Bali has long been a sought-after destination for yoga and wellness retreats and come December 2017 will be home to a fully dedicated Ayurveda Panchakarma retreat destination operated by ONEWORLD retreats (www.oneworldretreats.com). Founded by Claude Chouinard and Iyan Yaspriyana 2004, thousands have benefited from their inspirational yoga and wellness retreats over the years.
As part of their pre-opening, I was fortunate to be invited to participate in their inaugural six-night Ayurveda-Detox & Yoga Retreat. To clarify, Ayurveda is a centuries-old medicine system originating from India that is increasingly known as a well-respected modality to rebalance (and sometimes cure) the chronic symptoms of our modern lives including digestive orders, sleep issues and stress.
First-up a consultation with the facilitator, Dr. Aparna, who grew up watching her physician father run a highly-regarded Ayurvedic hospital in Kerala, Southern India.
During my Ayurveda consultation with Dr. Aparna, I discover my constitution ‘dosha’ is primarily made up of water (kapha) and fire (pitta) with my air element (vata) a little off balance. It’s a great session where I learn techniques that will help me function in life in a more balanced way– the beauty of the Ayurvedic health system is that it considers all aspects of our lifestyles including our relationships, physical self, mental state, career choices, social and family life.
Although I am not thrilled about Dr. Aparna’s suggestion to give up my morning espressos, I do warm to other sound nutritional advice. Later, over lentil kitcheree (we are served delicious Ayurvedic-inspired meals throughout the retreat), Dr. Aparna reveals one of her dreams is to help people suffering alcohol addictions. The way her eyes light up when she shares with me her vision, I know in my heart she is the real deal.
It’s a cozy retreat group of around twelve spirited souls from all walks of life – pretty much 5-50 men and women including New York bankers, London lawyers and seasoned yogi’s and vegans from Australia and Europe. There is much laughter around the communal dining table – each and everyone has a story to share reminding me that slowing down and being more present is yet another benefit of taking time out for retreat.
The accommodation is traditional Bali and feels very tranquil – there really isn’t a better way to restore the soul than relaxing on a verandah sipping ginger tea as you inhale the scents of fragrant rice fields and greenery that is unique to Bali.
Over the next seven heavenly days we experience twice-daily yoga, meditation, ricefield walks, Ayurveda meals tailored to our ‘dosha’, a day of detox with the highpoint – a glorious day of pure and astounding silence where we force ourselves to detach from our digital devices as another pathway to presence. There are also several unique Balinese cultural experiences including a ‘wow’ fire cleansing ceremony and a memorable visit to a Hindu temple where we dress in traditional sarongs and bathe in temple water and priest blessings.
Yoga-wise, while I haven’t practiced many down-face-dogs over the last decade (as my body found its home in Pilates), I fell in love with yoga instructor Wayan Partawan’s slow-moving and mind-melting classes. The way he coaxed me through transitions that eased me gracefully from a down-face dog to Trikonasa felt so wholesome for my mind and body. After a ten-year yoga sabbatical, I am back into it!
Saving the best for last – the Ayurvedic spa treatments were mind-blowing!. As the former Editor-in-Chief of Spa Asia magazine plus author of four books on spas, dare I say I know a thing or two about spas. ONEWORLD retreats offers spa treatments that are of a ‘five-star standard on a shoe-string’. Don’t miss the signature two-hour Chakra Dhara and their newly devised Abhyanga Massage. The sensation of warm medicated oil poured generously over your forehead and body is transforming. Dr. Aparna has helped train the team in all the Ayurvedic treatments.
The beauty of a retreat is that with all the right components in place including location, food, movement modalities and education, one has the opportunity to evolve to the next level in their wellbeing. Ultimately, it was Dr. Aparana’s wisdom that, three months later, I still find myself integrating into my daily life. Feeling sluggish? I spice it up a bit with some chilli flakes sprinkled on my rice. When I notice my new partner looks a little agitated, I have the tools to cool him down with some soothing words or suggest we share a coconut water or go for a swim!
For those seeking to live a more harmonious life and in tune with nature, others and themselves then Ayurveda is undoubtedly a health system worth exploring. And what better way to get a taste of Ayurveda than at a retreat on the magical island of Bali.
ONEWORLD ayurveda is now open! www.oneworldayurveda.com
Retreat Dates 2017:
19 – 25 February
19 – 25 March
25 June – 1 July
8 – 14 October
About the Author – JUDY CHAPMAN
Australian-born Judy Chapman is the former Editor-in-Chief of ‘Spa Asia’ magazine and the previous spa columnist for Wellbeing Magazine and author of 4 non-fiction books on spas and health. Over the past 20 years she has traveled the world, exploring, consulting & creating award winning spa concepts, beauty & treatment experiences. Her travels have taken her through the Himalayas spending time with Tibetan & Ayurvedic doctors and yoga masters as well as onsen trips through Japan to the spas of France, Germany & Prague. Read more…
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