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Conscious calmness

Ben Paul
Ben Paul9/10/2018 07:00 AM GMT+08  • 7 min read
Conscious calmness
SINGAPORE (Sept 10): The floating board onto which I’m gingerly creeping suddenly lurches away from the side of the pool, and I slide helplessly into the chilly water. After several seconds of flailing about, I manage to clamber back on, only to realis
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SINGAPORE (Sept 10): The floating board onto which I’m gingerly creeping suddenly lurches away from the side of the pool, and I slide helplessly into the chilly water. After several seconds of flailing about, I manage to clamber back on, only to realise that I’m facing the wrong way. Several more seconds go by as I struggle to turn myself around without falling into the water again. Then, I’m finally ready for my first ever yoga experience — with a twist.

The so-called Aqua Yoga Fitmat class involves a series of movements that are supposed to build strength, deepen flexibility and improve balance and coordination — all of which are done on a floating platform no wider than a surfboard. As a rank novice, I can only manage a fraction of what I am supposed to do, drawing sympathetic glances and an occasional eye-roll from the incredibly lithe instructor. Unlike the others in my class, however, I manage to avoid falling into the water again.

I had arrived at the REVÌVÒ Wellness Resorts, in the hills of Nusa Dua in the south of Bali, the previous day for a “Sleep Well” retreat. At first, it seemed like I was headed for a few days of languid luxury. I was met at the end of the jet bridge, and whisked through immigration and customs, to a waiting car with a tray of cold towels and selection of healthy drinks and snacks. But I would soon discover that the retreat was an immersive programme that included a curated diet, strenuous exercise classes and spa treatments. More importantly, there was a focus on developing the “mindfulness” many of us lose while pursuing our ambitions, and that make the years seem to go by too quickly.

“We are a wellness resort that provides accommodation,” said Sebastien Andre, general manager at REVÌVÒ Wellness Resorts. The “Sleep Well” retreat is only one of several programmes the resort offers. There are also retreats designed to relieve stress, detox and lose weight, stave off the effects of ageing and even to improve the well-being of mothers-to-be. At its core, each of these programmes is about learning to eat properly, rest well and be calm. “We try to educate our guests,” Andre said.

REVĪVŌ Wellness Resorts was founded by Gordon Oldham.

REVÌVÒ Wellness Resorts was founded by British-born, Hong Kong-based lawyer-turned-businessman Gordon Oldham, who also owns The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts, which has properties in Bali and Phuket. The REVÌVÒ Wellness Resorts Bali opened only in March, and currently consists of 16 spacious and beautifully furnished suites spread across three villas that were once part of a resort managed by Aman Resorts. In fact, the main villa, where the restaurant, spa and other facilities are located, once belonged to Aman Resorts founder Adrian Zecha himself, according to Andre.

A further six suites are expected to be added to the Bali property next year. REVÌVÒ Wellness Resorts also plans to begin offering wellness cruises in Indonesian waters, and open a resort property in the south of France.

Meals at the resort, such as this kale and spinach soup, emphasise naturally grown vegetables, gluten-free alternatives and probiotics that promote a healthy digestive system.

Healthy diet
My stay at REVÌVÒ Wellness Resorts Bali began with a consultation with its resident wellness coach Kathy Cook. She started off by getting me to stand barefoot on a Tanita body composition analyser, which measures everything from one’s weight to metabolic rate. It showed, not unexpectedly, that I’m rather heavy and have significantly more body fat than desirable.

Cook then asked about my job, sleep habits and general lifestyle. I got the impression that she had seen and heard it all before: self-imposed sleep deprivation, irregular and unhealthy meals, difficulty focusing on specific tasks, poor posture, chronic indigestion and an inability to see that all these issues are linked. She encouraged me to embrace all aspects of the programme over the next three days. I was also given a journal, in which I was supposed to record my reflections every day.

Each day at the resort began with a butler knocking on my door at 7.30am, bearing a tray of three shot glasses. One contained an earthy concoction of coconut oil, ginger and turmeric; the next was a pleasant-tasting kombucha (fermented tea); and the last, a throat-stripping mixture of warm water, lemon and salt. This was followed by a yoga class, and then breakfast. In the late morning, there were intensive exercise classes. After lunch, there was more yoga and a spa treatment. There was also plenty of time in between these sessions to try out the resort’s gymnasium, sauna, hot and cold plunge pools, or just take a swim in the pool at your villa.

Meals at the resort were something of a mixed experience. There was a great deal of emphasis on naturally grown vegetables, gluten-free alternatives and probiotics that promote a healthy digestive system.

The dishes I was served were undoubtedly creative and tasty. But they were never entirely satisfying. On the other hand, I can’t say that I was ever hungry, and I was sure that I had a flatter stomach by the end of my stay.

As an example, one dinner included a kale and spinach soup, and grilled fish with vegetables. I was also served tempeh satay on my first afternoon at the resort. Breakfasts at the resort included toast made from banana flour. Coffee was never served at meals, though you could make one for yourself in your suite. Instead, there were lots of fruit juices, natural teas and more kombucha.

Kathy Cook is the resident wellness coach at REVĪVŌ Wellness Resorts Bal.

Yoga experience
More than anything else, it was the yoga experience that made the biggest impression on me during my stay in Bali. While the Aqua Yoga class did not go all that well, the other yoga classes I took were a real revelation. There was the physically demanding, sweat-inducing Ashtanga yoga class, where I struggled to keep up with the brisk sequence of movements. I also had an Iyengar yoga class, which made use of props such as a belt, blocks, bolster and even a folding chair, where my arms and legs trembled as I tried to maintain the precise posture demanded by the instructor.

Then, there was the Pranayama class, where I got an introduction to yogic breathing techniques such as the Ujjayi, which encourages the full expansion of the lungs and steady, calm breathing; and Nadhi Sodhana, which involves controlled breathing through alternate nostrils that is said to reduce anxiety and synchronise the hemispheres of the brain. All of this came together during a “restorative” yoga class, where I found myself stretching and bending much further whenever I refocused my attention on my breathing. The sensation of my body “opening up” was remarkable.

By the end of my stay at REVÌVÒ Wellness Resorts Bali, I had a desperate craving for a hamburger and caffè latte, but I also had a new appreciation for having a calm mind. During my exit consultation with Cook, she suggested that I find a way to continue practising yoga in Singapore, and recommended a meditation app called Headspace. Drawing from one of the animated videos from the app, she likened the numerous thoughts that distract one from “being present” to dark clouds that obscure the blue sky. “The sky is still there,” she said. “Acknowledge [the clouds] and let [them] go,” she added.

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