The serene backwaters is a meditative setting for a wellness break, backed by award-winning Niraamaya Spa’s Ayurveda-based wellness packages and its formidable line-up of alternative practices such as mindfulness coaching programmes, walking meditation, yoga and sound therapy.
Niraamaya Retreats Backwaters & Beyond, Kumarakom is meditative and soothing at several levels. Set amidst lush gardens, with some of the best views of Lake Vembanad, sheathed in tropical foliage, the retreat is a destination for those seeking a restful break in pristine surroundings. The setting is perfect for Niraamaya’s fabled wellness breaks at its award-winning Niraamaya Spa, which lies at the heart of all the retreats. Much like the flagship Niraamaya Spa at Kovalam, the wellness retreat at Kumarakom offers a host of bespoke experiences, besides the entire range of wellness therapies that Niraamaya Retreats are known for – walking meditation, sound therapy, yoga, and wellness packages customized to the personal needs of guests. The spa is a set in a traditional Tharavadu with the quintessential sloping Mangalore tile roof, a courtyard around which it revolves, and meandering verandahs fringed by thick foliage and meditative spaces. At the core of every Niraamaya Spa lies a well-established approach to wellness as a balance between mind, body and soul. The full-spangle spa not just offers the entire range of Ayurveda and western spa therapies, but also focuses on short intervention and longer Ayurveda programmes that help guests deal with the various issues they are facing - stress management to weight gain, rejuvenation to detoxifying therapies.
The wellness journey begins as soon as a guest steps within the serene backwaters retreat. At the reception, an open-to-elements Tharavadu with views of the lake and the houseboats bobbing on its calm surface, they are welcomed with a garland of tulsi leaves (considered sacred in Hinduism) and a refreshing drink of coconut water, sourced from the property itself. The best way to take advantage of the spa and wellness packages at the retreat is to stay three days and beyond. Offered at the retreat is a mindfulness class, hosted generally before sunset; the 45-minute session focuses on understanding body and mind coordination through walking meditation and ends with the chanting of Om. Guests can also take the entire mindfulness coaching programme—a series of sessions designed to help them escape the rigorous stress cycles of their daily lives, which has been developed by mindfulness coach and neurolinguistic programming practitioner M A Shaheerudheen. Each session is personally tailored to each guest and integrates a mindful living session (psychotherapy that aims to help you de-stress, realign and increase self-awareness), a personality analysis designed to understand your true essence and emotional patterns, as well as reiki healing and yoga nidra. Yogic Nidra or yogic sleep is a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, typically induced by a guided meditation and helps to relieve stress. Guests on a wellness package (or otherwise, too) can take a sunrise yoga class hosted to the view of the backwaters on days that are clear, and indoors during monsoons. The hour-long yoga session focuses on breathing, asanas and a spot of meditation to foster a feeling of creativity and peace.
What follows through the day are a host of spa massage sessions based on Ayurveda, India’s ancient science of healing. Believed to be of divine origin and handed down through the established oral traditions, Ayurveda was practiced by ancient seers and healers natural through centuries. Texts detailing Ayurvedic principles and practices were written time only between 1500 and 500 BCE. Based on these texts, Ayurveda was a widely adopted practice of healing and Ayurveda-based massages are part of this age-old healing system. Ayurvedic massages borrow from the principles of Ayurveda to create a unique experience that focuses on relaxation, stress relief and the various physical ailments. Medicated oils are used for the massages and certain energy points are deftly worked on by the masseuse.The doctors at Niraamaya Spa will recommend the right blend of massages, based on the diagnosis (guests are expected to fill out a form detailing their lifestyle and issues) and a guest’s body composition or the dosha that is predominant in their body, from the tridoshas – vata, kapha and pita. Offered at the Niraamaya Spa is a full spangle of Ayurveda massages – Shirodhara (a head massage where the focus is on stimulating the nerves), Abhyangam (a full- body massage, which aids the release of toxins from the body), Udvartana (enhance blood circulation), among others. Monsoon is one of the best months to experience Ayurveda massages; the body is moist enough because of the humidity in the air to absorb the oils well. An umbrella of wellness programmes helps achieved an optimum level of wellness that Ayurveda and other allied therapies, such as yoga and meditation, offers.
The wellness packages at Niraamaya Retreats Kumarakom are backed by wellness cuisine. The chefs work with the doctors at the spa to create a special menu that helps guests on wellness packages gain maximum advantage, using food as a medium. “In Ayurveda, food is a means to heal,” says Executive Chef Prakash Nayak. “There are some groups of food that are good for a particular dosha . For instance, for kapha, grains such as barley, buckwheat, and rye are the best, as are fruits such as apples and cranberries. They need to minimise cultured dairy products, and while they can eat all spices and herbs, they have to be cautious with salt.” The menu will be changed every day but will follow the doctor’s recommendation.