Bali Retreats – Sukhavati Ayurvedic Retreat and Spa
Not feeling your best physically, mentally or emotionally? Whether you are dealing with a serious health issue or just looking to regain a sense of equilibrium, Sukhavati Ayurvedic Retreat and Spa offers tailored healing programs that focus on restoring balance through changes in diet and lifestyle.
Nestled in the village of Bebengan, around 15 minutes from the coastal town of Canggu. The retreat offers one to 21 day programs that include consultations with an Ayurvedic doctor, Ayurvedic treatments, foot massages, facials, delicious vegetarian meals, twice daily yoga classes, meditation, guided morning walks, herbal teas and juices with talks by wellness specialists. Best of all, guests can check in and out any day of the week, ensuring that the program fits in with their individual schedules.Considered by many to be the world’s oldest healing practice, Ayurveda – which comes from the Sanskrit words Ayur (life) and Veda (knowledge) – originated in India over 5000 years ago when it was documented in the Vedas or sacred texts. While Ayurveda has a long history on the Indian subcontinent, not many know that the practice was transplanted to Indonesia some 2000 years ago along with the Hindu religion. In fact, Bali’s rich Ayurvedic theory and practice have been documented in over 250 lontar, or palm leaf, manuscripts.
Geared towards settling the mind and rejuvenating the body, the luxury wellness destination provides the perfect setting for life changing healing and transformation. “The inspiration for Sukhavati has been over 25 years of learning about the holistic knowledge of Ayurvedic medicine, and its incredible benefits in preventing and treating disease,” says Steve Griffith, the Australian Founder and Director of Sukhavati Retreats, who spent years living and working with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India.
Having opened its doors six years ago, Sukhavati – which translates to the abode of peace in Sanskrit – features eight beautifully appointed luxury villas with thatched roofs, marble floors, four poster beds, semi-open garden bathrooms and plenty of Balinese touches.
Each villa comes with a private balcony overlooking the picturesque estate, some feature private pools and meditation bales. Sukhavati’s facilities include a large swimming pool, yoga and meditation pavilion, as well as a deck that overlooks the Penet River. “Bali has the most remarkable natural timber stone architecture, as well as highly skilled crafts people. This inspired the retreat’s architecture and décor,” Steve says. “The retreat’s traditional Balinese architecture is complimented by attention to detail and the spiritual layout of the garden. In addition, we have orientated our buildings to the east in accordance with the traditional healing benefits of an ancient knowledge called Vaastu.”The Ayurvedic program, or Panchakarma, starts with a consultation, including a pulse diagnosis, with the retreat’s Ayurvedic physician who determines each guest’s balance of dosha, or energies – Vata, Pitta or Kapha. As dosha have the potential to affect all aspects of one’s life – physical, mental and emotional – an imbalance in dosha can create health problems. The retreat’s aim is to balance each guest’s unique dosha through rejuvenating and detoxifying the body, as well as relaxing the mind. “The retreat’s current doctor comes from a long line of Indian Ayurvedic practitioners that goes back over 400 years, and has completed a degree in Ayurvedic medicine and surgery, and a doctorate in Ayurvedic medicine,” Steve says.Depending on the diagnosis, each guest is then prescribed a range of daily relaxing and purifying treatments. All are administered in the River Spa Treatment Pavilion, with the soothing sound of the rushing river in the background. Some of the therapies include abhyanga, a synchronized body massage by two therapists who use long strokes and circular movements to liquefy toxins and induce relaxation; shirodhara where a stream of warm oil is poured across the forehead to reduce anxiety, stress and insomnia or steam therapy to detoxify the body.Food constitutes a large part of the retreat’s program, and the meals can be eaten either in the privacy of guests’ villas, at a communal table in the River Dining Pavilion or on the River Deck. “We serve gourmet vegetarian food and specialized Ayurvedic recipes. All our dishes are made with fresh ingredients from local farmers and markets,” Steve says. “Our chefs work with our Ayurvedic specialists to set a menu that maximize both healing properties of the food and taste.”Sukhavati’s dishes, which combine Balinese and Indian cuisines, are based on simple recipes and are easy to recreate at home. Some of the treats on Sukhavati’s menu include green mung bean soup, warming sweet potato and tofu curry and coconut creamy vegetables. There is also an array of healthy juices and teas that can be ordered throughout the day. In fact, so many guests have been falling in love with Sukhavati’s nourishing and cleansing food that the retreat’s recipes have been compiled in the Sukhavati Cookbook, which can be purchased at the reception.Sukhavati is centered around the Balinese culture of community, with the majority of the retreat’s staff hailing from local villages. Steve says that it took one year to train Sukhavati’s staff about the various aspects of Ayurveda. Today, all of the retreat’s staff take part in daily mediation, as well as weekly yoga sessions and health education workshops. “We currently have 38 members of staff, and we have been lucky enough to have been able to build wonderful relationships with the families in the surrounding villages,” he says. “Together, we work on projects that maintain the area’s cultural integrity, and promote knowledge of Ayurveda among the families.” Sukhavati’s guests are encouraged to immerse themselves in traditional temple and village life, with monthly Balinese music and dance performances held on the retreat’s grounds.
In today’s fast paced world, it is not always easy to find a space where one can both unwind and make lasting lifestyle changes. Sukhavati offers just that – a serene sanctuary where guests can take time out of their busy schedules and reassess what is truly important. And the good news is that Steve is not going to rest on his laurels. “I am a strong believer that in the life changing nature of Ayurveda,” he says. “We plan to develop seven more retreats around the world in the next five years.”
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