Here, it is all about healing the body, mind and soul
Words , photographs & video: Ambica Gulati
Welcomed by the breeze, swaying trees and lots of sunshine, this 100-acre retreat turns out to be haven for my tired body and exhausted soul. Located on the Ahmedabad-Mehsana expressway, it promises to be an antidote to the pain around my neck and shoulders. Six months of an intensive travel schedule has drained me out. And lady luck sent me to this powerful Nature zone at the right time.
The centre is well known in Gujarat as the largest naturopathy centre. It offers an amalgam of therapies such as Ayurveda, Panchkarma, reiki, yoga, meditation, music, sujok and more coupled with nutritious food and lots of walking. There are no medical interventions and medicines, not even herbal. It’s also a place where families come together, as I discovered later. NRIs like it a lot, as I discover in my chat with a family from Dubai.
Nothing high rise here, nothing jarring to the eyes, just some lightly coloured concrete structures hidden amid trees, plants and birds. Even the reception area is a red-brick hut-like structure. The open skies are such a wonder for the soul, far from the madding crowd.
While the retreat does have a golf cart, a walk is a good idea. It introduces you to a big lawn with a circle of trees connected to the nakshatras, labyrinth to exhaust out the maze of thoughts and a separate area for havan. With a beautiful landscape, this is also where birds find a home. There is also an old temple with an open-air gym and some cool swings. It is the fragrance of incense and the light of the diya in the evening that draws me to this temple.
Keep walking on the green pathways and you will find gazebos, a swimming pool, yoga hut, cave for meditation, hydro reflex therapy pool, physiotherapy and shatkriya rooms and an organic vegetable garden.
If you want to step beyond the wall, take the gate that leads to a village set-up at the back. You might like to stop for few seconds to gaze at the rows of healing aloe vera plants in this backyard. “This set-up has been created as the retreat gets many international guests who want to experience the rural life in Gujarat,” says Dr Sanskriti Kurre, the energy healing expert at the centre. Her expertise lies in treating with reiki, pranic healing, crystals, hypnotherapy. At the model village, you get a lesson in pottery from the resident potter Nitin or just say hello to the cows in the gaushala.
The doctors adopt an integrated approach to healing the root cause. “Most of the problems are lifestyle related,” explains Dr Shiny Benedict, senior medical officer, as I sit for my consultation. People come for weight loss, endocrine issues, gastro-intestinal issues and more.
The stay begins with a consultation as that decides the diet and the treatment. So, for my cervical pain which was a result of constant travels and non-stop writing, she advised potli massage on the first day, Balinese the next day and Shirodhara on the last day.
Potli is kind of self explanatory-there is a small cloth bag with herbs and oils. This is heated and rubbed all over the body, after a vigorous massage. There are special herbal oils and for each massage, there is unique oil. Rekha, my young therapist, also did a strong head massage and worked harder on the knots in the neck and shoulder area.
A steamer has been placed in each therapy room, so 10 minutes of steam does wonders after the massage. I felt like melting into my bed after this. The doctors and therapists have residential facilities within the retreat, so it’s a pretty easy task to handle all the issues the guests face.
Balinese is a slightly softer massage with lots of stretching, letting the muscles come back to their original shape and size. Shirodhara involves pouring warm oil in the centre of the forehead to ease out the stress. This session also involved a foot reflexology session to ease out the pain.
With a mud pack on my eyes I relax as the cool pack takes away the tiredness. After 15 minutes, the therapist Janice let a stream of warm oil run on my forehead. And the rhythmic waves feel like a lullaby. The stress travels out.
The food at Annapurna, the dine-out space, is fresh and the menu shows the calorie intake also. Each person gets a meal suited to their individual problem or body constitution. There are common dishes too such as the soup, salad. Besides, there are fixed timings and binge eating is ruled out. Snacks are fruits and juices, no biscuits, no tea, no coffee. You do find some herbal infusion sachets with jaggery in your room though. And that does help change the palate and unclutter the system. For me, it iss good break from the junky tea and coffee I had been drinking for months.
The morning routine begins at 4.45 am with a wake up call, walk, shatkriya, yoga, hydro-reflex therapy and wellness breakfast. I did cheat on the early morning and missed one or two things, but Dr Benedict accommodated my routine as she knew that sleep was a therapy I needed. There’s nothing like a few hours of rest to bring your body’s healing powers into action.
However, on Day 2, I do wake up to join the hydro-reflex therapy sessions, as this is a new one for me. Yoga expert Dr Poonam Patel highlights the benefits, as I walk slowly on the big pebbles. Pointing to the different kinds of pebbles, she explains that there have to be two rounds daily. It begins with walk on the bigger pebbles. In the inner circle are four divisions- alternating sections of luke warm and cold water. Each round begins with a walk on the big pebbles inside this section. Then goes to medium sized and finally the smallest ones. This way all the points in the feet are pressed. There are divisions of luke warm water pools to cold water and that helps in blood circulation. “All the points of our organs are located in the feet and hands. If we press those, we help these organs recover. Water helps as people are able to move easily. It takes away the jerks and the pains,” she explains the benefits of this soft and versatile element. She is also adept at aqua yoga and aqua zumba and encourages people with stiffness to try these.
Dr Patel won a national award for holding the shirshasana, the head stand pose, for five minutes. She is also good at doing many more asanas while in the difficult shirshasana. With people coming in with varied problems, she has mastered the art of yoga with props and can design a mean routine of chair yoga that helps office goers. An expert in Sujok therapy, she gave me two sessions for my neck pain.
The day ends with a blood pressure check-up after dinner. “Moving out of a routine is also a process. The body will show symptoms such as headaches, pain in certain parts. Some people are unable to sleep properly,” the young intern Kajal Patel explains.
The Final Countdown
Most areas in the retreat don’t have good connectivity and that solves half the problem-digital detox is vital, says my experience. Giving myself a visual treat, I click the colourful flowers, eye the many species of plants and listened to the morning chants, simply because my phone is no longer my constant companion. Silence has the power to declutter and unleash the creative spirit. I am at peace with this. What I could have added: a talk with the gardener to know the plants.
But for those who really need their Internet, there is Wi-Fi in the library and it’s lights off by 10pm.
The afternoon session with Dr Sucheta Rakshit is all about the healing power of ragas and how they calm the mind. A PhD in music therapy, she has worked with chronic insomnia patients as well coma patients. “Each raga has to be performed at a different time and it also depends on the condition of the patient. We have individual as well as group sessions and people normally see a difference in a few minutes,” she explains.
There are many more therapies such as acupressure, cupping, reiki, pranic healing and those would depend on the person’s requirement.
Taratak meditation in the cave, soothing mud packs on my eyes and stomach, a vigorous round of reflexology, stimulating massages, special stress relieving oils and nutritious food, I am good to come back home. But with a promise not to overshoot my body’s healing powers.
For details on cost, stay, therapies, check website. https://www.nimba.in
How to reach
- The nearest airport is at Ahmedabad which is accessible from all major cities in India and abroad.
- The nearest railways stations are at Ahmedabad and Mehsana
- The centre is easily accessible by road on the Ahmedabad-Mehsana Expressway