With Ayurveda, as with many healing arts, there’s a case to be made for going straight to the source. But given the difficulty of procuring an Indian visa, the cost of the flight to Delhi, the time it takes to get there, and the full-on intensity of India itself, a pilgrimage isn’t the most practical idea for stressed-out women.
Fortunately good, rigorous Ayurveda exists outside the motherland.
Here are the top spots to get your dosha diagnosed and your ailments addressed, from a day spa in New York City to a retreat in the Midwest to top wellness resorts in Asia.
Pratima Spa, New York City
For three decades and counting, Ayurvedic skin-care pioneer Dr. Pratima Raichur combines the teachings of the ancient Indian science with her expertise as a chemist and botanist. (She wrote the best-selling Absolute Beauty, created an all-natural beauty product line, and sees patients for consultations. The result: a holistic program for what she calls “skin wellness” and “profound” Ayurvedic therapies such as the traditional panchakarma (“five actions”) designed to detox and rejuvenate the entire body.
Pratima Spa, 110 Greene St., #701, New York, NY 10012, 212-581-8136, pratimaskincare.com/spa
Peter Island Resort, British Virgin Islands
This yachtie resort may teem with sailors raising glasses of rum punch (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but it’s also a place for serious wellness. The half-, full- and multi-day Ayurvedic programs begin with a consultation and dosha diagnosis by an Ayurvedic doctor who trained in the discipline’s birthplace, Kerala. If you just want to dabble, there are a la carte spa treatments including abhyanga (four-hand massage with gallons of herbal oil) and shirodhara (a stream of warm oil drizzled on your “third eye”).
Peter Island Resort, British Virgin Islands, 800-895-6097, peterisland.com/spa
The Raj, Iowa
The American heartland is about as far—psychically and physically—as you can get from the south of India, and yet the Raj offers deeply authentic Ayurveda on 100 acres of rolling hills in Iowa. What keeps devotees flocking here year after year? The Raj, which received guidance from a council of Maharishi Ayurveda experts (the Nobel Prize committee of the field, which maintains an educational institute nearby), takes a comprehensive approach to creating health.
Rather than just passively receiving treatments, you’ll learn at this self-proclaimed “Mayo Clinic of prevention” learn how simple shifts in diet, exercise, and daily and seasonal routines can seriously improve your life.
The Raj, 1734 Jasmine Ave., Fairfield, Iowa, 52556, 641-472-9580, theraj.com
Known as a yoga center—with a packed calendar of special events led by visiting experts—this Berkshires retreat also offers amazing Ayurvedic services year-round. There’s a full menu of healing arts offered, but the best way to choose is to start with a consultation with an Ayurvedic specialist. The dean of the Ayurveda program has been teaching Ayurvedic tools for living for 12 years and has advanced training from the Rishikesh College of Ayurvedic Medicine (Rishikesh being the Himalayan city where the Beatles met the Maharishi, just FYI).
Kripalu, 57 Interlaken Rd, Stockbridge, MA 01262, 413-448-3152, kripalu.org
COMO Shambhala Estate, Bali
This East-meets-West spa—a favorite of Sting and Donna Karan and a perennial on world’s best spas lists (including our own)—employs some of the world’s top practitioners of Chinese medicine, Western medicine, and Ayurveda. You can book a three- or four-day Ayurvedic wellness retreat during which staff Ayurvedic doctor Deepak Deginal, who graduated from Mangalore University in India, will devise a holistic, all-natural treatment plan based on your prakruti (personal constitution). Expect detox treatments, bodywork, a special diet, yoga, meditation—and a whole lotta of ahhh.
COMO Shambhala Estate, Bali, 80571, Indonesia, +62-361-972-448, comohotels.com
There’s a lot more than diving, surfing, and sexy over-water bungalows here. (Though those are awesome reasons to make the far-flung flight.) The science of life gets its due in all-inclusive programs that focus on health—diet, exercise, and sleep—for one, two, or three full weeks, which include daily treatments and loads of private consultations. The resort’s two Ayurvedic physicians work with the resident yogi, “nature’s pharmacy,” and the team of therapists and chefs—staying in a dreamy beach bungalow with a private pool aids relaxation, too. There are also one-off Ayurvedic treatments, and sections of the spa menu intriguingly devoted to “Tantric traditions” and “chakra blessings.”
Four Seasons Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, Baa Atoll, Maldives, +960 660-0888, fourseasons.com/maldives
Don’t want to book a trip to get the healing benefits? Here are nine secrets from Ayurveda for great digestion. And here’s how to easy period symptoms—the Ayurvedic way.