The city’s fast- paced life can get to the best of us. While many look forward to short breaks and weekend getaways to beat the stress, others use their free time to relax and rejuvenate at wellness retreats in and around the city.
Being the birthplace of yoga, meditation and Ayurveda, India has always attracted locals and westerners interested in wellness tourism. The Beatles discovered yoga during their rendezvous with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh (Uttarakhand) in 1969. Since then, several celebrities such as Mia Farrow, Oprah Winfrey, Demi Moore and even Steve Jobs have made their way to the country to visit meditation or spiritual retreats. But it is only in the past decade or two that wellness tourism has grown phenomenally. And it continues to do so. In fact, an SRI study projects India to be the number one destination globally by 2019 for growth in wellness tourism, clocking over 20% gains annually through 2017.
Nikhil Kapur, general manager at Ananda In The Himalayas, says guests at the retreat in Uttarakhand are predominantly from the metros, especially Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. But they are now also experiencing an increased demand from “mini metros” like Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Chandigarh and Indore. He adds, “Our core audience and influencers remain women in the age group of 35-45 years. We also get couples visiting, where men also get involved.”
If the 2013 Global Wellness Tourism Economy Report is to be believed, the average wellness tourist typically seeks spa experiences, healthy eating options, opportunities for personal growth, yoga and meditation, fitness, stress reduction and holistic health on such trips.
Ayurveda and wellness
The Ark (Mulshi): The boutique spa, located at a distance of 45 minutes from Pune, keeps an individual’s physical and mental well-being in mind by pampering patrons with a choice of therapies.
Ayurveda Yoga Meditation Resort (Kerala): All their programmes are a blend of Ayurvedic treatments with yoga, pranayama, meditation, an Ayurvedic diet and contemplative walks in nature.
Ananda In The Himalaya (Uttarakhand): Voted as the best destination spa several times, the wellness programmes here combine the best of Ayurveda and yoga with international therapies.
Global Vipassana Pagoda (Gorai): Adults can participate in a one or 10-day residential course during which participants learn the basics and practise them to experience its benefits.
Dhamma Giri (Igatpuri): It offers courses in this ancient technique of meditation, which is considered a universal remedy for universal ills.
Dhamma Sikhara (Dharamsala): The picturesque retreat is quite popular with foreigners. Students can listen to discourses in seven different languages amid deodhar trees in the lap of the Himalayas.
Himalayan Iyengar Yoga Centre (Goa and Uttarakhand): The centres offer various yoga and meditation courses to suit various requirements and time frames.
Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre (Ladakh): Built on the values and practices of the Buddha dharma, the practice and teaching of meditation is one of the main programmes here.
Ananda Yoga Retreat (Pune): It is a sanctuary where people from all over the world come to learn and experience the teachings of ancient yoga and meditation practices.
Rikhiapeeth Ashram (Jharkhand): It is for those who want to understand the roots of yoga. The ashram does not charge any fee for accommodation or food; there is a nominal charge for those interested in pursuing their yoga courses.
Mahatma Yoga Ashram (Uttarakhand): The centre offers packages designed in such a way that they include daily treatments, yoga, philosophical classes and enough time to practice yoga.