A rejuvenating Ayurveda Retreat in Madeira Island
To Relax and recover: wellness was, in fact, the first reason why tourism
started in Madeira. Visitors came to escape the stormy winters, to enjoy the benefits of our beautiful landscapes, amazing food and good hospitality.
I was very happy to discover that tradition is still alive in the
Ayurveda Center, where many tourists come year after year, sometimes
even 3 times a year, to recover from stress, health issues or simply to relax.
This is the life, or as you would easily conclude after staying there, this is
what a holiday should look like.
Last January, I’ve spent a day at the Ayurveda Cure Center in Caniço. I was invited by the lovely Nathalie and mother Brigit who runs this center, it’s been 4 years now.
It is located in Caniço de Baixo, next to the Hotel Alpino, in Madeira Island.
The goal of this center is to promote health care by taking advantage of Ayurvedic treatment programs which are tailored to suit your needs.
The day started very early. I left home while it was still dark but I was willing to experience something different (and so was my adventurous soul).
It took me about 15 minutes to drive from Funchal to the Center.
As I arrived there, I was welcomed and guided to the Yoga room.
07.30 h Yoga Room
The lights were still on and there were about 7 people there, laying down in their mats, facing the sea.
The Yoga teacher arrived and to the sound of relaxing music, the class begun. We started smooth movements of our bodies. It felt good.
By the time the class finished, the day was born, the sea was laying right in front of us, blue and peaceful, and we could even see the sun rising in between the clouds.
Afterwards, we were ready for breakfast.
9:00 Ayurvedic breakfast
The restaurant has (as all the center), a privileged location, with amazing ocean views.
In the restaurant you have access to a full breakfast buffet with lots of choices. I’ve tasted the ginger tea with rice and spelled flakes, banana with coconut and orange juice and red fruits.
Other options included homemade crunchy muesli with amaranth,raisins, nuts, chia, honey, coconut, quinoa and chai tea. You have also access to the usual english or continental breakfast.
After my meal, I went for a walk around the gardens. They cultivate all sorts of herbs and beautiful flowers, plus the sea views are simply stunning. There is also a relax room with a small library and a open terrace.
10. 00 h Consultation with a Ayurvedic doctor
Dr. S. Gopal has completed his “BAMS” (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine) in 2004 on “Ayurveda Medical College” in Kerala and looks back on seven years of professional work as an Ayurvedic doctor and Panchakarma specialist. In recent years, Dr. Gopal has worked as a senior ayurvedic doctor in 4 and 5 star Ayurveda resorts in Kerala and Malaysia and was responsible for consultation and treatment protocols of guests of those Ayurveda centers.
It was my first Ayurveda consultation and knew very little about this Medicine but Dr. Swathy Gopal kindly explained it to me. He speaks in English but translation is also available.
What is Ayurveda Medicine?
Ayurvedic medicine is a system of healing that originated in ancient India.
In Sanskrit, Ayurveda means “Knowledge of Life” and uses diet, detoxification techniques, natural herbal remedies,yoga, meditation, and massage therapy as holistic healing methods.
According to Ayurveda, the basic life force in the body is prana. There are five basic elements that contain prana: earth, water, fire, air and space. These elements interact organizing the human body as three main categories known as doshas. The three doshas are vatha, pitha, and kapha and each person has a unique blend of the three doshas.
Disease is viewed as a state of imbalance in one or more of a person’s doshas. For example when Vatha is out of balance, there are often problems related to the Nervous sistem. Pitha is associated with metabolism and digestion problems and Kapha with immunity issues.
Many people especially with chronic diseases, allergies, autoimmune diseases and persistent symptoms can benefit from ayurvedic treatments (ex: polyarthritis, obesity, stress-related hypertension, insomnia, skin problems such as psoriasis) as well as disease prevention through Ayurvedic detoxification measures.
Another factor which can contribute to diseases is lack of exercise that helps us gain prana (vital energy). Yoga, meditation and food are also essencial to maintain our health. The Ayurvedic diet emphasizes primarily vegetarian foods of high quality, according to the season and time of day. This was my lunch, healthy and delicious!
What happens during an Ayurveda consultation?
Dr. Swathy Gopal used a questionnaire to determine my dosha patterns. He also took the pulse and analized tongue, face, lips, eyes, and fingernails for abnormalities that Ayurvedic Medicine believes can indicate deeper problems in the internal systems.
In terms of Ayurvedic treatments, it seeks to re-establish balance and harmony in the body’s systems and involves some sort of detoxification and cleansing of the body. I was recommended 2 herbalized oil massages, exercice and meditation as part of Ayurvedic treatment.
The massage therapy
In the morning, I’ve had Abhyanga – ayurvedic full body massage (Ana Patricia – Ayurvedic therapeut) and in the afternoon Padabhyanga –ayurvedic feet and leg massage (Ana Filipa –Ayurvedic therapeut).
These massages were different from anything I’ve experienced before. Both therapists were skilled and knew exactly were to apply pressure points to destress certain parts of the body.
For example, Ana Patrícia pressed a point under my armpit that reduced significantly the stiffness in my neck. It was really unbeliavable.
In between treatments I was given a fresh herbal tea and relaxed in this room with a sea view.
The waves and birds were performing in this peaceful scenery, a true invitation to meditate. I felt very well looked after, in order to heal body and soul.
What can I say…I loved every minute of it.
If you are looking for a special gift for valentine’s day or for no particular reason, simply because you love yourself and deserve to have a break from your daily routine…this might just be the perfect choice ;).
The program of a day of cure includes 2 massages + Ayurvedic Lunch and costs € 140.
There are many other programes available. Many people that I met there, came for one or three weeks. The benefits of this center is that programmes can be tailored to suit your individual preferences.
Book it here.
My stay was courtesy of Ayurveda Center by Birgit Moukom but views expressed are my own.