Ananda In The Himalayas Is A Refuge For City-Stressed Souls
At the outset, I must confess I am a wellness junkie. I religiously sip gallons of herbal decoctions, and abstain from coffee and milk tea. Short of applying snails’ mucus on my face, there’s little I haven’t done. Nothing can deter me from the path to inner and outer beauty. The opportunity to visit the much-awarded destination spa, Ananda in the Himalayas, located in the small hill town of Narendra Nagar in Uttarakhand, came my way while I was battling some minor health issues. I was ready to climb every mountain and follow every rainbow in search of the glow that eluded my complexion and to discard every excess pound off my waist.
Welcomed by friendly smiles, a rudraksha necklace and a spreadsheet listing the timings of my fitness, yoga, meditation and cleansing rituals for the coming week, I was bundled off to the spa. I was wary of the monkeys that are said to frequent the place, and fortunately I only sighted gorgeous peacocks during my stay. Shades of saffron and carved statues dominated the spa interiors and lent an immediate sense of tranquillity and optimism.
A consultation with the Ayurvedic doctor determines the terms of one’s treatment and stay, including the food you get to eat at the restaurant. Though I was insistent on glow-inducing pampering facials, he added medicated enema and nasal cleansing to my sheet. Politely but firmly, he warned me not to look for superficial results but to go for internal detoxification. “After a week, your body will feel new, and everything that you desire will follow,” said Dr Naresh Perumbuduri.
So for a week I was to stay away from aerated drinks, alcohol, refined flours and fried foods. With the bait of a slimmer, radiant and re-energised version of myself, I was game for it all. My road to rejuvenation began with a sea salt scrub, which not only prepares the body for other treatments but also eliminates negative energies.
The next morning, a walk in the misty green hills detached me from the humdrum of my daily stress. I didn’t let my spirits get down as I turned a blind eye to the delicious breakfast options and ordered from the wellness menu. To cheat or not to cheat was my moral dilemma during most meal times, but the gentle persuasion by the servers and active involvement of executive chef Sandeep Biswas ensured that I remained loyal to the detox diet. Soon I started relishing the nourishing recipes that prevented the feeling of fullness after meals.
Day two started on a relaxing note with a detoxifying aromatherapy massage and hydrotheraphy, both designed to activate the lymphatic system. I was advised to up my consumption of water to aid the removal of toxins. Next morning, abhyanga, a synchronised full body massage, timed perfectly after a rigorous workout, provided instant relief to my sore muscles. Later in the evening I was scheduled to try out a colon-cleansing ritual known as Sneha Vasti. Nothing in the world could have persuaded me to have medicated oils placed in my rear except for the promise of a slimmer body and glowing complexion!
Day four reinforced my belief in the phrase ‘No gain without pain’. The Stimulating Shower Blitz turned out to be, literally, a fat-fighting treatment. The thought that these forceful streams of water were working towards melting the cellulite made it bearable. And true to its claim, just after two sessions, my skin was smoother and stretch marks were visibly reduced. To reduce muscle stiffness and heal injuries, a bundle massage or Choorna Swedana was slotted. Later, my concerns of asthma and migraines were addressed through Nasyam, where medicated oil is filled into the nostrils and later expelled through inhalation of spiced fumes. The continuous massaging of the nose, neck and shoulders veers you away from any sign of distress. The day ended on a comforting note with the Earth Stone massage, which uses a combination of hot and cold basalt to strengthen the mind-body connections. For the first time in many months, I slept peacefully without a single sneeze or a niggling ache.
The next day, Mukhlepa, an Ayurvedic clean-up, left me so utterly relaxed that I forgot to even check how radiant it left my complexion. During the Aroma Cocoon, smeared with oils and wrapped up in a warm blanket, I felt as if enveloped in the comfort of a mother’s womb. One of the many firsts for me, I fell asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow.
The next two days were sprinkled with intensive rounds of Ayurvedic massages and meditation sessions. I was taught how to perform the yogic technique of Jal Neti and pranayama. Despite a lurking suspicion that the water might find its way to the ears and eyes, I surrendered myself to this practice. But my fears were put to rest and I did manage to pour the lukewarm water into one nostril and bring it out through the other one.
As I left for the airport with a promise to return, I felt divinely satiated, deeply rejuvenated and lighter both bodily and spiritually. If only all roads to well-being were as blissful this one.