Pandemic Wellbeing: Ananda Online

Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

By Siggy Franzen

The word retreat conjures the ideals of escape; to escape the demands, the consistent pressures, the overwhelming cost, the rapidly passing time, and the ultimate regrets that one experiences from mundane life. Retreats promise a restart and provide one with a foundation that can be learned in the embracing hands of masters. Retreats are not inherently for escaping. Instead, the idea is more about sanctuary; a place of loving-kindness and security through development and healing. Sanctuary allows the mind and body to reintegrate, restart, and gather up the fraying self, so when they return to the world they are equipped to better balance suffering and joy. That sanctuary is found at the global leading wellness spa Ananda in the Himalayas, where rejuvenation and integration of Ayurveda practice has been customized into a therapeutic retreat.

Tucked into the jungle forest setting within the Himalayan foothills looking out onto the Ganges, age-old practice is what informs and guides the guests when they stay at the retreat center. It is a dreamy getaway hosted within the Viceregal Palace built by the Maharaja of Tehri Garhwal in 1911. The Himalayas is the birthplace for traditional Ayurveda and yoga practice known all over the world today, and Ananda continually adapts ancient practice for contemporary conditions, eastern wisdom into western language, and understanding.

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Recently, Ananda created an integral response to the world’s current pandemic crisis by providing a series of brand new online retreat services as part of the retreat’s multi-award winning pioneering work during this time of social distancing. Ananda respects the needs of those who benefit from connection and transitional guidance, and though global lockdown requires us to stay in our homes, this puts extra pressure, uncertainty, and isolation upon billions of people all over the world. The remote services offered at Ananda deliver methods that can help incorporate healthy and mindful practices centered on the same Ayurveda principles one would benefit from were they to travel to Ananda.

Incorporating contemporary practices of Ayurveda, Yoga, and Vedanta, Ananda offers a variety of online packages meant to accommodate goals and personalized requirements which includes continual mentoring, consultations, classes, nutrition and recipes, and the option to have a personalized diet and activity plan designed by professional practitioners and Ayurvedic physicians. No longer restricted to traveling to the Himalayas, guests are provided with meditation techniques, diet recommendations, skincare guidance, and social integration that allows one to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout the crisis.

As a good sign of quality healthcare, Ananda shares a wealth of information on social media as a gracious representation of the practical and accurate knowledge they possess.  Ananda houses a whole team of experts regularly providing necessary Ayurvedic knowledge on their Instagram, IGTV channel, and YouTube channel, complementary to anyone who visits Ananda remotely. As one of their posts mentions, “It is easy to be relaxed on holidays, but the idea is to have a relaxed state of mind wherever you are, and whenever possible.”

I started with their Instagram IGTV series. The vibrant variety and inspiring collection of talks and videos gift one with hours of information to soak in. Upon first watching their talk titled ‘Patanjali Sutras: Yamas and Niyamas’, I was immersed in an hour-long discussion of the necessary practice of the ancient yoga sutras. The talk invites one to begin their lifelong practice starting any moment by picking one of the Yamas-Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (celibacy or ‘right use of energy’), Aparigraha (non-greed or non-hoarding)-to focus on for one month. From the first visit to Ananda, I am reminded of the biting truth of the power of the moment in Ayurvedic language, engaging me to become better acquainted with this ancient foreign practice.

Their Instagram allows anyone from all over the world to sit with Ayurvedic practitioners and physicians and learn the basic concepts, from yoga mat practice to internal and external Yamas and Niyamas that can be incorporated into meditation outside of Yoga within everyday moments. It is interesting how many different Ayurveda talks have to repeat that the practice does not only happen on a yoga mat in an ideal solitude and quietness. Rather, it is found within oneself no matter your location or circumstance. Ananda maintains this basic and vital meditative technique by hosting talks that remind one of the foundations of practice- yoga, to unite oneself with the internal One, tat tvam asi (Thou art That). Yoga is a basic reflection and root connection to all that is in the external world. This means it is not necessary to travel away from home to begin healing, but rather, to begin the journey internally by finding the balance within the body first.

The packages guide a myriad of topics such as mental health, chakra cleansing, sleep issues, allergies and immune deficiencies, chronic pain management, energy-boosting techniques, and complementary Insta-Live sessions, all recorded and archived for continual use.

Photo by Chris Jarvis on Unsplash

Expert guidance can be found throughout the Ananda experience, with limitless possibilities as to how one may incorporate and join in. One finds a comprehensive wellness journey with Ananda, a trip through Himalayan ancient wisdom from anywhere in the world with the power of the internet. There is no need to escape from daily life, Ananda’s communal demonstration of sharing the healing arts of the Orient makes them an incredible source for receiving the same attention of wellness online as one would should they travel to the Himalayas.  Ananda teaches the wisdom that all are a part of the moment, and the “retreat” is uniquely contained within oneself.

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Siggy Franzen has been writing essays for years on the psychoanalytic approach to philosophy, art history, mythology, religion, classic literature, film, and anything that examines the depths of the human condition. She recently finished her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology, has written a volume of academic essays that could fill a PhD. She enjoys studying and reading literature and nonfiction outside academic conditions while she writes short stories in historical drama and speculative fiction. Follow her on Instagram for her insight, book and film recommendations. Follow her on Medium for more articles and short stories.

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