Essential Ayurveda review
Perfectly private ayurveda retreat in Lincolnshire
The quick read: This is a rare treat. A comfortable, 400-year old house in the Lincolnshire countryside where two expert ayurvedic practitioners offer bespoke retreats lasting 3, 5 or 7 days. Andy and Laura Shakeshaft are genuine, kind and full of integrity, and have created a real haven of calm. Cleanse body and mind with daily treatments, personalised dietary advice, ayurvedic counselling and meditation techniques, cooking demos, simple meals – and total peace. Find out all about Ayurveda.
Who it’s best for: People of all ages and from all walks of life seeking genuine ayurveda treatments and calm. It’s particularly suited to those who need to heal from the inside out, and would appeal to solo travellers, as well as couples or friends – as long as both parties have a genuine intention to retreat.
What you do: On arrival, you’ll have an extensive consultation with Andy that covers your lifestyle, diet any medical concerns and your intentions for your retreat to determine your programme of meals, massage treatments and herbal concoctions for the rest of the stay. Each day you will have two treatment sessions in the warm and inviting treatment room – these can include luxurious synchronised Ayurvedic massages given by two therapists and steam therapy, structural rebalancing treatments, crystal and energy healing and cranio-sacral therapy.
Meditation and ayurvedic cooking demonstrations an also be on the menu. Movement classes, taken by Andy, vary in intensity and approach according to the health and ability of the guest – the main focus is on structural realignment, pranayama and relaxation. There is plenty of free time in the afternoon and evening. Reading, having an early night or taking a local circular walk are popular options. At the end of your stay you’ll leave reluctantly, feeling nurtured and restored, and laden with some specially prescribed herbal treatments to take away (which cost extra).
Where you stay: This is a very peaceful place near Halton Holegate with a large garden including a courtyard with a swing seat, table and chairs, well-tended flower borders (they have a gardener), a large pond and massive trees. adjoining the garden is 7 acres of paddocks where Laura has her 3 horses who are happy to meet visitors if you’d like to. You have a substantial part of the house all to yourself with one other guest (your partner or a fellow single traveller). There is also a very comfortable en suite studio overlooking the courtyard for those looking for a little more privacy. Andy and Laura live in an adjoining part of the property, and take care to respect guests’ privacy.
In your area of the house is a simple dining room with a wooden table, a large sitting room with an open fire, and two good-sized bathrooms on one floor. Decor is cottagey, with various interesting paintings and artefacts collected from the couple’s travels. Upstairs there are two calming bedrooms set apart from one another with clean cream walls, wooden furniture, fresh flowers in vases and basic CD players. Shared areas include 3 treatment rooms one of which is also available for guests to use as a yoga or quiet meditation space, a consultation room and a large kitchen where Laura makes green smoothies and her delicious soups.
How was it for us: I visited Essential Ayurveda with a friend for three perfect nights when I was researching my second book and doing a hell of a lot of travelling. Andy and Laura taught me to stop living on an overdraft of energy – that it was very important indeed to stop travelling, stay still and replenish more often than I was doing. When we are diseased – or rather, dis-eased, they said – it’s because something is rubbing up against something else. Which in essence, says Andy, is us arguing with reality. By accepting what is, we help ourselves regain our ease. It was an easy place to be with my friend – for us to spend time together as well as alone. Andy was brilliant at helping me refocus, and skilled at talking about all of life from an ayurvedic perspective, while Laura was a gentle, calm, expert presence in the kitchen, garden and treatment room. I couldn’t recommend them, or their home, highly enough.
What we took home: A calm heart and a penchant for ayurvedic porridge.
Would we go back: Absolutely – at the change of each season if I could.
People watch: Your hosts Andy & Laura are experts in their field – both studied in India, which including work in Ayurvedic medical facilities, and are graduates of one of the UK’s few Ayurvedic practitioner courses, the four-year degree in Ayurvedic medicine at Middlesex University. Andy is trustworthy and easy to talk to – he does the consultations, while Laura takes care of the cooking and the treatments with the help of local therapists she has trained herself.
Food watch: Food is kept deliberately very simple – you might have apple porridge or a green smoothie for breakfast, soup and dahl for lunch, and rice and vegetables for supper. It’s organic, vegetarian, carefully prepared and tailored to suit your ayurvedic dosha.
What’s lowly: It’s set just back from a road, though it’s a very quiet one & traffic is intermittent.
Insider tip: There’s a selection of educational and feel-good DVDs to watch, but deliberately no TV, radio or newspapers – this is a place to truly switch off from the world. Bring books to read, things to draw with, or whatever you need to absorb you if you want them. Wi-fi is available if you need to be online.
Price with a companion: £238.50 per person per night based on two sharing including accommodation, food and 2 treatment or consultation sessions per day.
Price going solo: £265 per person per night in a room alone including accommodation, food and 2 treatment or consultation sessions per day.
Value for Money: It costs from £795 per person (£715.50 if two sharing) for a 3 day retreat, which is fully inclusive of everything including a supervised programme, two transformative one-to-one sessions per day and beautifully cooked ayurvedic food, so it’s really good value.
Reviewed by Caroline Sylger Jones
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