Rebalancing our dosha at The Clover Mill

Rebalancing with treatments, yoga and vitalising meals at The Clover Mill ayurveda retreat in Worcestershire

Sally Lovett reviews this gorgeous ayurveda retreat in Worcestershire and finds a sensitively restored mill, healing treatments and exceptional food by owner-come-chef Julie Dent

Arriving in to Great Malvern by train from Paddington on Saturday evening, I was met by Julie Dent, The Clover Mill’s founder and my wonderful hostess for the weekend. Julie drove me the short journey back to her idyllic ayurvedic retreat whilst she shared her story of how The Clover Mill came to be.

Inspired by her visits to ayurvedic retreats in Sri Lanka and frustrated that there was no such thing in the UK, Julie left her successful, yet stressful career as a scientist and then spent years meticulously renovating The Clover Mill’s seventeenth century water mill and building eco-lodge accommodation to bring her vision of an ayurvedic spa in a rural setting to life.

The Clover Mill’s stunning eco lodges were one of the many highlights of my stay. Featuring a floor to ceiling window that opens on to private decking (perfect for self-practice in warmer months) and looking out on to wild woodland, the lodge also boosts a deep bathtub with large church candles dotted around it and a walk-in shower with gorgeous ayurvedic Tridosha toiletries to use. With under-floor heating (ecologically sourced from the wood pellet fed biomass boiler) and luxuriously comfy bedding, the lodges are warm and cosy, whilst still feeling suitably secluded and immersed in the Worcestershire wilderness.

Upon arriving at The Clover Mill, guests fill out a questionnaire to determine their ayurvedic ‘dosha’ which will then inform your meals, treatments and yoga classes for your stay. Diagnosed as having a ‘Vata’ dosha, I was fed grounding, warming and nourishing foods to bring balance to the cold, dry and somewhat ‘spacey’ qualities typical of someone with this constitution. Although not professionally trained in the kitchen, Julie’s organic, vegetarian and as-local-as-possible, meals were on a par with gourmet healthy food. Cardamom-infused porridge, warm beetroot juice, home-made paneer and spiced parsnip and apple soup made with apples from The Clover Mill’s orchard were just a few of the culinary highlights Julie served over the weekend.

After a blissful night’s sleep in the eco-lodge, Sunday began with a one hour yoga class with local yoga teacher, Lisa. who took us through a slow and meditative practice in The Clover Mill’s sky-light yoga studio on the top floor of the water mill. Although slower than my usual vinyasa flow yoga classes I practice and teach in London, I relished the calmer pace. Another local yoga teacher, Sue taught Sunday’s yoga class with carefully-chosen vata-balancing, grounding postures. Having been informed by Julie prior to the class that I was a ‘vata’ type, falling prey to the cold and blustery conditions of autumn and winter, Lisa and Sue both taught the perfect practice fitting for a weekend of winding down and turning inwards.

‘Not only has Julie hand-picked fantastic therapists who share her passion for ayurveda, she’s also created gorgeous treatment rooms that retain original mill features yet wouldn’t look out of place in a luxury spa’

The multi-talented yoga teachers are also practicing ayurvedic massage therapists, specifically trained at The Clover Mill using the tri-dosha ayurvedic oils. I had a Marma Abhyanga – a deeply relaxing full body massage that uses warm vata-balancing oil and brisk, circular rubs to stimulate the marma (nerve points) of the human body. Following the treatment with a relaxing steam bath downstairs to help let the oils soak in, I floated back to my lodge for an afternoon nap and a flick through some of the yoga and ayurveda books thoughtfully provided on the eco-lodge book shelves. My Padabhyanga’ foot and lower leg massage, and face and head massage the following day were equally enjoyable.

Not only has Julie hand-picked fantastic therapists who share her passion for ayurveda, she’s also put great thought in to creating gorgeous treatment rooms that retain original features from the water mill, yet wouldn’t look out of place in a luxury spa. When renovating the mill, Julie vowed not to rip down or remove anything that would prevent The Clover Mill from being a working mill in the future. The result is a beautiful rustic multi-storey mill with huge stone wheels to grind flour and wooden beams alongside fluffy robes, massage beds warmed by electric blankets and a stylist spiral staircase transporting you between treatment rooms and the yoga studio.

Feeling so warm and cosy from the food, yoga and treatments, I regrettably didn’t venture far from my eco lodge to enjoy a wintery walk around the nearby weir and rolling hills of Malvern, but there’s walking opportunities galore for the more adventurous retreat guests.

I left The Clover Mill on Monday morning feeling the most rested I’d felt in a long time. My tailor-made programme of nourishing and grounding meals, yoga and treatments had clearly done the trick in balancing my vata tendencies, and given me a welcome reminder and enthusiasm for the transformative powers and multiple benefits of an ayurvedic lifestyle.

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