Me-time at Svatá Kateřina
March already. Is it me, or does the year feel like it has been going on forever, but with so much still to accomplish? And even though summer is not far off, the winter doesn’t seem to be ending. Sometimes, it can be difficult to remain motivated and upbeat.
So you can understand how excited I was to visit Resort Svatá Kateřina for an Ayurvedic introduction weekend earlier this year.
As a yoga teacher and complementary therapies enthusiast, I was excited to have an excuse to get some me-time, put my phone down, and set aside my daily routine (Netflix marathons included).
It seems to me that nowadays we need to physically remove ourselves from our “usual hangouts” (our office, the gym, sometimes even our home) to allow ourselves to disconnect and take a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. After some research, I chose to do so at Svatá Kateřina. I had read about Ayurvedic centres in Asia and was happy I could experiment in a place not far from Prague.
I reached my destination after a beautiful train journey from Prague. The check-in went smoothly and the staff was very friendly. Having received the programme for the day, I started wandering around the place. I was struck by the realization that this wouldn’t be a typical spa adventure.
The complex radiates the sense of being a place that offers not only the opportunity for a relaxing holiday break, but also the chance to plunge into the warm waters of self-care. A place where one can dive into a whole different universe, a new daily routine, in which the epicentre is you.
Having the possibility of spending your whole stay in silence, doing yoga or horseback riding is certainly part of its charm, but what made this place so special to me was its focus on Ayurvedic medicine and Ayurvedic living.
According to WebMD, Ayurvedic medicine is “one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems,” considered nowadays in the West as a form of “complementary/alternative medicine.”
Developed in India more than 5,000 years ago, Ayurveda is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit, as well as on our dialectic relationship with the environment. According to Dr Sanjay Das, resident Ayurvedic doctor at Svatá Kateřina, Ayurveda is “the science of life,” a way of living and a practical system of medicine, the main goal of which is to preserve health by restoring our inner balance in complete harmony with our surroundings.
Since 2016, Resort Svatá Kateřina, in close cooperation with the Kairali Ayurvedic Clinic in Kerala, India, has been offering several Ayurvedic programs, as well as consultations with a resident Ayurvedic doctor and treatments performed by Indian therapists trained and certified by the clinic.
The meticulously planned programmes are specially designed to address particular needs: an Ayurvedic program for women; a programme with a focus on back pain or metabolic balance; or an Ayurvedic program for weight loss – you name it. They include medical consultations, tailored Ayurvedic therapies and massages, yoga lessons, and three Ayurvedic meals a day, masterfully prepared by Rahul Gopalakrishnan, sous chef and certified Ayurvedic nutritionist who will happily lecture you on the magic of spices and the beauty of a simple, traditional style of cooking.
While sharing a delicious Ayurvedic dinner with Dr Sanjay, as he was explaining the complexity of Ayurvedic medicine and its profound, ancient knowledge of human nature, I was struck by the fact that he wasn’t telling me anything I hadn’t come across in recent years.
Not only “alternative” yoga-loving yuppies and New-Age fanatics agree, but also scientific researchers from around the world: we are facing an era marked by a sharp rise in stress-related diseases, along with increased ailments linked to a sedentary lifestyle, malnutrition, and the abuse of technology, and we urgently need to address these issues.
Preventive medicine has been identified as a way forward by health providers such as the NHS in the UK. As Dr Sanjay put it: we have started to live, eat, and act against nature like never before, and we urgently need to find a way to rebalance and reconnect with ourselves. Holistic systems such as Ayurveda have been used for this purpose for thousands of years.
My first day in the resort was over, but not without visiting the spa and, thanks to Resmi’s miraculous hands, enjoying hands-down the best massage I’ve had in recent years. Believe me, never underestimate the power of a soft, gentle touch, decadent oils, and a 90-minute full-body massage. I floated towards my room and was sleeping like a baby within five minutes.
The next day I visited the new Ayurvedic Pavilion, which opened to the public in late March. It is a state-of-the-art treatment centre and spa, built with all-natural materials and boasting ceiling-to-floor windows. Together with the Kairali Ayurvedic Clinic, the Pavilion was designed to have all the characteristics an Indian Ayurvedic centre of the highest standards. The design, the materials, the gardens, and the views were planned in the finest detail to be able to offer visitors genuine, high-quality Ayurvedic treatments. Svatá Kateřina truly has everything it needs to become the top Ayurvedic centre in Central Europe.
After an amazing yoga class and an Ayurvedic Sattvic lunch, I packed my things and headed to the reception to wait for my shuttle transfer to the train station. I left with an acute feeling of having found something very special, as if I had connected with an internal source of strength and peace to face the rest of the year with the sole purpose of seeking a more balanced existence.