The month of Ramadan is all about purification and cleansing. And whether you’re fasting or not, there are plenty of ways to detoxify both body and mind in Bahrain
Ayurveda: It is one of the world’s oldest systems of medicine, and a billion or so people (mainly those from the Indian subcontinent) swear by it. Ayurveda literally means ‘knowledge of longevity’ and has for millennia been credited with improving health and wellbeing. It can be used to treat a wide range of medical conditions, and is a great place to start if you are looking for a complete purge. The Bahrain Wellness Resort (17 795 961) and the Kottokal Ayurvedic Centre (17 813 150) both have medical doctors on hand and offer treatments ranging from massage to aromatherapy to herbal supplements. Sure, these are not the places to head if your arm’s hanging off or you’re about to have a heart attack, but for preventative care and for those feeling run down, Ayurveda is hard to beat.
Bio-Natural Nutrition: Every country needs a health food shop, and Bahrain has a fair few options. Bio-Natural Nutrition (17 553 151) in Bahrain Mall is one of the best we have found. With a wide selection of organic herbal teas from the fantastic Austrian company Sonnentor, a range of health tonics such as aloe vera juice and avocado oil, and a strong emphasis on pesticide-free products, this is the place to head to get inspired when you’re planning a detox. The shop also stocks vitamins for pill poppers, though frankly, if you have a balanced diet full of fresh fruit and vegetables, you shouldn’t need supplements.
Chinese treatments: Like Ayurveda, Chinese medicine has a huge following in its native country, and is becoming increasingly popular across the globe. At Bahrain Wellness Resort (17 795 961), a Chinese doctor is available for anyone with specific ailments. But for those in need of a more general mind and body detox, the Chinese tradition offers a whole host of interesting options. Acupuncture, which might sound like a form of torture but which is used widely to treat anything from bad backs to stress, is available at just BD20 per session. Cupping (basically a suction massage), and reflexology (foot massage) are both well known to dedicated followers of detox fads, and are available at the Chinese medical clinic for a bargain BD15 and BD20 respectively. If you’re male and looking for a cheapie, try Chinese Healthy Man Massage (17 365 018) on American Alley in Juffair where the therapists can knock out the knots for practically nothing.
DNA activation therapy: It might sound nuts, but Lisa Kennedy of the Bahrain branch of the Modern Mystery School runs a programme which aims to help people unlock the hidden potential encoded in their genes. Beginning with a hug followed by a crystal wand being placed onto the codons of light on the head, most people would regard this as off-the-scale wackiness. But if you have tried everything and are looking for something new, this might well be the therapeutic turning point. If nothing else, the experience is a deep meditation, and thoroughly relaxing, though it doesn’t come cheap at BD50. If you’re happy with your DNA, Lisa also offers a range of workshops from sacred geometry to astral travel, and max meditation. Contact Lisa on 36 813 408 or email email@example.com.
Eat well: If you are of the opinion that food is medicine, then you’re off to a good start. But if you view food as simply something to fill you up, then you might want to have a rethink. You are what you eat, quite literally, and if you snack on rubbish then you are likely to feel like rubbish. The golden rule of food is to make sure you eat twice as much fresh fruit and vegetables as anything else. Then reject anything that’s refined, say farewell to fat and avoid anything fried and you’ll be as fit as a fiddle. Obviously, everyone’s different, and if you want to get some advice that is a little more personal, get in touch with nutritional therapist, Alia Almoayed (17 611 891), who can help with weight loss, dieting and righting the nutritional wrongs of a lifetime.
Feng shui: You can give up smoking, join a gym, eat only vegetables and learn to meditate and, if traditional Chinese beliefs are right, you still won’t be completely at ease. The Chinese system of aesthetics, feng shui, can be traced back 3,500 years and has millions of adherents around the world. The basic idea is that by placing certain objects in a room in a certain pattern you will increase the flow of positive energy (qi) in your home and consequently in your life. And while you can buy a book on this and attempt it yourself, it is far easier to get someone in who knows what they are doing. Janet Chau of 8 Mansions, Country Mall, is the nation’s expert. Contact Janet on 17 594 575.
Join a gym: By far the best detox is one that the body gives itself. And in order to do so, the body can’t be lying prone on a couch or slumping in an arm chair. To get the blood pumping, and therefore get the body to naturally dispose of toxins requires a hard work out and lots of sweating. An increased heart rate encourages the lymph, your immune defence system, to start working, while sweating is one of the best ways to purge the body of filth.
Hydrotherapy Garden: Thanks to the exit of the Banyan Tree and the fact that the resort is still finding its feet, many people seem to have forgotten that the majestic Al Areen Palace & Spa is home to the second largest spa in the world. The crowning glory of this spa is the Hydrotherapy Garden, a stunning complex of showers, steam rooms, saunas and baths that will leave you feeling clean through and through. An hour in the garden is a bargain BD10 right now, and involves a series of temperature and light-controlled wet spaces that are perfectly scented to ensure maximum benefit. For more information, contact the spa on 17 845 000.
Indian head massage: Traditionally part of Ayurvedic medicine, the Indian head massage is now firmly part of the men’s haircut ritual, with many of the best barbers in the country offering a skull rub after a short back and sides. However, to really reap the benefits of this massage, which aids concentration, relieves stress, and helps increase blood flow to the brain, you need a good half hour of methodical kneading. The best we have found thus far is in Prime Cut in Seef Mall, which charges a bargain BD5 per massage. For more information, call 17 580 766.
Juice fasting: Those who want to take detoxing to the next level would be well advised to invest in a blender and stock up on fruit and vegetables. One popular method of boosting energy and ridding the body of waste is to go on a juice fast. While the benefits of this are disputed (some argue that juice does less than a glass of water and is an expensive waste of money) anyone who has undertaken such a diet will attest that they feel pretty clean afterwards. The deal is you can drink as much juice as you want, but can ingest nothing else (but water) over a 24-hour period. The most popular juices tend to be carrot-based, with beetroot, ginger, celery and orange all being great ingredients. Those who don’t want the hassle of cleaning the juicer every five minutes can try the juices at Watermelon (17 581 785). For a cheaper option, try the fantastic Mesh Mesh (17 531 800) on Exhibition Road, which serves a range of juices, mainly in the fruit department. Alternatively, Manama Souq has a range of options, from the great to the ghastly.
King for a day: Sure, we can’t all be royals. But those looking for a treatment that is truly regal need to head to Al Areen Palace & Spa and book into the Royal Indulgence Package. Starting with a rain mist and a ginger and lemon scrub, followed by a rain shower, the treatment really kicks off with the Royal Indulgence Pouch Massage, during which you get pummelled with a bag of detoxifying herbs. To finish off you have a facial and floral bath before hitting the relaxation area for refreshments. Best thing is, this three and a half hour treatment comes in at just BD125++, which we think is a bargain. For more information, contact the spa at 17 845 000.
Lipomassage: You’re in desperate need of liposuction but can’t bear the thought of being cut up and sucked dry? The Cosmetic Surgery Clinic in the Bahrain Specialist Hospital might have just the thing. Rather than sweating it out for weeks in the gym, the creators of the all new and revamped LPG machine recommend instead that you lie on a bed while suction rollers break down the fat in your body and firm up the skin. At the BSH they couple this treatment with Zerona, a laser that helps to break down the fat and drain it away. A wonder treatment for cellulite? We’re not all that sure, but if going to the gym is your worst nightmare, then the LPG machine is surely worth a try. Right now the hospital offers a package of 20 sessions for BD300. For more information, call 17 812 009.
Meditation: Certainly as important as sorting out your body is the formidable task of sorting out your mind. Indeed, most health problems have been proven to stem from psychological ills. By far the best way to unblock mental tension and clear a psychological path to good physical health is to maintain a routine of meditation. One of the most popular (and relaxing) places to meditate is at the renowned Bahrain Meditation Centre in Adliya. Call 17 712 545 for more information.
NLP: Neuro-linguistic programming might sound like some kind of terrifying brand of computer science. In fact, it is a surprisingly logical branch of linguistics, the understanding of which can be crucial to helping people communicate. Indeed, it can be a great way to rejuvenate the relationships in your life and rid yourself of the frustration caused by miscommunication and misunderstanding. Leila and Phil Edwards of The Makeover Experience are two of the country’s best NLP practitioners and periodically run workshops over several days both for beginners and those looking to advance their understanding of NLP. For more information, call 17 592 019.
OSIM: Some people can’t wait to hit the spa, feeling inspired to relaxation and good health by the smell of essential oils, the low-level lighting and the presence of a trained pummeller. Others, however, are terrified by the thought of getting undressed somewhere strange and having people they have never met touch them in places they didn’t know existed. Those people should head to the OSIM store in Seef Mall, which stocks all the latest home spa gadgets, from massage chairs, to home foot spas, slimming belts, sound therapy and a range of supporting pillows. For more information, call 17 581 331.
Personal coaching: An integral part of detoxing is getting rid of emotional baggage, something that can make a huge number of people feel stuck in a rut and unable to progress. Kecia Braggs is one of Bahrain’s foremost life coaches (she describes herself as a ‘success coach’), and is experienced in helping people overcome a range of problems, such as those who have low self- esteem, are undergoing relationship problems, are looking for a career change or are hoping to lose weight. She suggests each client commits for a 90-day period, with a meeting roughly once a week, in order to really get to the bottom of the problem. For more information, contact Kecia on 39 301 946.
Quit smoking: Unless you are addicted to hard drugs, quitting smoking (and that includes smoking shisha) will be the healthiest thing you have ever done. Smoking causes a whole range of cancers, dramatically increases the chances of heart failure, ages you prematurely, gives you terrible skin, upsets your sleep patterns, and gives you the lungs of a seventy-year-old after ten years of sucking the evil weed. Not only that, you actually pay good money to kill yourself slowly. Giving up can be surprisingly easy, so long as you have the right frame of mind. To help you, one of the more interesting methods is Reflection Instrument Scanning Electro-pulse or RISE, a micro-massage that targets Chinese reflexology points to help to quell the addiction to nicotine. For more information, visit them in Dana Mall, call 17 544 244 or visit www.iquitsmoking.bh.
Reiki: At Time Out Towers, we’re obsessed with Reiki, the Japanese-inspired treatment that helps to balance your chakras and align your spirit. Sure, there might not be bags of scientific proof showing that it does anything at all. But to anyone who has experienced the high-intensity meditation that comes from Reiki, the treatment is a guaranteed de-stress and a great way to detoxify your soul. Anubhaa Sharma is one of the Gulf’s most respected Reiki practitioners and, luckily for us, she’s based in Bahrain. With a number of books on the subject, along with a relaxing studio, Sharma is a God-send to anyone who wants to feel a bit of a lift in their life. Contact her on 39 260 488.
Sunbathe: Dermatologists are not going to like us suggesting this one, and it is true that the sun has a particularly bad ageing effect, especially if you are not using adequate sun protection. Conversely, the sun has long been proven to encourage positive mental health (Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is the lack of sunlight syndrome that millions of people living in the north suffer from). In addition, sunlight enables the body to convert nutrients into Vitamin D. Sure, we don’t suggest sizzling yourself. But since we all live in a land where the sun never fails to shine, surely a little bit of sun couldn’t hurt? As an incentive, a tan makes you look slimmer.
Thai massages: Of all the massages in the world, the Thai massage is the most famous, and for good reason. Passive yoga, serene stretching, controlled cracking: however you want to look at it, the Thai massage has become the cornerstone of spa treatments across the world. With a system of compression and extension, Thai massages literally squeeze and pull the toxins embedded in deep tissue, and for this reason it is paramount that you hydrate yourself after the massage to help wash away that which has been released. Thanks to its popularity, there are numerous options in Bahrain, with some of the best being at The Spa at Coral Beach Club. For more information, call 17 312 700.
Ultrasonolipolysis: We can’t even pronounce this word, and had never come across it prior to recently stumbling on the machine in the decadent surroundings of La Fontaine’s Spa. Much like the LPG machine, Ultrasonolipolysis is designed to remove fat and tighten skin without surgery. The machine’s pads are strapped on the body and these send low frequency ultrasounds through your skin, which apparently have the capacity to break down fat that is then excreted from your body via the kidneys. It sounds like wishful thinking to most people, but if you are willing to try anything to slim down, then this is the place to head. La Fontaine charge BD20 for a 20-minutes session, but provide a package of 10 sessions for BD150. For more information, call 17 230 123.
Volcanic hot stone massage: Volcanic hot stone massages were the spa fad of the ’90s – for almost a decade everyone was convinced that placing a series of hot and cold stones all over your body could really help draw out impurities and make you feel younger, healthier and more energised. The treatment is having something of a revival among those looking to get away from the new range of laser machines that have recently hit the market, and is a perfectly natural way to attempt to detox. The Sheraton Spa offers one of the most blissful volcanic stone therapies in town. Call 17 524 570 for more information.
Water therapy – get out on the ocean: Although not a spa treatment, water therapy (by which we mean getting out on the water) can be a great way to rid your life of stress and get some perspective. While group cruises can do the trick, the best treatment is to hire a boat and a captain for you and your loved ones and sail out onto the deep blue. And with an array of stunning islands studding the waters around Bahrain, there is no better way to see the country. The best place to hire a boat is the Bahrain Yacht Club. Call 17 700 677 for more information.
Exhibition Road: Exhibition Road might not at first glance seem like the centre of Bahrain’s detox world: fast food rules in this part of town, and if you are not a chain smoker then you don’t fit in. But if you look a little closer, you’ll also find some of the best budget spas in Bahrain open along this road. Sure, they can’t compare to the salubrious spas at the country’s five star hotels, but for BD8 for an hour’s massage, you really can’t complain.
Yoga: Yoga has been practised for millennia in India, but it is only in the last few decades that yoga has made a huge impact around the world. Staggeringly, the Yoga Journal estimates that Americans spend a whopping $5.7 billion on yoga classes and equipment annually, giving some idea of how popular the practise has become. Bahrain is still waking up to the amazing effects of yoga (better concentration, more energy, better posture, fewer injuries), and yet the country does have some of the best teachers in the Gulf. Our particular favourite is the Bayoga Centre in Juffair, which holds great classes in an admittedly rather run-down building. For more information, call 17 725 027.
Zero cellulite massage: Ask any woman what their arch- enemy is, and most will tell you cellulite. However many diets, exercise classes and hot soaks a woman has, lumpy fat always seems to coagulate at the top of the thighs and make most women ditch a bikini in favour of the burkha during the summer months. The Diplomat Spa uses French Phytomer products and offers a Zero Cellulite massage, which concentrates the efforts of the masseuse on those regions of the body most affected. Sure, it might be a long shot, but long shots are always worth a try. For more information, contact the Diplomat Spa on 17 525 237.
Kecia Braggs, life empowerment and success coach: As you engage in the sizzling hot and fun activities of the summer, it is important to conduct a mid-year assessment of the goals that you made at the beginning of the year. Mid-year assessments allow you to revisit, renew and re-focus your attention on what you once deemed as important. Failure to review your yearly goals is like taking a road trip and never looking at the map! So as you travel, swim, and play this summer make sure to hydrate and exhale, but also pause for a moment and bring to mind your heart’s desires, re-evaluate their importance, and then execute your way into your successful future. Call Kecia on 39 301 946.
Robin Barratt, personal trainer: Keeping yourself fit over the summer needn’t be difficult, even if you are not a member of a health club and the outside temperatures are nearing 50 degrees. Try using the stairs for a few floors instead of the lift, start with a couple at first and build up by one floor each week. There is also a whole range of exercises you can do on your own without any equipment: try star-jumps, lunges, sit-ups, press-ups and running on the spot, three circuits of ten seconds each at first, building up as they become easier. And if neither of these appeal, get some of your favourite music tracks and dance to them for fifteen to twenty minutes every day, even if you are the worst dancer in the world, with the curtains closed nobody will know and you will still burn a few hundred calories. Call Robin on 38 357 801.
Janet Chau, feng shui master, 8 Mansions: Cool your house and balance the energy with a water feature this summer. When the weather is hot our body needs water to cool and rehydrate, and so does our living and working environment, especially this year as there is an incredible shortage of water element energy. The fire element is at its highest point during summer and needs to be counterbalanced and controlled with water. Decorate your house with accents of blue and black colours to counter the excessive yang fire energy, get yourself a nice indoor water feature and place it in the centre of your home.
The sound of water cools and calms temper caused by the excessive heat, and placed in the centre of the house this year brings wealth to the family. For offices choose a water feature with a turning ball for continuous business turnover. However, there are taboos to take note of when placing a water feature. Never place a water feature in the bedroom. Water features with a running stream of water should not face any door, especially the main door as it will cause loss of wealth instead of wealth enhancement. Make sure you shop for clothing in different tones of blues when you go about revamping your wardrobe for the summer. In addition carry a water amulet wherever you go to make up for the shortage of water energy – this will also bring excellent growth luck. Call Janet on 17594 575.
Badia Dhahri, salon manager, Dessange Spa: For an all-round approach I would go for ‘slim and trim for summer, just 30 minutes a day’. It includes 10 power plate personal training sessions, 10 endermology sessions and four Cellutox body wraps. I like this option as you get the intensive training complete in a short amount of time, and complement it with the endermology treatment which shapes your body and gets rid of cellulite. The body wrap works wonders and is so relaxing – perfect for hot summer months. Call Badia on 17 713 999.
Abilash Vikraman, yoga Instructor, Bayoga Centre: Human beings wish to live a long and pleasant life. Life can be pleasant only with a happy and peaceful mind. A happy mind dwells only in a healthy body. Health is the result of disciplined living based on Yogasana. Yogasana may be simplified as mind control, physical wellness and breathing control. Pranayama (breathing control exercises) is comprised of the root words ‘Prana’ meaning breath or life force, ‘yama’ meaning control or discipline and ‘ayam’ which means expansion. Translations of the meaning of pranayama include “expansion of the life force through breath control”.
There exists a variant in Pranayama which is a cooling exercise and it is quite handy during the summer season. Cooling Pranayama mainly involves inhaling through the mouth and exhaling through the nose. It helps in reducing the body temperature by efficient and effective breathing by taking in the required amounts of oxygen in order to sustain daily activities. Pranayama must be learnt under expert guidance. Yogasana practice will help to keep the body fit with its facilities intact. To prevent disease and prolong life, yogic exercises are unequalled. Bayoga practices Yoga therapeutically for great physical as well as spiritual benefits. Call him on 17 725 027.
Read yourself clean
One of the best ways to clear your mind and enrich your soul is by getting your teeth into a book. We pick the top five reads to detox with this sumer.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Robert Prisig (1974): For those that don’t remember the seventies (or, like us, were born in the eighties), this classic of travel and philosophy from one of the world’s most brilliant writers documents a motorcycle trip across America solving metaphysical problems on the way. Not nearly as dense as the previous sentence suggests.
The Snow Leopard Peter Matthiessen (1978): One of the most beautiful books ever written, this volume traces Mathiessen’s travels with George Schaller to Crystal Mountain in the Dolpo region of Nepal to study the bharal or blue sheep. As much a spiritual journey as a physical one (Matthiessen has, for decades, been a student of Zen Buddhism), this book is as inspiring as the landscape it describes.
Through the Narrow Gate Karen Armstrong (1983): An unlikely inclusion in our list, Karen Armstrong became a Roman Catholic nun at the age of 17. Seven years later, anorexic, epileptic and mentally shattered, she left the faith. This intensely personal book is a surprisingly uplifting account of one woman’s struggles with faith. Armstrong has since become one of the word’s most respected religious scholars.
Mountains of the Mind Robert Macfarlane (2003): One of the most celebrated travels books of the decade, Macfarlane studies why people are drawn to mountains, with descriptions so intense you can easily lose yourself in the imagery. Part history, part travel, part biography, the book is academic, without any of the aridity that is normally associated with the term.
A Book of Silence Sara Maitland (2008): Sara Maitland, whose most famous novel Daughters of Jerusalem¸ won the Somerset Maugham Prize in the late seventies, has spent the last decade seeking silence. In this stunning study (both academic and emotional) of the effects of silence, Maitland imbibes the reader with stillness and peace.
A change is as good as a rest, they say. And we agree, not least if you are heading to some of the world’s most inspiring and uplifting places. We pick our top five destinations for a retreat.
Uluru, Australia The spiritual home of Aboriginal culture, this might be just a massive rock, but seeing the sun rise (or set) over this extraordinary landscape is a truly awe-inspiring experience.
Easter Island, Chile In the windswept Pacific Ocean, one of the most isolated islands in the world, Easter Island, has achieved legendary status thanks to the mysterious Maoi statues which punctuate the shore. But add to this one of the world’s most awe-inspiring volcanic craters, a warm local culture and Anakena Beach (one of the best in the Pacific) and this is paradise.
Himalayas From whichever direction you approach, the Himalayas are soaring reminders of the power of nature, and have inspired religious faith and spiritual searching for millennia. The isolation, the extremities in climate and height, along with the sheer beauty of the mountain range make this one of the most spiritual places on earth.
Iguazu Falls, Brazil/Argentina Forget Niagara, if you want to see a real waterfall, head to the border between Argentina and Brazil, where 400,000 gallons of water per second thunder 82 metres downwards in this tropical paradise. In spite of the noise, the meditative continuity of the flow makes this a truly relaxing experience.
Wadi Rum Closer to home, yet no less dramatic, this massive wadi punctuated with mountains that periodically rise out of the sands, is truly awe-inspiring. Though bleak, it has a magnetic attraction for those looking to get away from it all.