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Issue 34 - What's the alternative?

Scotland Magazine Issue 34
August 2007


This article is 11 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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What's the alternative?

If you're looking for a little rest and relaxation in Scotland, then you can't go wrong with a holistic retreat. Cora Lydon reports

While holidays should be about taking a break, soaking up the sun and relaxing, for some reason they always end up being the source of much family arguing, an excuse to spend your days trekking from exhibit to landmark just because it’s in the guidebook and of course an excuse to indulge with fine food and copious amounts of wine.

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. Lycra optional.

Chill out
If you’re seeking peace 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 lush forests and impressive mountains. Yet despite its relatively secluded location you’re just an hour and a half drive from Glasgow and Edinburgh. Over the course of your stay you’ll learn the art of meditation, which followers believe helps you to develop clarity, confidence, energy and gain positive emotions.

If you opt for a week’s stay or longer your break will also normally include one afternoon helping to maintain the beautiful surroundings so that others can enjoy them too. Accommodation in shared rooms is included as well as vegetarian meals, so you won’t be going hungry.

Visit or tel: +44 (0)1877 384 213 22

Spa quality
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. Don’t forget to snap up some of the goodies to take home with you; the Cowshed products even include items especially tailored to the Scottish market such as the Highland Cow Bath Blend.

Visit or tel: (0)131 556 5565

Healing help
No previous experience is required at The Centre of Light establishment when you join their resonance kinesiology retreat, in Inverness-shire. It is the ideal experience for both retreat-virgins and fully-fledged retreaters. Kinesiology enables you to initiate healing, can restore balance and soothes mind and spirit. 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 the restful Fuaran your break includes accommodation, four hours a day of expert guidance and all your meals – special requirements can be catered for too. 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.

For further information visit or tel: +44 (0)1463 761 254

Gentle persuasion
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 trick. Not only is it surrounded by areas of natural beauty, you’ll find that there’s no network coverage on your mobile so you have no choice but to do away with it. Via House runs spiritual retreats in Tai Chi from April- September, although weekend retreats are available all year round if you fancy visiting in the wetter months. Tai Chi is a gentle form of exercise that’s suitable for all levels and is considered to be the Chinese path to mental, physical and spiritual fitness. On a week’s stay you will enjoy accommodation and full board, holistic and sensory workshop sessions, an ancient fire making session, an incredibly relaxing Chinese massage, a sensory healing arts session and finally some amazing views, as you might expect from such an impressive location. What’s more the retreats are for a maximum of six people so you can expect personal attention and small, friendly groups.

For further information visit or tel: +44 (0)1856 841 207

Personalised experience
Sometimes you may not 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 which can be found on a high energy point in the grounds.

Wholesome, organic, vegetarian food is dished up to keep your body energised.

For further information visit or tel: +44 (0)1309 690 690

A fitting alternative
If you’re after a complementary health holiday but don’t have any thoughts on a particular discipline then Ocean Retreat offers just the ticket. It can be found in Opinan in the Scottish Highlands and offers a wide range of therapies as well as plenty of time to explore the area, including one of Scotland’s best beaches at Red Point. Your break at Ocean Retreat is all inclusive of your accommodation, delicious meals, daily yoga as well as daily treatments. With massage, Indian head, neck and shoulder massage, reflexology, reiki and muscle testing allergy tests there’s plenty so you’re sure to find something that suits you. You’ll find that over the course of your stay you’ll develop vital work/life balance techniques that you can continue at home while your enthusiasm for life will be restored and body invigorated.

Two and five-night breaks are offered which include tasty veggie cuisine, accommodation, informative talks in the evenings and a range of treatments. And if you want to individualise your retreat there are many other treatments (including beauty therapy) on offer as well as other holistic disciplines such as yoga, tai chi and pilates.

For further information please visit or tel: +44 (0)1445 731 594

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