Stephanie Durst

Westbury, New York Travel Agent

Ananda in the Himalayas

One of my most life-changing experiences was an intensive week-long detox-rejuvenation program I signed on for at Ananda in the Himalayas. It’s the most amazing destination spa. It bases its program on the ancient Ayurvedic principles, which go back thousands of years and originated in India.

The spa sits at foothills of the Himalayas and the landscape feels very mystical.  I felt myself slowing down as soon as I arrived. The culture, too, feels very mystical. They have a very gentle, Buddhist way of looking at life.

Ayurvedic medicine involves a lot of natural medicine components, special herbs as well as what you eat and drink. I also did a lot of meditation. It’s a very natural approach to wellness and no one does it better than India. During my week there, we often talked in groups or met with a religious leader or practicing yogi who had written books about spirituality. And then, there were private sessions on yogic breathing and more. 

One of the most unforgettable moments was a yoga session where I thought I’d be doing yoga. Instead, my teacher told me I needed to laugh and we spent 30 minutes talking and laughing. But it was the way he made me laugh that has really stayed with me. He was so incisive and he really opened up personally about how he deals with stress in ways that made me laugh. To this day, when I’m stressed, I hear his words and relax. It has to be one of the best therapy sessions ever. By the end of a week, we were talking about the essence of life. 

I had high blood pressure and didn’t deal well with stress. My week at Ananda helped me learn to go inward when I need to. I’ve also become aware of how what I eat affects my health. And I feel I’ve brought back gentleness in dealing with myself and others and a better appreciation for how precious life is.