Therapies (Holistic & Alternative Medicine)

Mountains bring a breath of fresh air for asthma sufferers

 

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With around 5 million people in the UK suffering from asthma and a startling rising death rate of 20 per cent in five years, cures and relief therapies are vital, especially after the 2018 summer with its heatwave, hay fever and high pollen counts.

Air pollution causes the inside of lungs to become inflamed which makes it difficult for those with asthma to breathe.  Less pollution means less inflammation making breathing easier.

Zero pollution, clean air, low levels of humidity and natural breath-taking scenery are the ideal environmental conditions for asthma suffers. And these vital statistics can be found in mountain terrains such as the Southern French Alps which offers 12,000-km² of pollution-free purity. The air in the Southern French Alps has more benefits than other Alpine areas due to its unique low humidity and lack of heavy industry and benefits from 300 days of sunshine per year, topping up vital Vitamin D.

There have also been multiple studies over the years into the effectiveness of high altitude treatment for  those suffering with lung diseases.  High altitudes allow for clearer air and are mostly free from bugs such as dust mites which can cause asthma symptoms to worsen.

High-altitude treatment for asthma sufferers is not a new concept. People with lung diseases have been sent to the mountains as treatment for over a century.

 

For information on mountain escapes ideal for asthma sufferers, www.undiscoveredmountains.com

 

 

Peruvian Healing

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From healing spa treatments from indigenous Andean plants and herbs to cleansing ceremonies bathed in mystical culture, the Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel is offering wellness experiences that allow guests to connect with the cosmic energy of ancient Peruvian civilisations, while touring nearby natural and cultural sites.

Treatments focus on local ingredients and curative Peruvian traditions. Pinda-style massages use warmed compresses loaded with Andean natural medicinal herbs and therapeutic natural scrubs use pink salt from Maras, an ingredient used over the years  by the Incas for its high mineral content.

Other indigenous ingredients include Muña, renowned for being a digestive aid as well as its soothing and calming effects on aches, pains and arthritis. Coca leaves are loaded with vitamins, protein, calcium, iron and fibre that help to counter the effects of high altitude in the Andes. Quinoa, the Andean powerhouse grain, is loaded with amino acids, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, fibre, antioxidants and phytonutrients and has been used for its health benefits for thousands of years in Peru and was the nucleus of the Inca diet. Treatments using quinoa tap the nutritional benefits to prevent premature aging of sensitive and dehydrated skin.

The other spiritual and wellness experiences, beyond the hotel, connect guests with the cosmic energy of ancient Peruvian civilisations with visits to natural and cultural sites. The Machu Picchu Mystical Tour takes guests to the historic sanctuary with a local shaman who uses his natural gifts to help them discover the spiritual and  natural energy sources that surround Machu Picchu.

Guests can also participate in the Payment to the Earth Ritual.This traditional practice of making offerings to Pachamama, or Mother Earth, has been passed down from the time of the Incas, as Ancient Peruvians held Pachamama sacred. This ritual remains a part of daily life for many locals in surrounding regions of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. With a shaman and private interpreter as guides, guests can discover a realm beyond the physical world and become more open to emotional and spiritual healing.

 www.sumaqhotelperu.com

Ayurveda, the European way

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Editor’s Review

It has been a very busy year so far and it’s starting to show. I’m eating more of the wrong foods to cope with looming deadlines, my mobile takes priority, my weight is nudging the scales and my skin has lost that freshness. I have no time to just be….

Is this just me or are we losing a sense of our existence, how we feel, how we view the world, who we are. Is there a disconnect between mind, body and spirit? Are we e-people, controlled by technology?

Slow forward to the gentle slopes of Austria, where church bells ring in synchrony with the collar bells attached to goats grazing. Where the Alps form a protective wrapping around the landscape – unpolluted air, solitude, silence. What better setting for an Ayurveda Resort amidst this cradle of tranquillity and peace in Hinterthiersee.

I was visiting for four days for a dose of holistic healing, European style, which meant local and seasonal food,  a western interpretation of treatments and, best of all, no jet-lag.

First was a consultation with the resident Ayurvedic doctor who proved intuitive and impressive in his pulse diagnosis and lifestyle evaluation. He delivered an accurate, informative assessment both with humour and an in-depth knowledge of Ayurvedic doctrines and healings. Based on my particular symptoms and constitution, a therapy plan was created which  combined herbal medicine, a nutrition programme with detox and supportive treatments.

Ayurveda is a system of medicine with historical roots in the  Indian subcontinent. It is the oldest form of medical science based upon the body’s protection of life against negative effects. Put simply, changes in the composition of the natural elements inherent within and around us  affect our health. When our “doshas” (bio-energies) are disturbed, the body becomes imbalanced,  causing illness. Diagnostic ayurvedic treatments can help to restore the body.

A salt rub is not for the faint-hearted, it’s vigorous and stimulating. Known as Upana, this Alpine scrub is used to release stressful energy and strengthen the immune system in preparation for cleansing and detoxing.  Its effects are then sealed in with a sauna visit.

The spa area houses a number of saunas differentiated by heat temperature and purpose.  The Kapha is a detoxifying steam bath, the Pitta a herb and clay sauna while the Vata is denoted as the gemstone and saltwater therapy.  There are several infra-red cabins,  a small gym, an indoor pool and various relaxation areas.

The resort exudes calm and intimacy which is visually reflected by a décor which splashes the colour purple alongside local timber panels to create an earthy feel.  Spiritual energy seems to ooze from buddha statues and handcrafted sculptures dotted around.

Meal times are quiet and pleasant. Each guest has an assigned table, a daily personalised agenda with personal encouragement and affirmations which I would read at regular times during the day. I would also peep enviably at those guests not following a specific programme – enjoying  seasonal, colourful dishes, artistically presented. For those of us on a stricter regime, the simple delicate detox dishes were served with encouragement and a knowing smile.

I was prepared for the  “purging cocktail” concocted to rid the body of toxins and waste products. It was administered by the medical team on the second day – so no cheating was allowed.  The remainder of the morning was confined to the room and close to the much needed facilities. I was grateful for the distraction of the mountain views from the balcony. Later, a belly massage continued the process, a treatment designed to strengthen and detoxify the tissues and release any blockages.

No caffeine, no sweet treats. I was suffering from a headache and tiredness from the previous day, natural reactions I was assured to a detoxification process. But to my delight, a head and body massage was on the day’s agenda, very timely. Billed as Shirodhara, this treatment is a traditional head treatment and body massage specifically to relieve stress-relating symptoms and it worked.

The atmosphere is cosy, friendly and supportive. Guests share their experiences in a positive light and are sympathetic to the effects endured. Many guests return  here for their annual MOT, some travel with supportive partners but most are alone. Days can be active with Yoga, Pilates, Qi Gong, Tai Chi walks, forest bathing and lectures, all providing a social opportunity or non-verbal company.

Guest rooms are tastefully furnished with amenities needed for this type of stay – a hot water bottle to help with liver detox and flasks for hot water, thoughtful and considerate, just like home!  And with 30 rooms and a staff of 50, service levels are high. The therapists are trained and conversant in the European Ayurveda discipline. Those I met monitored my progress along my ayurvedic journey.

When I left this inner sanctum to join the outside world, I felt consciously transformed, lighter in weight and freer of worries. My mind was now connected to my body and spirt.  The church bells seemed to be louder and more in tune and I noticed more goats munching  on the Austrian Alps. Ayurveda maybe ancient but it remains even more relevant today.

There are direct flights from the UK to Innsbruck and a one hour drive from the airport by taxi

Prices for a 7-day Pancha Karma programme are priced from € 1,525 excl. accommodation, single rooms from €166 pp/pn

European Ayurveda Resort Sonnhof, Tyrol, Austria www.sonnhof-ayurveda.at

European Ayurveda Resort Sonnhof is included in the niche destinations distinctive portfolio www.niche-destinations.com

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A prescription for Chinese health tourism

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From the home of acupuncture and herbal medicine, a specialist UK tour operator is prescribing a dose of medical tourism with health tours to China.

Wendy Wu Tours has partnered with China’s Shaanxi Provincial Tourism Development Commission which is in the northwest of the country, home to the start of the Silk Road and ancient capital Xi’an as well as the location of the famous Terracotta Warriors.

Those suffering with complaints such as insomnia and even hair loss will be able to combine a holiday tour around parts of China with specialist help and traditional cures from experts.

Wendy Wu explained, “We are working with experts in China to offer medical & health products for a range of common illnesses. The Chinese are renowned for effective cures. We want to harness these as part of a holiday itinerary.”

Direct flights between Gatwick and Xi’an with Tianjin Airlines are to be launched.

www.wendywutours.co.uk

A revival of the Ancient Hamman Ritual

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In times gone by hammams were used by Kings and Queens of the Ottoman Empire who would host their key social engagements within these ornate bathhouses.

Today, hammams are back in fashion with many resorts adding them to their wellness offerings and treatment menus.
Also known as a Turkish bath, a hammam is the Middle Eastern variant of a steam bath, or a wet relative of the sauna. Although the first ones originated in Arabia, bath culture was a central part of Roman life, Turkey popularized the tradition by making hammams available to people of all statuses.

The advent of the modern spa and the convenience of baths at home have defeated this old concept. Modern-day hammams often reflect the rich design features of the original bathhouses and continue the tradition of water, air and heat-based body treatments. The treatment benefits include removing dead skin cells, deeply cleansing the skin, ridding it of impurities while stimulating blood circulation and the lymphatic system in remedial heat.

Various resorts and hotels such as The Anantara Spa group offer a number of hammams in various destinations with treatments that follow the traditional ritual procedure.

The Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, located in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s Liwa Desert, houses the Royal Moroccan Hammam and offers the traditional journey in the ritual experiences – first steam which purifies the skin, followed by lying on a heated marble bed for a cleansing and polishing ritual using traditional black olive soap and a kessa mitt. The skin soaks up the natural goodness of a mineral-rich rhassoul mask, followed by a hair treatment and mini facial. After time in the heated jacuzzi and ice room, a back massage completes the ritual.

Other hammams include Banana Island Resort in Doha and the Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa close to Abu Dhabi City which offers both Turkish and Moroccan Hammam Experiences.

Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas www.anantara.com.

Sleep tight!

pebbles 4A good night’s sleep is important for emotional, physical and mental wellbeing especially in our fast-paced lifestyles. There is an increasing number of therapies and products to help induce this much needed slumber. Hastings Hotels have introduced a natural therapy in the form of a tailor-made new Sleep Ritual spa ritual.

Performed in calming, candlelit surroundings, the ESPA Sleep Ritual is offered at The Culloden Estate & Spa and the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa in Northern Ireland. The treatment includes breathing and visualisation techniques to release physical and emotional anxiety and restore energy. A deep tissue massage to release deep-seated muscular tension is combined with hot stones and warmed fragrant ESPA oil poured onto the body. This concludes with a soothing scalp massage to relieve any final signs of stress ensuring guests completely switch off.

The 5* Culloden Estate & Spa stands on the forested slopes of the Holywood hills, overlooking Belfast Lough and the County Antrim coastline. In close proximity to Belfast City Centre, the luxurious spa is Northern Ireland’s premier sanctuary for mind, body and soul. Guests can revel in a range of ESPA products and therapies with eight treatment suites, two pre and post treatment relaxation rooms. The hotel also offers a variety of different classes at the Health Club including Aquafit, Yogalates and Pilates. Guests can also enjoy relaxing in the pool, Jacuzzi and eucalyptus steam room. In 2017, Hastings Hotels celebrated 50 years of the ownership of the jewel in its crown, the Culloden Estate & Spa, as well as the completion of a £4.8M renovation programme at the hotel over the last three years.

The Slieve Donard Resort & Spa is situated on the seashores of the Irish Sea on Newcastle Bay. The hotel looks out to the Mountains of Mourne. Set in six acres of private grounds, the property is famous for its expansive and luxurious spa. Guests can escape to a cocoon of calm with over two floors of tranquillity, including a 20 metre swimming pool and Vitality Pool, amethyst steam room and high-tech fitness studio.

www.hastingshotels.com

The Next Big Thing in Wellness – Costa Rica 2018

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The Costa Rica Tourism Board has launched a new tourism strategy for 2018 – ‘Wellness Pura Vida’ – a new ethos that redefines what it means to look after the body and soul.  According to the World Health Organization, “burnout”, the state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress, is now a global issue. To combat this, UK travellers are increasingly combining travel with wellness, a trend that the tourist board is responding to with this new movement for 2018.

The phrase “Pura Vida” itself can be heard echoing throughout Costa Rica. Used as a greeting or expression of happiness, the phrase literally translates to “pure life,” however its truer meaning is “full of life,” which accurately symbolises the Costa Rican mind-set of energy and positivism that awaits visitors.

Costa Rica offers a huge number of authentic natural wellness experiences for all visitors looking for a healing holiday. These activities include yoga, meditation, earthing, forest bathing, treatments with hot springs, thalassotherapy amongst others, and can be carried out in pleasant and tranquil natural spaces throughout the country. Smoking volcanoes, dense virgin forests, unique wildlife and endless tropical beaches make this Central American destination one of the most diverse places on earth for a healing holiday.

Costa Rica is not only renowned for being one of the happiest places on Earth, but also one where people live the longest. The Nicoya Peninsula has one of the highest percentages of centenarians in the world.

Visitors should live this ‘Pura Vida’ lifestyle whilst in Costa Rica, taking home new healthy habits, starting with its healthy food based mainly on grains including rice and beans (called “gallo pinto” when mixed). No trip is complete without drinking the calcium-rich water, indulging in the fresh fruits and sampling the local coffee. Other Pura Vida wellness experiences can include ‘forest baths’ (breathing in the fresh air of the forest) and ‘earthing’ (barefoot walks on the earth/sand). Reaching 100 is not guaranteed, but relaxation is!

Visitors hoping for a slice of Zen should head to the lesser known corner of Costa Rica – the Osa Peninsula. Located on the South Pacific coast, this region is a haven for those looking to experience complete unspoilt beauty and escape Wi-Fi. The opportunities for exploration are endless; iconic activities include watching the magnificent humpback whale migration, exploring the mangroves by kayak and the beaches and mountains on a recreational cycling tour, bird-watching, yoga, forest bathing and having a healthy organic meal on the beach. Visitors can expect sunrise yoga, beach Pilates and al fresco group meditation.

No wellness holiday to Costa Rica is complete without a visit to the hot springs, which are said to have healing and restorative properties due to the high mineral content. Visitors can harness the water for personal renewal by letting positive energy flow throughout the body. Arenal, Rincon de la Vieja, Miravalles Volcano, Orosi area, Perez Zeledon and the Caribbean are the country’s best destinations for thermal soaks, some of them boasting highly-rated hot springs, mud baths and spa facilities.

www.visitcostarica.com

Connect with the cosmic energy of ancient Peru

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From healing spa treatments using indigenous Andean plants and herbs, to cleansing ceremonies bathed in nature and mystical culture, the Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel is offering its guests the opportunity to awaken and nourish mind, body and soul.

The hotel’s Aqlla spa uses treatments using local ingredients and curative Peruvian traditions. These include the Sabai Massage for Body & Face; a 60-minute pinda-style massage that uses warmed compresses loaded with 32 natural medicinal herbs. The Incas have used pink salt from Maras, a town near Cusco, for centuries for its energy boosting, high-mineral content and is used in the Maras Body Massage as a therapeutic natural scrub. The 90-minute treatment begins with an exfoliating salt scrub, followed by a body mask of papaya, lemon and lettuce that leaves a prolonged refreshing sensation. The treatment concludes with a relaxing massage with Andean herbal oils with medicinal attributes, including chamomile, eucalyptus and lemon grass.

Other treatments using indigenous ingredients include the Body Massage with Coca and Muña Essential Oils, which uses two time-honoured healing plants of Peru’s ancient Inca culture; Muña, renowned for being a digestive aid, as well as its soothing and calming effects on aches, pains and arthritis; and Coca leaves, loaded with vitamins, protein, calcium, iron and fibre that help to counter the effects of high altitude in the Andes. The Deep-Hydration Cleansing Facial with Quinoa taps the nutritional benefits of the quinoa to prevent premature aging of sensitive and dehydrated skin.

Beyond the spa, the Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel offers spiritual and wellness experiences that connect with the cosmic energy of ancient Peruvian civilisations, while touring nearby natural and cultural sites. During the full day Machu Picchu Mystical Tour, guests can visit the historic sanctuary with a local shaman who uses his natural gifts to help them discover the spiritual and natural energy side of Machu Picchu, as well as its magical connections to Pachamama or Mother Earth. During the visit, the shaman will lead a cleansing session, while back at the hotel in the evening; travellers will participate in a private coca leaf reading.

Guests can participate in a one-hour Payment to the Earth Ritual on the hotel’s private terrace. This traditional practice of making offerings to Pachamama, or Mother Earth, has been passed down from the time of the Incas, as Ancient Peruvians held Pachamama sacred. This ritual remains a part of daily life for many locals in surrounding regions of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. With a shaman and private interpreter as guides, guests can discover a realm beyond the physical world and become more open to emotional and spiritual healing. Coca, which is a traditional Peruvian symbol of community and respect, plays a significant role in the ceremony.

Rooms at the Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel start from USD 602.80 per room per night (from GBP 427) based on double occupancy and including buffet breakfast, lunch or dinner, luggage assistance between the hotel and Aguas Calientes train station

Art of Aufguss Workshop at Rudding Park

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Rudding Park Spa is introducing the UK’s first Art of Aufguss Workshops under the  tuition of Sauna Meister, Lay Pang Ong.

Recognised as a leading wellness practice across Europe, it involves a Master of Aufguss using essential oils to create a stimulating environment and circulating the aromatic air using a towel-waving technique within a sauna. The ritual leaves the participants both mentally and physically revived. Benefits of the practice range from a meditative state of mind to improving cardiovascular strength, boosting the immune system, as well as alleviating stress and pain.

Three workshops are scheduled for Thursday 1 February, Friday 2 February and Saturday 3 February, hosted by Art of Aufguss Champion Lay Pang Ong, well-regarded as a pioneer of sauna reinvention. Guests will experience a classic Aufguss performance by Pang, a theory session on the principals and benefits of the ritual and a practical session with coaching to develop their skills, before performing a ceremony, bringing a sense of theatre to the sauna.

Each workshop includes dinner, lunch or afternoon tea hosted by Pang providing an opportunity to gain further insight into this fascinating ritual.

The Art of Aufguss is performed in the Panoramic Sauna in the Roof Top Spa, the UK’s first Roof Top Spa which reflects the underlying ethos of the spa, bringing the best of the outside indoors.

Art of Aufguss Workshop Prices:

One person – £75

Two people – £140

Subject to availability and pre-booking is recommended.

http://www.ruddingpark.co.uk/spa/art-of-aufguss-workshops/

Silvotherapy – the art of Tree Hugging in Italy

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Hugging a tree could seriously improve the quality of your life as demonstrated by a new package offered by Adler Dolomiti’s “Yoga & The Healing Power of Trees”

This three-night half-board package includes two sessions of outdoor yoga amid the natural beauty of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Italian Dolomites that will help to re-charge guests’ batteries, while helping to establish inner harmony and peace. During the walk guests will be introduced to the theory of silvotherapy (the art of healing the body by harnessing the energy of the trees). It also includes access to the hotel’s spa and wellness programmes. This is available for one weekend only, from 21 to 24 September.  To book this unique package, visit:www.adler-resorts.com/en

Adler Dolomiti is accessible by flying to either Innsbruck or Verona, then to Ortisei by private transfer, rail or airport coach.

In the early 1980s, Japanese scientists discovered that simply inhaling the aromas produced by trees could immunise the body against disease. Phytonicides, which trees emit to protect themselves from harmful insects and germs, have strong anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities when inhaled by humans. American medical research has also proved that just being among trees is good for well-being, with stress levels and blood pressure lowered within three minutes of being in a green space.

Touching, stroking, leaning on and, above all, hugging a tree is beneficial to your health, with individual tree species having different effects on people. Among the trees that are prevalent in the Dolomites, beech improves concentration and well-being, will help ease a sore throat and improves kidney function, while pine is good for the respiratory system, helps to treat depression and restores balance, while reducing fatigue.

Many pharmaceuticals are derived from trees: aspirin comes from willow bark and Pycnogenol, which protects against deep vein thrombosis, is made from pine tree bark.