Treat yourself to Ayurveda, the European way
The mobile is ringing, there are emails unopened and twitter is in constant flow .. Lifestyles of today come with complimentary stress, and unhealthy diets which all agitate our natural body’s balance. Most of us live in this fast-paced world controlled by technology. Have we lost 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?
A quick flight to Innsbruck on EasyJet and just under an hours drive later, I’m in a setting which could be straight from The Sound of Music, that is if you are of an age to remember it! The hills are alive topped with snow and homes clinging to their sides. The air is fresh and pollution-free and there’s no mobile signal, peace! Here my technology gadgets and accessories are replaced with church bells ringing in synchrony with the collar bells attached to goats grazing, solitude, silence, stillness. What better setting for an Ayurveda Resort amidst this cradle of tranquillity in Hinterthiersee.
The Ayurveda Sonnhof Resort has adopted and integrated this ancient medicinal discipline and philosophy and infused it with a flavour that is more in tune with its European culture, climate and cuisine. And of course, it’s more accessible. With little available time to head off to India for Ayurveda treatment, I chose to travel closer to home to trial the European version for four days – no jet lag, or Asian cultural obstacles to deal with.
This family-run resort is contemporary and Tyrolean, warm, friendly and caring. Throughout is an ambience of calm and intimacy and visually reflected by a décor of the colour purple alongside local timber panels exuding an earthy feel while pieces of handcrafted sculpture dotted around gives the all-important spiritual energy.
My first introduction was a consultation with the resident Ayurvedic doctor. His pulse diagnosis was an accurate, informative assessment presented with humour and an in-depth knowledge of Ayurvedic doctrines and healings. Soon I was clutching my day’s activities, based on my particular symptoms and constitution. A combination of herbal medicine, a nutrition programme, detox and complementary treatments made up my therapy plan.
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. Once our Doshas (bio-energies) are disturbed, the body becomes imbalanced and causes illness. Diagnostic ayurvedic treatments can help to restore the imbalance.
Upana is an Alpine salt and oil scrub – it’s not for the faint hearted – it’s vigorous and stimulating. The treatment is used to release stressful energy and strengthen the immune system in preparation for cleansing and detoxifying followed by a stint in the designated sauna to seal in the curative properties.
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 a denoted as the gemstone and saltwater therapy. There are several infra-red cabins a small gym, an indoor pool and various relaxation areas.
Meal times are quiet and pleasant, time to contemplate life. Each guest has an assigned table, a daily personalised agenda which offers personal encouragement and affirmations. If dining without a designated nutrition plan, dishes are varied, seasonal, colourful and artistically presented. For those of us on a stricter regime, the simple delicate detox dishes are served with encouragement and a smile.
Day two commenced with a “purging cocktail” concocted to rid the body of toxins and waste products and administered by the medical team. The remainder of the morning is confined to the room – close to the much needed facilities – thank goodness for the mountain views from the balcony which offered a much welcomed distraction! A belly massage was scheduled later in the day, designed to strengthen and detoxify tissues, stimulate the lymphatic system and release any blockages.
Headaches and tiredness are natural reactions to detox in the absence of caffeine or stimulating food and drink. Shirodhara, a traditional head treatment and body massage for relieving stress-relating symptoms was conveniently timed for the third day – the ultimate treatment for deep relaxation to force away those negative and nagging thoughts.
The atmosphere is cosy, friendly and supportive. Guests share their experiences in a positive light and sympathetic of the effects endured. Many guests return for annual MOTs, some travel with supportive partners but many are here 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.
Rooms are tastefully furnished with amenities you would need for this type of stay – a hot water bottle to help with the detox, flasks for hot water and additional dressing gowns, thoughtful and considerate, just like home! With 30 rooms and a staff of 50, service levels are high. The therapists are highly trained and conversant in the European Ayurveda discipline. Those I met monitored my progress along my ayurvedic journey.
I left this inner sanctum to join the outside world, now in control of and in harmony with my senses. Consciously transformed, I appreciated the church bells and took time to watch the goats grazing. Ayurveda helps to reconnect body, mind and spirit, to be centred and in control of our senses. Technology would have to wait until I had left this movie set and the sounds of music.
There are direct flights from the UK to Innsbruck and a one hour drive from the airport by taxi
European Ayurveda Resort Sonnhof, Tyrol – Austria
7-day Pancha Karma programme from € 1,525 excl. accommodation, single rooms from €166 pp/pn
European Ayurveda Resort Sonnhof is included in the niche destinations distinctive portfolio www.niche-destinations.com