Juicy Details Of My Stay At Shanti Som Detox Retreat
While Oxford Dictionaries defines 'detox' as 'a process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances; detoxification' (which as you can see is something we do to get healthier), many claim that our bodies are very smart and detoxify themselves (check this great sensible Huffington Post article on the subject), and it's easy to get confused whether a trip to another country for a juicing & yoga based detox retreat is worth the investment. Having had an opportunity to experience the effect Shanti Som Detox Retreat, I couldn't help but say a big fat yes to checking it out and seeing if few days 'sans food' would get my detox juices flowing!
First things first - my Shanti Som detox journey started days before my Monarch flight landed in Malaga, which is a stone throw away from the retreat hidden in the surroundings of the Sierra de las Nieves Nature Reserve (under an hour drive it is) - with the retreat's guidance on some pre-detox home prep. This included drinking more water, skipping those after-work drinks, swapping white bread for broccoli and getting lots of rest and sleep. (While these pieces of advice are common sense, it's actually surprising and shocking how little we do to help ourselves be generally healthy and fit.)
Once you step into the beautiful setting of Shanti-Som Holistic & Wellbeing Retreat, you immediately transition from a welcome vegetables and quinoa salad dinner to 5 days (or more) of detoxifying morning routine, yoga, and fresh juices served to you throughout the day every few hours, with extra nutritional support through supplements and light vegetable broths.
While I am not here to address scientific justification of a juice diet, I personally was curious: will I be hungry all the time and will I be able to run on juice only for a few days; how it will make me feel; and what visible outcomes one can expect as a result of a detox retreat.
Warm water with lemon, dry body brushing to increase blood circulation in the body and yoga class are the morning pre-juicing essentials that are designed to wake the body up and prepare it for the day ahead. Contrary to popular opinion about yoga retreats that I come across, yoga is designed for all levels of yogi performance meaning that you can do it, no matter how badly (in your opinion) you are lacking yoga skills. More over, yoga classes take place in a gorgeous yoga pavilion so that when you get to sun salutation yoga pose you are actually doing it outdoors in a space that is soaking in the Spanish sunshine making it a truly holistic experience.
After yoga at 10.30 am your first juice is served: my detox programme started with a Grapefruit and orange juice and some probiotic and psyllium to fill you up and ensure the body has all the necessary macro- and micronutrients compensating the lack of food. The first few hours of juicing we fine - I felt neither hungry or 'hangry' and focussed on topping up my tan by the pool.
Considering a quiet and chilled atmosphere of the retreat, cucumber, basel and celery juice with aloe vera shot (pictured above) added some action to my day. Broccoli, carrot, bell pepper and lemon juice with another shot of aloe vera at 2.30 pm was a highly anticipated event for me and that's when I started missing food - not so much from being hungry (drinking lots of water and sweating it out in the hot Spanish weather did the trick) but from the fact that food is such a big part of our lives and my entire life habit. 05:30 pm juice made of apple, celery, parsley and ginger juice with aloe vera shot and ground chia seeds were very exciting to have, and a fresh gazpacho soup for dinner (I preferred it to the vegetable broth which did not excite me) was an absolute gastronomic heaven (both given the circumstances and because it was truly delicious). Going to bed with what was pretty much feeling like an empty stomach, I was proud of myself for attempting to kick-start my healthy lifestyle again.
Day 2 of the juicing diet however was a real test for my body and mind. I was thinking of food, was protesting against the supplements (as in didn't feel like having them with my juices) and started feeling like it was not a great idea and that the entire juicing thing makes no sense. They say detoxification often comes with headaches and other body aches (that's how body is trying to get the caffeine, alcohol and sugar back) and one needs to hang in there and patiently wait for this tricky phase to pass to continue enjoying the benefits these changes introduce to the body.
Luckily, apart from the beautiful yoga pavilion and the much appreciated pool and a separate chill-out areas, Shanti Som facilities include their own spa with multiple face and body treatments, and a compact but packed with essentials gym facing the active vegetation of Shanti Som garden. I went all in and has a very relaxing massage, facial and got my nails done what made me almost miss my next juice intake.
Day 3 and 4 were fine (I only did it for 4 days while most people come for 6-10 days to experience a complete detox) - I felt much more fresh, with a clear mind and definitely much lighter. Through this experience I realised how (unnecessary) much food we eat - and how much processed food we eat in particular which we do not need!
Seeing my abs while striking a yoga pose was a great surprise - and I loved all the positive feedback and questions about the abs I received after posting that picture on Instagram. :)
A flat stomach however is an added benefit of being healthier - which was kickstarted buy the detox retreat.
The Shanti Som Retreat
If a week without food sounds too extreme for you, have a look at the other wellbeing programmes Shanti Som offers. Being more of a classic beautiful hotel with a wellness and yoga twist, it has a spa, an outdoor pool, a gym, yoga pavilion, a few chill-out areas and The Asian fusion restaurant where you can even order hummus and fries if you really want it. When you arrive to kickstart your healthy routines within the beautiful setting of Shanti Som retreat, would you really want to munch on fries? Exactly, it's only a few days so go for it, challenge yourself and be amazed how much better you feel a week after.
And here are a few more photos for you from Shanti Som: