*Produced by SilverKris for BeingSattvaa*
The average American checks their phone as often as 80 times a day, says a 2018 study by Asurion. And with 2020 so far spent in various degrees of lockdown, this number has no doubt only gotten worse. Even now, as Singaporeans hope to be able to vacation soon, it’s likely we will feel the familiar pull of social media on our overdue holidays, beckoning us to answer the “If you didn’t post it, did it really happen?” call with travel selfies and Instagram stories. With uncertainty and anxiety niggling away at our peace of mind, we’re more inclined than ever before to avoid staying in the present with excessive scrolling and video-viewing.
Travel for wellness
Many wellness programmes and meditation podcasts have sprung up to address this excessive reliance on tech to cope with stress. Tech-free tourism has also seen an uptick since 2011, beginning with high-end experiences for luxury travellers and eventually broadening to include a broader demographic with a wider range of goals, from purely destressing to learning new life skills.
BeingSattvaa, a Singapore-founded brand launched by two ex-bankers, specialises in mindfulness retreats that incorporate yoga and meditation. No stranger to the stress-laden life of a corporate employee, co-founder Renuka Vaidyanathan noticed her mental health deteriorating under the pressures of her fast-paced life.
She shares, “I led an incredibly busy, stressful life as a banker and a young mom with two kids back in India. Things changed when I got into yoga after moving to Singapore in 2001 and started eating less processed food as well. In 2009, I attended a yoga retreat in Bali, which, while good, was lacking in many respects. That’s when I thought it would be a good idea to create an exclusive retreat space.”
With a newfound desire to inspire healthier living among Singaporeans, she teamed up with her husband Subba, also a devoted yogi, to build BeingSattvaa – derived from a Sanskrit word that refers to a balanced way of life – from scratch in 2014.
Going offline and off-the-grid
Blending ancient Eastern wellness techniques with contemporary experiences, BeingSattvaa offers a variety of retreats, including digital detox programmes, where participants start by doing the unthinkable: surrendering their devices and keeping them in sealed bags.
Designed to help participants “discover their true selves”, away from technology, the retreat – which can be customised in terms of its duration and size – includes mid-day juice cleanses, meditation exercises, nature baths and yoga classes. Each day typically begins with an hour of silence and ends with a journaling and sharing session.
Though it can be a challenge to go cold turkey on your phone, tablet and laptop, especially when you’re used to Instagramming every aspect of your vacation, the rewards are manifold. Beyond taking a break from social media, the retreat offers lessons in living a more balanced life and developing self-love. You could even walk away feeling more creative and productive, while folks struggling with anxiety and self-esteem issues may emerge with a clearer mind.
“Our practices follow what is known as the ‘eight limbs of yoga’,” says Renuka. “It includes sitting meditation, asana exercises, breathing practices and self-reflection. They form the foundation of any yoga practice. During the recent lockdown, we collaborated with international musicians and yoga practitioners to create a music video, inspired by these yoga techniques.”
Co-founder Subba often leads retreats across Asia for individuals, small groups and corporate teams. He says, “What’s unique about these programmes is that they are based on tools I developed using the real-life experiences I encountered while living the high-pressure life of a banker.”
These bespoke programmes can be arranged as short modules or immersive retreats. He adds, “During the lockdown, we’d also been building our community through a 100-day online mindfulness programme, ‘Calm in Chaos’, which culminated in a two-day online retreat, where we had virtual talks with various international wellness leaders, poetry reading sessions and guided yoga classes.”
An eco-conscious retreat
What’s more, you’ll get to experience your digital detox against the dreamy backdrop of Ubud’s rainforests and paddy fields, and BeingSattvaa’s eco-luxury resort. Nestled in the quiet village of Kenderan, the resort is home to 13 private Balinese villas. Far from a rustic retreat, the resort features lavish facilities such as a kidney-shaped infinity pool, a yoga pavilion, a spa, a lush garden of edible greens and a restaurant that only serves plant-based meals inspired by the principles of Ayurveda.
The resort honours the land it occupies as well, making sure to use locally sourced materials for its architecture, employ local workers, compost its food waste, abstain from single-use plastic items and build rainwater harvesting and recycling systems to reduce its carbon footprint.
Besides wellness programmes, BeingSattvaa has also hosted writers for the Ubud Writers Festival and organised bespoke experiences for intimate weddings and adventure tours. Renuka adds, “We have also done several themed retreats, whether it’s for honeymooners or music and dance groups, and hosted retail clients from around the world for weekend getaways and more.”
“Our vision is to create a world where individuals live authentic, balanced lives. In our retreats, they’ll get to plug into the Sattvaa rhythm, which is immersive and helps them enhance their physical and mental wellness,” she says.