However, if you are considering an Ayurveda retreat, and wondering what it might be like, then this post is definitely for you. Armed with this information, you will be able to decide whether to go ahead and push the button on your booking, or run for the hills crying ‘not for me’.
So here are five strange things about Ayurveda Retreats you should be aware of beforehand.
You will get naked a LOT
Now don’t worry, an Ayurveda retreat is not an orgy (shame) or bizarre cult (could also be a shame, depending on what you’re into), but you will be enjoying two treatments a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Treatments are usually conducted with you in the buff, or as near as dammit. Some resorts may give paper underwear, but it is more a token gesture, than any real protection for modesty.
This may be very much the norm in India, and indeed in other parts of Europe, but in the UK (and US), we tend to scoot under a ton of towels to protect our modesty, before indulging in a relaxing massage.
Your first day of treatments can seem a bit bizarre, but soon you will be doffing off with glee. It’s quite incredible how India liberates your inner nudist!
You will have some unusual treatments
For those accustomed to aromatherapy, Swedish or sports massages, you may find the treatments in an Indian Ayurveda centre a little bizarre.
Massages here are a little alien to those in the West, but do not let that put you off. They are bloody amazing!
They are quick, slick (so much oil you will know what it feels like to be a deep fried chip!) but oh so calming. I literally drift off the table at the end, after needing a helping hand from the therapist so light headed do I feel.
I drift off into endless vivid daydreams during the session, something I am incapable of in the UK, such is the speed of thoughts racing through my mind.
You will often have two therapists (and maybe a watcher)
No I don’t mean a voyeur. The watcher is a trainee therapist, just what you need when your modesty is already feeling a little exposed.
Many treatments in India are conducted by two therapists (think four stone massage!) which makes for incredibly invigorating, and relaxing treatments.
It’s quite unbelievable just how synchronised they are too.
You will get food
Perhaps I should say maybe you will get food, as much does depend on what retreat you book, and what programme you opt for. My husband was pleasantly surprised at Devaaya to discover that food was served, and in spicy abundance.
Banana curry, moong dhal, Jalfrezis and lush wheat breads are all served buffet style meaning you won’t go hungry. If food is critical to your holiday happiness, be sure to check the policy of your proposed retreat before booking.
I had a much more extreme (amazing nonetheless) experience last year, where I was perpetually starving (I did lose five pounds in ten days though).
You will have a routine (and be expected to follow it)
Ayurveda retreats are a cross between a spa and a rehab facility. Yes, you receive lots of treatments, but there is also a timetable of yoga, meditation, yogic Kriyas and talks.
No one is going to give you a long lecture if you miss a session, but it is frowned upon. On arrival you are greeted with a welcome drink, and a reminder of the rules. There is no alcohol, smoking, caffeine or sugar. Even if you leave the resort on an outing, you are expected to abide by the rules.
This might sound like holiday hell, but it is surprisingly liberating to just do as you are told. Well, it is if you are a control freak like me!!
So there you have it, five things you should know before you go ahead and book a retreat, but here is the only thing you really need to know…
An Ayurveda retreat is amazing for your body and soul
Retreats can have an amazing effect on your body, whether you want to lose weight, detox or de-stress, however it has a completely transformative effect on your mind.
Within days of arriving, I can feel months of stress dissolving under the practised hands of the therapists.
There may be restrictions, but each is designed with your health and wellbeing in mind, so book that trip, go with an open mind, and prepare to be amazed!
Author: Anne Slater-Brooks