Essential Ayurveda, England
Perfectly private ayurveda retreat with meditation, counselling, healing food & expert care
Best for: Those looking for real change in health and life direction
Not for: Group holiday groupies
Takes up to 3 guests
This is a rare treat. A comfortable, 400-year old farmhouse near Halton Holegate in the Lincolnshire countryside where two expert ayurveda practitioners offer bespoke retreats lasting three or five days. Partners 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 consultations, counselling, impromptu life coaching, meditation techniques, cooking demos, simple meals – and total peace. As there are only three rooms this is a lovely spot to go to alone, with a friend or your partner.
The retreat takes only three guests at a time, either a couple and one solo person or three people alone, so you can be assured of total peace and attention. As well as helping people get back on track with their health, the team puts a lot of focus on helping people feel empowered to make the right choices for their happiness, helping you change your life purpose and direction should you need to.
The Lincolnshire flatlands of Halton Holegate are rural, quiet and fairly remote – so bring a good book, and make sure your Sat Nav is working.
Come here to cleanse, deeply relax and replenish and get some tailored life and health advice with ayurvedic consultations and counselling, treatments, gentle movement and healing meals. You can also come here to help heal after cancer, or to work with health conditions including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, panic attacks, arthritis and digestion or metabolism issues. The team can also offer support for dealing with weight loss, stress and insomnia. ‘Come and see us, whether you’re well or not,’ says Andy.
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 teas for the rest of the stay.
The ethos here is very client-centred – so you always have one-to-one sessions, and the team will ‘follow’ and adapt to your needs and creatively use their toolbox of treatments and therapies to help you to find what’s going on and heal. Working flexibly and deeply has proved most effective over the years and is Essential Ayurveda’s strength. They also offer after-care, should you feel you need it, via Skype.
The creators of Essential Ayurveda started studying ayurveda in 2000 and lived and studied with an ayurvedic doctor in India for six months. They both studied ayurvedic medicine at Middlesex University – Laura has a post-graduate diploma in it and Andy has an MSc. Both had internships working in clinics and hospitals in India, and set up their clinic in 2005 and the retreat in 2007. Since then they continue to study and work with this 2,000 year old lineage.
Each day you will have two tailored treatment sessions in the warm and inviting treatment rooms. These can include luxurious synchronised ayurvedic massages given by two therapists, steam therapy, shirodhara, structural rebalancing treatments, energy healing and cranio-sacral therapy.
The treatments are done by Laura and/or one of two female therapists. Cranio-sacral is also with Laura, and the Dorn method, Pranic and Marma healing and creative counselling is carried out by Andy. Laura has been practising bodywork for over 20 years and skillfully enables her clients to make physical and emotional shifts with her treatments.
There’s a selection of educational and feel-good DVDs to watch and a good selection of books, but deliberately no, radio or newspapers – this is a place to truly switch off from the world. So, 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 really, really need it.
When to Go
Come in summer to enjoy the gardens, or cosy up indoors during winter. Spring and autumn are particularly good times for a seasonal cleanse.
Meals are eaten with fellow guests in a cosy dining room, or outside in the courtyard on sunny days. The ayurvedic food is tasty, cooked with love and kept deliberately very simple, nutritious and easily digestible to facilitate the detox process – you might have apple porridge or a green smoothie for breakfast, lentil soup and Kitchari for lunch, and spiralized veggies or stir fry for supper.
It’s organic, carefully prepared and tailored to suit your ayurvedic dosha. It’s also 99% vegan – the only non-vegan food is ghee (clarified butter), but this can be replaced with olive oil if necessary. Kitchari is a favourite with most guests; a tasty risotto-like dish of rice and lentils cooked with mild spices, it’s super satisfying and supports healthy digestion. In between meals, you can help yourself to Amaiva organic herbal and green teas, or snack on raw cashews and dates.
Essential Ayurveda compost organic waste and recycle used massage oils. They grow some of their own greens for green smoothies and use locally grown produce where possible. All their herbal products are ethically sourced and most are sourced from organic farms.
Halton Holegate, Lincolnshire
Transfer Time: 30 minutes by car