Health spa resort Thailand resort

Getting Well

Emily Goldstein flees to Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary in Koh Samui in search of physical and spiritual harmony.

Have you taken a moment lately to reflect on how you really feel, physically and emotionally? Pausing to think about this can make you realise that it could be time to take a break from a hectic lifestyle and recharge your batteries. Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary is just the place to do this.

Borrowing from Oriental and Western practices, Kamalaya ('lotus realm') focuses on each individual's needs and objectives by offering customised advice and treatment from qualified practitioners.

New arrivals at Kamalaya benefit from a personal wellness consultation with a naturopath (a practitioner specialised in non-medical treatments, like homeopathy, herbal and flower remedies). You'll have the pleasure of finding out all sorts of useful information about your body: weight, fat mass (that's always a shocker!), Body Mass Index, lean mass, water composition, etc. After getting over the initial results, your naturopath will discuss your objectives - e.g., detoxing, weight loss, improving skin condition, or following one of Kamalaya's Life Enhancement Programmes - and the appropriate treatment(s) to help achieve them. Kamalaya is not a Spa but a place for Wellness that encompasses four parts: Naturopathy and Homeopathy, Spa, Chinese Medicine Clinic and Shakti Fitness.

What you'll find at Kamalaya is an extensive range of treatments from Europe, China, India and Japan. Begin your journey to health and well-being with a 30-minute Lotus Seed Scrub that will leave your skin as smooth as a baby's. For stress-relief, try Kamalaya's signature Vital Essence Oil Massage, which combines Asian energy anatomy (the meridian points) with the science of aromatherapy to increase your health and balance your emotions. Before beginning, choose an essential oil from one of the Five Elements: Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal.

If you're an oil lover, then Ayurveda is just what the doctor ordered. Meaning 'the science of life', Ayurveda is a holistic system of natural medicine, first described in 3500 B.C., in the Vedic texts of ancient India. If you have time for only one treatment during your stay at Kamalaya, then the Indian Head Massage is a must. During one blissful hour, Ruby, the specialist Ayurvedic therapist, will massage your shoulders, neck, back and scalp using deep thumb and finger pressure to help improve circulation and flush out emotional and physical tension; it's totally and utterly relaxing. There are many other options on the Kamalaya Spa menu, including Traditional Thai Massage, foot and hand massage, facials, Royal Ayurvedic Massage, Shirodhara, Marma Point Massage, scrubs, wraps and balms.

Kamalaya also has a Traditional Chinese Medicine clinic (TCM). If some parts of your body are tense, sensitive or aching, I recommend a session of Moxabustion; it worked wonders for my aching back muscles. Moxabustion uses herbal heat (the herbal stick never actually touches your skin) to gently heal injured parts of the body and increase vital energy and circulation.

If you're suffering from gastrointestinal problems then Chi Nei Tsang (Taoist Abdominal Massage) is the way to go. I should point out, however, that this type of massage is not particularly relaxing; in fact, it can be slightly uncomfortable having your internal organs massaged and moved around. Based on the Chinese theory that refers to the gut as the second brain, this treatment releases stored -up tension and works on an emotional level. If you're ready to go the whole nine yards with detoxing (and I wasn't), colonic hydrotherapy could be for you. This treatment uses warm water to gently cleanse the entire bowel, removing plaque and waste matter accumulated over time, and the cause of blockage and sluggish digestion. The Chinese Medicine menu also includes techniques such as cupping and Chinese Tui Na massage.

There are also a few treatments that fall into the 'holistic therapies' category, like Lymphatic Drainage Massage (great for losing weight and for those of us plagued by cellulite), Reiki (Japanese word meaning Universal Life Energy) and Infrared Sauna (at temps of between 32 and 45 degrees, infrared stimulates circulation, burns calories). During Reiki, the practitioner (or healer) never actually puts his hands on your body but acts as a channel for energy. Although I was a bit sceptical at first (after all, what are the benefits of just lying on a table waiting for energy to penetrate you?), the one-hour session left me feeling surprisingly relaxed and stress-free - peaceful even. (And this was one week prior to a major surgical procedure!) Reiki accelerates the body's natural healing power and opens the mind, body and spirit to create balance on an emotional level. If Reiki isn't your cup of tea, physiotherapy and crania-sacral therapy are also on offer.

The last category under the Kamalaya Wellness umbrella is Shakti Fitness. Wellness is not just about being pampered; it's also about keeping your body healthy through some form of exercise. In addition to a modern gym where you'll find treadmills, elliptical trainers, weights and other instruments of torture, Kamalaya offers the services of a personal trainer as well as many types of mind and body exercises. If waking up at seven in the morning won't make you edgy for the rest of the day, the tai chi class is worth a try. The 30-minute session is held against the background of the sun rising by the sea. In classes throughout the day, experts advise on pilates (fabulous to get the core muscles into shape), chi gong (gentle stretching movements), Mind and Body Conditioning (a mix of Pilates and Yoga), several types of Yoga and meditation.

When you're not busy enjoying Kamalaya's treatments, there are numerous 'activities' to keep you occupied throughout the day. You can lounge around by the lap or leisure pool, read on the private veranda of your bungalow or villa, enjoy the herbal steam cavern and the ambient plunge pools or take a walk on the beach at sunset.

Feeling well internally and externally also depends on what you put into your body. At Kamalaya, food is an essential component of wellness. I was afraid that being faithful to some 'new age' wellness concept, I'd be reduced to eating rabbit food throughout my stay at Kamalaya. On the contrary, I was delighted to find healthy yet tasty cuisine, largely due to the talented Swiss Chef who takes from the sanctuary's homegrown vegetable and herbal garden. And if you're in need of a whisky or a beer, you'll find what you like on the "If You Must" drinks list. A small selection of desserts is also available, and if you're going to indulge, the homemade lemon tart will not disappoint.

If you're ready to take time for yourself and do some searching of mind, body and soul, Kamalaya will make your experience truly unique and inspiring.

Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary

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