Hello, hello! After a short hiatus I am back, back to reality 😊
After being diagnosed with burnout last year and numerous other health issues (nothing life threatening people 😉) – I decided to put things in order and one of the things to begin my journey towards healing was to plan a “disconnect”.
It might sound easy but it’s never easy to disconnect – disconnecting from your usual routine is much harder than it sounds. Upon some great discussions with my father as well as my family doctor, I decided to spend some time at a wellness retreat.
India was an obvious choice, not just because I have my family out there but also because of my strong belief in Ayurveda. I started looking for wellness retreats in the land of Ayurveda – Kerala; this experience had to be as authentic as possible! During my research, I am glad I came across Amal Tamara – despite not a very strong presence on social media/traveler reviews; it gave me the right vibes. Peace, calm, and the resort feels; after my first couple of conversations with the staff at Amal I had made up my mind.
The original plan was to do this retreat alone, however, my mother joining me on this very special experience was the cherry on top! In this article, I will share my honest experience at Amal as well as my healing journey.
A day at Amal Tamara
My typical day at Amal would be something like this:
- A wake-up call at 6 AM, a couple of moments to freshen up and proceeds towards the morning ritual which starts at 6.30 AM – prayer, yoga, and meditation. I have always known the therapeutic effects of yoga from my past – however chanting and meditation have been my key takeaways. The effects of praying, chanting and guided meditation amidst the open skies are not related to devotion or religion but they spark a lot of things inside you – inner peace and calm, stress relief, focus and the ability to call each day a “fresh start”!
- Right after the session which would last around 80 minutes is time for your first round of medication. Ayurvedic medicines are completely safe and do not come with any severe side effects. The medication is prescribed by the doctors who you’ve spoken to a couple of times before and after arriving at Amal – in my case due to chronic pain and some other health issues, even my blood work was evaluated. But everything really depends on your goals and current health condition.
- I always loved how all the groups had their medicines over a round table exchanging notes and giving each other smiles. My medication was quite bitter 😉; guests have an opportunity to either retire back into their room or head over for breakfast in the dining hall.
- We always headed for breakfast, the asanas and breathing exercises always did a number on our appetite. All meals at Amal are carefully curated according to your body composition, your doshas and the Ayurvedic principles. There are no non-vegetarian dishes (not even egg), no dairy and absolutely no sugar; for that matter there is no coffee or black tea either. It takes a couple of days to get used to portion sizes, tastes and usual addictions. One can feel lightheaded, have an upset stomach, or could just feel low. All this is quite normal and a part of getting accustomed to a healthier lifestyle.
- After breakfast we always had sometime to relax in the room or walk around… it is quite hot and humid during the month of April, so one does need an air-con otherwise it can get pretty uncomfortable.
- Our treatments would usually begin by 10 AM in the morning – the treatments usually include massages, body packs and application of topical medicament. This was my most favorite part – it left my body extremely relaxed and made me feel like a “brand new” person. They were that GOOD!
- After the treatments you usually get some downtime – I would usually spend this time catching up on messages from the morning as well as indulge in some light reading/writing. I must admit that I have been addicted to a particular Indian reality show which is anything but peaceful and I would use this time to catch up on my missed episodes 😉 Unwinding does not have a set definition – you do you, and proudly!
- Around 1 pm we would step out (of our room/balcony) for lunch and while the portions were limited, the best part was a healthy dessert at the end of the meal. Since I have a sweet tooth, completely cutting out sweetness from my diet was actually really hard. All the delectable desserts were jaggery based and were made from ingredients one couldn’t imagine.
- After lunch we would sit/stroll around the poolside and then head to our room for a power nap. I have always loved stealing 10-minute afternoon naps – I can no longer do without them 😉
- Unless there was an activity mid-afternoon; I would have my second treatment of the day which was particularly focused on my shoulders and neck. These were my focus areas, and I must say that for the first time I have felt really cared for.
- This was followed by tea – not black or chai but green/herbal teas. There was also a “snack” available at this time, however, these were healthy bites.
- After a short stroll around the resort/a swim we would head for our meditation practice at 6 pm. I must admit that I am pretty bad at the practice, to be honest, I stir and shift in my position and have a tough time keeping my eyes completely shut. However, I kept at it – I did not miss a single session and by the end of the trip I was able to control my thoughts and focus on my breath.
- Just like yoga in the morning, the meditation in the evening is always followed by a second round of medicines. Have I told you how much I love routine? 😊 It’s my thing!
- We usually had cultural performances in the evening – Kalarippayattu, Bharat Natiyam and Carnatic music. It brought back a ton of memories – learning bharat natiyam at school and my dad forcing us to classical music concerts and Carnatic music in general. My south Indian chords were struck!
- We always had early dinners (not by EU standards 😉) and retired to our room where my mom would watch her daily soaps and I would write/check social media.
Amal Tamara Review
If it wasn’t obvious, I would like to re-iterate that the services, design of the program, the meals, the practices, the property and the overall hospitality at Amara is top notch! I am so impressed!
I love their structured approach; I love how they encourage you to adopt healthy practises gradually and I love how they let you be! The staff is extremely talented, professional and warm. There is this short phrase we use in India – “seva bhaav” (the joy in serving); this is what I felt all through those 9 days at the retreat and at every juncture. I even spent my birthday at Amal and the staff made it super special!
I hope I can return multiple times in the coming years, and I really hope they will keep up with the same standards of a traditional yet modern – wellness retreat!
How am I doing?
Rome wasn’t built in a day; I am very happy to have put the right foot forward with regards to my healing. However, this is a journey towards wellness and not a simple viral fever which I can fight with medication.
This experience has helped me make simple yet crucial observations:
- No morning routine is complete without a trip to the toilet and No morning routine can fix bad sleep quality. Get these things in order; before anything else.
- You don’t need to go to gym every day; but you do need to breath, stretch, and meditate. It sets you up for the day!
- Healthy meals have always been hard in a DIY society, don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
- Hydrate – with warm water! If not always, occasionally.
- Have a routine for supplements – 2 or 3 times a day is serious discipline.
- De-addiction can be easy; but re-addiction is easier. (Read that again….)
- Write down your feelings – address things; don’t try the distraction technique – it ain’t so healthy.
- Chanting is soothing and calming at the same time; those vibrations are powerful.
My symptoms are better for sure, and I am positive that I can turn this around 😊
Now let’s talk about you
I cannot recommend a wellness retreat enough; but the idea, the type, and “where you are in your life currently” needs to resonate and hence, this remains a personal choice. I hope you will benefit from some of the ideas, themes, and takeaways from my experience.
But I would love to know if you would take a chance on yourself like I did or if a wellness vacation appeals to you. Tell me on my social media or in the comments section down below, I’d really love to read your opinion.
Would you like to get together for a cup of coffee with a small group of like minded women in Switzerland? If your answer is YES – don’t forget to check out our brand new initiative “Coffee with a Purpose” and register for FREE, places limited.
To read posts from March, click here