#ELLELifestyle: Experience Ancient Healing & Modern Science At This Idyllic Wellness Retreat
Uttarakhand's Vana promises a journey of self-awareness, discovery and wellbeing
Wellness is associated with happiness, inner balance and consciousness. When you’re happy, you’re feeling good in your mind and body and that automatically ties into being healthy, eating well, and exercising regularly. It also ties into being excited about the little things of life – like getting up in the morning and having a healthy breakfast, going out for a walk, sitting in the park, reading your favourite book or sipping a hot cup of coffee just by yourself. Unfortunately, as we all know, the pandemic has left most of us confused, irritated and anxious. Our mental, physical and emotional health is at an all-time low and as much as we recognize this and would want to address it, most of us don’t know where to begin from.
I recently found my solace at Vana, an impressive, idyllic wellness retreat located a short drive from Dehradun in the northern state of Uttarakhand. Surrounded by clusters of reserve Sal forest, the 20-acre wellness retreat promises to make time stand still. Designed by the Spanish firm Esteva i Esteva, Vana is both dramatic and serene. While the exteriors are sculptured sleek stone and sheer glass, modernist polished buildings; the interiors are warm, soothing and calm with wall-to-ceiling windows overlooking the trees and hills. Pebbled pathways and stone walls gently embrace the bamboo groves evoking a sense of wellbeing and peace. The retreat has 82 guest rooms and suites, over 50 Ayurvedic healing treatments, a Tibetan healing centre, yoga studios, an indoor and outdoor pool, a state-of-the-art gym, and many other facilities. Brainchild of Veer Singh, Vana is a place to escape to, to discover, to be still in, and to heal.
With equality and simplicity as the core fundamentals, Vana’s USP lies in its philosophy. Right from the time one steps into this scenic sanctuary, Vanavasis, as the guests are fondly called, are urged to step out of their social personas as they settle into their individual wellness programs. Whether it’s the super comfy Abraham & Thakore white linen kurta-pyjamas, the uniform for all guests; the simple yet high-nutritional curated cuisine or the disciplined yet flexible daily customised programs – harmony, nourishment and wellbeing is of utmost importance at Vana. From this philosophy arises a sentiment that Vana is a leveller, where material differences are left outside, and people connect with each other and nature without any hindrances.
Vana’s wellness program is based on the concepts of Ayurveda, Yoga and Sowa Rigpa (Tibetan medicine). The program begins with a personalised interaction with the retreat’s in-house doctors who analyse and study each person’s physical and emotional issues. No two programs are the same. Based on the findings and the goal of the Vanavasi, a customised itinerary is prepared, which is a mix of treatments, yoga sessions, exercise and resting. Quiet reflection time is an important part of the healing process at Vana. It is believed that personal reflection, intuition, contemplation and practice further deepen the journey.
Therapies play a vital role in the healing process and keep evolving. Some treatments are meant to strengthen body organs, while others are designed for cut through energies and deep emotions. For example, reflexology helps in removing stubborn energy blocks to improve organ function. Physiotherapy works to manage pain, improve body alignment and generate mental and emotional release. Specific spa treatments and raag (music) therapy provoke deep relaxation, heal sleeping issues and induce rest. My personal favourite was the Tibetan Ku Nye massage where the therapist whispered Sanskrit mantras into my ears while pressing hot pods into energy channels to release negativity and clear emotional blocks.
The Vana cuisine is an extension of the retreat’s philosophy. The menus are a mix of vegetarian and vegan options as well as mindfully sourced meat, fish and poultry. From breads, butter to ice-creams and raw vegetables, everything is locally produced and in line with Indian traditions and culture. The retreat also takes its commitment to ecology very seriously; all bed and bath linen is 100% organic and the bottling plant saves over 100,000 plastic bottles a year. Two restaurants, a juice bar, over 500 pieces of art, a library, music room, boutique, organic gardens and views of the Himalayan foothills ensure that the guests have access to a range of activities and facilities to enjoy outside their retreat program.
It takes a day or two to settle into the ‘Vana routine’ and the entire program slowly grows onto a person. My journey was filled with revelations of all kinds– revelations about myself, my health and my inner being. In a nutshell, if your aspiration is to rest, heal your body, be creative, eat well, develop awareness, find stillness, and make progress in one’s personal practice and inner journey; then Vana could be your calling.
Picture Courtesy: Vana
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