You may not be able to visit your favourite Asian spa anytime soon, but, fortunately, the retreat can come to you. Karina Stewart, co-founder of Thailand’s award-winning Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary, shares the best ways to incorporate spa-style wellness into your daily life.
Aren’t we all due for a spa break? Preferably somewhere warm where the breeze dances through the palm fronds and where the air is scented with ylang-ylang. A place where you can spend each day in a cotton spa robe and where the biggest decision you’ll have to make is whether to have a sauna before or after your massage. With a little ingenuity, you can get spa bliss without a plane ticket. Read on for your guide to instant holiday karma.
GET CLOSE TO NATURE
Seek out places of natural beauty. “Humans evolved with nature; connection to our surroundings is in our history and in our DNA,” says Karina Stewart, chief wellness director of Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary. “Kamalaya is built on the idea of nature as the primary healer.”
Step into Kamalaya – a green oasis with magnificent views across the ocean – and you instantly start to relax. Don’t live on an exotic island? Taking a walk in the park, or even redecorating your office, will help. “Research shows that a bouquet of flowers, or even a photo of a natural scene, has an impact on our brain,” she says. “Bringing in the smell of nature can also enhance your mood: scents such as eucalyptus and rosemary are really uplifting.”
Fast Fact: People who spend more time on beaches have less stress and better overall health, according to a study from the University of Exeter.
The simplest way to bring a spa-worthy sense of calm into your daily life is to work with your natural rhythms. “We have more energy earlier in the day, so schedule the first four to six hours to be your most productive time,” says Karina. “That means for the second half of the day, you can be a little bit more mellow.”
If that’s not possible, she suggests heading outside for a short walk every two hours, or even just having an afternoon tea break. “It doesn’t have to be a long one – just a five-minute pause has an effect,” she says. “I generally have a Chinese-style tea and treat the experience as meditation – a chance to calm down, look at the view or even just at the tea bowl, take in the aroma and engage the senses in that moment.”
TREAT YOUR BODY
When there’s no masseuse around, Karina has a little secret. “I finish the day with a hot bath,” she says. “I have the water up to my ribcage to bring the circulation down to my lower body and sometimes I add magnesium salts or an aromatherapy oil. If I don’t feel like a bath, I’ll just have a hot foot bath instead. I go to bed straight afterward; I may read a few pages of something that’s not too stimulating, though, such as poetry or a book on home decor.”
One of the great joys of a spa stay is the fresh, nutritious food that nurtures your body. But simply eating with the seasons, Karina says, can make a big difference. “You can stick with things that are simple to cook,” she suggests. “In spring, as your energy moves out of hibernation, it’s time to gradually start including greens and fresh salads in your meals. Try lightly steaming and sautéing vegetables such as chard, spinach, and asparagus.”