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India’s Yoga Hotspots

As we celebrate International Yoga Day on June 21, Food & Hospitality World explores some of the well-known and some not so well-known, wellness abodes in India

Ananda In the Himalayas, Narendra Nagar

Ananda In the Himalayas, Narendra Nagar

Ananda in the Himalayas is a luxury destination spa in the region of Narendra Nagar in Uttarakhand. It is situated in the beautiful 100-acre Himalayan mountain estate amidst sal forests which overlooks the river Ganges. Established in 2001, Ananda in the Himalayas was India’s first destination spa. Quite close to the towns of Rishikesh and Haridwar, Ananda concentrates on yoga and Ayurvedic practices which are then combined with international spa therapies. The spa also focuses on a diet that resonates with the principles of Ayurveda. Several celebrities have frequented Ananda like Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates and Melinda Gates, Kate Winslet, Deepak Chopra, Nicole Kidman, Ricky Martin, Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. The spa packages offered here coupled with the rich heritage of the place makes it quite appealing for tourists all around the world. There are frequent flights from Delhi International Airport to Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun. The flight time is 45 minutes followed by a 40 min drive to Ananda in the Himalayas.

Soukya, Bengaluru

Soukya, Bengaluru

Soukya, popularly known as Dr Mathai’s International Holistic Health Centre is a renowned wellness destination located in the Silicon City of India, Bengaluru. Housed amidst serene garden cover spread across 30 acres of eco-organic land, the centre offers every pre-requisite for one’s holistic well-being. There are several factors that make Soukya different from spas and other healing centers and resorts around the world, including the fact that it is a residential integrative medical facility that is the first of its kind in the world. The centre has a well-built infrastructure with a 30-acre organic farm housing exotic species of vegetation and flowering trees with fruit orchards. Soukya was established with international collaboration from world renowned health centres in the USA and Europe. The centre is in collaboration with the International Holistic Health Association.

Atmantan Wellness Resort, Pune

Atmantan Wellness Resort, Pune

Atmantan, a luxurious wellness resort in Mulshi region of Pune integrates the traditional Indian healing practices with international therapies and modern fitness techniques for holistic healing. Atmantan is the divine amalgamation of Atma (soul), Mana (mind), and Tann (body) that encompasses the resort’s integrated approach to wellness. Atmantan Corporate Wellness Programme enables individuals to deal more effectively with stress at the work place; and strike a healthy work-life balance. The customised programme includes interactive workshops on stress management, heart health; metabolic rate and energy balance diagnostics, etc. The restaurants here bring in produce from the local gardens or the nearby farms to retain the freshness of meals. The outdoor meditation pavilions – Dhyana and the ampitheatre Prana, provide with some inspiring places to meditate, relax and indulge in soul searching. Healthy cooking techniques are used such as braising, steaming, poaching and grilling. Atmantan can be reached within 90 minutes from the Pune International Airport.

The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa, Gulmarg

The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa, Gulmarg

The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa in Gulmarg is located in the Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas, covering seven acres of a coniferous forest. The 85 key resort is a beautiful showcase of architectural heritage of Kashmir. Nestled in the Himalayas, 8,825 feet above sea level and ensconced amidst pristine nature, The Khyber Spa by L’Occitane offers luxurious and holistic well-being experiences. The spa brings to life the changing seasons of Gulmarg with signature treatments where guests are encouraged to choose from a repertoire of home grown seasonal flora which are mixed with natural L’Occitane products and fresh Himalayan water to create fusion recipes for the treatment. Treatments include Deep Tissue Intense Relief, Shea Nourishing Scrub, Revitalizing Aromachologie Massage, Re-Energizing Sun Stones, Signature Lemon Balm-Sandal Wrap, Almond Silhouette Reshape, Area-Focused Treatments, etc. The well-being baths provides a relaxing prelude or finale that leaves the skin and the mind perfectly prepared and truly receptive to the benefits of a treatment.

Shreyas Retreat, Bengaluru

Shreyas Retreat, Bengaluru

Bengaluru has established itself as a wellness hub of India, and among its best known names is Shreyas Retreat. Located an hour’s drive from the airport, Shreyas has 12 cottages spread over 25 acres of landscaped greenery, water bodies and organic gardens, the guests are able to commune with nature and benefit from its healing power. Yogasana classes at Shreyas are based on both classical Hatha Yoga and Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. For guests who would like to delve deeper into the ancient spiritual tradition of yoga, a yoga retreat is structured carefully to allow them to experience not just the physical aspects of yoga but also karma yoga (selfless work), various yogic kriyas, yoga nidra (deep relaxation), chakrashuddhi and Trataka (candle meditation), rejuvenating massages, etc. When it comes to food, all cooking at Shreyas starts with the chanting of a prayer, while the chefs prepare dishes inspired by their travels around the world; Indian, Continental, Mexican and Oriental gourmet vegetarian cuisine. There is an open air amphitheatre which is the stage for classical dances and musical soirees, while the library offers books on yoga, spirituality, and other subjects.

Yab Yum Resort, Ashwem Beach

Yab Yum Resort, Ashwem Beach

Yab Yum Resort that borders Ashwem Beach in north Goa is one such idyllic destination where one can enjoy a quintessential Goa vacation along with focusing on rejuvenating your mind, body and soul. The resort’s Yoga Shala’s simplistic and minimalistic form was designed with intention. The Yoga Shala has three walls, with thatched roof allowing for maximum air circulation. Half of the remaining fourth wall allows a beautiful view into the lush gardens, also allowing natural light in. It is fully stocked with yoga mats, blocks, straps and bolsters, allowing each class, person or style to be accommodated. The resort welcomes those yoga teachers who wish to bring a group to stay in north Goa for a few days or even weeks. Some groups just pay for accommodation and use the shala once per day. For other groups group dinners, massage sessions, and more are organised.Years of careful planting and landscaping have made Yab Yum an idyllic, shady oasis; somewhere to relax, eat, drink and de-stress, also perfect as a base to explore the northern half of the state.

Carnoustie Ayurveda & Wellness Resort, Alappuzha

Carnoustie Ayurveda & Wellness Resort, Alappuzha

Carnoustie Ayurveda & Wellness Resort is set on the shores of the Arabian Sea, just eight kms away from the famous backwaters of Alappuzha. At Carnoustie, physical, mental and spiritual well-being is considered as the ‘soul’ focus to reach a state of optimal health and guests can achieve this through different types of yoga like the Classic Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, etc. The Rejuvenation programme held here includes Abhyangam which is a famous body massage in ayurveda and it can be used therapeutically and the massage is customised according to each individual, to suit his or her disease or condition. Shirodhara, another form of Ayurveda therapy practiced here that involves gently pouring liquids over the forehead, or otherwise called the ‘third eye’. The liquids used in shirodhara depend on what is being treated, but can include milk, buttermilk, oil,coconut water, or even plain water. The resorts offers a range of products to make sure that the guest is taken care of long after he or she leaves the resorts. For example, the Carnoustie Milkthistle Organic Tea has been used for over 2,000 years in European culture and is popularly known as a miracle cure for liver problems.

SwaSwara, Gokarna

SwaSwara, Gokarna

The resort in Gokarna on Om Beach enables guests to hear the ‘voice of the inner self’. SwaSwara is a sanctuary for one’s Prakruti or the innermost nature of an individual and its goal is to offer a life plan for the ‘reconstruction’ of the mind and body to bring about balance and harmony within. SwaSwara’s signature programme ‘Swa Wellbeing’ is about learning to rejuvenate the SwaSwara way. The programme begins with an introduction to Yogic Kriyas, Yoga Nidra, Pranayama, meditation techniques, guided art and pottery sessions and interactive cooking. SwaSwara believes in the proverb ‘you are what you eat’ and for this purpose the diet provided here is well-planned and appropriate. Guests can visit the interactive kitchen gallery to understand and partake in the intensive and complex culinary process dedicated to wellbeing. All the produce comes from the organic vegetable farm at SwaSwara and the neighbourhood consists of seasonal tropical fruits and freshly caught seafood. Dairy, eggs and oils are limited in its preparations. The menu does not feature meats, hard liquor, refined sugar or refined flour.

Vana Malsi Estate, Dehradun

Vana Malsi Estate, Dehradun

The Vana Malsi Estate is situated in Dehradun in the Doon Valley. The 82-room hilltop retreat is filled with luxury and is set amidst an organic kitchen and herb gardens in a sal-tree reserve. The yoga capital Rishikesh is only a two-hour drive south so guests can join the pilgrims and sadhus on the banks of the river Ganges and experience a puja (offering). Vana offers Sowa Rigpa, the Tibet’s traditional system of medicine which finds it roots in Ayurveda, Chinese medicine and Buddhism. The cuisine at Vana connects many aspects of Vana’s philosophy. The philosophy believes that what one puts into the stomach will definitely act to nourish, heal or harm. Vana tries to awaken traditional values and cultural nuances from India and its menus include vegetarian and vegan choices as well as thoughtfully sourced meat, fish and poultry. The cuisine team produces everything from bread and butter to wasabi and ice creams in the kitchens. The team has successfully prepared traditional Indian bhojans at the Siddhartha Festival and Vidyaloke and based on principles of Ayurveda, Sowa Rigpa, contemporary western nutrition and naturopathy, Vana’s apothecary creates infusions, decoctions, topical applications and herb mixtures.

Neeleshwar Hermitage, Kasaragod

Neeleshwar Hermitage, Kasaragod

Neeleshwar Hermitage lies on the shores of the Arabian Sea in Northern Kerala. It is surrounded by gardens of hibiscus and frangipani, and the light and airy palm-roofed cottages blend the traditional Keralan architecture with the new modern design. One of the key wellness programmes here is The Priya Ayurvedic Spa. One of the meditation courses available here is the Prana Energising Technique, which is a technique of yoga in which one can use their Prana Shakthi to energise their entire body and each and every system of the body can be revitalised by this process. Transcendental Meditation (TM) involves the use of a sound or mantra, and can be practiced for 15-20 minutes twice per day. Another interesting feature of Neeleshwar hermitage is that it trains young village men and women to serve meals, drinks and take care of the guests here. The Hermitage offers special experiences like ‘Connecting with the Source’ which is a course based on traditional wisdom of the Vedic philosophy and it will teach visitors an easy and enjoyable way to contact this field and enjoy its benefits.

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