Country & Town House – Spa Trek

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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-swathedDr Waruni 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.

Sam Kankanamge

Sam Kankanamge BSc (Hons) Osteo, DPO, Dip.Acu is an exceptional, world renowned healthcare professional, with over 25 years-experience transforming patients’ health, and has been called ‘the best back specialist in the country’ by The Times (2014).

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Karolina Domaranczyk
Karolina Domaranczyk
02:38 30 Dec 21
I can’t stress enough what a pleasure and beautiful experience it was to spend 7 days at SEN. The facilities, treatments, yoga, soul warming localisation and last but not least - most helpful and kind staff made my stay there a full wellness immersion journey. I recommend to everyone to unwind, relearn how to rest and come back to the body and peaceful mind.
Charlotte Krüger
Charlotte Krüger
12:26 28 Dec 21
If you are having trouble finding peace of mind in your busy everyday life, imagine this: you are sitting in a room with wooden floor, surrounded by nature. When the monk tells you to listen to the sounds around you, this is what you hear: the wind in the mangrove forest and palm trees, the waves of the Indian ocean thundering against the nearby beach, the songs of local birds you may not have heard before. When you open your eyes, you see the dense forest, watch an eagle flying by, or look into the curious eyes of a monkey that sticks its tiny face down the roof.I came to Sen Wellness in December 2021 to get myself ready for a major surgery in January. I needed to relax, stretch, meditate and leave a troublesome year behind me. When I arrived at Sen Wellness, I quickly knew that I had chosen the right place. What struck me first was the perfect architecture of the place: the columns, the open stairs, the open walls that give you a slight breeze sometimes, the furniture and wooden carvings (all made local and/or from recycled wood). It has all the beauty of pure nature, combined with the convenience of modern life, except that you will not see a single piece of plastic and no screens (unless you choose to bring your own) while you are there. The founder, Sam Kankanamge, told me that no trees had to be removed for the construction of the building. From what I could see, the idea of sustainability is taken very seriously at Sen Wellness.From day one the staff took care of everything I needed. Madura, the concierge, welcomed me with this perfect smile, the kitchen crew around chief Darshana served us three times a day with very healthy and also delicious food, doctor Waruni provided me with an individual program of ayurvedic treatmens so full of the most relaxing massages that after a few days I already felt brand now. And I had booked two weeks!Every morning, Prema, a warm and hard-working lady, woke me up with a tea at 5:30 to get me ready for Yoga at 6:00. It sounds early, but once you are there it is as smooth as everything else. The Yoga teachers were fantastic. The level of fitness among the group was different and they found just the right way to include everybody. In one-on-one Yoga sessions, they provided me with a very good individual program (I have a severe hip condition and have seen a lot of physiotherapists in my life). The way they looked into my personal situation and developed a special Yoga program convinced me that they really know what they are doing. (Thank you @emmaflowmoon).By the way: a lot of women are working here, especially in the well-paid jobs. The kitchen and the room service staff is male, the rest is female-dominated. Since most of the guests are female, this is only fair, and it is not a coincidence: "This is a place for empowerment of women", Sam told me.But it is, first of all: a beautiful place to relax and take care of your body and soul.
Karo Domarańczyk
Karo Domarańczyk
02:57 14 Dec 21
I can’t stress enough what a pleasure and beautiful experience it was to spend 7 days at SEN. The facilities, treatments, yoga, soul warming localisation and last but not least - most helpful and kind staff made my stay there a full wellness immersion journey. I recommend to everyone to unwind, relearn how to rest and come back to the body and peaceful mind.
Cinderella Hamdan
Cinderella Hamdan
09:24 18 Nov 21
My time at Sen Wellness Sanctuary was truly awakening, and I'm really grateful for this wonderful experience. Immersed in nature, the sanctuary is so beautifully designed to naturally heal.No amount of gratitude enough for the wonderful people that work there, who have made my stay unforgettable. Every Ayurvedic treatment was served holistically with attention and dedication, and the local vegetarian options were so nourishing and filled with all sorts of colors and flavors — leaving me to feel relaxed, renewed with a better understanding of myself; merely it was food for the mind and soul. The power of kundalini yoga, meditation and sound healing held by the beautiful soul coco and the great monk have made a valuable impact on my daily practice and mindset.Above all, I’m so thankful and honored to have met and received personal care and attention from Dr. Sam. He’s an incredibly human with so much to offer and learn from. The sanctuary is purely a destination advocating a new way of life — the people coming from all walks of life and the conversations I encountered along the way have left the greatest impact on my heart and are my biggest take away from this trip. This is not a good bye but a see you soon :)Reminder that the entrance to the sanctuary is inside you — RumiWith lots of love,C
Eva Sorz
Eva Sorz
17:40 07 Nov 21
We can highly reccomend this wonderful place.My husband and I spent 2 weeks at Sen Wellness Sanctuary in October. It was just great and we felt very comfortable. After 2 weeks of Ayurveda retreat and yoga we feel relaxed and full of energy again. The Sanctuary is a wonderful place to relax and unwind. The staff made us feel very welcome. Especially the manager Gangani made us feel at home. Thanks you especially to her and the whole team. Gangani, you spoiled us every day, thank you so much for that.The place is a gem, nestled between the lagoon and the beach and away from the tourist hustle and bustle.The ayurvedic consultations with Dr. Waruni were professional and lasting. The entire therapeutic team was also excellent. The massages were wonderful. My sinusitis and back problems were sustainably treated.We also had the privilege of participating in a very special yoga experience. We have several years of yoga experience and practice Anusara Yoga regularly. We had no previous experience with Kundalini Yoga. In these 14 days our expectations were far exceeded, it was a transformative experience and a journey to our inner self. Coco introduced us to Krya sequences combined with breathing techniques, meditation and mantra chanting, and we immediately felt at ease. Coco is an incredibly impressive personality, with deep spirituality and a great teacher. Through her captivating personality and the many great conversations she gave us access to new insights. At the end of these 14 days, we received a wealth of tips and advice on how to practice safely at home.We highly recommend Sen Wellness Sancutuary and we will definitely come back.
Asrar Mousli
Asrar Mousli
10:24 16 Oct 21
My time at Sen was nothing short of transformational. Every day in that sanctuary brought me a new gift, a new truth, or a new opportunity to heal from my pain. It wasn’t always smooth, or necessarily happy, but it was deeply fulfilling to my body, my soul, and my soma. It almost felt like a pilgrimage to nature, to purity. The people I met there, the conversations and rituals we had together, the meals, laughs, and stories we shared, they were life-altering for me. Some of those moments left an impact that is still with me today, two months later. Thank you Sen team for all you have given and done. 🤍
Karin Richter
Karin Richter
04:51 03 Sep 21
I was a part of the Golden Summer Retreat at Senwellnesssanctuary. This has been a very intense experience. The Sanctuary is built within the middle of nature on the lagoon near Tangalle with an outstanding architecture. The whole stuff is perfect working together within their different tasks and does everything for the wellbeeing of the guests. Very soon you don't feel as a guest but more as a member of a loving and caring family. Excellent ayurvedic food, doctor and treatments as a basic for a deep going transformation process with special tools and combination of ongoing steps. A real magic experience within the travel bubble in islandwide lockdown and global pandemic. My deepest gratitude for all the people there which makes this possible
Karin Richter
Karin Richter
12:55 02 Sep 21
I just was part of the Golden Summer Retreat at Sen Wellness. This was a very special and magic experience on an outstanding place in nature with awasome people on a wonderful island. Started with super friendly and caring hotel managing team, best ayurvedic kitchen, doctor and treatments, lovely yoga work and special and carefully developed transformation tools and process. Highly recommend Sen Wellness for a mindful and deep going stay. My deepest thanks for all who created and worked for this space and give their best whatever their task is
Paul Kelly
Paul Kelly
05:34 06 Jul 21
This was my first wellness trip .. and I loved it!Every other holiday I have been on involved drinking and returning to normality feeling worse than I did before I left.After visiting Sen for 2 weeks, I felt brand new.Before leaving I was concerned that I would get bored, but I never did. Just pure peace, relaxation, and contentment, for 2 full weeks.You get so well looked after every day, from the early morning tea wake up call, to your serving of herbal medicine before bed. With plenty of yoga, meditation, and treatments in between.The food is delicious! Clean and fresh. The daily ayurvedic treatments are bliss and the beach is isolated and beautiful, perfect for an afternoon stroll.Thank you to all the staff at Sen for making my stay so worth it. From the management, chefs, cleaners, treatment therapists, yogis, the monk and especially the resident doctor, who put a smile on my face every day!I recommend Sen to anyone that just needs a good break from life. To switch off, refresh and reconnect with yourself. The results are long lasting.Paul.
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Pruz0001 Pruz0001
18:32 24 May 21
Perfect place to truly reset yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. Pricing is very cheap for what they offer - all inclusive food (each meal a symphony!), treatment plan, massages, shirodara, cleansing options, beautiful accommodations, gorgeous secluded beach with turtles, daily herbs per your plan as prescribed, daily yogic practices etc etc. Current is strong so might need to arrange for lifeguard for swimming. I highly recommend this place for tired Europeans and US residents. Yes, even from US, totally worth the loooong flight. If you want to explore the country after quarantine at SenWellness, recommend hiring a private driver guide as public transport is not welcoming tourists per covid.
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