On the Arabian Sea coast of Karnataka, 170 kilometres south of Goa, is a double-fronted beach of golden sand, linked by a rocky outcrop and shaped like the Hindu symbol, Om – said to be the very first sound of creation.
This is where my luxury Ayurveda Retreat will be for the next few days.
It’s fitting that tucked behind this fabled beach lies one of India’s most celebrated yoga retreats, a place of restoration, healing and communion of body and mind. SwaSwara (‘swa’ meaning ‘the self’ in Sanskrit, while ‘swara’ refers to sound) is a retreat where you can find your ‘inner voice’, combining elements of yoga, Ayurveda, meditation, art and organic cuisine.
Typically, a visit to SwaSwara is of at least a week’s duration, allowing guests to unwind, rejuvenate and heal through the therapies and program. I, unfortunately, only have two nights – but it’s a taste-test that leaves me wanting more.
Located on 26 acres of jungle-clad beachfront, SwaSwara is – like other CGH Earth properties – built to resemble a tribal village, with 24 double-storey villas lining a canal and a cluster of communal buildings including a library, meditation dome and restaurant centred around a swimming pool.
My luxurious villa is constructed of stone, and features a bedroom opening to an open grassy courtyard, steps leading down to an undercover relaxation area. Upstairs, there is a yoga deck with views across the canopy to the ocean beyond.
The focus at SwaSwara, however, is less on the accommodation (fabulous though it is!) and more on the programs, which include daily yoga, sunrise meditations, Ayuvedic treatments and a cleansing Yogic kriya session to cleanse the sinuses.
First up is a consultation with an Ayuvedic doctor, designed to influence the course of your treatment and diet throughout the week. Because my stay is so short, no dietary restrictions are put into place – normally, however, meals are tailored to accommodate special requirements.
Three meals a day are included in a visit to SwaSwara; naturally enough, no hard alcohol is on offer. Much of the vegetarian-based cuisine is grown in the resort’s own garden, while fresh seafood is acquired from local fishermen. The menu is organic, innovative and totally delicious – I am blown away with how fresh and tasty each meal is.
With no time for full Ayuvedic treatment, I am instead encouraged to simply enjoy the relaxation therapies on offer, including a four-handed abhyanga massage. If you’ve never had one of these, let me tell you, it can be a little confronting – we’re talking full-on nude here, with little place for modesty! Doused in warm oil, I’m a willing victim of the skilled therapists who pulverise my muscles in perfect synch, pummelling me into a state of slippery nirvana!
As evening falls, I head to the blue meditation dome for a chanting session. I must admit to being a little nervous – I haven’t done much chanting or meditation prior to this, and am fearful I’ll be out of my depth. Instead, I am welcomed with open arms, and find myself enjoying the experience and physical outlet.
At the core of SwaSwara is its yoga program, conducted each morning either on the beach or in the dedicated yoga sala. Using a combination of Asana (postures) and Pranayama (breathing techniques), it’s the perfect start to the day, focusing the mind and relaxing the body.
Creativity is also a way of nourishing the inner voice; this is explored at SwaSwara in music and art sessions. Unfortunately, my time is too limited to enjoy one of these – that will have to wait until my next visit!
I am able, however, to steal a few moments for a walk along Om beach, allowing its tranquillity to wash over me. I share the sands with just a handful of locals and a couple of cows, wandering nonchalantly along the shore – I couldn’t think of more appropriate companions in a truly special place!
Given I’ve had just a glimpse of what SwaSwara has to offer, I would heartily recommend a longer visit – only then can you truly benefit from its intensive program and find the transformation so many people expect from a holiday in India. The Ultimate Luxury Ayurveda Retreat in India.
A 7-night program at SwaSwara includes road transfers from Goa, accommodation with three meals a day, daily yoga sessions, sunrise meditations, two private yoga sessions, focus groups, analysis from an Ayuvedic doctor and four full body massages. There are also art classes, nature walks, cooking classes and cultural programs available.
For more information, contact us to craft a wellness experience for you.
By Julie Miller who was a guest of Mantra Wild Adventures.