The folk at Oneworld Retreats in Bali have been running yoga and wellness retreats for over a decade now and really know what they are doing. In December 2016 they launched Bali's firstAyurveda Panchakarma center 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 held in December 2015. To clarify, Ayurveda is a centuries-old medicine system originating from India that is regarded by many as a well-respected modality to rebalance 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 respected Ayurvedic hospital in Kerala, Southern India.
During my Ayurvedic 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 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 50-50 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 – everyone has a story to share. The connections formed during the retreat remind me that slowing down and being 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, Ayurvedic-inspired meals tailored to our 'dosa' and a day of detox with the highpoint being 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 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 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 a good quality treatment. Oneworld Retreats offers Ayurvedic healing experiences that are five-star standard yet very affordable. 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, 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 opens in the central hills of Ubud in Bali in September 2016 - www.oneworldayurveda.com
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. ...read more >
We are a team of tuned-in wellness explorers who love to travel the world, seeking and experiencing high-vibraiton healing, spas and retreats, nourishing foods, yoga, dance and fitness - all of which results in a curation of the best of the best in wellness travel.