A lithe, lean body and long, toned muscles. Isn’t that the ultimate physical goal most of us aspire to when we exercise? What if you added greater mind-body connection, physical ease, injury prevention and mental focus to that list of attributes, and discovered that there is an exercise that claims to offer all these benefits and more. Would you sign up?
The exercise in question is the Pilates Method, a mind-body practice developed specifically as a method of rehabilitation, strengthening and toning in the early 1900s by its namesake Joseph Pilates (1880-1967). Today Pilates has moved beyond the hallowed worlds of its initial acolytes – elite contemporary dancers, such as George Balanchine and Martha Graham, were amongst its first disciples – to YMCAs, fitness centres and the regimens of Hollywood stars. Today, Pilates is known primarily as a gentle exercise that works the body’s core musculature.
For most of us, the 21st century is fast and furious. We live and work at a pace that often requires us to push ourselves to the limit. As we grapple with an increasingly demanding world, our mind and body are often the first to suffer. We neglect ourselves through over-exertion, poor diet, lack of sleep and too much stress. In a nutshell we’re burning the candle at both ends. And for many, that can mean burnout in more ways than one. We fuel that fatigue and feeling of generally being ‘out of sync’ for much longer than we should, which can ultimately lead to serious health problems.
So how do we rebalance our mind and body? Taking the time to recharge is essential, but too often even if we do manage to treat ourselves kindly, old habits die hard. Sometimes we need a little extra help to kick-start a healthier lifestyle away from the myriad of daily distractions. This is a reason detox retreats and ‘wellness tourism’ has become one of the world’s fastest growing travel trends. According to the New York-based industry group Global Wellness Institute, it’s projected to grow 50 per cent faster than overall global tourism in 2017.
So what’s involved in getting rid of the toxins that permeate our daily lives – how far does one have to go to cleanse the mind and body to make a lasting difference? Experts say it takes eight days to change a person’s life and start treading the path to a more centred lifestyle. Periodic cleansing and fasting can revitalise the body, enabling it to heal and become rejuvenated.
THE YOGA BARN, BALI
In Ubud, Bali, The Yoga Barn’s Cleanse & Detox department is all about juice fasting programmes where no solid foods are eaten for the duration of your stay. While there are many ways to cleanse, detoxification of the entire digestive tract is key here. The belief is that the digestive system is the hub of our body and if it is polluted, every component becomes polluted, including the tissues, organs, blood and cells.
If time is of the essence, a ‘juicing quickie’ or Three-Day Foundation Cleanse includes a colon hydrotherapy session to enhance the effects of fasting. If you’ve always wondered about these, some experts say it can treat anything from headaches to fatigue, irritability, gas/bloating, skin disorders, constipation to bad breath. The Yoga Barn uses Woods Gravity Method of Colon Hydrotherapy with warm, triple-filtered water flowing through the colon.
Far infrared sessions are also part of the regime (which are great for those who can’t tolerate the standard sauna humidity), along with energising yoga classes. If you need something more intense and managed, the Seven-day Detox Retreat might be for you, which includes colonics, yoga classes, shamanic Balinese healing ceremonies and meditation, plus daily education seminars to keep you on the straight and narrow. www.theyogabarn.com
THE SANCTUARY THAILAND, KO PHANGHAN
To cope with major life changes, an intense detox at The Sanctuary Thailand is a great way to wipe the slate clean and make a fresh start. They offer a comprehensive list of detox programmes, but their 10.5- day Master Cleanse is the king of them all! It includes herbal supplements for detoxification and nutrition as well as psyllium husk and bentonite clay ‘shakes’ four times daily. Bentonite is known for its absorptive properties and ability to draw out and bind heavy metals, drugs and other toxins from the body.
Organic coffee colonic treatments are also on the menu, which stimulate the liver, reduce pain, and increase the process of eliminating toxins through the intestine. Plus there’s a full probiotic replacement programme – all taking place in a tranquil space far from restaurants and distractions, where you can bond with fellow detox-goers.
The steam room also plays a big role in their detox programmes. The idea is that sweating in a steam room, sauna or sweat lodge is one of the best ways to speed up detox and alleviate any accompanying symptoms. Once you’ve stirred up those toxins the best way to eliminate them is through the skin. Gently cleaning up your diet at home before you embark on a detox is highly recommended as it can be a shock to the system.
THE CHATEAU SPA & ORGANIC WELLNESS RESORT, KUALA LUMPUR
At The Chateau Spa & Organic Wellness Resort in Kuala Lumpur, it’s all about filling the body with nutritious organic foods, even if you’re undergoing a rigorous detox plan. They believe it’s important to ensure proper food intake is kept up. Guests will receive a professional nutritional consultation by the resident doctor using bone density and body composition machines, along with daily fitness and yoga sessions. www.thechateau.com.my
THE FARM AT SAN BENITO, Philippines
“Everyone needs a detox!” That’s according to The Farm at San Benito in the Philippines. Their programme is based on colon, liver and kidney cleansing with medically guided fasting in order to let the digestive system rest, stimulating detox through skin using scrubs and wrappings, and by draining the lymphatic system. A personalised daily schedule is given to each guest after consultation with an assigned medical staff member. Once The Farm’s patients have been taken through the physical aspect of detox, the mind detoxifying practices begin – from yoga to pranayama, tai chi and meditation. At The Farm you can expect to juice fast for the first five days followed by a light detox diet. www.thefarmatsanbenito.com
THANYAPURA SPORTS HOTEL PHUKET, THAILAND
At Thanyapura Sports Hotel in Phuket, detoxing combines medical, health and wellness treatments with fitness activities and life coaching. Their detox programmes offer a diet tailored to your needs with an intensity level that suits you best.
Here massage therapies are used to assist the detoxification process using abdominal massage, as it houses many of the vital organs and is regarded as a physical powerhouse as many ailments result from an imbalance in this area.
To enhance the process, the following treatments are also incorporated to thoroughly flush your body of toxins. A detox foot bath reduces toxic charge and stimulates the elimination of heavy metal, while activating the metabolism and circulation. Light therapy is also on the agenda, a soft laser technique to target liver and blood detoxification. A lymphatic drainage massage is also recommended to improve metabolism, helping the body eliminate waste and toxins, while boosting the immune system. www.thanyapura.com
Ultimately, detoxing is about finding the best holistic approach for you. There is a wide range of retreats offering programmes with practices, therapies and treatments which can be customised according to your specific needs and concerns. If contemporary living is taking it out of you, perhaps it’s time to reboot mind, body and soul away from the daily grind.