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It took Mike Dickson 71 years to find his inner yogi, but now he’s a convert thanks to Sen Wellness.

I don’t ‘do’ yoga. I’m a man who, let’s say, would be in a Covid concern group and downward dog has never been part of my daily ritual. That is until I went to Sen Wellness Centre in Sri Lanka at the beginning of last year. So hooked am I that I’m hotfooting it there as soon as lockdown lifts.

It was Sam Kankanamge, founder of the Sen Wellness Centre, who persuaded me to go. An osteopath who also runs a holistic healthcare clinic in London’s Wimpole Street, he’s just one of those intuitive, gentle types with a genuine interest in people. ‘You will lose weight and it will be a wonderful way to reset your mind and body for the New Year,’ he told me. He sensed that I was stressed and knackered. I sensed I was sold.

On the first morning, I met the beautifully-sari-swathed Dr Shamilka for an initial medical consultation. She prescribed a bespoke programme of Ayurvedic medicine and treatments – and then the revelations began. Each day started at 5.30am with a soft whisper of ‘tea’ outside my cabana, after which I wandered sleepily down to the yoga deck to watch the sunrise and wake up my limbs and lymphatic system with some yoga flow guided by a remarkably competent teacher, who knew just how far a 71-year-old’s limbs might bend.

A breakfast of fresh coconut, fruit and salad was my reward, eaten with fellow guests. Meat, fish, coffee, a cold beer or a chilled glass of Sauvignon blanc were out of the question at mealtimes, usurped by tisanes, fresh juices, gallons of water and a nutrient-rich vegetarian regime, giving the digestive system a much-needed break.

But it was the treatments that really blew my mind. With an average of four a day – an astonishing 21 in total – these mind- and body-changing therapies were carried out by some of the loveliest therapists I have ever met. All parts of the body were massaged, from head to toe, along with herbal baths, cleanses, inhalations and such a variety of manipulations that no two treatments were ever the same.

Come evening, it was time to head to the yoga shala again, this time for guided meditation, mantra chanting and a long savasana to settle us for a sweet night of dreams. The internet is only available for two one-hour sessions a day, so there’s no chance of losing hours of your time online either (this is a good thing, my friends).

I stayed in this cocooning, nourishing place for eight days, by which time I’d lost four kilos – and felt unbelievably well, clear of eye and cool of mind. After the travails of 2020, I simply cannot wait to return and give myself over to their healing hands and happy hearts. It’s more than a present to myself now – it’s an essential.

GO WITH THE FLOW

READ Any joyful or spiritual book you’ve always meant to read.

DO Talk to all your fellow guests – they will be as fascinating as you are.

SMILE Thank and make a great fuss of all the staff, they are very special.

PLANT Fifty per cent of the mangrove trees required to offset the carbon emissions of your air travel – the Sen Wellness Foundation pledges to donate the other 50 per cent.

 

Written by Mike Dickson for Country & Town House magazine January/February 2021 issue.

Find the article on p. 46 of the digital issue.

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