If you’re full of energy and generally fab, we’re genuinely happy for you. But, if you feel the need for a pick-me-up, or are just in the mood for some healthy pampering that’s a bit different, you’re in luck. We’ve researched feel-good options, both ancient and modern, that will have you feeling your best in no time. Read on to learn more.
ANCIENT TREATMENTS HAVE BEEN PASSED DOWN THROUGH GENERATIONS AND WE THINK THEY MIGHT JUST BE WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR.
You know how they say that when you hold a grudge or pentup anger, it can affect you physically? Well, it’s easy to overlook a psychosomatic condition or illness, without intending to. Hoʻ′oponopono is a traditional Hawaiian forgiveness practice and can be a wonderful way to nip a condition caused by mental stress in the bud. It’s a useful practice, even if you’re not struggling with resentment or internal conflict. There are four easy steps, each having its own affirmation: the first step is repentance and you say sorry; the second is forgiveness and you say please forgive me; the third step is gratitude and you say thank you; and the last step is love and you say I love you. You can practice Hoʻ′oponopono to heal people other than yourself; a Hawaiian psychotherapist is said to have cured an entire ward of criminally insane patients, without ever meeting or spending time with them by using this technique.
Used by ancient Egyptians, Hijama or cupping therapy works on the principle of pulling bad toxins from the body. It increases blood and energy flow to areas that need healing by creating a vacuum using cups that are traditionally made of glass. Inducing relaxation, it’s great for blood circulation and to treat bloodrelated, rheumatoid and skin diseases. Cupping therapy can also work wonders for lung related ailments, such as allergies and asthma, headaches and migraines, high blood pressure and knee and back pain. Bahrain Wellness Resort and Hospital, said to be the Gulf’s first and largest centre for alternative medicine, offers cupping therapy. You can also explore places specialising in Chinese wellness practices for a session – the therapy was widely used in ancient Chinese treatments too.
If you have a pet or have even interacted with a stray, you will probably agree that animals have a certain energy that uplifts our spirits instantly. Equine therapy works on the healing aura of animals. Ancient Greeks are said to have used horses to treat incurable diseases. Hippocrates wrote about therapeutic riding or hippotherapy – his namesake – as early as 400 BC. It’s said to help with neurological conditions such as cerebral palsy, movement disorders and balance problems; lower blood pressure; decrease stress levels; reduce feelings of anger, tension, and anxiety; and improve social functions. Horses are an integral part of Arab history and tradition. Fares Al Fursan in Bahrain offers therapeutic horse riding and sessions as a treatment for kids with autism, partial cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome and other special needs cases. They also have sessions for adults.
When you think of acupuncture, the image of Kung Fu Panda being stuck with needles by Mantis and Viper comes to mind – that’s on a lighter note; originating in China 5,000 years ago, this technique is practiced worldwide as preventative medicine and to treat various ailments. The therapy involves inserting ultra-thin needles into your body, which sounds painful but is ironically used for pain relief. When pricked, the acupuncture points stimulate the central nervous system causing bio chemical changes that balance energy flow. Acupuncture is typically used in combination with moxibustion (the burning of dried mugwort leaves) and cupping. Head to Bahrain Wellness Resort & Hospital for a session and while you’re there, don’t forget to explore the host of other Chinese and Indian therapies and treatments on offer.
Most of you may have heard of cryotherapy, a treatment involving the use of freezing or near-freezing temperatures. Cold therapy is said to have originated in ancient Egypt around 2500BC to treat inflammations and injuries. Now, meet the father of cryotherapy so to speak – ice baths. They originated as far back 3500 to 5000BC and are said to have their roots in ancient Greece, though there’s evidence for the same in ancient Rome and other civilizations including Egypt and India. Ice baths offer mental and physical benefits such as soothing sore muscles, boosting metabolism and immunity, reducing stress and improving sleep. While cryotherapy involves exposure to temperatures as low as -80 to -140 degrees Celsius, ice baths aren’t quite as arctic at -10 to -15 degrees Celsius. If you’re feeling worse for wear, then head to the Gulf Spa at the Gulf Hotel Bahrain for an ice bath. A cold shower or bath at home will prove equally effective.
We’ve all heard of balanced diets. Now meet the sattvic diet, a form of treatment in Ayurveda, which advocates the consumption of seasonal foods, fruits, if one has no sugar problems, nuts, seeds, oils, ripe vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nonmeat-based proteins. Dairy products are recommended only if they’re sourced humanely by feeding and milking the animal appropriately. Following through with this one will help you lose weight, feel lighter and be more energetic and calmer. Most vegan and vegetarian foods can be categorised as sattvic. While there are many restaurants serving this, we recommend fresh homecooked meals. If you can’t give up your meat all together, try eating plant-based a few times a week to start with and you can build as you go along. Sattvic food offers benefits such as reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases and other diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. Further, it reduces environmental impact.
TIBETAN SINGING BOWLS
Using the healing benefits of sound therapy, Tibetan singing bowls have a history that dates back thousands of years. The rich, deep tone and vibrations produced when they’re played by running a wooden mallet on the rim or outer wall of the bowl induce relaxation, improve sleep and relieve pain among other good things. Traditionally made of metal, they’re typically placed on or around the body of the person seeking to benefit from them and are generally used in combination with other wellness practices such as meditation and yoga. Most wellness centres and yoga studios use them but if you want to buy them, we recommend credible online retailers – the higher the quality, the more resonant the sound – music shops and stores that specialise in new-age products. A caveat: if you’re epileptic or pregnant or are someone who is prone to headaches, you may want to avoid singing bowls.
Every year on June 21 – International Yoga Day – social media is awash with images of people bent at weird angles and with limbs knotted like a pretzel. It makes you want to whip out a mat and do it yourself only to realise it’s not as easy as it looks. However, we recommend giving it a go – what better time than this month – because yoga has many benefits such as relaxation, better stress management, higher energy levels, improved heart health, relief from back pain and good bone health. The best part: you don’t need expensive equipment – just a mat and yourself. Aerial yoga, which involves doing the postures while being suspended from the ceiling by a silk hammock or sling, originated in New York in the early 90s. If you prefer to mix things up a bit, try this style, which is a combination of yoga and the aerial arts. It’s suitable for both beginners and experts. Namaste Bahrain, the island’s first registered school of yoga, offers it all. Or you could start small – there are many videos available online for beginners.
MODERN WELLNESS PRACTICES MAY SOMETIMES SEEM A BIT FAR-FETCHED. TRY THEM WITH AN OPEN MIND AND REAP THE BENEFITS.
Ikigai refers to something that gives you a purpose in life or reason to live. A concept that’s long been part of Japanese culture, it gained mainstream popularity in the 1960s. Most recently, the concept returned to the forefront thanks to the book by the same name. Authored by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles, it compiles their experiences interviewing the residents of Okinawa, a Japanese island with the highest percentage of 100-year-olds – practising this wellness attitude has allowed them to lead long, happy lives. The idea is to live purposefully, pursuing that which brings you a sense of fulfilment whether it’s related to your health, career or social life; just like the people of Okinawa who eat right, stay active, pursue some form of work – never retire – have hobbies and spend time with the community, friends and family. It’s really pretty straightforward if you ask us and boils down to dividing your time in a balanced manner. As they say, all work and no play…
Where better to experience thalassotherapy than Bahrain – the land of two seas. Harnessing the healing properties of the ocean – Thalassa means ocean in Greek – this wellness practice stimulates endocrine functions, reduces stress and fatigue, alleviates pain, improves overall mental health and is great for your skin. Drive down to Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, the first place in the Kingdom to offer this service. You can choose from a range of specialised seawater treatments there. You could also visit the many beaches on the island to soak in the goodness of the sea – Bahrain is home to beautiful public beaches such as Al Jazayer in Zallaq – or you could book a day at one of the hotels – Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay, The Art Hotel & Resort, the Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain, all have private beaches.
These Instagram-worthy, colourful bowls of delicious goodness are all the rage with fitness enthusiasts. Açaí na tigela, which translates to acai bowl, is a Brazilian dessert from Pará and Amazonas, where the Ribeirinhos people prepare it regularly. In the last decade or so, it has become a popular breakfast item. Come to think of it, what better way to start your day than with dessert! The main ingredient is frozen acai palm fruit, which has an earthy, creamy taste. It is pureed and typically topped with coconut chips, chia seeds, cut up fruit and nut butter. Rich in anti-oxidants, acai berries can reduce bad cholesterol in your blood. Additionally, they strengthen the immune system and are good for your heart muscles. RAAW cafe, Maybells Cafe and Reviive Cafe are some places that serve acai bowls. You can easily whip up one of these at home as well – acai berries and acai powder are available in stores.
DOLCE FAR NIENTE
If you’ve watched the Julia Roberts starrer Eat, Pray, Love, you would know of this therapy that many of us practice without even realising it. Dolce far niente translates to the sweetness of doing nothing and is a philosophy that’s ingrained into the Italian way of life. It encourages people to take the slow lane and live in the moment. Now, now. Don’t you start thinking that you can scroll away on your phone, lying down like a lizard on a rock the whole day. It’s best to stay away from digital and other distractions or regulate their usage. You need to actively relax in order to recharge and restore your mind and body.
Ever sat at your work desk after a hearty lunch wishing you could curl up under a blanket if only for a short while? We move siestas be legally enforced in Bahrain. Essentially a midday nap particularly after lunch, they are a simple way to unwind and energise for the remainder of the day. While many associate them with Spain, they are said to have actually originated in ancient Rome where they’re called riposo. Traditionally, siestas last for two hours or more but productivity experts recommend power naps, which are about 10 to 20 minutes long. Regardless of how long, we promise you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready for whatever comes next.
You must have come across the quote, “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny”; attributed by some to Lao Tzu and others to Mahatma Gandhi, the quote accurately encompasses the idea of affirmations as a wellness therapy. They are carefully formatted statements that should be repeated to one’s self or written down frequently. They can also include chants or mantras, positive images and videos, and spiritual talks and lectures. Whether your existing state of mind is positive or negative, practising affirmations will bring about optimism, which will permeate all aspects of your life.
Offering a host of benefits from boosting immunity and reducing stress to maintaining hormonal balance and improving energy and memory, adaptogens are plants and roots that help keep your body in a balanced state. They could be store cupboard staples such as turmeric and ginger or others such as holy basil, American ginseng, Asian ginseng and ashwagandha. You can consume them by adding them to your food or drinks or even brewing them as teas. Adaptogens are also available as capsule supplements, tinctures or energy shots. Being herbal, they don’t usually have any side effects but it’s best to consult your doctor before taking them especially if you’re on other prescribed medications.
Ever notice how you feel lighter after watching a comedy movie or after meeting friends and having a good laugh with them? Sigmund Freud called it psychic energy, which when released brings gratification. A meditative practice incorporating stretching, deep breathing and laughing, laughter yoga is the simplest way to boost your mood. The first laughter club was founded in 1995 by Dr Madan Kataria from Mumbai, India. According to him, our body can’t differentiate between real and fake laughter. The benefits include reduced stress and, hence, a stronger immune system, high energy, relief from pain, heart and lung health, and stronger abs – what’s there to lose (pun intended)? The next time you’re feeling low, give yourself a prescription to laugh. We bet you won’t regret it. You could also look up Laugher Yoga.Bahrain on Instagram.
Founded only 30 years ago by Gary M. Douglas, this healing modality has fast gained a good reputation with wellness enthusiasts. Access consciousness involves gently touching 32 points on your head, which when stimulated cause the release of anything that is stopping you from living your life to the fullest. Having your bars run, as it’s often called, will allow you to experience deep relaxation and enhance your body’s ability to heal itself. Further, it doesn’t interfere with any conventional or alternative treatment or therapy. Rather, it has been found to enhance them. While you can get trained and run your own Access Bars, an experienced facilitator is recommended. Insights Therapy in Bahrain offers this option. ✤