A wellness break in a pandemic

Khursheed Dinshaw | Updated on June 04, 2021

Good vibrations: Viveda in Maharashtra offers naturopathy, ayurveda, homeopathy and oriental treatments under one roof   -  KHURSHEED DINSHAW

Nestled in the sprawling Sahyadris, Viveda — The Wellness Village offers the rejuvenation we could all use

* I made friends with yoga and all its avatars — hatha yoga, full body flow yoga, functional movement yoga, Iyengar yoga, ashtanga yoga and yin yoga

* The Viveda spa menu also had interesting therapies and I opted for a plantain leaf bath where after an oil massage, I lay wrapped in plantain leaves in direct sunlight to get the simultaneous benefits of chlorophyll and Vitamin D


There are few antidotes to pandemic anxiety. Some months ago, before the second wave lockdown shut us indoors, I opted for a wellness break to recharge my mind and body.

I chose the newly launched Viveda — The Wellness Village, near Nashik, away from hustle of city life. Nestled in the Sahyadris, it is a luxury retreat in Maharashtra offering naturopathy, ayurveda, homoeopathy and oriental treatments under one roof.

Choosing the property was the easy part. But would I be able to stick to a holistic regime? Would I be able to calm my restless mind that felt trapped? Plagued by such thoughts, I reached Viveda where post check-in, I was at my cottage villa with my own lush garden patch. A neatly placed itinerary was waiting on my bed.

I am not an early riser but, understandably, a healthy routine starts with waking up early. Would my late waking up be a deterrent to the path of wellness? Surprisingly, amidst this tranquillity, I awoke before sunrise and marked my attendance for netra shudhi or eye cleansing done with rose water and jal neti or nasal cleansing which I did with salt water. I made friends with yoga and all its avatars — hatha yoga, full body flow yoga, functional movement yoga, Iyengar yoga, ashtanga yoga and yin yoga. Monotony was barred entry.

Between consulting the in-house doctor who gave me practical and doable tips on physical, mental and emotional well-being which I could follow once I got back home, I sneaked in a dash of reflexology by walking on a reflexology track created with pebbles, stones and soothing water. From being sceptical of experiencing sessions of breathing meditation, chakra balancing meditation and tratak, I began to actually enjoy them. Viveda had begun to heal my anxiety and restlessness. I began to live in the present rather than worry about the uncertain future.

Inwardly chuffed and pleasantly surprised by my achievements, I celebrated by relishing the vegetarian sattvik and mostly organic cuisine of six-course meals at the in-house restaurant, Naivedhya, which served an eclectic spread of south Indian, north Indian, Mughlai, Thai, Italian and continental cuisine. Kosambari salad of yellow lentils and vegetable galouti kebabs whetted my appetite for carrot soup and Thai red lentil soup. Beetroot risotto and makai matar makhana called out to me while bhindi kurkuri and organic rice happily went into my tummy. I couldn’t pick a favourite from ragi lapsi, rose petal bajra kheer and home-made vegan ice creams.

Dessert time: Ragi lapsi and homemade vegan ice creams feature on the vegetarian menu   -  KHURSHEED DINSHAW


To burn some calories I would bicycle to the nearby dam to watch the sunset or brisk walk on the walking track at the property. On other days, there was croquet on the lush lawn and a game of marbles. My ping pong bucket challenge hit a roadblock as I got in a solitary ball after many attempts. I was beginning to appreciate the joys of life.

To unwind, I indulged in abhyanga — an ayurvedic full body massage done with warm oil, kizhi — a massage done with potlis containing medicated herbs to treat muscle and bone problems and a coffee oil massage with coffee scrub at the spa. The spa menu also had interesting therapies and I opted for a plantain leaf bath where, after an oil massage, I was wrapped in plantain leaves and lay in direct sunlight to get the simultaneous benefits of chlorophyll and Vitamin D. A deficiency in the latter has been steadily on the rise for Indians.

During the bamboo massage, after application of oil, three bamboo canes of varying lengths were used to relax muscles and the nervous system. For moxibustion which is part of Tibetan medicine, herbal sticks were burnt and their smoke applied to my body to ease muscle stiffness and improve digestion. I began to felt calmer and more grounded.

At Viveda, I also took comfort in my lowered carbon footprint given they adopt solar energy, rainwater harvesting, wet waste composting and vermicomposting. Specially created reed beds take care of treating and usage of waste water. Single use plastic be it toiletries or plastic drinking water bottles are substituted with stone containers and glass bottles throughout the property.

Over a bonfire, I bonded with a couple celebrating their 13th anniversary, a solo yogi, and a couple from Dubai who were also on a wellness break. We discussed our fears, hopes, dreams and the pandemic, over freshly brewed wheat coffee, a signature non coffee beverage of the resort made with roasted whole wheat and whole coriander sweetened with jaggery.

One could get used to this, I thought, reflecting on how the cacophony of horns was replaced by lilting bird calls, urban unrest by the serenity of the majestic Sahyadris and pollution by the aroma of 37 floral varieties. And although, like all good things, my wellness break came to an end, I went back more connected with myself, equipped with calm and strength to face a new normal.

Khursheed Dinshaw is a Pune based freelance writer-photographer

Published on June 04, 2021

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