Essential Detox at Naman Retreat provides a mind-broadening reset.
Writer Stephanie Shiu
PREVIOUS PAGE: Little beats morning yoga on the resort beachfront. THIS PAGE: Breathtaking views make detox dining a pleasure
The gentlest of options on offer, Naman Retreat’s Essential Detox provides a fast track to wellness with its clean menu, while nurturing body and mind with everything from hiking to meditation, in the surrounds of mellow Danang. Personal training sessions each day comprise weight training to target a specific area. Colon hydrotherapy is an effective means of kick-starting weight loss, and the Angel of Water machine (yes, that’s really what it’s called) supposedly a highlight, but as that wasn’t my focus, I opted out.
Food, or lack of it, can elicit fear initially on a detox. But with an extensive juice selection and vegan deliciousness in the form of Citrus Maximia Salad with pomelo, onion, peanut, mint carrot, and black sesame and Healthy Head, a delicately presented blend of cauliflower, sautéed mushroom, beets, roasted sunflower seeds and miso, ginger and sesame dressing, these were unfounded. Coconut water and broths are available any time of day should you experience the growl of a wanting stomach, but it’s unlikely given the four juices you will be drinking, including the liver flush or colon cleansing drinks to be taken along with probiotic and magnesium supplements.
Executive Chef Preeti Bomzon designed the menu while considering calorie count, ingredients rich in protein and fibre, and limiting processed foods to enhance digestion, and cooking at low temperature to maintain nutritional integrity. She says, “Essential properties such as antioxidants and vitamins such as zinc and iron have anti-ageing and weight loss benefits while cleansing the deeper layers of the skin and improving cognitive and organ function.”
THIS PAGE: Group classes provide a social, energising start to the day. OPPOSITE PAGE: Master Giri’s vigorous style of yoga keeps guests on their toes
First order of the day is a meeting with nutritionist and lifestyle coach Natalie. I was a little surprised to see that the appointment was scheduled for two hours. After all, how long could it possibly take to go through what I eat in a day, and the reasons I should be cutting out processed foods and sugar?
The session turned out to be much more heavily skewed towards the coaching, with Natalie introducing me to the Japanese concept of ishigai, or ‘purpose in life’, which encompasses your passion and mission based on what you love to do, are good at, can be paid for, and what the world needs more of. We glossed over the 80/20 approach to diet but spent most of the time brainstorming which yoga course I should take, and how to make time for volunteering – infinitely more valuable.
It’s one fascinating personality after another with a private yoga session with Master Giri, possibly the most effervescent yogi I have ever met. He tells me yoga is not exercise – it’s art. And after watching him, it all starts to make sense. His wildly exaggerated poses, booming voice and dragon-like breathing are larger than life, no wonder he’s somewhat of a legend in Danang. Never have postures been barked at me so thunderingly, while at the same time his enthused “wow!” and “very nice” feel like the world’s most generous compliment. A total riot.
Each day of the programme ends with spa time, the Detox Massage an ideal complement for its focus on the abdomen and lymphatic drainage, after a body scrub for extra pampering. Sheinette Ivy GondaSeville, director of Wellness & Spa, says that the blissful sanctuary has been designed to envelop guests in a tranquil cocoon, and that this particular massage was chosen for its ability to detoxify and strengthen the immune system. “It helps to reduce water retention and boost weight loss. As the treatment improves the lymphatic system, it will improve your metabolic rate which helps to burn calories more effectively.”
Rainy days are an ideal time to hibernate in the spa – exactly what was in store coincidentally. The star of the Oxyjet Facial is its ‘six in one’ machine, using a combination of vitamin C, blasts of cold air, gentle suction and 10 minutes of wearing an oxygen mask to deep cleanse, enhance skin texture, while claiming to improve pigmentation, acne and wrinkles. My complexion looked visibly more radiant afterwards.
A reiki session with Master Giri is a powerful experience, and what he considers a pure energy technique to promote healing and balance. His skill is immediately apparent with immense heat emanating from his palms, to the point of perspiration. I feel like drifting off at times, a contrast to the rush of energy I experienced in a previous session, but with the same perceptible current coursing through me.
Followed by a traditional Japanese shiatsu massage targeting pressure points, and an additional head massage, I am so relaxed my brain feels as if it has turned to mush. As I leave the spa, Master Giri’s ‘homework’ is to “Hug the sky, gaze at the rustling leaves and plant your bare feet on the ground”. Best assignment ever, as I head to the beach to do all those things, feeling centred. This must be what it feels like to be truly in the moment.
Consciousness is at the core of the programme and Ruben Gaor, resort manager, believes holistic wellness to be a combination of fun, relaxation and rejuvenation through fitness, spiritual healing and activities. But ultimately, it’s the people that make the experience. He says, “We have specifically trained detox ambassadors to guide our guests during the stay. Our objective is to be the one-stop solution for those whose aim is to detoxify.”
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Find a corner of the resort for quiet contemplatation; pampering is a significant part of the detox programme; Wave villas are inspired by natural elements combined with a clean aesthetic
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: The clean lines and openair design of villas are easy on the eyes; greenery creates a tranquil vibe; explore the property grounds during downtime
Marble Mountain is today’s playground, just a 5km bike ride from the resort. Not only my personal trainer for the stay, Thinh is also an incredible guide. He takes the long route to the top via what seems like a million stairs, weaving through the natural caves of Thuy Son, the largest of the cluster of five marble and limestone hills. Some are home to seated Buddhas, others open up the sky, while a few show the wear and tear of the American War with bullet holes still visible. We soak in the views of sprawling Danang upon reaching the peak, a surreal experience with Lionel Richie blaring from speakers concealed in the shrubbery, before the steep climb down craggy rocks to the bottom again.
Back at the resort, Master Giri teaches me vigorous bhastrika breathing, or bellows breath, which involves pumping the arms up and down with forceful inhaling and exhaling through the nose. Doing it properly takes a fair amount of energy, so he advises only 20 to begin with, and gets me to lie down on a mat immediately afterwards. Lightheadedness means you’re doing it right. A guided meditation with song bowls follows – I’m not sure if it’s the pranayama, the hike, or a combination – but I am soon shamefully dozing off to his calming voice, completely unaware of my surroundings.
All is forgiven, though Master Giri suggests sitting to meditate next time, and to do so in the morning, naturally the most serene time of day. He says, “In meditation, you either think of something, or nothing,” and tells me he prefers the latter – to witness but not chase your thoughts, and simply be aware of feelings and surroundings while focusing on the breath. I’m so relaxed going into Swedish massage at the spa that I am putty in my therapist Al’s hands. Ask for her if you can, she has serious skills.
The blissful sanctuary has been designed to envelop guests in a tranquil cocoon
The last day of the detox centres around seeing favourite faces. My consultation with Natalie allows me to give feedback on the detox menu, all satisfying, even if on occasion other guests walking by with plates piled high from the buffet did turn my head. Again, we swiftly move onto big-picture matters, and her stories of following her passion inspire me to delve more deeply into interests I have never taken the time to explore further. She is full of encouragement and generous sharing her own experiences, so the hour feels more like catching up with a friend.
I am grateful for one last session with Master Giri, this time another private yoga class. During the first I was slightly unnerved by his uniquely inflated style, after spending more time with him (subjecting him to endless questions), his boundless energy and enthusiasm proves infectious. I find myself amplifying every movement, fingers spanned wide through every stretch, pushing flexibility to the point of pain, looking over to him in an awkward twisted posture just to get the “very good” that I know will make it worthwhile. His style of yoga isn’t particularly Zen, but that’s what makes it special.
Of course the day would be incomplete without spa indulgence, as a Naman itinerary is crammed with hedonism. I am spoilt with another Swedish massage and mani pedi before heading home to real life. The meticulous care taken with every detail and individual attention are major draws of the programme. You are in constant contact with your personal wellness consultant, who will ensure you’re at the right place at the right time – which may not be for those looking to disconnect in solitude – but perfect if you enjoy feeling taken care of. www.namanretreat.com
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Villas are the perfect place to admire stunning surrounds; contemporary design lets nature shine; romantic escapes the healthy way
“Hug the sky, gaze at the rustling leaves and plant your bare feet on the ground ”
~ Master Giri