WELL BEING & OTHER STORIES

Recipes, rituals and other stories to realign the body and mind

spa

Spa of the Week: Dharana at Shillim, India ~ For ES Magazine

Around the World, Commisions, Lifestyle, Mindfulness & Meditation, Natural Living, Pranayama, Review, Rituals, Summer, Sustainability, Travel, Wellbeingdanielle coppermanComment
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Dubbed as “one of the most magical wellness destinations” in the world, Shillim Estate Retreat and Spa combines traditional therapies with advanced diagnostic technologies to help heal, prevent and transform.

The main pillars which underpin the Dharana wellness programmes at Shillim are preventative medicine, exercise, nutrition and dietetics, conflict resolution and spiritual wellbeing. The experts take time to look at both mental and physical health.

Tucked almost untouchably high up in the serene mountains of the Western Ghats, Shillim Retreat Estate and Spa is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is recognised as one of the world’s top biological diversity hotspots.

Just a few hours from the hustle and bustle of Mumbai, Shillim is a majestic paradise that feels like another world. Surrounded by forests, valleys, rice fields, bamboo plantations and nature like you’ve never seen before (especially during monsoon season), arriving at Shillim you are immediately grounded and centred by the surroundings, before you’ve even explored the resorts amenities or wellness packages.

Personalisation and Programmes

Ahead of my visit, I filled in an in-depth questionnaire covering a range of physical, mental and emotional topics. The Dharana team then decipher each guest’s unique current state of wellbeing ahead of their arrival, ensuring they put together an appropriate and entirely personalised programme tailored to each guests needs.

Specific results-driven programmes, such as de-stress, sleep, ayurvedic panchakarma, art of detox, sustainable weight management and many more, are available, the best part about Shillim is being able to work directly with the doctors and dieticians to set and reach your own goals.

This makes everyone’s experience at Shillim unique, and is more effective in providing not only short and long-term results, but also education, knowledge and lifestyle tools to take away with you, to incorporate into life back home.

Treatments

The therapies at Shillim were unlike any I have experienced elsewhere. Situated in private villas around the resort, each separate room was inexplicably tranquil. Like everything at Shillim, the treatments selected for you are also highly personalised to your needs, but range from a combination of deep tissue massage, Ayurvedic herbal oil massages, synchronized abhyanga massage, Indian third-eye head massage and much more - all of which are carried out using seeds, flowers, roots and oils grown and produced locally.

The benefits of each treatment varies, but each one helps to balance and align the body and mind, which I definitely experienced, drifting in and out of levels of consciousness and coming out of each treatment feeling simultaneously refreshed, awakened, buzzing and zen.

Beyond the treatment room

Treatments aside, all other aspects of Shillim support its wellness programmes, from the environment in which you live and sleep, the nature surrounding your every move, the food (all of which is made fresh, to your needs and requirements, with local and on-site produce) and the other amenities.

The efforts to balance, heal and transform goes well beyond the treatment rooms, with opportunities to experience mental and physical therapies in the form of meditation, mindfulness, movement (think yoga, hiking and pilates), sound healing, clay therapy and much more. It is, as they say, a way of life.

Verdict:

The approach to wellness at Shillim is refreshingly different. It is non-invasive, non-restrictive and the opposite of intense.

It is inspiring, then, just how powerful it is, and how transformative just a few days can be. It has the perfect balance of seriousness (working with on-site doctors to assess your health and develop your goals) and serenity, and the traditional Dharana teachings are accessible, non-intimidating and realistic. 

You’ll leave feeling...

Inspired, refreshed, cleansed, detoxified and lighter, both mentally and physically. You’ll enjoy reduced tension and mental clutter from all the treatments, improved digestion and enhanced energy levels from the clean and nourishing foods, sharper focus and concentration from self-development and meditation, and so much more. With the support of highly knowledgable and experiences doctors, therapists and other practitioners, specific ailments may be healed and personal issues overcome, simply after just a few days of deeply transformational TLC. 

The best part is that during your stay you truly learn so much – about yourself but also about wellbeing in general - and you adopt tools to take away with you, meaning you will leave feeling empowered to take control of your own life and capable to live much more fully. 

Wellness at Six Senses Kaplankaya ~ For Evening Standard

Commisions, Around the World, Lifestyle, Natural Living, Review, Rituals, Summer, Sustainability, Travel, Wellbeingdanielle coppermanComment
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Just visiting Six Senses Kaplankaya offers an abundance of wellbeing, regardless of whether you then participate in any of their additional programs, packages or treatments. By that, I mean that the fresh air, the ocean, the warm weather and sunshine, the food made almost entirely from produce grown in the resorts own gardens and the untouched nature for miles is enough to calm to the mind, nourish the body, nurture skin, hair and nails and get squeaky-clean vitamin and mineral rich oxygen flowing throughout the body. However, if you want or need more, you will find exactly the thing (or things) at Six Senses Wellness Center; all with the guidance and support of in-house and visiting practitioners from around the world.

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The wellness center at Six Senses Kaplankaya (which, by the way, is one of the biggest in Europe) is built around a variety of theories and practices, from clinical and scientific methods, to more Eastern and spiritual approaches. At the foundation of what they do is the understanding that each one of us is different, and that each individual should be observed holistically and treated in an entirely personalized way. For this reason, the resort offers things like wellness screenings and bodpods which take a detailed snapshot of your current health and composition and which they suggest you do on day one of your visit, so that you can spend the following days enjoying the most relevant areas of the resorts programs and treatments.

Following that, you can either choose to embark on whichever one of their pre-designed packages or programs fits your needs, or to design your own completely unique schedule. The programs (such as mental detox, sleep and eat with six senses) offer a selection of different results; some being more psychological, and others being perhaps solely food-oriented. Depending on what you need, and also how you want to spend your time at Six Senses (since you may prefer to holiday rather than to detox, or to combine both in a more relaxed and flexible way), you can choose what is right for you with the support of some of the world’s most renowned practitioners to guide you.

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For those looking to detox

For those looking for an intensive program and a wholly detoxifying experience, the option is there to work on all areas of your health. You can enjoy tailored menus (which offer options designed with specific results in mind, such as better sleep, better digestion, general healthiness or detoxing and weight loss) and daily exercise classes or one-to-one sessions. For deeper work, the spa treatments and entire spa area (complete with hydrotheraphy, salt rooms, hammam and much more) are there to enjoy at your leisure. Practitioners are also on hand, offering things like deep tissue massage and body scrubs for physical detoxing, as well as more spiritual treatments which help to unblock negative or stagnant energy and to encourage positivity and a sense of clarity and happiness.

For those looking for some gentle cleansing

For those who want to enjoy the indulgences of the hotel whilst also doing a bit of work on themselves, you can take and leave whatever you wish, to ensure you create an enjoyable and relaxed experience that doesn’t feel to restrictive. You might not choose to follow a set diet and you might not wish to workout at all, but you can book in as and when you like for things like one-off classes (perhaps the gentler options like yoga and Pilates) and massages and other treatments. You can also opt for activities that feel more like a good time than exercise, such as swimming (in one of their pools or the crystal-clear ocean), water sports (like their catamaran-bicycles), local walks and hikes, cycling and classes like zumba. You’ll also find healthy options in all of the hotels restaurants, so if you want a salad or a green juice whilst also enjoying some wine and dessert, you can have it all!

For those looking for enlightenment

For the more spiritual or curious, and for those looking for a deep journey into the self, to take things one step further than a short-term diet or fitness program, and to equip you with rituals and skills to take away and apply to life back home, the resort offers all kinds of treatments and therapies to encourage relaxation, clarity, positivity and more. From energy healing such as sound baths, reiki, watzu (basically water shiatsu which I cannot recommend enough) and shiatsu, to meditation, chakra aligning and ayurvedic massage. They also run workshops and as part of certain programs supply gratitude notebooks, to encourage journaling and writing down whatever comes up during treatments or just generally during your stay. If you want to go even further, some practitioners even offer training for certain treatments, such as reiki, in case you want to learn the tools to practice on yourself (or others) in future.

As you can see, there is without a doubt something for everybody at Six Senses Kaplankaya, whether you want to do some deep detoxifying and self-development or prefer some serious relaxation with a side of green juice or yoga every now and then. Find out more about their programs and packages here.

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How to Self Massage ~ For Ecoage

Commisions, Anytime, Beauty, Natural Living, Rituals, Wellbeingdanielle coppermanComment
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Massage shouldn’t be a luxury confined to the spa…

Having a massage is commonly seen to be an indulgent act of self-care; an expensive and quite frankly ‘extra’ luxury that only a fraction of us has the time and money to enjoy. It is very rarely seen as a necessary part of our wellbeing, and especially not a priority in our everyday rituals.

However, since studying Shiatsu and holistic massage last year, I became so interested in the benefits that massage has on both our bodies and minds, and how it can be used not only for relaxation but in many cases to prevent and/or to heal all kinds of physical and mental malfunctions.

When you think of massage, likely an image of a peaceful spa springs to mind, and you associate it with feeling instantly relaxed and calm. That, or it’s an unimpressive setting, maybe even a pop-up massage table in your own home, and a deep-tissue sports-style massage that leaves you grinding your teeth and in more pain than when it began. Either way, aside from it being used for pure relaxation or to reduce physical tension, there are so many other benefits of massage and issues it can ease.

Massage, of course, is relaxing, which makes it a powerful ritual to reduce stress, anxiety and even depression. Also, given the purest oils are used, it can help to make skin softer and more hydrated, and can even be used to soothe and heal irritations or imbalances. Massage can also be incredibly energising, which may seem unlikely when you think of how relaxing they can be (I almost always fall into a deep sleep during mine). But given the right techniques are used, massage can really enliven and invigorate the body and mind, and help enhance energy levels. On the contrary, it can also aid sleep and improve sleeping patterns. But perhaps one of my favourite benefits of massage is how it contributes to internal processes such as circulation, lymphatic drainage and digestion. It can help encourage circulation, reduce toxins, shift stagnant energy and diffuse internal blockages, and even improve digestive issues such as IBS, indigestion, bloating, constipation and more. And one last thing, if you think of the body in terms of energy flow and its meridians, massage used to reduce physical tension can help to redirect the energy flow of the body and mind, having major affects on the mental and emotional, reaching them through the physical and enhancing the connection and communication between the two.

Granted, this information is all well and good but it still doesn’t make going for a massage any more accessible for you, right? Well, the good news is, you can still reap the benefits of massage by doing it on yourself. Or, better yet, getting a partner or friend to help you out once in a while. Make it a ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ kind of scenario? However you choose to do it, dissolve accumulated stress and toxins within the body and mind and enhance your mental and physical performance with a daily, or at least weekly, doses of massage. You can do a full body massage using your hands, with or without oil, improvising as you go, or if you need a little more guidance and inspiration, read on for massage sequences for specific areas of the body.

1. Neck and shoulders

These exercises are great for people who are especially stressed and who hold a lot of physical tension in their neck, shoulders and back. It is great for those hunched over desks all day too, and can even be done at your desk during the day. If you want to make it more of a ritual, use a little oil and take more time over this sequence at home after a long day. This sequence is also calming and relaxing as just the act of focussing solely on this massage can help activate the parasympathetic part of the brain, slowing busy thoughts and becoming a kind of gentle meditation.

How to:

Use the thin edge of your hand and in saw-like motions, gently hack at the neck, focussing on the trapezius muscle - the large muscle that holds up the neck and runs over the shoulders and shoulder blades and even around the upper back. Tilt your head to the left, first, and work on the right side of the neck, then repeat on the other side.

After you have done this ‘chopping’ motion, make a fist and gently use your knuckle to work around the shoulder. Have your right arm hanging loose and limp, and using your left knuckle, work in a sort of Mexican wave motion, moving the knuckles in a flowing motion over and around the shoulder. Then, release your fist and simply use your finger tips and predominantly your thumb to work more deeply into the shoulder area. Repeat on the other shoulder.

2. Face and head

These exercises are incredibly energising for both the body and mind, but are simultaneously calming. Working to energise the face and head increases alertness and can enhance focus and concentration, which makes these exercises perfect at the start of the day.

How to:
Using the fingertips of both hands, start by gently tapping them over the forehead and temples. Move the hands across the forehead and the temples, back and forth a few times. You can use as much or as little force as feels good. Gradually work your way in the same manner up the sides of the head to the top of the head, and move around the entire top, back and sides of the head a few times. Finish by bringing the fingertips forward again to the forehead area.

Next, using your middle three fingers, smooth the eyebrow areas from the centre of the face where they begin, out to the edges. Then get your thumb involved, smoothing it under the eyebrows as the fingers remain on the top of the eyebrows or just away from the face. Next, use the fingertips under the eyebrows on the upper eyelid bone to smooth and massage. I often get puffy here after sleeping so this is a great exercise if you experience the same.

Next, bring the fingertips once more to the temple and press with some force, massaging in a circular motion. Then bring the fingertips to the cheeks and cheekbones. Start by tapping the cheekbones with the fingertips, back and forth from the outer edges of the face towards the nose. Then massage the cheek area using circular motions. You can also smooth the area (this works best if using a light oil), starting at the edges of the nose and smoothing the cheeks a few times, out towards the edges of the face. You should work on the top area, the main middle area and the underneath of the cheekbones. Finish at the edges of the face, towards the ears, and using your index finger, press gently a few times into the bone that joins the cheeks and the upper jaw bone.

Then, work on the jaw area. From the cheek and jaw bone join, drag the fingertips down the sides of the jaw to the bottom join, where you back teeth meet. With you middle three fingers on the bottom jaw bone, had the thumb gently gripping underneath the jaw bone, and work in circular motions to move from the edges of the jaw in towards the chin. Repeat a few times and alternate between using circular motions and just smoothing in one swift movement.

Finally, use the fingertips to move above the jaw into the main fleshy cheek area, over the teeth and around the mouth. Work in circular motions or however feels good to massage into the muscles of the cheeks, and do the same around the area above the upper lip and below the lower lip.

Finish by working around the nose, smoothing up and down the sides of the nose and pressing with your index finger into the corners of the nose. Smooth from the nose slightly out towards the cheeks. This is especially good for sinus issues and to improve breathing .

Finish by using the palms of the hands to rub over the entire face, pulling and stretching however feels good or just lightly brushing over the face to complete the ritual.

*You could also try using traditional massage tools for face massage, such as a marble gua sha, a jade roller or other wooden or stone tools

3. Feet

We demand a lot from our feet to support us, perhaps more than any other body part, yet we rarely consider taking extra special care of them. The following massage technique helps to invigorate the flow of energy and relieve tension within the feet. Through working on the major muscles and pressure points (and meridians) in the feet we can aid many other organs and ailments in the body too, including aches, digestion and inflammation. These exercises are great towards the end of the day, and can also encourage lymphatic drainage, meaning diffusing toxins and waste matter. 

Read the full article here, and find out more about self-massage along with more rituals in my book, Well Being.

Well Being Retreat at The BodyHoliday, St Lucia

Events, Traveldanielle coppermanComment

I'm super excited to finally announce my latest project, in collaboration with The Club CoastalI've curated an exclusive, completely one-off retreat experience at The BodyHoliday, St Lucia, from May 20th-27th.