Have you ever wondered who is suffering from mood swings, irritability, weight gain, brain fog, and difficulty sleeping? Welcome to my life! I have no idea what I went through in the past 18 months. Was it menopause or Covid? It felt as though that my body had experienced hormonal chaos. So, I was not going to pass by an opportunity to join a fully immersive wellness retreat weekend and discover ways to balance the hormones, alleviate menopausal symptoms, including weight gain, and reduce stress.
REVĪVŌ, a global wellness company specialising in transformational health experiences, had partnered for the retreat with their sister brand,
The Pavilions Phuket. The Pavilions is considered one of Asia’s most luxurious resorts. If ever there was a ‘stop the world I want to get off’ perfect destination for a wellness weekend, this is it. A few female guests were welcomed to our ‘home’, a five bedroom luxury residential villa, by REVĪVŌ’s Wellness Director Kimberly Rose and Sales Director Kate Leff. I was literally pinching myself to feel how lucky I was.
Menopause often a scary word, is typically experienced between the ages of 45 to 50, although some are younger, depicting the end of a woman’s reproductive age. It can lead to emotional and physical changes that affect women’s health and lifestyle. In fact, to some women, the word menopause can be unappealing to acknowledge and seek treatment. Kimberley’s wisdom helps women navigate the menopause years.
Neglecting the subject of menopause has become a major issue for women who generally have very different experiences, occurring at different times in their lives. It is kind of ‘potluck’ to find anyone in your friendship group who can identify with the issue of menopause. As for the men, forget it! They seem unsympathetic and cannot relate, thinking a woman of that age is just a grumpy old bag!
Read on to find out what you can do to help.
The wellness lectures
Kimberly Rose, our retreat facilitator and Chinese medicine expert, has a wealth of knowledge on how to navigate menopause naturally. Our first lecture highlighted the differences between East and Western medicine, introducing Chinese medicine and Qigong exercise routine.
We were an attentive group; all joined by an interest to maximise our health and wellness in our advancing years. We were lectured on the benefits of detox, cleansing, and fasting for hormonal health. Following the session, we decided to set up a support and encouragement Facebook group.
Our lectures also covered the microbiome (helpful and potentially harmful microbes in our body) and nutrition for menopause. We sampled some of the foods recommendations during the weekend and were even given the recipes. We learned about ‘dirty dozen foods to be avoided’, and the ‘clean fifteen’ foods with the lowest levels of pesticides. A supplemented digital programme provided us with lots of useful material such as fasting with our menstrual cycle.
As we learned about Chinese medicine, we found the best acupressure points to alleviate menopause symptoms and discovered the joys of a jade roller and Guasha, the alternative therapy for relieving tension across the face and body. In tongue diagnosis, the less body shy amongst us were soon sticking out their tongues at each other.
Our final workshop was on key supplements for hormonal health; it seems that Black Cohosh and Red Clover herbs could be my new best friends. I ended up with quite a shopping list!
Soothe the spirit
Whilst the wellness lectures were at the core of the retreat, it was balanced by the opportunity to enjoy various mind and body relaxation techniques designed to help unwind and soothe the spirit. When participation was required, my hand was always the first to go up, seizing any opportunity to work on my much needed inner Zen Wren! The experience reassured me that I was not alone, as I felt I was amongst kindred spirits and very relaxed by the end of the weekend.
Yin yoga and pranayama
Yin is a slow moving Chinese yoga exercise practice, while pranayama is an Indian yogic practice of focusing on the breath. Our two enchanting yoga classes with Issy were held in an open air sala (pavilion) under Buddha’s watchful eye.
Like all things at the Pavilions, there is much to admire, even from the yoga mats. A quick glance upwards revealed a collection of ornamental birdcages gently swaying in the breeze. I closed my eyes, focused, and breathed, being totally in the moment. As the yoga class ended, the music faded and a symphony of birdsong took over. Khun Fern appeared with a cooling towel and refreshing drink. All in all, it was a fabulous way to start the Sunday.
We also learned the ancient meditation and healing practice of Dragon Qigong. With the benefits of lowering stress and anxiety, increasing focus, balance, and flexibility, I was keen to master this. I am sure I was more a jellyfish than a dragon, but I am determined to improve my technique and will definitely add it to the list of things to be incorporated into my life.
Aromatherapy spa massage
The Qigong was held in the outdoor pavilion of the Spa Garden, just a dragon dance to the peaceful spa for a heavenly oil massage. I chose The Pavilions’ signature oil blend of grapefruit, chamomile, lavender and geranium oil, which, together with my therapist’s long strokes and flowing movements did wonders to release my stress. I was out for the count!
From the first bite of breakfast on Saturday to the last healing tea on Sunday, the food was an outstanding, nutritious, and nourishing component of the weekend. The Pavilions executive chef, Micha Bitz, was on hand to personally cook our oatmeal pancakes! Pancakes on a wellness retreat? You bet, with all the right ingredients. The meals were chosen by Kimberly Rose for their wholesome and organic health benefits. We learned that ‘we are what we eat and what we ate.’ Every single dish was a delight, so glad we were also given the recipes.
Another wonderful component of the retreat was the opportunity to get to know the other participants. Our shared villa was perfect for meals, workshops, and for chilling around our private pool. At night after dinner, dressing gowns on, it became a relaxed slumber party. They say one of the most important components of wellness involves sleep. Hmmm! We stayed up chatting late into the night, not doing so well on this aspect, through no fault of the organisers! It had been a long time since I was able to do this, oh Phuket, you are amazing!
Learnings on the journey to wellbeing, contentment and happiness
All participants were given a green Pavilions notebook with the words ‘Your curated journey starts here.’ It made me smile. If life is the journey, menopause is the rollercoaster ride, but it clearly can be a ride that need not be scary. My green book filled up with plenty of notes. Optimistic and enlightening with messages to listen to your body as it always tells you what it needs.
Here are some of my favourite scribbled quotes from across the weekend:
- We’re one big detoxing machine.
- Fasting is a game changer and I promise you, you won’t die!
- Stop the rushing woman’s syndrome.
- Coffee is fine but there is much mould on coffee, try and buy organic.
- Dry skin brushing – this can save your life!
- Your liver is the General in your body.
- Try Brussel sprouts in your smoothies to which the response was “Shut up! Stop now, that’s disgusting!”
Oh, we did have a giggle!
I am sure I am not the only one leaving the phenomenal retreat REVĪVŌ feeling lighter, happier, and more at peace. I have a plan to make some lasting changes for my health and wellbeing and I am referring often to our digital wellness guide provided for further reading and understanding. I so can’t wait to see you all one day to impress you with my inner Zen wren dragon!
Thanks to our REVĪVŌ and Pavilions organisers for a wonderful weekend and to the other participants for their uplifting energy and spirit, ready to learn whilst having fun. I had the best weekend. It was just what my kind of doctor ordered. The best tonic of all after the butterfly pea tea and a nutrient dense smoothie? It was the learning and laughter with new friends. Thanks all!
I leave with this wise saying:
“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new” Socrates