As we went around the room, we each introduced ourselves and explained why we were there. Some wanted to lose weight, others to lead a healthier lifestyle and I came to learn how to relax. But by the end of our week-long detox programme, irrespective of what we had come for, we all ended up leaving with so much more.

Several decades ago, the word “detox” was viewed with suspicion and written off as just another “hippie thing” by many in the mainstream medical fraternity and the general public. But as our modern lifestyles have become more frenetic, our food more processed  and our climate more polluted, the concept of detoxification – of both the body and the mind – has become an increasing necessity.

No one understands this more than the founder of Namaste Wellness Retreats, a highly successful businesswoman in Johannesburg, who quickly climbed the corporate ladder, only to find that with success and the long hours came burnout and exhaustion. Through her own journey back to wellness, she discovered the importance of a holistic approach to balance, healthy eating and relaxation – all concepts that now form an integral part of the Namaste Wellness experience.

Another important factor in this process is an environment conducive to relaxation and the time to focus exclusively on oneself. With this in mind, the detox retreat runs for a full week and is held in some of the most picturesque locations in the country. Fordoun Hotel and Spa – situated in Nottingham Road in the Natal Midlands – was our home for the week and provided an idyllic natural backdrop in which to really escape the stresses of city life. And so our detox began.

Body

Without realising it, toxins build up in our bodies over time, exacerbated by both poor eating habits and lifestyle ones, such as smoking and excess stress. As a result, one of the primary aims of the programme is to effectively rid the body of these accumulated toxins through a healthy eating plan and by eliminating such “problem foods”  as sugar, dairy, caffeine, red meat and complex carbohydrates.

While this might sound quite daunting, our “detox” meals (taken in the form of either fruit and vegetable juices or healthy whole food options) were surprisingly tasty and filling. That is not to say that the regular chocolate cravings didn’t rear their ugly heads throughout the week, but most of us certainly felt the health benefits of cutting out all the processed nasties for a week. To aid the detox process, we also had the option of signing up for colonic hydrotherapy – a sort of internal “bath” for your colon. Not being brave enough to participate myself, I quizzed the other intrepid ladies, as we puzzled over the tubes and bags and other paraphernalia that had been provided for the purpose. Afterwards they reported back with explanations of all the ins and outs (literally!), and while it was universally declared as very possibly the most embarrassing thing one can do in the presence of another person, by the end of the week (when they had mastered it solo), they were all converts and had an extra spring in the step to show for it.

Aiding the “springy steps” were one-on-one training sessions with a personal trainer, daily yoga sessions (which taught flexibility as well as meditation to effectively calm the flutterings of the mind) and guided afternoon walks on the estate – perfect for exercising the body and soothing the mind.

Mind

A daily hour-long massage in the Spa offered the same relaxation benefits, as well as helping to clear our bodies of all the toxins we were expelling. Dressed in fluffy white robes and curled up on chairs in the atrium, many of us used our free time to write in our journals and to take stock of our emotional responses. We had been warned about the possible physical side effects of the detox (nausea, headaches, dizziness), but few of us were prepared for the emotional ones that came with it. So few of us in our daily lives ever have the time or inclination to focus inwards on our emotional lives and finally having the opportunity to do so can be scary, but, as I discovered, also ultimately liberating.

Soul

On our last day, we gathered in the Spa for our final “post detox” body assessments. As each person came out with their “numbers” – how many centimetres and how much weight and body fat they had lost, we cheered each other’s achievements. Irrespective of our final numbers, however, the people in that room were happier and more relaxed than they had been a week ago. We had “survived” without meat or caffeine; we had endured the unpleasant side effects of detox and struggled through the often painful process of emotional self-evaluation. We had all learned something about ourselves and our bodies and about balancing the influences of the outside world on both.

Nowadays, I am back to milk in my tea, and honey on my toast. Red meat makes an occasional appearance at mealtimes and chocolate even more so! But I am aware of what I put into my body now; I drink more water, and I am slowly learning not to sweat the small stuff quite as much as I used to. Every day, I take a moment to go outside, feel the sun on my face, breathe deeply, calm my mind and focus solely on me – long after the physical benefits of my week-long detox have gone, this has been its biggest and most long lasting legacy, and for that I can truly say that it changed my life – and in all the best ways.

For more information on the Retreats offered by Namaste Wellness Retreats at exclusive venues in South Africa,
Click on the following links: 10 Day Weight-loss7 Day Detox and 4 Day Revitalise. Or contact us on +27 11 022 7500
or email: info@namaste-retreats.com