Delhi-based Susheela Anand, who is in her late 40s, experiences hot flashes in the midst of business meetings. The air conditioning is on, yet she feels like she’s sitting in a sauna. Trying to focus, she says, has become a challenge. Little does she know that this is just one of the many unpredictable symptoms that accompany her journey through menopause. For Anita Bhatia, 50, the symptoms are slightly different. “I find myself in the grip of anxiety. Every night, I grapple with irrational thoughts. It's akin to a rollercoaster; one moment filled with joy, the next steeped in a profound desire for inertia.”
The process of menopausal transition is inherently unique to every woman, with symptoms varying from one individual to another. Navigating perimenopause and menopause requires a comprehensive approach that encompasses nutrition, lifestyle, and emotional well-being. What comes as a sigh of relief is that some of the country’s best-known wellness retreats are now offering a range of treatments and programmes that cater to women seeking support to manage their menopause holistically, with less medicinal interference.
Shweta Shah, founder of EatFit24/7 says, “As a nutritionist and wellness coach, I recognize the profound impact menopause can have on a woman's life. The emergence of menopause wellness programs is a crucial step toward empowering women during this transitional phase.”
Lounge draws up a list of retreats with details of the menopause wellness programmes they offer:
Hot flash relief and mindful pause
At the expansive 21-acre estate of Six Senses Vana in Dehradun, tailored treatments extend beyond Ayurveda. They also incorporate facets of Chinese and Tibetan medicine and are rendered by therapists trained at Men-Tsee-Khang, the Tibetan Medical Institute founded by the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala. Six Senses Vana's menopause wellness programme incorporates these elements as well. “A wellness journey based on Ayurveda and Sowa Rigpa relieves hot flashes, sleep problems and mood swings associated with menopause. Many menopause symptoms can be relieved with treatments like an Abhyanga, Shirodhara, or herbal potli massage,” says Dr. Jitendra Varshney, wellness director at Six Senses Vana.
The Mindfulness Workshops offered during the retreats, Varshney says, have emerged as particularly effective in assisting women as they navigate the challenges of menopause. “The practice of mindfulness helps you cope with stress, understand yourself better, and live in the present moment. It's a great way to deal with menopausal changes,” asserts Varshney.
Serenity and customised menus in the Sahyadris
Women undergoing menopause are more likely to lose bone density. Further, metabolic changes brought on by menopause may raise a risk of cardiovascular problems. Diet, therefore, plays an important part in improving a woman’s general health and reducing menopausal symptoms such as irregular bleeding, palpitations, night sweats and weight gain.
The Atmantan Luxury Wellness Retreat in Mulshi, Maharashtra curates a highly customised menu for middle-aged women traversing that phase. Meal plans at the retreat include leafy vegetables, fruits, whole grains, certain dairy products and fortified foods that support hormonal balance and heart health. “Mindful eating is the cornerstone of our cuisine philosophy at Atmantan. Therefore, we emphasise portion control and conscious eating (i.e. being mindful and in sync with the food in front of you). This helps in effectively managing menopausal weight swings. Hydration is also promoted as it is known to lessen the symptoms of hot flashes,” explains Dr. Manoj Kutteri, medical director & chief executive officer (CEO) of Atmantan. Since iron levels in the body diminish after menopause, we also recommend foods high in iron, such as beans, and fortified cereals, Kutteri adds.
A holistic blend of Ayurveda and naturopathy
Naad Wellness Center, based in Sonipat, Haryana, recognizes the multifaceted impact of menopause on a woman’s emotional, mental, and physical well-being. It has therefore curated a comprehensive Menopause Management programme. “The programme blends Ayurveda and naturopathy to help harmonise hormones, reduce reliance on medication, manage insulin resistance, maintain healthy body weight and restore restful sleep patterns,” says Manoj Khetan, co-founder of Naad. The programme aims to be a personalised holistic journey for the individual, and not just a set of treatments. Which is why its offerings include tailored consultations with resident doctors, body composition analysis, yogic kriyas, therapeutic yoga, pranayama, guided meditation, fitness, and leisure activities. It encompasses a specially curated wellness cuisine and customised therapies such as Udwarthanam, Abhyanga, Ushma Choorna Pinda Sweda and mud packs.
A hormonal balance programme amidst the Himalayas
During menopause, the physiological shifts in the body can often result in heightened levels of stress, anxiety, and fluctuations in mood. Ananda Spa, the destination spa in the foothills of the Himalayas, offers the Ananda Rebalance programme that is designed to heal hormonal imbalances. The programme, interestingly, is designed for both women undergoing menopause, and men who are experiencing fluctuations in testosterone and other hormones. The programme’s therapeutic approach focuses on removing energy blockages within the body’s 14 meridians. It does this through intensive therapies including acupuncture (for women) and cupping and moxibustion (for men) to restore equilibrium, alleviate discomfort, improve energy flow, and revitalise the body's inherent systems.
A retreat for self-discovery
For Sarita Nigam, 53, hitting menopause led to a journey of self-discovery and ‘recognising the importance of acknowledging her emotions’. She faced physical and emotional challenges during the phase but clarity about the symptoms she was ailing from came when a friend enlightened her about ‘menopause’. Nigam didn’t waste much time after. She signed up for a 21-day wellness programme at Prakriti Shakti- Clinic of Naturopathy in Panchalimedu Hills, Kerala. The retreat became a journey of self-discovery, with a focus on the significance of self-love. While she enjoyed the retreat’s relaxed diet regime, what resonated most with Nigam was the retreat’s belief in prioritising mental health above all else. It is particularly important, she says, “when you are living in a society that places unrealistic expectations on women to be selfless and prioritise others before themselves.”
Menopause wellness programs provide invaluable support by integrating ancient Ayurvedic wisdom with modern scientific understanding. By embracing personalised dietary plans, herbal remedies and mindful practices, women can experience a smoother transition and discover renewed vitality. “These programs aim not only to alleviate physical symptoms but also to foster a positive mindset, enabling women to embrace this natural phase of life with grace and resilience,” Shah concludes.
Tanisha Saxena is a Delhi-based independent journalist. She writes stories that are on the intersection of art, culture and lifestyle.