If you are seeking an affordable Ayurveda retreat but don’t feel like traveling to India, then consider Oneworld Ayurveda in Bali. Oneworld Ayurveda is the island’s first Panchakarma 'detox' retreat destination and it's a goodie!
As part of the launch of Oneworld Ayurveda, I was fortunate to be invited to participate in their inaugural Ayurveda-Detox & Yoga Retreat (how could I say no?). Owners Claude Chouinard and Iyan Yaspriyana sought my expert feedback on the retreat (as the former Editor-in-Chief of Spa Asia magazine and the author of four books on spas, I guess I know a thing or two about the industry). My job was to give feedback on everything from the standard of the treatments and yoga, to the general flow of the retreat, service, and overall guest experience.
Let me start by saying that when it comes retreats, these guys know what they are doing. Claude and Iyan launched Oneworld Retreats in 2004, and have hosted thousands of wellness seekers since. However, if you envisage an upscale luxury pool villa then this place is not for you. Accommodation here is more traditional Bali-style. That said, it all feels very elegant and tranquil. Seriously, where else in the world can you relax on an open-air verandah, sip fresh ginger tea, and gaze over fragrant rice fields. The yoga bale overlooking jungly green is truly ‘wow’.
It’s a cosy group of twelve spirited souls from all walks of life. There’s a New York banker, two London lawyers, some seasoned yogis and a vegan blogger. Everyone has a story to share and there’s much laughter around the communal table during meals. The connections formed during the retreat reminded me of how essential it is to slow down and be more present with others.
The retreat began with a consultation with Dr. Aparna, who grew up watching her physician father run a reputable Ayurvedic hospital in Southern India. Through diagnoses, probing, and a rather thorough Q and A, it did not take her long to dissect me. Dr. Aparna concluded that my Ayurvedic constitution dosha was primarily made up of water (kapha) and fire (pitta) but my air element (vata) was rather off-balance. Symptoms of an unbalanced Vata may include insomnia, too many worrying thoughts, dry skin and brittle nails.
I am not thrilled about Dr. Aparna’s suggestion for me to give up my morning espresso, but I did warm to her other sound advice: go to bed at the same time each night, eat more cooked food (well I never thought the raw food lifestyle was for me anyway), take warm herbal oil massages (yes please), and avoid over-stimulating activities. It’s a great session and I depart with a tool kit of ways to keep me more calm and grounded. The beauty of the Ayurvedic health system is that it considers all aspects of our lives, including our physical and mental state, career, relationships, and spiritual wellbeing.
Later, over lentil kitcheree (we are served delicious Ayurvedic-inspired food throughout the retreat), Dr. Aparna reveals that her biggest dream is to treat people suffering alcohol addictions. Her eyes light up as she shares her vision and I know in my heart that she is the real deal.
Over the next seven heavenly days, we experience twice-daily yoga, meditation, ricefield walks and Ayurvedic-inspired meals tailored to our dosha. However, the highpoint for everyone seems to be the day of glorious silence where we are asked to detach from our digital devices and embrace quietude, reading and journal writing. Included in the retreat are Balinese cultural experiences such as a fire cleansing ceremony and a visit to a Hindu temple, where we wear traditional sarongs and bathe in sacred temple waters.
Yoga-wise, I fell in love. Even though I am a qualified yoga teacher, I have always been a somewhat reluctant yogi. Since discovering Pilates, I haven't practiced too many down-face-dogs. However, the slow-moving classes delivered by yoga instructor, Wayan Partawa, were seamless. The way Wayan coaxed us through the transitions felt so graceful. After a ten-year yoga sabbatical, I am happy to report that yoga is part of my life once more.
Saving the best for last, Oneworld Retreats offers Ayurvedic treatments that are of a five-star standard yet are mind-soothingly affordable. The treatments were, quite frankly, some of the best I’ve experienced. A must-try is their signature two-hour Chakra Dhara - the sensation of warm medicated oil poured generously over your forehead feels transforming. Unsurprisingly, the therapists have all been trained in Ayurveda by Dr. Aparna.
In summary, the retreat offers all the right elements to help you boost your wellbeing to the next level. Many of Dr. Aparana’s wisdoms have stayed with me. Feeling sluggish? Spice it up a bit with chili flakes sprinkled on rice. Can’t sleep? Take a warm shower, rub sesame oil over your body and go to bed early. Does your partner seem agitated? Suggest a dip in the ocean or a fresh coconut water to cool off. Ayurveda is definitely a health system worth exploring and where better to experience its benefits than on the magical island of Bali!
Oneworld Ayurveda opened in the central hills of Ubud in Bali in December 2016. Explore their 7, 14, 21 and 28 day Panchakarma retreats at - www.oneworldayurveda.com