You travel to some places to find your spiritual side. I found mine in Ubud.
By Julie Ravindran
Bali is known as the island of a thousand temples. It is home to a majority Hindu community living peacefully and spiritually in Indonesia, a country with the world’s largest muslim population. On our journey into Ubud, as we headed to the COMO Shambhala Estate, I could see locals weaving rituals into their daily lives. Many artisanal shops line the streets displaying Hindu gods and the Buddha, stone sculptures, batik clothing, wooden carvings, silversmiths and other eye-catching crafts. Store entrances and homes have daily offerings called Canang Sari placed on leaf baskets. Bali lends itself as a spiritual abode because of the devotion of its people, the abundance of nature and the simplicity of life. For me, the Balinese people are what contributed largely to the sense of spirituality, as their kindness and sincerity contributed to the sense of peace that is synonymous with the island, more so in Ubud.
After over a year of having opposite schedules, my husband and I were able to finally schedule a long overdue holiday. He was in between jobs, and I decided to take a break too. Our main goal was to enjoy some time away, switching up the scenic quotient and immersing ourselves in another culture, while detoxing and retaining elements of a healthy lifestyle. We were both feeling that we had lost a bit of zeal after getting caught in the hamster wheel of our daily routines. With a reputation for having a high focus on wellbeing and spirituality, Ubud seemed to be the perfect place to renew our spirits. Did you know that ‘Ubud’ translates to ‘Medicine’ in Balinese?
Staying at the COMO Shambhala Estate in Ubud and signing up for their 3-day wellness program was the icing on the cake for me!
Upon arriving at the resort, their wellness manager Sally Halstead educated me about each of their four wellness programs and their mission. After she explained the history of the land and the characteristics that make it so unique, I began to understand why I felt captivated by the setting. Situated high in a canopy of trees, the property sits nestled in between the meeting point of two rivers, the Ayung and the Os. The Balinese believe this land where the two rivers meet is very auspicious. They call it Campuhan.
There is a holy water spring on this COMO property, one of eight in Bali, contributing to the spiritual and healing components of the land.
I was able to find a deep sense of peace by being immersed in nature with no distractions at the COMO Shambhala Estate. This made sense later as I learned the property has only 30 coveted residences sprawled across 9.2 hectares. What better place than this to escape. Getting lost in nature becomes second nature here! The magnificent COMO Shambhala Estate is about 20 minutes north of the Ubud city center, not too far from the vibrant shopping and eateries zone and yet tucked away to provide me with immense tranquility during my stay.
Our Terrace Suite was one of my favorite places in the resort. It was built while integrating the landscape. Having multiple lounge spots outside, all having jungle views, my husband and I always opted to have our lunches outdoors. Our first lunch consisted of a refreshing vegan caesar salad and a warming pumpkin curry. We ended it with their in- house ginger tea to warm us up after the afternoon rains set in.
All four sides of the suite had access to the outdoors; a deck, awnings and outdoor showers. We felt like we were in our own private treehouse in the middle of the jungle. Outside our suite was a common large space consisting of a pool, dining area and fire pit.
Wellness in Abundance
As COMO’s flagship wellness resort, the COMO Shambhala Estate has left no stone unturned. The wellness program is comprehensive and designed to heal you from the inside out. COMO has developed more than 20 Asian inspired and Western holistic treatments, and the estate offers four wellness programs: Ayurvedic, Beactive, Bespoke and Cleanse.
Beactive is a program designed for guests who are seeking rehabilitation after an injury or for those wishing to take their existing fitness program to a higher intensity. A broad range of activities can be selected ranging from biking, volcano hikes, rock climbing and pilates. Activities can be arranged for individual training or in the daily group activities. The main goals are to leave feeling more fit and stronger while building stamina to sustain the level of fitness after leaving the estate.
Bespoke is currently the most popular program at the estate, and also the most flexible. Truly catering to the guest’s goals, the program can be moulded to fit their needs. Most people enlist in the program to achieve a rejuvenation of the mind and body. This program is also helpful for those facing a life transition or to manage their daily stress.
Cleanse is a program for those wishing to reset their bodies. It is designed to give the body a type of spring cleaning. This involves different levels of fasting and juice cleansing according to the guest’s comfort levels. The program works in tandem with yoga, nature treks and/or colon hydrotherapy. The goal is to reset the body from the inside and outside to achieve a sense of renewal.
I was excited to participate in the Ayurvedic program after being inspired by its ancient Indian origins and authentic natural ingredients. First on my schedule was getting a personalized health assessment by Dr. Prasanth Vayanakathu, an Ayurvedic consultant. I was aware that Ayurveda works on a person’s metabolic constitution, or dosha, meaning each one of us has elements of Air (Vata), Fire (Pitta), or/and Water/Earth (Kapha). Dr. Prasanth asked me a series of lifestyle and health questions and performed some assessments looking at the pulse, tongue and energy points to gauge my specific dosha. He told me I was a Kapha Pitta, meaning I had a constitution which was a mix of water and fire, with the latter on the low side. He encouraged me to refrain from red meats, dairy and gluten. To stimulate proper digestion, I was advised to omit drinking water with meals and allow for a three hour gap between dinner and bedtime.
Afterwards he prescribed a treatment path for the next few days; encompassing Ayurvedic oils and herbs, diet and exercise. The treatments were customized to me with specific oils and temperatures optimal for my body chemistry. By Day 3, I was feeling exceptionally cared for knowing that I was giving attention to my body, mind and soul by wholeheartedly focusing on my health and goals.
During my stay, I had three Ayurvedic massages at the COMO Spa located in the Ojas building at the heart of the resort. The spa, built in harmony with nature, has rooms leading to private outdoor gardens equipped with open showers. I found it particularly relaxing as I was able to listen to the rain while getting a massage. The massages were very calming and induced the best sleep. I felt the healing properties of the Ayurvedic oils relieved the tension from my achy and tight muscles.
Another healing wonder at the COMO Shambhala Estate is the hydrotherapy pool. The pool has healing properties as it is filled with spring water and has about 10 high-speed water jet stations that focus on treating a particular body part. I enjoyed experimenting with a new way to isolate different muscle groups. My husband and I got a good laugh in the initial warm up portion where we engaged in some aquacise like movements. Wellness is made fun at the resort with daily activities, such as walks along rice paddy fields, biking, juice and tea making, pilates, yoga and meditation.
Yoga, Meditation & Healthy Eating
Each day began with breakfast at the Kudus House at the estate. I was impressed with how the staff added a personal element by learning our names. We started our meal with fresh juice and fruits and devoured buckwheat pancakes with papaya and omelettes with field mushrooms. I rounded out all my meals with a Keto coffee, made with coconut oil, coconut cream and butter, leaving me fully fuelled for the day. The Kudus House makes you feel like you are having breakfast inside a very intricate treehouse.
We also had the privilege of taking a private yoga class at the yoga pavilion with Wayan Budiatra, a specialist in meditation and Yin yoga. Wayan made yoga very light and approachable, encouraging us to make it a daily practice even if for just a few minutes. There we focused on our breathing, movement and sun salutations in a picturesque setting. The pavilion sits high on a hill and is completely open. We were able to enjoy the jungle views and sounds of birds chirping while settling down into our rhythmic yoga breathing and flow.
By the time I had finished my three-day wellness program at the luxurious COMO Shambhala Estate in Ubud, I felt I had fine tuned my mind, body and spirit, allowing me to reconnect with myself and my husband. I found the natural backdrop, scintillating landscape, fresh air and warm sunlight transform me into a magical place where I found myself and immersed myself deeply within the mere beauty of my surroundings.
The environment, alongside the wellness initiatives, are what make this COMO property so unique. It is truly a sanctuary that will leave you with a renewed awareness of your mind, body and spirit, and leave you yearning for more.
Julie Ravindran is a writer for Yoga Journal, and lives in Austin, Texas.
Photo Courtesy: Como Hotels and Ben Sandran.