There's a whole host of blissful retreats to choose from across Scotland - everything from reiki in the Trossachs to meditation on the shores of Loch Voil
While holidays should be about taking a break, for some reason they often end up being the source of much family arguing, an excuse to spend your days trekking from exhibit to landmark and, of course, an excuse to indulge with fine food. But there is another option. Booking a holistic retreat means you’ll return from your break utterly relaxed and pampered and even have a few healthy tips to take home with you – which makes a change from the usual holiday souvenirs you return with! And there’s plenty on offer in Scotland, enabling you to see some of the beautiful surroundings and really appreciate them. Here are my favourites of the many I've tried. Lycra optional...
If you want to be eased into the good life gently, then what could be better than a spa? If you’re a city dweller at heart, then The Cowshed day spa is perfectly placed, as it’s situated in Edinburgh’s stylish Scotsman Hotel. Opt for the Cowshed Salt Scrub and Massage to release those stresses and strains and top off with an indulgent Indian Head Massage and you’ll feel like a whole new you!
If you’re seeking peach and serenity, you’re going to need a great location - and Dhanakosa in the Balquhidder Valley offers just that. The Buddhist and meditation retreat sits on the shores of Loch Voil and is surrounded by the lush forests of the southern Scottish Highlands and impressive mountains. Yet despite its relatively secluded location you’re just a 90-minute drive from Glasgow and Edinburgh. Retreats can be anything from a weekend upwards and offer you the chance to relax, take time out from the rat race and take a fresh look at your life.
The aim of a retreat is obviously to escape your normal routine and if you have problems switching off from your current lifestyle, a trip to Via House, located on the Orkney Islands, should do the trip. Not only is it surrounded by areas of natural beauty but you’ll find that there’s no network coverage on your mobile so you have no choice but to do away with it and enjoy your retreat! Via House runs a range of alternative and spiritual retreats that enable you to take part in holistic and sensory workshops, enjoy healing therapies and admire the amazing vistas from such as impressive location.
No previous experience is required at The Centre of Light establishment when you join their resonance kinesiology retreat, in Inverness-shire. For many years it has been highly recommended by those in the know at the Good Retreat Guide and is the ideal experience for both retreat-virgins and fully-fledged retreaters. On their guided retreat you’ll work closely with the practitioner to fully understand this therapy so once you get home you’ll be able to continue your practice. Staying in a cottage, your break includes accommodation, four hours a day of expert guidance and all your meals. To really get the most from your retreat you can also book further training sessions in breath and energy work, healing, meditation and resonance kinesiology too.
Learn an ancient art
The ancient art of reiki has been taught in India since the time of the 6th-century Buddha but it remains as popular as ever. This discipline believes that during our lives energy becomes blocked and causes ill health. Reiki works to unblock this energy. Hooray, I hear you cry - where can I try it? At Lendrick Lodge Holistic Centre, nesting within the wild woods of the Trossachs, you can learn how to develop a relationship with reiki and you’ll have the opportunity to heal, learn and experience it through a traditional master of the art. The course is limited to 10 students for a weekend break, so you can be sure of some devoted time to help you refine your technique.
Sometimes you may know you want to join a retreat but have your own ideas on what you do and don’t want to do. That’s no longer a problem, as Shambala Retreat, in Moray, allows you to design your own retreat providing it fits in around its own scheduled retreats. All of the basics are there - Shambala provides an excellent space for personal reflection and contemplation thanks to its secluded grounds, which are within direct reach of Findhom Bay. The retreat centre features an in-house sauna for purifying mind and body while you can also enjoy walking the traditional labyrinth that can be found on a high energy point in the grounds.