When you thought that nicknaming your fanbase was a observe reserved for pop stars, assume once more. Right here, at Six Senses Vana, ‘Vanavasis’ flock not a lot for tune and spectacle however for extra measured and meditative thrills. And, very similar to the fervid queue of a stadium tour, ‘First time?’ is the query main most of my interactions.
Such is the dedication of Vana’s detox devotees, most of whom are right here for the second, third, and even ninth time. Inside a day of arrival, I meet a British photographer concluding his second stint in six months, a German couple who go to yearly as a sort of spring-clean-for-the-soul, and two GPs from Mumbai who’ve been slowly making their approach spherical India’s holistic hotspots.
It’s, they inform me, nearly as good because it will get; the Beyoncé of wellness retreats, if you’ll. And so, ever the fangirl, I set my sights on enlightenment.
Arrival units the tone. The dim lighting and smooth instrumentals are a far cry from the neons and horn-honking of Dehradun’s bustling ’burbs. As my brow’s blessed with a dot of pink and a beaded bracelet is tied round my wrist, I sense a threshold of types has been crossed.
Although like several good opening sequence, my pleasure is drawn-out and I’m stored in suspense for another night time as my GEM (visitor expertise supervisor) Puja guides me to my room via darkish, nonetheless gardens.
‘To protect the pure habitat of the opposite beings we share this land with, we preserve gentle and noise air pollution to a minimal,’ she tells me. I later be taught from Vana’s director simply how far this ‘don’t disturb’ ethos extends. A lot so, that when a beehive appeared on the terrace of one of many visitor rooms, they merely closed it off and let these honey-loving hustlers do their factor.
After I wake the subsequent morning, I catch a glimpse of these different beings from my terrace as a red-billed blue magpie takes a shower in a water characteristic, and a duo of child monkeys chase one another throughout the roof of the out of doors yoga sala.
Idyllic, certainly. However there are a few home guidelines that take a minute to get used to. Ordinarily, you see, I’d spend at the very least half an hour working via my wardrobe choices. Not so right here. Like magic, a recent set of white kurta pyjamas seem in my room each day, a uniform worn by all friends as a mark of equality and respect.
Whereas the get-up isn’t to my regular style, it’s surprisingly versatile, and as my mornings turn into liberatingly swift, I all of a sudden perceive the enchantment of Steve Jobs’ copy-and-paste black turtlenecks. I head out brilliant and early, freed from resolution fatigue, and much more unusually, my telephone.
Yep, the digital detox coverage means all units are banned in public areas, so with a gulp of millennial trepidation, I sign off of my Gmail and firmly into the current.
Every keep begins with a session the place high-tech diagnostics (measuring all the pieces from vascular perform to cardiometabolic and oxidative stressors) are used alongside extra enduring types of evaluation. And once I say enduring, I imply it.
Ayurveda is an historical Indian medical system that dates again some 3,000 years and is without doubt one of the core philosophies to be discovered right here. The physician takes my pulse three other ways, quizzes me on my temperament and checks out my tongue earlier than declaring me pitta dominant, which is to say, from the three doshas, or bioenergies, that represent the physique, ‘hearth’ is my prevailing component.
In contrast to vata (air) or kapha (water), pitta varieties are liable to perfectionism, irritation and simply irritated pores and skin. It checks. Throw in energetic caffeine dependancy, and I’m fairly the venture. Alas, my physician assures, there’s hope for me but and I’m prescribed a seven-day motion plan to kick-start my equilibrated renaissance.
First up, reflexology, the place from my ft, it’s gleaned that whereas I could also be barely dehydrated I’m additionally my mom’s favorite little one (sorry, bro). Subsequent it’s an oily, Ayurvedic therapeutic massage the place lengthy, drawn-out strokes ship me straight to sleep.
The number of therapies on provide right here is only one instance of how the retreat highlights the range and richness of Indian tradition. Six Senses Vana is without doubt one of the one of many solely locations on this planet to supply genuine Sowa Rigpa (conventional Tibetan medication).
At their devoted centre, my Hor Gyi Metsa remedy begins with ethereal Tibetan chanting, earlier than sizzling pockets of herbs are utilized on numerous strain factors alongside my again. I’m lulled right into a dream-state that lingers lengthy after it ends, and with my limbs feeling delightfully floppy, make a silent request for reincarnation as a jellyfish.
By now most invested in my new-and-improved self I observe the physician’s orders, avoiding gluten, something processed and uncooked meals previous midday. That is made straightforward at Salana, the communal eating area the place all choices are seasonal, natural and low in salt, oil and sugar.
Not that you just’d understand it. Regardless of the absurdly low calorie depend, meals right here really feel indulgent; in a single sitting I polish off a beetroot ravioli, paneer curry and darkish chocolate tart, and nonetheless come away feeling remarkably gentle.
Even simpler at Anayu, the Ayurvedic eatery, the place every day set menus are ready particularly for every of the three doshas, starting with a digestive assist of ginger and turmeric and ending with a post-dinner palate cleanser of dehydrated rose petals wrapped in bitter leaf.
Once you’re not nourishing your temple with guilt-free pizza, you may simply fill your days fluttering to and from totally different group actions, which embody all the pieces from yoga to sustainability excursions, Ayurvedic cooking classes and DIY potion-production on the apothecary bar.
A particular shout-out to the afternoon raag remedy classes (or as I like to think about it, grownup nap time) the place one lies horizontal, below a blanket and lets the soothing sounds of the Indian flute nurse you right into a pleasantly pacified state.
Because the week flies by, the calls for of the surface world really feel more and more trivial. There may be one factor worthy of some urgency, although – a visit to Rishikesh, the birthplace of yoga, and, for that matter, a lot of the Beatles’ White Album.
Between the romantic hills of mist-covered Mussoorie to the north and the sacred stream of the Ganges to the south, there’s a mystical vitality on this a part of the nation.
With my journey coming to an finish, I resolve to squeeze in each, and whereas 6am begins are not often satisfying, the views from the height of Jabarkhet Nature Reserve actually are; the saw-toothed peaks of the Himalayas dazzlingly white within the distance.
With my educated information, Deepak, we hike again down, snacking on rhododendrons that style like bitter apples and tracing the footprints of the bashful leopards, black bears and wild boars that decision the reserve residence.
The highway to Rishikesh, in the meantime, is lined with extra extroverted residents – monkeys, buffalos and majestic cows, the latter not in the slightest degree deterred by oncoming visitors.
The sensory overload builds the nearer we get to the Ganges as rickshaws and mopeds swerve between each other, road meals distributors fry aloo tikki cutlets in conjunction with the highway, and crowds of individuals collect to wash within the sacred waters.
The riot of color, odor and sound is jolting, the entire inversion of Vana’s muted idea, but when I’ve discovered one factor throughout my time right here, it’s the significance of stability.
Because the solar units, we’re seated on the riverside steps of Parmarth Niketan ashram for aarti, a hearth ritual during which we sit cross-legged, singing alongside as monks chant, making circles with flaming lamps and floating flower choices alongside the river. All of this within the shadow of a 14-foot Shiva statue, the Hindu god of destruction who reminds us of our personal potential to rework darkness into gentle.
And that is maybe what Six Senses Vana does greatest, too. Right here, wellness is an evolution that continues lengthy after departure. It’s not that friends go away right here as somebody they weren’t earlier than, however as somebody they at all times had been.
With that in thoughts, possibly I’ve at all times been a Vanavasi. In any case, I actually am now.