Wellness is to the 21st century what flower power was to the 60s and 70s - not just a slogan but a way of life. Ubiquitous in public discourse and private conversations, in purchasing decisions and lifestyle choices, wellness is a value system that has become a prime filter for daily life, whether it is quality of food or the way food is prepared and consumed; alleviating stress and boosting mental wellness; or incorporating exercise and environmental consciousness. And that is what the meaning of luxury has become, reflected in terms and concepts of being hand-made, locally produced or ethically sourced.
"Conscious consumption" is what Kavita Khosa, social entrepreneur and founder-owner of luxury organic skincare brand Purearth, calls it. "It is a growing consciousness that health and wellness aren't just related to what you eat, wear, apply on your face, how you look, feel and project, but also with the concept of interrelatedness with the environment. The awareness that if the Amazon is burning, it affects us all, no matter which part of the world you inhabit." And surprisingly it is not just the millennials who are spearheading the holistic healing revolution; young teenagers are also joining the ranks. Khosa's youngest client "is a 16-year-old who makes sure that she only uses clean, green, organic and ethically sourced ingredients and creams." The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) has estimated that the wellness economy is worth $4.2 trillion. In India, EY estimates say that the overall wellness industry in India will be worth Rs 1.5 lakh crore in 2019/20; and 2 per cent of this (about Rs 3,000 crore) is the rejuvenation segment. A growing part of the population is realising the threat of a health crisis which may lead to the collapse of the health systems as the economic burden rises. Therefore, the evolution of consumer demographics and lifestyles towards wellness is imminent.
Wellness is the new luxury. According to holistic lifestyle coach in integrative medicine, Luke Coutinho, "Holistic wellness has always existed in traditional medicine but the foundation of most ancient healing modalities like ayurveda, homoeopathy, naturopathy and yoga are based on mind, body and soul balancing practices. They are focussed on healing the body as a whole and not a disease in isolation." So, is it goodbye to the world of fad diets, cult exercise programmes, quick fixes, unrealistic challenges and short-term health goals? Most wellness professionals agree that wellness has to be approached as a permanent state of well-being.
Ananda in the Himalayas pioneered the concept of holistic wellness travel with the launch of its holistic wellness destination spa in India. "We put together the traditional wisdom of ayurveda, yoga and meditation, Vedanta and wellness cuisine to help people from within," says Mahesh Natarajan, Senior Vice President of the luxury spa resort. While its wellness programmes are goal driven - detox, rejuvenation, weight management, stress reduction and others - it stresses upon wellness being a long-term journey which also has to be sustainable. "Optimum physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing involves continuous effort; hence, it has to be built on a strong foundation," adds Natarajan. The spa resort's detox and rejuvenation programmes are among the most popular among patrons. Apart from food and treatments, on offer are free yoga sessions, fitness classes, golf lessons, meditation classes and Vedanta lectures.
Where Ananda offers a wholesome charm, India's first all-suites boutique Ayurveda retreat, Mekosha Ayurveda Spasuites Retreat Kerala, is hardcore luxury. The aim is to offer a truly bespoke experience to attain physical and mental well-being. Each spa-suite has an integral private treatment room. This holistic hideaway, boasting just eleven suites, is located on the banks of the river Attingal Aaru in Kerala and creates a synthesis between age-old therapies and a modern environment with personalised treatments that involve all-inclusive therapies, along with an Ayurvedic diet.
But the wellness brigade isn't limited to exotic destination retreats; even luxury hotels are putting their weight behind the holistic health wellspring. The Oberoi Sukhvilas Spa Resort, New Chandigarh, offers customised authentic Ayurveda rejuvenation, detox and weight management programmes spanning 7-21 days, and which are complemented by wellness menus guided by their resident physician through internal and external herbal applications, panchkarma, yoga and cultivation of good eating habits to effect a long-lasting transformation. Guests are encouraged to spend time soaking up the healing energies of the forest through guided forest bathing, bird watching and star gazing. Gardening, handicraft, cycling and walking help restore and rediscover the rhyme between heart and mind. "And to ensure that you continue to pursue a better version of yourself, end-of-stay lifestyle consultation and post-programme interactions with the physician help patrons continue on the path," says Kate Sim, Head, Spa Operations, The Oberoi Group. After all, well begun is only half done.
Walking a similar path but designed as an urban sanctuary, wellness brand Paro invites you to pause and experience the luxury of taking care of yourself. Paro Botanica offers a library of seed oils, essential oils, resins, barks, clays, powders and preblended body and skincare products, home objects, fire and spa experiences with a focus on purity and simplicity. "We also share knowledge through regular workshops on wide ranging topics that include Ayurveda, food and hormones, skincare, navrasas and women and desire," says Simran Lal, founder of Paro. Clearly, taking a moment to pause, perceive, pursue and prevail are the many aspects of personal luxury that holistic wellness indulges.
When the wellness guru sports tattoos and a Greek god frame, using IGTV videos to convey the mindfulness mantra to his 116,000-plus Instagram followers and 16-year-olds enquire after the origins of the mica used in skincare creams, you know that the revolution in a tea cup is stirring up a storm.