Wellness Retreats for a Relaxing Getaway
Open skies, wheels in motion and constantly hopping from one beautiful place to another, that’s a joyful life. But extensive travel in the past year had taken its toll on me. Tiredness burst out in the form of aches and constant desire to sleep. The joints were creaking and swollen feet couldn’t be slipped into shoes.
I did try some spas and massages, even homeopathic medicine. But there was no major relief, and I couldn’t exercise too. Pain killers were not an option though I did increase my intake of vitamins.
Then I discovered Naad Wellness on Facebook. This newly opened wellness centre was just a 90-minute drive from my home in Delhi.
Naad’s tagline stated ‘For A Sound You’. The promise: reconnect you to your true self and help restore the balance between the five senses through Ayurveda, naturopathy, yoga and organic cuisine.
To me, this was music. Naad does mean euphony. It offered different packages and the minimum stay was three nights. All the holistic therapies along with these traditional lines of medicine have been proven to be change agents for me. Their value lies in offering a lifestyle shift with change in habits to make the body, mind and soul healthy.
Also, these traditional therapies are rooted in the Indian sub-continent and there are ancient texts which give herb and plant-based formulas for recovery from various diseases. And of course a little TLC never harmed anyone.
In response to its popularity, in 1970 the Indian Medical Central Council Act standardised qualifications for Ayurveda practitioners and ensured that there were accredited institutions. Then the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) was established under the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in 1971.
So, there are certified institutions and certified doctors and two of these bright ones are in Naad -- Dr Hrishikesh Ashok, the centre’s Chief Ayurveda Consultant, and Dr Sofia Mudda, its Chief Naturopathy Consultant.
This sounded just the place that could bring my tired and painful bones back to their normal self. Three nights it was then for a ‘Naad Experience’. The packages actually go up to 28 nights.
Well, the sense of ‘see’ certainly comes into sync as everything in the luxury retreat spelled calm. Soothing shades of green and orange marked the corridors and the wooden furniture was light.
Within the 39 rooms were different categories. Mine was a Royal Suite with a private terrace overlooking the garden and a door in the corridor led to the plunge pool.
The air in this part of the country is quite good for it is not yet a concrete jungle. It is surrounded by green fields and the centre also sources its vegetables from these.
Passing through the fragrant corridors, resonating with soothing music, I was told that the dress code was a white kurta and pyjama. Along with this came clean rubber slippers. How I wished I hadn’t packed so much stuff. Just a small bag with toothbrush and some necessities would have worked. A pair of sneakers helps for there is a gym. I did bring my laptop though.
The experience began with a consultation with the docs -- that’s the sense of sound. Height, weight, habits and lifestyle checked, a schedule was handed to me. Time is of utmost importance for the purpose is to restore the body’s natural cycle. It’s the shift or neglect that becomes the root cause of problems.
The days began with yoga at 7am, a glass of fresh juice and someone came to fetch me for a 60-minute massage. Then more juice, lunch, some rest, another round of massage, fresh juice and dinner at 7.30pm. Around 9pm my bedtime beverage -- warm milk and jaggery in my case -- would arrive and off to sleep.
Feel, smell and taste
Each day had a different therapy, awakening a different sense. The food and therapies are based on the requirements, and decided post consultation. The list is long.
So, on the first day was the light aromatherapy massage, working as a gentle opener to the treatments. Smell and feel combined to relax the mind and the body.
The cuisine is customised to match each person’s dosha—vata, pitta and kapha. Only the practitioners can explain these better. For the common man, pitta is fire, vata is air and kapha is mucus or density. In my case, I got a good dose of green lentil-pumpkin-pea soups, raw salads, green veggies and even halwa made of ragi and jaggery (Indian dessert).
The food was delicious and absolutely fresh. The man who rules the kitchen, Chef Sekh Sahajan has been trained at Ayushakti (an Ayurvedic hospital in Mumbai), and is writing a book on healthy recipes.
The drinks allowed were fresh juice, ginger and lemongrass tea. In my case, this worked fine as I have given up on tea and coffee. If you can’t do without these, then the doc will find a solution. But retreats are about a shift!
In the next two days, there were two therapies daily. Abhayagam is a traditional Ayurvedic massage in which two masseuse work in perfect symphony. This helped in unwinding and breaking the stress knots. Following this, I went in to breathe some natural salt in the pink Himalayan Salt Cave. The salt comes from Pakistan and this treatment purifies the lungs.
The Therapeutic massage was acupressure mingled with different movements, like drumming, percussions and rotations. The acupressure tells you exactly in which organ the problem lies—in my case, the colon, for a certain point in the sole of my feet had blinding pain.
The blue Turkish Hammam was a relaxant. This begins with a massage with Shanti oil, then comes a salt scrub and 10 minutes of steam, and finally a plunge into the Jacuzzi.
Choodnaswedam was the potli or cloth bag massage. The little cloth bag is filled with powdered herbs to relieve pain and then rubbed all over the body for a good 60 minutes. This bag can be used three times on the patient. My stay also ended with this cloth bag treatment. There are different herbs in case you chose to go for weight loss.
In between, I got a dental check-up and scaling done.
The centre is the brainchild of five people. Manoj Khetan, who takes care of the operations, told me that the vision is good health for all. So, there’s a dedicated walking track, pavilion for hanging yoga, swimming pool, tennis and badminton courts, a golfing area on the terrace. “We want people to be physically active as everyone seems to be glued to the digital world,” he said.
What might be nice to try out is the yin and yang walk for natural acupressure. A circular area with plants is designed in the shape of yin and yang. Imagine walking on a river bed, that’s what this is like, only there’s no water so you don’t slip.
The centre has been designed keeping in mind the healing power of nature, hence oxygen-giving indoor plants are found in practically every nook and corner. “Flowers are beautiful but these plants keep the air pure,” Khetan elucidated over dinner.
The tiles are made of recycled material and sourced from Rajkot in Gujarat. Even the blue tiles for the hammam are handcrafted. The furniture has been coated with linseed oil, no chemical varnish. The amenities come from Purearth, a company which uses organic plants and herbs from the Himalayas.
A small bookshelf holds some interesting fiction and non-fiction books. I managed to read Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns which was on my bucket list for a long time, sunk into the comfortable sofa. The Wi-Fi did keep me connected to the world. Should you like to look pretty, there is a salon too.
But there’s a lot that you need to forget such as TV, alcohol, smoking, non-vegetarian food, and loud music.
The crispy whites that you wear are laundered by a firm that specialises in hospital laundry. “We have given Crocs to the staff as they stand for long hours,” said Khetan. “Our focus is on good soft skills. Sometimes, they face a language issue, but are always polite and caring.” Privacy is of prime and someone ensures that the corridor is empty when you come for a massage to the rooms. They are named after the seven chakras. There is a music therapy room too.
The centre is also planning to tie up with medical insurance companies to facilitate easy payments.
A new me
Three nights passed so fast. In between therapies, I would listen to the song of the birds sitting on the terrace, watch the butterflies and one evening even a rainbow came to meet me. I came back sans the pain, the creaking knees and the tired mind. My tan had disappeared after the Purearth facial. And on my kitchen board is stuck a diet plan that Dr Sofia designed keeping my travel genes in mind. Sometimes the best ways to unwind are through green journeys.
Reaching Naad Wellness
The centre is located in Sonipat, about 40 km north of Delhi, and around two hours drive from the Indira Gandhi International Airport.
Header image: Jared Rice