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My Ayurveda Retreat – or how to relax?

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My Ayurveda Retreat – or how to relax?


*For this post I was invited by Rosenberg Ayurveda. All opinions are my own. Always.

Ayurveda. Something I’ve obviously heard before. But honestly, I had close to no clue what Ayurveda really meant. When I thought of Ayurveda, I thought of turmeric latte and turmeric porridge. So when I was invited by Rosenberg Ayurveda to visit one of their regenerative retreats, I was overly excited.I opted for the regeneration retreat “Rasayana”, aimed at people seeking stress release and some relaxing days away from everyday life. After an exhausting apartment move, and before the start of my masters thesis, this seemed like the perfect retreat to recharge my batteries.

Before my arrival, I had mixed feelings about the whole thing. Obviously I was existed to try something new, but of course, there were some concerns when I headed towards Birstein.

What I was looking forward to:

  • 5 days of no cooking, no doing the dishes, but still being served healthy food. Yay! Yay! Yay!
  • Massages. Massages. Massages. (Coming from the person who has had 1(!!) massage in her life.)
  • Long walks in nature.
  • Learning about Ayurveda and how it may help decrease stress in everyday life.
  • Lots of delicious recipe inspirations for the blog.

Needless to say, there were a couple more things that worried me prior to arrival:

  • Will the place be packed with older men and women, hence – will I be the youngest?
  • Am I even allowed to go to a stress relief retreat? After all, I don’t have kids, I’m not a manager and my life is pretty great at the moment to be honest.
  • Will I come back all yellow (you know, because of all the turmeric?)
  • Will they have WiFi?
  • Will it be very spiritual?
  • Can I even relax? Like am I physically capable to wind down and do nothing?

Arrival or „Am I too young to be stressed?“


The first night starts with a welcome round in the yoga room. Our retreat coach Sonja greets us, and talks a little bit about organizational things and the daily schedule for the next five days before we all head over to dinner together. I am thrilled to hear that the menu was carrot curry soup with apple and banana, sautéed mangold with almond sliced, grilled bell pepper and roasted potato wedges with sesame and rosemary. Me gusta Ayurvedic food very very much!

After dinner we go back to the yoga room and begin with everyone introducing themselves. I quickly realize that I am the very youngest (by far), and get the feeling that I have no idea what stress is – given the resumes of all of my fellow retreat buddies. But oh well, I’m here now, so why not tell them that I’m a 27-year old food blogger and master student with probably less stress than most of the people in the room combined. Ok, I have to admit that this isnt’t completely true, but I figure that most of the other guests probably wouldn’t know that food blogger can be stressful and getting your Masters while working full-time also takes its toll on you.

After introductions, Sonja guides us through a lovely meditation. I’m having trouble relaxing though because my neighbor breathes so intensely that her breath is all I can focus on. I make a quick mental note to switch mats next session. Sonja also reads us a poem by Charlie Chaplin “The day I learnt to love myself”, and I start smiling as I listen to each word that she reads.

Before we all head to bed, we are each given a heating pad and a tea pot with warm water that are supped to drink right after we wake up the next morning. I wonder if they’ve read my mind, because I had thought about brining my heating pad, but decided that this would be a bit too much grandma-styke even for me. Relaxed and happy with my heating pad I head to bed, and begin to write down my daily experiences.

Daily Highlight: the 78-year old couple who “wanted to try something new” and signed up for the Ayurveda retreat. Serious 78-years-old goal!



Day 1 or the one with the foot massage


I’m usually an early bird, but getting up at 6:30 am is hard on the first full day of my retreat. After two cups of warm water, I get ready for our first yoga class. The yoga practice is a lot (a lot!) milder and easier than what I usually practice at home. I think it will take some getting used-to, because my body has way too much energy and wants to do a handstand or chair pose rather than child’s pose all the time. But I’m open minded to the idea that this gentle yoga will do me good.

After yoga, we head to the breakfast room where we are served grain porridge (rice and millet) with stewed apples, almonds, dates, honey and Ghee. I start with just a little Ghee because I’m not sure about adding it to my sweet breakfast just yet, but I am surprised how much I like it over porridge.

My schedule tells me that I have my first short consultation with Sonja after breakfast, and we talk about why I’m here and what my issues are (high blood pressure, migraines, acne prone skin). Sonja tells me not to study for my exams while I’m here, but I’m not sure if I will (can) follow her advice just yet. But I am willing to try.

Before lunch I also have my first Ayurveda treatment: Padabhyanga or foot massage combined with a gentle face massage. Because I’m all for teaching experiences, I allow the massage apprentice to observe while Nicole massages my legs and feet and face with warm oil – I’m in heaven and can completely let go. The apprentice also guides me to my room after the treatment to make sure that my blood pressure doesn’t drop down too quickly (though I wish it would) and I rest for a while and before showering and heading downstairs to lunch. The rest of the day is relaxing and very quiet.

Daily highlight: my first Ayurvedic foot massage


Day 2: The day I had my first experience in a „sauna in a box“.


My second day starts once again with a gentle morning relaxation yoga practice. I still feel like I have way too much energy for such gentle morning „workouts“, but I try to keep an open mind about it. Breakfast is a delicious kamut porridge with baked apples and almond slices – my new favorite thing!

Right after breakfast I have my whole body massage – one hour of pure relaxation. My massagist Bärbel also has me spend 7 minutes in the sauna box (or at least that’s what it looks like), which is supposed to open my pores and increase sweat production to get rid of unwanted substances. Afterwards, I am supposed to rest for an hour, which I gladly do. It’s crazy how normal it already feels to lie in bed at 10 am in the morning.

Daily Highlight: My massagist Nicole tells me excitedly that my blog taught her to make almond butter. I could not get the grin off my face afterwards.

Another Highlight: A long conversation with a fellow retreat patient, who is a professional life coach and gender equality manager. So inspiring!


Day 3 or the one where I had oil dripping down my forehead


I can’t believe that we’ve reached the middle of the retreat already. It’s a tradition at Rosenberg that Wednesday is Sirodhara-Day, a forehead drip treatment that is one of the most well-known ayurvedic treatments aimed towards achieving ulitmate relaxation. Well, since I was still not really able to relax constantly, I was sceptical but willing to give it a chance. And what can I say – the moment the warm sesame oil touched my forehead and hair, I was hooked. It felt like Bärbel, the massagist, was massaging my forehead. During the treatment I was convinced that she used her hands, too. But no, the warm oil did everything! It literally felt like my chaotic thoughts were washed away, with every drip. I think I need to teach Jannis how to do this…

Sirodhara-day is easy to recognize for a non-retreat person, because it’s the day where all retreat patients walk around in a turban. Especially amusing were our two male patients who looked like Ali Baba in their haarem…

Daily highlight: washing away the chaos in my head with Sirodhara


Day 4: The one with leisure stress


In contrast to Wednesday, where relaxation and „me-time“ was predominant, Thursday feels almost stressful because there were so „many“ workshops on the schedule. The most important question: how do I successfully and sustainably implement certain ayurvedic measures into my stressfuly daily life? We learn that it’s almost impossible to implement the full Ayurvedic morning routine after getting home. However, there are a few easy Ayurvedic practices to take home with us: drinking plenty of warm water throughout the day, oil pulling, eating lots of ghee, warm meals such as porridge, Indian Dals, curries, roasted vegetables with lots of warming spices. Since there won’t be anyone serving us Indian food at home, the fantastic chef teaches us how to make Indian pancakes, which we’re having as a side dish for dinner. It’s the first step towards more Ayurveda food at home. I feel bad for all of the women who have a families at home who refuse healthy, and “weird” food such as curries with Indian spices.

Daily Highlight: We all spend the last evening watching the movie “The Hundred-Foot Journey” (one of my all-time favorite movies), have a glass of wine and just enjoy the last hours together. With an almost sad feeling, we go to bed, knowing that our Ayurveda retreat was coming to an end.



Day 5 or „How do you express thankfulness?“.


The last morning starts quietly. There is a feeling of agony and excitement in the air. For some, five days of Ayurveda was enough. For some it was not long enough. We’re all ready to go home, we miss our loved ones. But we are also in a state of tranquility. Not ready to let go. Not ready to go back into the hectic life that awaits most of us at home. It’s hard to put in words what an Ayurveda retreat is really like. Everyone experiences it differently. For me, doing nothing was the hardest part. Before we each go our seperate ways, we exchange email adresses and I notice a big change of newsletter subscribers on my blog. Our retreat-grandpa Heinrich fights with tears, which makes saying-goodbye extra hard. I hope to keep in touch with some of them. With the lovely newly-weds. With the yoga teacher and entrepreneur from Munich. With the business woman from Kiel who is now a HLH-reader, too.

Daily Highlight: Watching Heinrich shed some tears at the good-bye session – this also made me tear up a little.



Takeaway:


You may have noticed how my writing has changed throughout the post. While there was a certain easiness in the beginning, my thoughts were deeper, more severe and mature in the end. I did not know what to expect when I began my journey to Birstein. I feared that it was right for me. Speaking of fears, let’s take a look at my fears before the retreat:

  • Will the place be packed with older men and women, hence – will I be the youngest?

Absolutely. Since the retreat is not cheap, you’ll find a certain age group to make out the majority of retreat patients. However, age did not matter, because we shared so many similarites. We all had our package to carry and that’s why we got along so well.

  • Am I even allowed to go to a stress relief retreat? After all, I don’t have kids, I’m not a manager and my life is pretty great at the moment to be honest.

Rasayana retreats are highly preventative. Kowing how much stress can harm our body, I am thankful to have had the chance to be allowed to relax for five days. We all need some „me-time“ from time to time. If it’s not an Ayurveda retreat then it’s the tea in the afternoon or the yoga class at night.

  • Will I come back all yellow (you know, because of all the turmeric?)

No. However, turmeric is one of the most important spices in Ayurveda. It’s used in the food but also in teas, in milk (you already know my turmeric latte recipe, don’t you?), and even on wounds or acne treatments.

  • Will they have WiFi?

Yes! But only in the café and not in the rooms. And I did not miss it!

  • Will it be very spirituell?

No. Even though Ayurveda, Yoga and Meditation have the spiritual component, the focus was not on spirituality at all. Rather, we learned tangible ideas how to make our lives a little healthier with the help of Ayurveda. Of course, you cannot have an Ayurveda treatment completely free of spiritualtiy, but it wasn’t the focus of the event.

  • Can I even relax? Like am I physically capable to wind down and do nothing?

Yes and no. The first two days, I did not go for a run, and really tried to relax. However I noticed that I can relax a lot better after I exercised, so I went for a run on the last two days. This way, I got to really enjoy the forehead drip treatment, which helped me get into a state of total relaxation. I even kept my cell phone off most of this day.

Summary:


If you are interested in healthy eating, then you probably already know a thing or two about Ayurveda. Before the retreat, I had a basic knowledge on the life philosophy. I knew that it includes a lot of warm dishes, spices and warm water, but there’s so much more to the Ayurvedic lifestyle than just warm water. What I especially loved about the retreat was that you’re not overwhelmed with information and esotheric. It was just the right amount of relaxation paired with easy-to-digest amount of specific information. For me, the group retreat was perfect, but if you’re more of an individual, then an individual retreat might be better for me. Since I always vacationed with groups in my life, I enjoyed the retreat especially because of the people. The atmosphere in our group was very harmonic and friendly, which also added to the relaxed feeling of the whole week

*If you’re interested in the Ayurveda retreats at Rosenberg, you’ll find all the information on their website. If you have specific questions about what retreat is best suited for you or if health insurance offers support, you can call or email them directly.

*I am beyond grateful to Rosenberg Ayurveda for inviting me to the retreat and giving me the opportunity to experience such a retreat first hand. All opinions are my own. Always.







The post My Ayurveda Retreat – or how to relax? appeared first on Heavenlynn Healthy.
 
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