This article was written by the end of 2016 and published in the March/ April 2017 issue of yogalife magazine.
I finally made it. I had turned my dream life into reality. What would be a great way to celebrate this achievement? The answer was quite easy, as I always wanted to visit a yoga retreat in Sri Lanka. Meditation, beach, clean food and reenergizing my batteries – that is all I needed.
After a short research Sen Wellness Sanctuary caught my attention. Not the London based holistic clinic, the Sri Lankan branch. They seemed to have a pretty unique concept: Besides yoga, they also offer Ayurvedic treatments and acupuncture and osteopathy; all that inspired by nature, spirit and connection. In short: They promised to be a special place for wellness, happiness and growth. I had to find out if that was really true or just incredibly good marketing.
Sen Wellness’ location
The sanctuary is situated 70 minutes away from Mattala Airport (a great alterative to Colombo Airport) and 30 minutes away from Tangalle. Quietly tucked away in Rekawa’s expansive lagoon, with a protected turtle nesting beach as part of the premises, the soft golden palm-fronted beach and the energetic waves of the Indian Ocean made the perfect setting for my holidays. This explains why long walks on the beach were part of daily routine.
I stayed at a small, incredible sweet beach hut, which was literally one minute away from the beach. Waking up to the sounds of the ocean and peacocks reminded me every morning how amazing life is. Other guests stayed at low-key luxury thatched cabanas, also very cute.
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners – which often ended in fruitful debates on life – were served in the main premises. Accessed through a massive wooden gate, the first thing you would see was a graceful, peacefully meditating, two meter tall, white-grayish Buddha carved out of stone, embraced by a blooming tree.
The main premises can be described as a spacious, open area without any windows, that used as little walls and doors as possible (e.g. for the treatment rooms). This way we had sunlight throughout the whole day, the wind could keep the area cool and an air-conditioning system was not needed.
All interiors are of local craftsmanship using local materials. Fresh flowers – purple Water Lilies and white Frangipanis – decorated the reception and water bowls on the floor. Big futons with inviting cushions encouraged chillaxing and/or reading consciousness expanding books that visitors had left on the beautifully designed wooden tables.
Food & staff
The idea of not having coffee for a week and fresh authentic Sri Lankan food, primarily vegetarian with some fish and little dairy, sounded interesting. I learned a lot about local vegetables and eating habits. And yes, living a vegetarian lifestyle is absolutely doable.
The team at the sanctuary was great. From well-trained therapists, the edutaining cook, till the always smiling service staff, every member of the retreat made sure that the guests would enjoy their stay to the maximum. A generous supply with king coconuts and delicious herbal teas were the cherry on top of the cake in the early mornings and/ or after every yoga session.
Yoga & treatments
Doing yoga, meditation and mindfulness sessions in the spacious yoga shala overlooking the lush treetops and listening to nature’s sounds (amongst others geckos, birds, monkeys, the wind blowing through palm trees and the ocean) felt magical.
In the mornings, we enjoyed dynamic Vinyasa practices, while the evenings were a creative mix of Restorative Yoga, Yoga Nidra and Kundalini Yoga. As a yoga beginner, my learning curve was enormous. I was guided by three different yoga teachers during my week at Sen Wellness. Everyone of them had an interesting story and profound knowledge to share with us.
For those who wanted to do a full wellness program, a consultation with the Ayurvedic doctor took place on the second day of arrival. Up to three treatments daily and Ayurvedic herbs twice per day made sure that you 100% detox and self-heal.
(Half) day trips
A half-day trip to the Mulkirigala rock temple, Hiriketiya Beach or Tangalle were further beautiful experiences. The ancient Buddhist temple does not only showcase an amazing view on top of the rock, it also possesses some astonishing cave paintings. I bought heaps of fruits and local spices at the Tangalle market; and Hiriketiya Beach was a paradise-like spot, great for surfing and a “cheat day” (Try the banana milk shakes and coconut pancakes with vanilla ice-cream at one of the small cafés!)
Sen Wellness is absolutely worth a visit if you want to slow down, destress, get out of your daily routine and/or improve your yoga/ meditation/ mindfulness practice. Thank you, Sen Wellness, for this phenomenal memory!