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Need a break? How about an Ayurvedic Retreat?

Contributed by Jessica Titlebaum

Last year around this time, I was in bad shape and desperately needed a nice long break from work. My feet were killing me from wearing heels for the past two years. Most nights, I was snoring in the my cubicle loud enough for my boss to tap me on the shoulder and tell me to go home. I was exhausted, work was overwhelming and my vacation time was calling my name…

I decided that I wanted to go somewhere far away and exotic and I was interested in doing yoga or something else that would be healthy and regenerative. So, when I stumbled upon an article in Travel & Leisure magazine about Ayurvedic retreats in India, it sounded perfect. I learned that practitioners at Ayurvedic medical facilities believe that the mind, body and soul are controlled by energies and natural forces. Thus, they teach that if we understand the way these forces work, we can control our health and happiness. That was all I needed to hear to start researching 14-day Ayurvedic resort spa packages.

I picked the Ayurveda & Yoga Retreat in Connoor, India after plenty of internet research and glowing recommendations. When I touched down in India and arrived at the retreat, I checked out my accommodations, which consisted of a hut on the edge of a mountain, among green tea plantations. The garden outside grew herbs and plants that were used to prepare our meals. Every morning, we had delicious breakfasts of exotic fruit like bananas, mangos, coconuts, and pomegranate. We ate all our meals on white lawn furniture outside. I thought, I could really get used to this.

Though the women at the center were enjoying themselves immensely, the men hated it. There was an English bloke named Richard who was only at the retreat because his wife made him go. I would buy him cigarettes when I went into town for chocolate and sneak them back to him. I remember he saw the doctor sneaking a cigarette break once and he whispered that he saw doc smoking ‘a crafty fag.’

We woke up every morning to a dark sky and were instructed to ingest this gross tar medication. It was supposed to help with stress and letting the mind relax, but all it did was make me want to vomit. After I gulped the liquid, I would walk uphill to the yoga hut and take my sandals off at the door. Suggan, my favorite resort staffer, would be starting a small fire in the fireplace. I was usually one of the first guests to arrive. As more people trickled in, we would huddle around Suggan and the fire until our instructor started the stretching exercises. The sun would slowly begin to rise and reveal full length windows looking out on golden mountains. It was so refreshing to breathe in the fresh morning air each day while practicing yoga.

I also underwent a variety of Ayurvedic treatments at the center. They consisted of massages to get my energies flowing in the right direction and hot oil slowly poured onto my forehead to soothe my mind. My treatments were done by two wonderful Indian Ayurvedic therapists named Lali and Neela. They would explain what every treatment aimed to cure and describe each of the herbs and ingredients in the oils. If I asked, they would also tell me stories about their arranged marriages and their children, who lived in the nearby villages. It was a fascinating experience, physically, culturally and psychologically.

My trip was the breath of fresh air I needed to recharge my batteries. I’ve thought about going back again and bringing my mother next time. My trip to India accomplished one important goal: it calmed me down. However, I could use another two weeks there that I don’t have. For now, I have to be content writing about my Ayurveda escape. However, if you have some vacation time coming up and itch to escape the rat race for a short while….tell Rehka that I say hi.

For more information or to book an Ayurvedic retreat of your own, check out www.ayurveda.org