Friday, January 1, 2016

Sri Lanka - Yoga and A Healthy Retreat at Niyagama House

Happy 2016!  Our last few days in Sri Lanka were really relaxing and then really hectic, and I kind of lost the energy to blog for a bit after making it home.  You'll see… our last 24 hours were kind of grueling and then there was unpacking and then there was settling back into Hong Kong and then there was New Years.  And now we are in January, more than halfway through this decade, ahhh!  I will in the next few days post a 2015 recap to briefly summarize the highlights of the year.  But for now...

After our adventures in Mirissa, we headed to Galle, our last stop on our trip.  For this portion of the trip, we were staying at the Niyagama House, in a tea plantation north of Galle.  The house was a big beautiful structure, housing only seven guest rooms, with a pool, a yoga studio, and an outdoor veranda for meals.  I booked this portion of the trip so I really liked the idea of a relaxing, healthy, yoga retreat.  Michael was aghast - and that was before I told him that there was no alcohol served on the premises.
The pool area, very, very relaxing.
Young coconut juice served at check in… yum.  
A basket of fruit to welcome us upon our arrival - bananas, starfruit, oranges, passion fruit, an apple and a mango.
 There were beautiful fresh flowers everywhere, in the hotel and in our room.

 I seriously thought that these flowers in the bathroom were fake.
Our room looked to the west.  We had a huge private balcony, where we could sit and watch the monkeys in the trees.

 The tea plantation is somewhere beyond yonder.
Beautiful bathroom, right?  Look at those wood panels!

 Double rain shower head!

The hotel had lovely face wash, shampoo, conditioner, body wash and body lotion, all made with a really nice smelling ayurvedic oil.  I kind of wish I had some with me now.

  The room was a little bit strange in that it had two beds, one king sized and one queen sized, but oh well.  We used one to plop down a bunch of our stuff.
 It was really peaceful and relaxing, although there were quite a few rules and we didn't feel like we could really be anonymous, given it was a house and only occupied by seven sets of guests.  We also got the feeling that the owner of the hotel, a woman who built it from the ground up with her Sri Lankan husband and now runs it with him and his family, really had a need to control everything.  For example, in the bedroom there was a list of items with the "breakage fee" indicated next to each item.  Or, before and after my massage, I was instructed to use the green towel (and not the white towel) and to use the sarong provided.  But I also understand that the hotel was a labor of love and her livelihood, so I could see why she was eager to oversee everything like a mother hen.

Despite some of our misgivings about the place, they all disappeared after we ventured into Galle (see next post), because then we were so happy with our decision to stay at Niyagama.  The hotel is about a 20 minute ride from Galle, and that makes all the difference in terms of removing us from the hustle and bustle and pollution of the city.  It felt like such a zen retreat.

The food was pretty good at the place, and we tried the shrimp curry, crab salad and grilled shrimp (so, a lot of seafood).

Our breakfast came included and we got the same thing every day - green juice, fruit plate, bread, and omelette with bacon, onion and cheese for Michael, and a mixed fruit juice, fruit plate, and omelette with tomato, cheese and fresh herbs for me.  Only one day did I deviate by also ordering a plate of french toast.

I also enjoyed one of the most relaxing and soothing traditional ayurvedic massages on site, where for 90 minutes I lay in a loose heap of blissed-out limbs, finished by a delightful herbal scrub.

Also, I had the utter joy of participating in two yoga classes at Niyagama, one a four-person aerial class (so wonderful! so much fun!) and another a morning hatha-vinyasa-yin blend.  Both classes were 90 minutes and led by the proprietor,.  Michael joined me in his first ever (!) yoga class and actually did pretty well.  I forgot how much I love aerial yoga, and especially the kind that she teaches - a kind of yoga flow, a lot of upside down and also a bit of fun tumbling acrobatics.  I hope I get to do a little more aerial yoga in this new year.

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