Nestled among rice paddies and lush tropical jungle within the small Balinese Hindu village of Bebengan is a slice of paradise called Sukhavati Ayurvedic Retreat and Spa.
You feel like you’ve stepped into a world too beautiful to be real as you enter Sukhavati, where you are greeted with the smell of frangipanis and incense and the mesmerising site of abundant lush greenery, bougainvillea and other tropical blooms as you descend what can only be described as a stairway to heaven.
Waking up each morning to the cacophony of noises from the surrounding jungle – birds, swaying trees, roosters crowing, the ‘oinking’ of pigs, ghekoes and the nearby waterfall – you really feel like you’ve ventured into the wild.
The Sukhavati experience is centred on the Ayurvedic belief system. Ayur- what? I hear you ask? Ayurveda means the ‘science of life’. With origins in India thousand of years ago, it’s based on the profound insights and laws of nature. It’s practiced worldwide and is recognised as a unique, holistic and practical system of health.
Ayurveda is gaining popularity in the western world and I’ve taken a fascination with this ancient system of healing for a number of reasons:
– It’s holistic (mind body)
– It’s proactive and preventative
– It addresses the root causes (imbalances) of health issues rather than just treating the symptoms
– Methods of treatment are all natural
Ayurveda promotes prevention, longevity and rejuvenation by focusing on getting the right balance of the three doshas – that is your unique body and mind constitution. It looks at how these are effected by genetics, the environment, our lifestyles, and the food we eat. Treatments include massage, meditation, yoga, herbal nutrition and diet.
Doshas are the three basic governing principle (Vata, Pitta and Kapha), which in their balanced state are responsible for maintaining health . Everyone has their own balance of Vata, Pitta and Kapha – an initial consultation with Dr Raju (the resident Ayurvedic doctor at Sukhavati) will identify yours and you’ll be prescribed a Pancha Karma (detoxification) program tailored to your needs to get get things back in balance.
I was blown away by how much he could tell after a good 10 minutes of listening intently to my pulse. My Pitta and Vata is out of whack, so I was told to avoid any foods that create heat (i.e. ginger, chilli, salt, mint, apple cider vinegar – all things I was consuming daily) and prescribed a program of treatments that would support my body through the detoxification process, as well as plenty of rest and relaxation – hey, I wasn’t going to argue with Doctor’s orders, was I?
A day at Sukhavati goes a little something like this…
– walk through the local village
– daily massage treatment
– daily consult with Dr Raju
– free time / Ayurveda talk / cooking class
– Mocktail on the deck
You are welcome to venture out of the retreat if you like – if you do, I guarantee you won’t last long. You’re advised not to over exert yourself or do too much during Pancha Karma, and why would you escape when you can enjoy such blissful surrounds?
I made a sunset excursion to Tanah Lot temple but the throngs of tourists were a far from the peace and quiet of Sukhavati.
The treatments at Sukhavati are next level, as much for the setting as the treatments themselves, with massage rooms perched above the river, the sound of trickling water, sun light beaming in and the cooling effect of the lush green rainforest. My favourite was the Shirodhara – think warm herbal oil poured onto your head continuously for 20 minutes, easing you into the deepest state of relaxation. Oh, what, bliss!
If you think vegetarian food is boring you better think again. Every meal at Sukhavati is seriously delicious, richly satisfying, and oh so lovingly made by Putu and her team with your dietary requirements in mind.
There are only 8 villas at Sukhavati, so a personalised, 5 star experience in which the staff know you by name is guaranteed. It’s 30 minutes from Seminyak, and 45 minutes from Ubud.
After 7 days of amazing healthy food, daily treatments and r & r I left Sukhavati refreshed, re-energised re-vitalised and I dare say it’s only a matter of time before I’ll be back again.
If you fancy soaking up the Sukhavati experience go to www.sukhavatibali.com
If you’re thinking about a trip to Bali check out my story on Ubud.
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