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INNER PEACE - OUTER PARADISE

As dawn breaks across Diani beach in Southern Kenya, the first light of day illuminates the waters of the Indian Ocean. On a wide wooden platform overlooking the sea, guests at Shaanti sit watching the sun rise at the beginning of a morning meditation session.

Under the guidance of Dr. Sunil, an Ayuverdic Doctor from Southern India, the group are encouraged to relax and to progressively empty their minds of thoughts, cares, troubles and responsibilities. The calm quiet of the dawn, the soft caress of a breeze fresh from the sea and the distant rumble of surf on an offshore reef help minds become still.

It is the start of another beautiful day at the Shaanti Health Resort on Kenya’s South Coast. This area is regarded as one of Kenya’s finest beaches, with its wide white sands and azure waters lined with a wide range of resorts, villas and houses.

But Shaanti is something altogether different- offering guests a chance to renew the mind, body and spirit.

As the meditation session ends and the sun warms the surrounding tropical gardens, a Yoga session begins. A professional instructor, schooled in various forms of Yoga, Ashtanga, Kundalini and Hatha, takes both beginners and experienced students through a series of positions against a stunning backdrop of the Indian Ocean, with only the white sail of a passing dhow breaking the endless blue.

With both Mind and Body relaxed, the guests are ready for a healthy delicious breakfast of fresh juices and fruit, served in an open sided tree house restaurant raised above the beach.

Shaanti is the brainchild of Tasreen Keshavjee, who wanted to offer a resort with a difference, somewhere offering a totally holistic approach to well being. “We offer Yoga, Meditation, candle gazing, tuning with nature , Ayurvedic treatments and massage, hydrotherapy and aromatherapy”.

The approach is based on Ayurveda, ‘the science of life’, a 3000 year old, comprehensive system of living, healing and achieving balance. “The Ayurvedic treatment system looks at the individual as a complex whole, which is intimately connected to the environment. Lifestyle, emotional concerns and physical conditions are all taken into account”.

Shaanti does not have any alcohol and is a non-smoking environment, but you certainly won’t miss either. A stay here is all about feeling good through better living, resting your body and expanding your mind.

The cuisine is vegetarian with an emphasis on Indian cooking, but can be tailored to suit individual need and diets. Again, the emphasis is on health and rejuvenation, and guests are provided with a steady supply of wonderfully fresh tropical juices throughout their stay.

For anyone suffering from the stresses of everyday life, this kind of healthy relaxing break is a welcome, if not necessary, option.

Ayuverda believes that almost all ailments and disease originate from stress and anxiety, the best way to cure it is to deal with the root cause. The treatments at Shaanti are designed to not just relax your body and mind during your stay, but to make the process sustainable in everyday life.

Shaanti is small and exclusive, with only 8 guest rooms scattered throughout its sprawling gardens. Inside, the rooms are spacious and cool, with traditional African coastal decor blended with Asian mandalas and fresh tropical flowers.

Guests are provided with robes made from local kikoy fabric, ideal for relaxing in the expansive chill-out room which has a small library of books and relaxing music, or for a visit to the large stone steam room.

The sauna uses rosemary, ylang ylang, sandalwood or eucalyptus fragrances and healing oils, and after your steam, you can complete your hydrotherapy session with a cold water Jacuzzi overlooking the sea.

This will leave your skin feeling refreshed and supple- an ideal way to prepare for a traditional Ayurvedic massage.

These are Shaanti’s speciality, usually undertaken in conjunction with a full consultation from Dr. Sunil, who takes your existing health problems, diet and fitness into consideration as he blends together medicated oils designed to remove toxins and improve health.

Energetic full body massages are given in a series of massage bandas, small huts woven from palm fronds are arranged around Shaanti’s swimming pool.

Ayuverdic massage involves the gradual movement and redistribution of energies within the body by applying pressure through the muscles and nerves with the aid of various herbal oils.

A diverse range of treatments are available, including reflexology, aromatherapy, special Shirodhara massages that involve dripping medicated oil over the body, and Navarakizhi in which heated bags of rice and herbs are applied to the skin.

Beauty treatments are also available, such as Soudaryavardhini, a facial treatment that removes accumulated toxins and dead skin and revives skin tone.

When combined with regular Yoga and meditation classes throughout the day, the massages and traditional treatments give guests the full holistic health experience- but there is no regimented schedule to follow.

You are free to take part as you wish, with plenty of time free to swim, walk on the beach, relax by the sea or explore the surrounding area.

Each evening, ‘star baths’ are available for guests. These are sunken bathtubs, set among the gardens, with a view of the sea. After sunset they are filled with warm scented water, and surrounded by candles.

Lying in a bath under a carpet of equatorial stars, as the moonlight shimmers on the expanse of ocean before you is the perfect end to a perfect day, and a perfect reminder that “Shaanti” means “Peace”.

Shaanti offers a full range of options for short breaks or longer stays, with various treatment inclusive packages.

The resort is ideal for a healthy holiday unto itself, or for the perfect relaxing end to a demanding safari through Kenya.

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