Wellbeing with a view at Atmantan Wellness Resort, India
Lauren Cooney reviews Atmantan Wellness Resort in Pune, India, and finds gorgeous wellness programmes, addictive buddha bowls and a view to die for.
I work as a freelance screenwriter, filmmaker and actor in London, which means that my propensity for self-care is often side-lined, so I was overjoyed to be able to get to Atmantan for an opportunity to properly unwind. The first thing I noticed was the incredible view of open luscious valley overlooking a vast sun-dappled lake, as my driver took me up through the winding roads that lead to the spa. I was beautifully welcomed in a glass-fronted reception with a gift of a flower necklace, and took a long, deep breath. It was time to get down to some serious relaxing.
After a much needed sleep in an incredible orthopaedic bed in my serene villa room, I attended a consultation with a friendly ayurvedic doctor who measured my weight, height, pulse, body mass composition and posture and medically recommended a heavy schedule of relaxation massage and other rejuvenating treatments. Poor me. And so I spent much of my time being ferried from treatment room to treatment room, being attended to by Atmantan’s impeccably-trained treatment staff.
I especially loved the Chi Nei Tseng tummy massage, which made me feel lighter and brighter than ever before, and the aromatherapy massage, which proudly uses pure essential oils with the most exquisite natural scent. But the absolute highlight was the Atmantan Signature massage, which though just 90 minutes felt like a transcendent experience. It started with a guided meditation, where rose crystals were placed in each of my hands, then developed into a massage using a series of lengthening strokes and stretches that cleansed, relieved, and revitalised me in equal measures, and culminated with hot stones nestled on my back. It took me to an altered state, which I appreciated for hours afterwards.
Between treatments I spent a bit of time in the high-spec gym overlooking that magnificent view, swam lengths in the indoor salt water pool, and attended several gentle yet precise yoga classes, which focused on the breath leading the postures. Group sessions fostered a sense of community and sharing, which made my wellness break a social as well as a personal experience, from a hilariously camp rendition of aquatic kick-boxing called “aqua jam” to a gorgeous sunrise hike to the top of the mountain.
A highlight was sharing a beautiful Pranic Healing and Twin Heart Meditation session, which used breath work and visualisation to draw on the natural crystals of the land and to send love to ourselves and the world, during which many of the group were in tears. One day I also tried an early morning Kriya Yoga session, arriving in active wear, but surprised to find it taking place in a room lined with sinks. It materialised that Kriya Yoga is in fact a cleansing process, where a variety of vestibules including a Neti Pot were used to bathe and flush out my facial orifices from my nose to my eyes and throat. It was surprisingly effective and expertly guided.
Long hard days relaxing were rewarded in the restaurant, where my favourite breakfast array included a fresh fruit smoothie, the most delicious homemade bircher muesli with fresh nuts and coconut milk, and a light and flavoursome masala dosa for the finale. Lunch and dinners I loved were a pomfret on a bed of basil-infused quinoa, and a raw okra salad slivered and served in lightly dressed oil. I attended a cooking class on my final day, where I got to make some of my favourite dishes, including a “healthy” chocolate mousse comprised of cocoa powder, nuts, and honey. I licked the bowl clean like a kid.
Deprivation here only extends to the no-alcohol and caffeine policy, but many guests, myself included, relished the easy abstinence. Atmantan prides itself on being non-judgemental and encourages a love of life, and I left feeling totally rejuvenated and sad to say goodbye to it all as I was driven calmly back down the winding roads.