Santani Mountain Retreat

I HAVE ALWAYS been fascinated by eastern healing methodology and loved running a retreat with the Ayurveda doctors at Santani Wellness in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Santani is the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, nestled in a 48-acre former tea plantation within a pristine forest built to the highest sustainability and eco-standards.

For thousands of years, Ayurvedic texts have described the benefit of physical exercise as 'sthiratva', or stability. The Ayubowan Retreat explores the process of self-experimentation to optimise physical and mental health; to address fitness, stress, and mid-life crisis.

Ayurveda recommends that we exercise at just fifty per cent of our capacity—until we break a mild sweat on the forehead, under the arms, and along the spine, or until the first sign of dryness in the mouth. It can feel challenging at first, but with time and practice, you will gradually develop a tolerance for more and more intensity to build strength, stamina and endurance.

Pillars of Fitness

The training incorporates the five pillars of exercise: Cardio, Balance, Strength, Flexibility, and Mobility, mentioned in Ayurvedic texts. Each pillar integrates my exercise programmes: Kun-Aqua (imagine Tai-Chi in the water) and Jumpga (the fitness yoga hybrid).

Balancing the Doshas

The ancient Vedic language of Sanskrit uses the words' krida' (playing, skipping) and 'vyayama' (body exertion) for 'exercise', demonstrating the Ayurvedic principle of balance. Too much activity—to the point of pain—creates imbalance just as much as too little. The way you exercise can depend on balancing the three energy forces in the body known as 'doshas' and, diving deep into gut health, Ayurveda goes far beyond a pill for your ill.


Vata body types are naturally thin and need fast, sweaty cardio sessions. They will significantly benefit from a more balanced, calm, and contemplative practice. Low intensity 'Jumpga' is an excellent practice for Vatas because it can increase balance, bone density, mobility, flexibility and muscle mass. Also, because the form is more important than speed, Vatas will benefit from Kun-Aqua Athletic as it can isolate individual muscles during exercise.

Pitta body types are natural athletes with strong stamina. Pittas need to avoid getting overheated. Kun-Aqua meditative walking is an excellent practice for Pittas because it is mindful and strengthens and stretches your body while the water keeps you cool. Pittas need to counterbalance their naturally competitive energy with non-competitive, relaxing workouts. Holding the yoga asana for more extended periods without moving is therapeutic and relaxing for Pittas.

Kapha body types are naturally slow and steady, and working out may feel like physical torture for them even though they have the highest endurance of all the Doshas. Kaphas should avoid excess strength training to lose weight because it will make them heavier. They should do HIIT (high-intensity interval training) sessions to speed up their metabolism to trigger their body's fat-burning potential. If metabolism isn't increased, the body won't be burning enough calories to target the fat cells.

I prefer to go with the flow. However, life can sometimes throw you a curveball at the worst possible time. When life gets in the way, a refuge like Santani is the place to go since the first step to getting there is deciding not to stay where you are.

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