be followed, to the seasonal ritucharya. Detoxifying panchakarma, vamana, virechana, and nasya, are some of the other procedures, which complete the cleansing treatment.
The key to building, according to Niraamaya Retreats Surya Samudra, is in enhancing one’s overall natural resistance, rather than a targeted approach towards neutralising the causative agent. Catering to this philosophy is the Niraamaya Immunity Booster Package. The package includes 90 minutes of customised treatments, special medical decoctions, immunity-boosting medicines, and an hour-long yoga and meditation session every day. Moreover, the Immunity Rejuvenation Programme is ideal for guests who are looking for a multi-pronged healing process that targets various bodily functions. Spread over seven, 14, or 21 days, this all-encompassing treatment employs science-backed natural therapies. Thrown into this mix is the fusion of psychology and mindful practices to boost one’s immune system. Whether a guest is looking to revive gut health through detoxification, or indulge in mindfulness sessions, this programme is the first step towards the holistic improvement of mind, body, and soul.
The Ayurmana, the heritage retreat of Ayurvedic healing at Kumarakom Lake Resort, pulsates with the knowledge of ancient sciences. Catering to all aspects of well-being, their Ayurvedic rituals are designed to bring physical and mental fulfilment, while also enhancing beauty. The 45-minute-long mukha lepam treatment is one such form of indulgence. During this wrinkle-reducing ritual, nimbadi choornam or eladi choornam—both herbal Ayurvedic medicines—are mixed with milk or natural honey and massaged onto the face. Once gently rubbed along the contours and ridges of the face, a nalpalmaradi thailam oil massage follows, ending with a face pack to give one a radiant glow. A combination of brown rice with milk used during the procedure further helps in rehydrating the skin, improving facial muscles and retaining the vitality of facial tissues. To help you maintain your mane, Kumarakom offers a scalp massage with a special herbal oil, chemparuthyadi kera thailam, which helps in reversing the damaging effects of chemicals.
Advocating healthy living with an emphasis on immunity-building techniques, SOUKYA International Holistic Health Centre has crafted regimens—dinacharya (daily regimen) and ritucharya (seasonal regimen)—to help guests embark on their wellness journeys. One can experience medicated oil massages coupled with single-herb-based supplements. Accentuating this love for Ayurveda are the abhyanga and navarakizhi treatments. In the abhyanga treatment, medicated oils such as mahanarayana and mahamasha— depending on one’s problem areas—are slathered generously on the body to help regulate blood flow and ease lymphatic drainage. By doing so, muscles get instilled with renewed life while the mind is freed of hyperactivity and stress, enabling sound sleep. On the other hand, the navarakizhi treatment involves the application of hot, herbal poultices to reduce bodily stiffness, cure insomnia, increase bone density, and leave one feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. Pair these with the centre’s Premium Chyavanaprasam, an immunity-building herbal concoction of gooseberries, pure honey, cow ghee, and 45 other nutritional herbs, to sustain good health for a long time.