Nestled away from the noise and buzz of the city, Nirvana is a naturopathy-focused wellness centre. A drivable distance from Mumbai and Pune, this sprawling property with its lush green surroundings is the picture of tranquillity. Somehow, the centre has managed to strike that delicate balance between nature and the luxurious comfort that we city-dwellers have come to expect.
Here’s what we experienced during our stay at Nirvana.
Healing… from the word go
The moment you enter the premises, you know that you’re at a place where people take their work seriously. We checked in around 10am and, after filling a form at the reception, we were promptly ushered in for consultation with the in-house doctor. Soon we realised that we had a packed schedule for the day, so the staff wanted us to get started pronto.
We met Dr S Subhash, a naturopath who also specializes in Ayurveda. The health consultation was pretty elaborate, with a lot of pauses and pensive moments thrown in – not the speedy ‘token’ health check that we’ve come to expect at some places!
At the end of the consultation though, Dr Subhash didn’t say much; he simply wrote down an exhaustive prescription for therapies that we had to go through that day. Initially his paucity of words felt a bit strange but we soon understood that he is a man of few words but his command over his area of expertise is impressive.
As the therapies began, both of us began to make a mental list of all the health queries we needed to ask Dr Subhash at our follow up meeting the next day. We found, to our delight, that he was a lot more communicative during our follow up consultation, responding to all our queries patiently and to our satisfaction.
Settling into the routine
Apart from the quality of professional guidance and counselling, what we loved about Nirvana is the ease with which one settles into a healthy routine. If you’re struggling to make that transition to a healthy lifestyle, this place can help you bring yourself on track.
A typical day at the centre starts at around 5 in the morning, with yogic kriyas under the guidance of Ravi Dewal, a lively yoga teacher. If this sounds intimidating, rest assured that it’s quite a breeze to adjust to the routine once you’re here. Ravi was quite a resourceful and knowledgeable teacher of yoga and his recommendations for kriyas are personalised based on your body type and health conditions/ailments, if any.
As yoga enthusiasts, these early morning sessions were among the highlights of our stay, but there’s a lot more to the place.
The therapies — the USP
Your therapies begin after a light breakfast. We were treated to Swedish massages, water enemas, mud packs, hot stone massages, hydrotherapy, salt scrubs and also a soak in turmeric and rice flour water among other things. We felt pampered for sure, but above all, it was therapeutic.
Most of the day is interspersed with therapies, rest, meditation, yoga, wholesome organic meals, juices, and a follow-up with your therapist before you retire for the night. By the end of day one, we were already feeling a difference, in body and mind. Oh, did we mention the sunset yoga sessions held outdoors? These were pure bliss!
Despite the fact that Nirvana is a state of the art centre with every modern comfort, it is imbibed with a warmth and welcoming atmosphere that makes you feel at home. From our experience, we’d say it’s the therapists and staff who give it this personal and welcoming touch.
The therapists aren’t just skilled at administering fantastic massages; they know how to put you at ease and make you feel comfortable. We learned later that they are all adequately qualified with a proper understanding of therapies. Not surprisingly, the massages were among the best we’ve had so far.
The ambience of the therapy room and the high levels of hygiene made us feel safe and relaxed. The massage oils used are of the highest quality, made with organic natural ingredients only.
During our chat with the founder Mr Paresh Parekh, we also learned that the mud for the mud bath and other treatments is excavated exclusively for Nirvana’s therapies from sites that are rich in minerals and natural salts. Parekh, we observed, is passionate about delivering the best of naturopathy and wellness at affordable costs.
While the primary focus remains therapies based on naturopathy, Nirvana also has a gym, a yoga room and a well-equipped physiotherapy centre under a trained physiotherapist. The lush green lawns invite you to walk with your bare feet, a practice called “earthing” which is known to provide several benefits to your body and mind. Or you could simply sit under the shade of one of the many trees in the premises.
You could also try your hand at gardening—a large part of the sprawling property is dedicated solely to the cultivation of organic produce. The gardeners inspired us to go home and try growing my little kitchen garden. For now, we have decided to stick to growing herbs, as they’re easier to manage.
We didn’t try out the other activities, but if you’re up for it, you can also enjoy sports like football, cricket, and table tennis, as well as indoor games of chess and pool.
Sustainability with luxury
When you go on a wellness retreat, a good accommodation is paramount. Nirvana puts you up in beautifully designed cottages that are at once down-to-earth and luxurious. The interiors are tasteful, with a blend of rustic charm and modern design. What is impressive is that in spite of an overarching importance given to sustainability—achieved by following eco-friendly practices—there is no compromise on luxury and comfort of the guests. Nirvana proves that living sustainably and in communion with nature doesn’t mean having to tough it out.
Eating for health
The food at Nirvana is a key component of its offering. Whatever you eat at their vegan restaurant Indriya is aligned with naturopathic principles. As is the case with every service at Nirvana, there’s plenty of thought that goes into your meals and your diet is personalised by the doctor as per your body type and health condition. The guiding principle is to serve alkaline foods and minimise or exclude acidic ones.
You might find the first couple of days challenging especially because many of the staples of Indian cuisine such as wheat, rice, night shade vegetables, tea, and coffee are excluded. But patience is richly rewarded because, by the third day you’ll begin to notice the beneficial effects. Which is why a minimum of three-day stay in necessary if you want your retreat to be worthwhile. Besides, when you go on a detox, withdrawal symptoms like headaches and lethargy can be hard to cope with. However, it’s a lot easier when the doctor and therapists stay on the premises.
A word of caution for any fussy eaters out there. The chefs will adhere to your doctor’s prescription like the Holy Grail. So, if you have any allergies or if you do not like specific foods, make sure to inform the doctor during your consultation.
Do a holistic detox
There are no real restrictions at Nirvana, with the exception of your dietary choices. You’ll still have all the luxuries and comforts you could ask for, including flat screen TVs in your room. You’ll also be allowed to keep your mobile phones with you and use it whenever you feel like. However, to get the most of the experience it’s best if you resist the temptation to switch on the TV. Better still, switch off your mobile phones too. A digital detox is just as helpful and perhaps one the most important aspects of an effective retreat.
We recommend that you dive into the various activities and socialise with the other guests. We had the good fortune of interacting with a few guests, some of whom were repeat visitors; others were undergoing treatment for lifestyle diseases like diabetes and stroke; there were those who wished to lose weight in a natural way; there was also a guest recuperating from cancer! You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much you can learn and be inspired just from a little friendly chatter!
To summarise then, if you want to heal from the enormous physical and emotional stresses of modern living, try a retreat at Nirvana. Not only will you come back feeling rejuvenated inside-out, you will likely leave behind some harmful habits and pick up a few healthy ones.