Yoga at Koh Samui’s Absolute Sanctuary

In February I was in Koh Samui for the wedding of a good friend of mine. Said good friend was obviously concerned about our wellbeing as pre-wedding, she booked us all into a yoga class at Absolute Sanctuary.

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Waking up at 8am is not  my idea of a good time, but after arriving at Absolute Sanctuary, I could see it was going to be worth it. Before the class we had a chance to use their pool (and stare at all the healthy-looking people who were obviously there to really detox), and after a few dubious-looking clouds, we jumped into the pool and relaxed.

The class wasn’t that strenuous, amongst us was one pregnant lady and a bunch of yoga noobs, so my friend had chosen a Gentle Flow class which I, surprisingly, found I could follow quite well. With floor-to-ceiling windows (and no air-conditioning) I found the whole atmosphere very relaxing.

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We weren’t allowed to take pictures in the yoga class (and I don’t think any of the girls would have appreciated it anyway!) but basically it took place in the building in the picture above. Gentle Flow basically included a few short series of asanas (I think) using positions I actually recognised (Warrior 1 and 2…the one where you balance on one leg…uh yeah).

Yoga and I are generally strange bed fellows. I love doing it, but if I do it too often…I tend to get bored. I love the feeling of getting a good stretch and balance, I feel like it helps to focus my mind but I don’t find I can do it very often. This class however felt great. I’d just come off a week of non-stop eating from Chinese New Year (not to mention dumpling heaven in Shanghai) and it was good to be reminded that once upon a time, I had muscles.

http://www.absolutesanctuary.com

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Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Peace Hotel

I know it’s a little silly, but I swear I fell a little in love when I walked down the hallways of the Fairmont Peace Hotel. It’s just so gosh darned pretty!  I am generally a sucker for old buildings, I love the history and the feel of them. And this one, built in 1929 by British businessman Victor Sassoon, is a key example. Even the spa, which is brand spanking new, has an old world feel. Maybe it’s because I’ve been so spa-deprived for awhile…whatever, I loved it.

20130321_131145 A rare empty hallway, quickly snapped.

I also really really enjoyed my Stress Relief Massage. I find that Chinese spa therapists tend to have really good hands…they know how to use pressure just right and where to press, hard. For this massage, I really wanted to focus on my upper back. For some reason, it’s been giving me a heck of a lot of problems lately (sigh. age. sad.) I wouldn’t say it was the most soothing of massages, and I barely slept during any of it (which is rare for me), but that’s because I was reveling in the feeling of knots coming apart all around my spine. The treatment used Aromatherapy Associates’ Muscle Gel which warms to the touch and further soothes muscles.

Willow Stream at Fairmont Peace_suiteBefore the massage I spent some time in the steam room for an upcoming article I’m doing. Usually steam/sauna isn’t my thing, but after doing all this reading and research I was beginning to understand how much it helps to detox and sweat out toxins etc. I had been falling sick before the treatment, so actually I found it really helped, especially the light scent of eucalyptus that was in the steam room. I’ve also got to say I am a big fan of the Willow Stream’s in-spa products, the bath gel smelled divine as did the moisturizer, all with a faint scent of Chinese herbs.

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I hope they let me come back and swim.

http://www.fairmont.com/peace-hotel-shanghai

Dare to detox: A trip to Rasayana Resort in Pattaya

Just because I love to spa, definitely doesn’t mean I love to be healthy! It’s a bit ironic I know, having worked for three years on “Asia’s wellness bible.” I just love carbs (and chocolate) too much! But even I was beginning to feel it was getting to be a bit much…like did I really need to have three helpings of pasta at dinner? Probably not.

We choose Rasayana in Pattaya for a few reasons. First of all to be very honest, it was the cheapest. We already had tickets to Bangkok so it would only be a short drive to Pattaya and the package included the transfer. Secondly, it suited our timing. Most detoxes take at least 10 days, that’s how long you should be doing it to see results like weight loss etc. but I really didn’t have that time (story of my life). Also, for a detox newb like me, this seemed like a good ease-in option.

The package at Rasayana sounds more intense then it looks. It basically comprised of two days of Far Infra-Red Sauna sessions and colonics, raw food meals, one yoga class and three massages peppered throughout the stay. The first day we arrived, we checked-in, had our first raw food meal, a foot massage and then came back for dinner.

The hotel:

Fairtex is next to Rasayana and our package included three nights’ stay. This hotel looked like it had stepped out of the 70s (or present-day China). Everything was gold and gaudy and red and carpeted. It was hilarious. At least it wasn’t trying to actually be luxurious. The hotel has a huge muay thai ring, which I think is the main reason all the Russians were there, and lots of sports facilities. This was good because after the raw foods and colonics and sauna, we weren’t really interested in venturing further afield. Most days we swam. played squash and worked out. The room was large and comfortable AND it had cable, so we also did a lot of tv-watching. Truth: TV in bed in a hotel is one of my absolute favourite things to do.

The food:

Sigh. Raw foods are good for you. Cooked at 42 degrees to replicate the way nature intended for us to eat. Ergo, no meat, no processed foods, no dairy, NO CARBS. Given that my favourite food is mac ‘n’ cheese, it was torture. To be fair, it was really tasty. My favourite dish was the Mexican Taco Cups (above) which included a basket made of dehydrated carrots filled with spicy tomatoes and…something white and undefinable (by me anyway). I also really loved the banana smoothie which was simply banana, water and honey. Being lactose intolerant, the joys of smoothies has been largely lost on me, so this was wonderful and a great way to start the day. Now having been away from it for two weeks, I have to grudgingly admit that I miss the feeling all those healthy foods gave me.

The detox:

This was a pretty light detox as far as they go. But this was good as it didn’t leave us too drained and unable to do anything else. Plus this being my first time, I’m glad we didn’t go full-on into scary multiple colonics and clay drinks and whatever. I really liked the infra-red sauna as a good way to sweat out excess water and toxins. I also felt it made me sweat more  at the gym, or even walking around in the sweltering heat. We also got three massages in the package, a foot massage, Thai massage and light Thai-style lymphatic drainage, which I enjoyed immensely more than the Chinese pounding style.

The chamber of secrets…

Then there was the colonics. I haven’t been blogging very long so this might be a little TMI, but these were my first ever colonics (and quite possibly, my last). Colonics, or hydrotherapy, cleanse the colon via the *ahem* back-door entrance. It’s not exactly painful, but it’s uncomfortable. I guess I’d been lulled into a false sense of expectation by all my friends who “love” it. Plus it’s not exactly a passive experience where you just lie there and it happens. You have to do your part. At least through the ordeal, the therapist was extremely understanding and helped soothe my near panic. I’ll admit I felt pretty damned cleansed when it was all over, but I was super weary of doing it the next day. In the end I mustered up the courage and continued. The second time was much easier, so I guess it paid to ‘go with the flow’. Ugh okay I’ll stop now.

The end:

I’m really glad that we did this, especially prior to my Shanghai trip. While I can’t say I’ve given up on my love for pasta, and fries, and chocolate and bread (and many many more…) I am trying to be a bit more cautious of how much I eat, and what I do. This is obviously going to be very hard in Shanghai where I have no access to a gym, and plenty of access to delicious dumplings. But I guess we’ll see!