Five wellness treatments and practices…from around the world
We all want to feel the best we can, and traditional practices across the world have approached this differently over the centuries, whether influenced by local geography or culture. We’ve rounded up five very different wellness treatments from around the globe, which you may even want to try for yourself on your travels…
Traditional Chinese medicine has been practised for millennia, and one of its key components, acupuncture, is probably one of its most well-known. Having spread around the world, it is now a commonplace alternative therapy in many countries including the UK. This ancient practice is a method of balancing the energy, or life force – known as chi or qi – believed to flow through each of us, by inserting thin needles into the body. Although evidence of its effectiveness is inconsistent, it is used as a treatment for wide-ranging concerns from chronic pain to mental health issues. Chinese traditional medicine, including acupuncture, is still practised throughout China and provides a fascinating insight into a very ancient culture.
Acupuncture needles, China
Similarly to Chinese traditional medicine, the ancient Indian holistic practice of Ayurveda has become popularised in recent years as an alternative to Western medicine and therapies. The fundamentals of Ayurveda also share similar characteristics with its Chinese counterpart, with the goal of the practice being to realign the body’s balance. Using natural herbs and essential oils, treatments will combine these with massage to focus the senses of touch and smell to attain the desired effect. The herbs and oils selected, and even the pressure of the massage, is all customised dependent on which of the three dosha ‘mind-body types’ the individual exhibits most. An Ayurvedic massage or other treatment can be experienced throughout the subcontinent in countries such as India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Ayurveda spa treatment, India
Yoga and Meditation
It is thought that meditation, in yogic form or other, has existed as a way for humans to connect within themselves since the beginning of history. The earliest evidence of the practice exists in the form of cave paintings in the Indian subcontinent dating back to over 7,000 years ago, although many believe it could be even older. Although there are now many different branches and philosophies, the core principles of both yoga itself and broader meditation remain the same. The idea is to create a connection between one’s body, mind and surroundings, by focusing awareness on breathing and holding poses with the body, to heighten understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. Now that yoga and meditation have become so pervasive, there is sure to be a retreat to practice at whichever corner of the world you may want to explore. However, if learning more about its origins is of interest, then a trip to northern India should be top of the list.
Dead Sea Treatments
Stories of the Dead Sea’s healing and therapeutic properties have been known to locals for many generations. Technically a salt lake bordered by Jordan in the east and Israel in the west, it also happens to be the lowest place on Earth. Its salt and the mud that forms on its shores hold high mineral and low allergen content perfect for skincare solutions, and are used in spa treatments around the world. However, nothing is quite like the local experience. Floating in the Dead Sea itself is thought to bring many health benefits, similar to a float tank, with the excesses of salt allowing the bather to rise to the top of the water with minimal effort to keep afloat, while even the surrounding air is so rich in oxygen that you are bound to feel the benefits to your wellbeing.
Dead Sea, Jordan
Geothermal Spring Bathing
There is an abundance of geothermal pools and lagoons throughout Iceland due to its otherworldly geography of volcanoes, fjords, geysers and lava fields. Bathing in these mineral-rich hot springs and pools surrounded by beautiful and vast natural landscapes is sure to blow away the cobwebs, and indeed has been used since the early days of Icelandic society as a proponent of wellbeing. The most famous is the vivid Blue Lagoon, within an hour of Reykjavik. However, it’s also possible to visit some lesser known but equally therapeutic geothermal pools and lakes to take a relaxing dip in. Strútslaug Geothermal River, Landmannalaugar Hot Pot, and Grjótagjá Geothermal Spring are just a few examples, but with many more to discover we suggest exploring for yourself on an adventure through the dramatic countryside.
Blue Lagoon, Iceland
We recommend consulting a doctor before undertaking any of these activities.
Cox & Kings offers small group tours and tailor-made travel to China, the Indian subcontinent, Jordan, Israel and Iceland.