If you’re full of energy and generally fab, we’re genuinely happy for you. But, if you feel the need for a pick-me-up, or are just in the mood for some healthy pampering that’s a bit different, you’re in luck. We’ve researched feel-good options, both ancient and modern, that will have you feeling your best in no time. Read on to learn more.
ANCIENT TREATMENTS HAVE BEEN PASSED DOWN THROUGH GENERATIONS AND WE THINK THEY MIGHT JUST BE WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR.
You know how they say when you hold a grudge or pentup anger, it affects you physically? It’s easy to overlook a psychosomatic condition or illness. Ho′oponopono is a traditional Hawaiian forgiveness practice and can be a wonderful way to nip a condition caused by mental stress in the bud. It’s a useful technique even if you’re not struggling with resentment or internal conflict. There are four easy steps, each having its own affirmation: the first step is repentance and you say sorry; the second step is forgiveness and you say please forgive me; the third step is gratitude and you say thank you; and the last step is love and you say I love you. You can practice Ho′oponopono to heal people other than yourself; a Hawaiian psychotherapist is believed to have cured an entire ward of criminally insane patients, without ever meeting any of them or spending any time with them by using this technique.
Used by ancient Egyptians, Hijama, or cupping therapy, works on the principle of pulling bad toxins from the body. It increases blood and energy flow to areas that need healing by creating a vacuum using cups that are traditionally made of glass. Inducing relaxation, it’s great for blood circulation and to treat blood-related, rheumatoid and skin diseases. Cupping therapy can also work wonders for lung ailments such as allergies and asthma, headaches and migraines, high blood pressure and knee and back pain. Abo Taiba Medical Cupping Center and Doha Clinic Hospital offer this therapy. You could also explore places specialising in Chinese wellness practices – the therapy was widely used in ancient Chinese treatments as well.
If you have a pet or have even interacted with a stray, you’ll probably agree that animals have a certain energy that uplifts your spirits instantly. Equine therapy works on the healing aura of animals. Ancient Greeks are said to have used horses to treat incurable diseases. Hippocrates wrote about therapeutic riding or hippotherapy – his namesake – as early as 400 BC. It’s said to help with neurological conditions, such as cerebral palsy, movement disorders and balance problems, lower blood pressure, decrease stress levels, reduce feelings of anger, tension and anxiety, and improve social functions. Horses are an integral part of Arab history and tradition. Al Shaqab, a member of the Qatar Foundation, offers therapeutic horse riding for children as does Al Samariya Estate, which will resume its sessions for both children and adults in October.
When you think of acupuncture, the image of Kung Fu Panda being stuck with needles by Mantis and Viper comes to mind – that’s on a lighter note; originating in China 5,000 years ago, this technique is practised worldwide as a preventative medicine and to treat various ailments. The therapy involves inserting ultra-thin needles into your body, which sounds painful but is ironically used for pain relief. When pricked, the acupuncture points of your body stimulate the central nervous system causing bio chemical changes that balance energy flow. It is typically used in combination with moxibustion (the burning of dried mugwort leaves) and cupping. American Hospital Clinics, the Chinese Health Center and International Chinese Body Care Houses are some of the places that offer acupuncture treatments.
Most of you may have heard of cryotherapy, a treatment involving the use of freezing or near-freezing temperatures. Cold therapy is said to have originated in ancient Egypt around 2500BC to treat inflammations and injuries. Now, meet the father of cryotherapy so to speak – ice baths. They originated as far back as 3500 to 5000BC and are said to have their roots in ancient Greece, though there’s evidence for the same in ancient Rome and other civilizations including Egypt and India. Ice baths offer mental and physical benefits such as soothing sore muscles, boosting metabolism and immunity, reducing stress and improving sleep. While cryotherapy involves exposure to temperatures as low as -80 to -140 degrees Celsius, ice baths aren’t quite as arctic at -10 to -15 degrees Celsius. If you’re feeling worse for wear, then head to the Spa and Wellness Center at Four Seasons Hotel Doha. They have both an ice room and plunge pools – cold and hot. A cold shower or bath at home will also prove effective.
We’ve all heard of balanced diets. Now, meet the sattvic diet, a form of treatment in Ayurveda, which advocates the consumption of seasonal foods, fruits if one has no sugar problems, nuts, seeds, oils, ripe vegetables, legumes, whole grains and non-meat-based proteins. Dairy products are recommended only if they’re sourced humanely by feeding and milking the animal appropriately. Following through with this one will help you lose weight, feel lighter and be more energetic and calmer. Most vegan and vegetarian foods can be categorised as sattvic. While there are many restaurants serving this, we recommend fresh homecooked meals. If you can’t give up your meat all together, try eating plant-based a few times a week to start off with and you can build as you go along. Sattvic food offers benefits such as reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases and other diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. Further, it reduces environmental impact.
TIBETAN SINGING BOWLS
Using the healing benefits of sound therapy, Tibetan singing bowls have a history that dates back thousands of years. The rich, deep tone and vibrations produced when they’re played by running a wooden mallet on the rim or outer wall of the bowl induce relaxation, improve sleep and relieve pain, among other good things. Traditionally made of metal, they’re typically placed on or around the body of the person seeking to benefit from them and are generally used in combination with other wellness practices such as meditation and yoga. Most wellness centres and yoga studios use them but if you want to buy them, we recommend credible online retailers – the higher the quality, the more resonant the sound – music shops and stores that specialise in new-age products. A caveat: if you’re epileptic or pregnant or are someone who is prone to headaches, you may want to avoid singing bowls.
Every year on June 21 – International Day of Yoga – social media is awash with images of people bent at weird angles and with limbs knotted like a pretzel. It makes you want to whip out a mat and do it yourself only to realise it’s not as easy as it looks. However, we recommend giving it a go – what better time than this month? – because yoga has many benefits such as relaxation, better stress management, higher energy levels, improved heart health, relief from back pain and good bone health. The best part: you don’t need expensive equipment – just a mat and yourself. Aerial yoga, which involves doing the postures while being suspended from the ceiling by a silk hammock or sling, originated in New York in the early 90s. If you prefer to mix things up a bit, try out this style, which is a combination of yoga and the aerial arts. It’s suitable for both beginners and experts. Yoga Hi offers all styles including ariel – they mostly conduct all-ladies sessions but have a few for men. Other places you can explore are Evolve, Niya Yoga and Mandala Yoga – though they don’t offer aerial. Or you could start small – there are many videos available online for beginners.
MODERN WELLNESS PRACTICES MAY SOMETIMES SEEM A BIT FAR-FETCHED. TRY THEM WITH AN OPEN MIND AND REAP THE BENEFITS.
Ikigai refers to something that gives you a purpose in life or a reason to live. A concept that’s long been part of Japanese culture, it gained mainstream popularity in the 1960s. Most recently, the concept returned to the forefront thanks to the book by the same name. Authored by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles, it compiles their experiences interviewing the residents of Okinawa, a Japanese village with the highest percentage of 100-year-olds – practising this wellness attitude has allowed them to lead long, happy lives. The idea is to live purposefully, pursuing that which brings you a sense of fulfilment, whether it’s related to your health, career or social life; just like the people of Okinawa who eat right, stay active, pursue some form of work – never retire – have hobbies and spend time with the community, friends and family. It’s really pretty straightforward if you ask us and boils down to dividing your time in a balanced manner. As they say, all work and no play…
Immersive natural experiences are an instant mood lifter, the effect of which can last for days or even weeks. Simply coming into direct contact with the Earth’s surface, such as walking barefoot through the sands or sitting on grass, has significant health benefits. Earthing or grounding can decrease pain, enhance sleep quality, lower blood pressure and thin the blood. It’s the Earth’s negative charge that promotes a stable internal environment and normal functioning of all systems in the body. Qatar’s largest wellness destination and the Middle East’s first well-being resort, Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som, offers a plethora of earthing experiences aimed at balancing the body, mind and spirt. As part of their retreats, you can enjoy a number of activities including a Beach Nature Walk and an Island Walk.
These Instagram-worthy, colourful bowls of delicious goodness are all the rage with fitness enthusiasts. Açaí na tigela, which translates to acai bowl, is a Brazilian dessert from Pará and Amazonas, where the Ribeirinhos people prepare it regularly. In the last decade or so, it has become a popular breakfast item. Come to think of it, what better way to start your day than with dessert? The main ingredient is frozen acai palm fruit, which has an earthy, creamy taste. It’s pureed and typically topped with coconut chips, chia seeds, cut up fruit and nut butter. Rich in anti-oxidants, acai berries can reduce bad cholesterol in your blood. Additionally, they strengthen the immune system and are good for your heart muscles. EL&N LONDON, Evergreen Organics, jones the grocer, Origin Café, Twisted Olive and The Bowl are some places that serve acai bowls. You can easily whip up one of these at home as well – frozen acai berries and powder are available in stores.
DOLCE FAR NIENTE
If you’ve watched the Julia Roberts film Eat, Pray, Love, you would know of this therapy that many of us practice without even realising it. Dolce far niente translates to the sweetness of doing nothing and is a philosophy that’s ingrained into the Italian way of life. It encourages people to take the slow lane and live in the moment. Now, now. Don’t you start thinking that you can scroll away on your phone, lying down like a lizard on a rock the whole day. It’s best to stay away from digital and other distractions or regulate their usage. You need to actively relax in order to recharge and restore your mind and body.
Ever sat at your work desk after a hearty lunch wishing you could curl up under a blanket, if only for a short while? We move siestas be legally enforced in Qatar. Essentially a midday nap particularly after lunch, they are a simple way to unwind and energise for the remainder of the day. While many associate them with Spain, they are actually said to have originated in ancient Rome where they’re called riposo. Traditionally, siestas last for two hours or more but productivity experts recommend power naps, which are about 10 to 20 minutes long. Regardless of how long, we promise you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready for whatever comes next.
You must have come across the quote, “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” Attributed by some to Lao Tzu and by others to Mahatma Gandhi, the quote accurately encompasses the idea of affirmations as a wellness therapy. They are carefully formatted statements that should be repeated to one’s self or written down frequently. They can also include chants or mantras, positive images and videos, and spiritual talks and lectures. Whether your existing state of mind is positive or negative, practising affirmations will bring about optimism, which will permeate all aspects of your life.
Offering a host of benefits from boosting immunity and reducing stress to maintaining hormonal balance and improving energy and memory, adaptogens are plants and roots that help keep your body in a balanced state. They could be store cupboard staples such as turmeric and ginger or others such as holy basil, American ginseng, Asian ginseng and ashwagandha. You can consume them by adding them to your food or drinks or even brewing them as teas. Adaptogens are also available as capsule supplements, tinctures or energy shots. Being herbal, they don’t usually have any side effects but it’s best to consult your doctor before taking them, especially if you’re on other prescription medication.
Ever notice how you feel lighter after watching a comedy movie or meeting friends and having a good laugh with them. Sigmund Freud called it psychic energy, which when released brings gratification. A meditative practice incorporating stretching, deep breathing and laughing, laughter yoga is the simplest way to boost your mood. The first laughter club was founded in 1995 by Dr Madan Kataria from Mumbai, India. According to him, our body can’t differentiate between real and fake laughter. The benefits include reduced stress and hence, a stronger immune system, high energy, relief from pain, heart and lung health, and stronger abs – what’s there to lose (pun intended)? The next time you’re feeling low, give yourself a prescription to laugh. We bet you won’t regret it.
Founded only 30 years ago by Gary M. Douglas, this healing modality has fast gained a good reputation with wellness enthusiasts. Access consciousness involves gently touching 32 points on your head, which when stimulated cause the release of anything that is stopping your from living your life to the fullest. Having your bars run, as it’s often called, will allow you to experience a deep relaxation and enhance your body’s ability to heal itself. Further, it doesn’t interfere with any conventional or alternative treatment or therapy. Rather, it has been found to enhance them. While you can get trained and run your own Access Bars, an experienced facilitator is recommended – Access Consciousness Qatar on Facebook is a good place to connect with practitioners and learn more about the modality. ✤