The Leading Ayurveda Spa in the UAE.
Updated: Sep 6, 2022
Jiva Spa is the First of its Kind in Dubai.
With Mindfulness Day coming up on September 12th, it’s important to remember that investing time and energy on your personal health and wellness – physically, mentally, and spiritually – is a necessity. What better way to do so than taking several hours off your busy monthly schedule to make time for yourself and focus on your wellbeing at one of Dubai’s award-winning spas. But, if you’re looking for something that’s more than just a wellness spa, I truly recommend experiencing one of the Ayurvedic programmes that are on offer at the award-winning Jiva Spa, located at Taj Exotica Resort, The Palm, Dubai.
There are eight Jiva Spas in India that specialise in Ayurveda, but Jiva Spa, in Dubai, is the very first Ayurveda spa outside India. The venue itself is a distinctive island oasis nestled in the heart of Palm Jumeirah. It’s the first luxury five-star spa concept that has a certified Ayurveda doctor, better known in the Ayurvedic world as a Vaidya, so it’s not just gifted spa therapists who are at work there. All therapists undergo a training process at Jiva Spa Academy where they are intensely trained in various kinds of body therapies and they practise self-healing to enhance their healing power, as well as replenish their own energies.
If you’re not familiar with what Ayurveda is - it’s a natural system of medicine that originated in India over 5,000 years ago. It is also recorded in Sanskrit in the four sacred texts called Vedas. The term Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge). The actual meaning translates to ‘knowledge of life.’ Its birthplace is in Kerala and it’s one of the world's oldest holistic “whole-body” healing systems based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Known as a natural system of medicine, Ayurveda deals with more than just physical wellbeing; it addresses mental, emotional, spiritual, and environmental aspects.
Jiva Spa is the place to go for Ayurvedic treatment programmes, with an emphasis on preventative healthcare, focusing on corrections in one’s diet and lifestyle. I was booked in for Ayurveda Wellness Day Out which is a whole day of resetting the mind and body and uplifting my spirit. At the start of my day, I was greeted with a special Ayurvedic herbal-blended tea which was really soothing for my mind. I instantly felt my body’s parasympathetic nervous system kick in, I then filled a very detailed form which asks a lot of questions related to my food choices, daily routine, lifestyle habits, my family health history, and general likes when it comes to well-being and lifestyle. This is the questionnaire that is deeply analysed by the doctor and based on my answers my personal programme is curated.
They offer guests three main options when it comes to their Ayurvedic programmes – a one-day retreat, or a programme that lasts up to two weeks, which is only available for in-house guests. I tried the one-day programme called Ayurveda Wellbeing Day Out, which also consists of yoga, meditation, Ayurveda therapies, a bespoke lunch and use of the fantastic spa facilities.
The primary aim of Ayurveda is to bring balance to the body systems. By doing so you need to understand how your body is formed and what dosha (energy type) you are. Ayurveda believes that the entire universe is composed of five elements: Vayu (air), Jala (water), Aakash (space or ether), Prithvi (earth) and Teja (fire). These five elements (referred to as Pancha Mahabhoota in Ayurveda) are believed to form the three basic humors of the human body in varying combinations, better known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha. We as humans all embody these energies or doshas. Vata is the energy of movement; Pitta is the energy of digestion or metabolism and Kapha is the energy of lubrication and structure. Every person has the qualities of these three doshas, but one is usually primary, one secondary, and the third is the least prominent.
After the Vaidya (doctor) studied my answers from the questionnaire, I found out that I’m a Vata-Pitta combination which helped the physician create a specialised programme for me. The belief here is that every one of us is unique; there is no standard prescription or programme, which is why each programme is unique. The prescribed plan includes massage or therapy treatments that are administered by the trained therapists with the appropriate blend of oils and herbs. And for long-term benefits, the physician will also offer a lifestyle consultation to best suit your health requirements.
At Jiva Spa, your bespoke Ayurvedic programme will always include yoga, meditation, and specially picked dishes to suit your dosha. You begin with yoga. The 60-minute morning yoga class consisted of simple hatha yoga poses, breathwork, affirmations and meditation. It gets you in a relaxed state and ready for the day ahead. The yoga teacher Suyoga Jadhava was trained under the guidance of Bihar School of Yoga founder Swami Satyananda Saraswati. Yoga at Jiva Spa is firmly grounded in true spiritual values and knowledge of the Vedanta and Tantra practices. It is globally renowned for its pure, simple, and systematic yoga.
Following yoga, you can enjoy the spa facilities. Enjoy the steam room or sit back in the relaxation area. Bespoke treatments, specially chosen, will help remedy or prevent an imbalance of the body. They can be any of the below depending on the issue:
· Abhyanga: Therapeutic massage using application of warm medicated oils.
· Sñaña: Traditional medicated bath experience.
· Udvartanã: A body toning program that applies a combination of herbal powder and oil to the entire body.
· Dinachrya: A physical cleansing process where each of one’s senses are carefully looked after.
· Shirodhara: Restorative therapy, in which beneficial liquids are poured over the forehead (the third eye).
· Kati Basti/Prushtha Basti: A time-honoured treatment used to relieve fatigue of the upper or lower back.
· Pichu: An authentic traditional treatment for relieving stress and stiffness in the joints and back.
The doctor picked an Abhyanga treatment for me because based on my ailments and dosha this was the most beneficial. Vata, Pitta and Kapha regulate our physical, mental, and emotional constitution. Therefore, the respective characteristic of the doshas plays an important role in Ayurveda. The Vata-Pitta Ayurveda type combines the hot, ambitious fire of the Pitta with the light, easy-to-irritate Vata dosha, which keeps the constantly distracted head a bit “in the clouds.” Anyone that knows me well, would agree with this statement. Abhyanga can give a deep feeling of stability and warmth. Daily practice restores the balance of the doshas and enhances well-being and longevity. Regular Abhyanga is especially grounding and soothing for Vata dosha imbalances, but everyone can benefit from this practice.
Abhyanga reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, improves skin texture, reduces wrinkles, cellulite, hyperpigmentation, helps reduce muscle stiffness and improves lymphatic drainage. I did this treatment every few weeks after I reached my last two trimesters of pregnancy and it really helped calm my state of mind and made my body more relaxed, whilst heavily pregnant.
It’s worth noting that you lie on a traditional wooden bed, not a typical soft massage bed. The reason you lie on a wooden bed is because the wood is medicinal and helps rebalance the body. If you’re uncomfortable though, they do offer a soft mattress, if needed. The oils used are medicated too. I’m told, special herbs are used depending on your dosha. The herbal oil is heated and applied on the body; the herbs are absorbed into the skin, which is part of the healing process. It’s incredibly soothing and the aroma can take some time to settle in if you’re not used to it. It does have a strong medicinal scent, so perhaps not everyone will find it as pleasing as I did. The pressure of the massage is not necessarily too strong, but it is a medium-strong pressure. As I lay on the bed, the therapist does long guiding strokes, always away from the heart, to flush out toxins. It’s deeply relaxing at all levels.
Usually, when undergoing Ayurveda, one would be treated through varied forms from yoga, meditation, acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage therapy and dietary changes. Although Jiva Spa can’t offer herbal medicine (as it’s not a hospital or clinic and specific government rules apply in the UAE) it mainly focuses on all the other techniques like massage, yoga, and diet to heal and create balance in the body, mind, and spirit.
After a long and blissful day at the spa, with yoga, a fantastic array of light and bespoke dishes and a 90-minute Abhyanga treatment, followed with a sunset meditation which consists of mantras and uplifting visualisations, I can truly say that the whole Ayurveda Wellbeing Day Out experience helped me reset, recharge, and deeply relax – in all levels!
Ayurveda Wellbeing Day Out
- Consultation with the Vaidya.
- 90-minute Ayurveda rejuvenation therapy (as prescribed by the physician).
- 60-minute morning yoga session.
- 30-minute sunset meditation session.
- Access to the Jiva Spa wet area facilities.
- Access to the pool and beach.
- Wellness lunch at The Coast or Palm Kitchen (additional charges are applicable).
Dhs 950 for a single person.
Dhs 1,750 for a couple.
Jiva Spa also offers guests Rasayana Chikitsa (Ayurveda Rejuvenation Programme), which aims to refresh and rejuvenate the body system to preserve optimal balance of the body, mind, and spirit. This rejuvenation programme is packed with oil massages such as Abhyangasnana, Shirodhara, Kizhy, Lepanam, and medicated steam baths combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle regimen.
The programme is customised and selected from an indicative list of therapies, and the duration of each session is 90-minutes per day for one, two, three, or five-days depending on the plan prescribed by the physician. Jiva Spa also offers guests a prolonged programme if recommended by the physician, and this could range between 7 to 14 days in total.
Ayurveda Rejuvenation Programme
7–14-day residential programme includes:
- Accommodation with daily 90-minute Ayurveda treatments prescribed by the Vaidya administered by a professional therapist.
- Consultation with theaATAt Vaidya on arrival.
- Continued consultation with the Vaidya during the programme.
- Ayurvedic dietary meals include breakfast, lunch and dinner as prescribed by the Vaidya.
- A morning wake-up detox drink and fruit bowl are served in the room.
- Detox herbal infusion drinks are replenished daily in the room.
- Final consultation and follow-up debriefing with the Vaidya
- Participation in scheduled in-house yoga sessions and other wellness activities.
- Personalised meditation, 30-minute sessions twice a week.
7 Days – starting from Dhs 12,500 on single occupancy.
14 Days – starting from Dhs 24,500 on single occupancy.
Dr Arun Aravin, Spa Director at Jiva Spa, tells us more:
Q: Tell us about the three energies that we as humans are composed of?
Dr Arun: Our human body is a microcosm of these four elements: earth, air, water, fire. In our bodies these elements exist combined to create three energies: Vata (composed of air and space), Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (earth and water). The idea is, to remain healthy, we are born with a composition of these elements. Some people have an excess of one or two. Based on the predominance of the energy-body-constitution, or energies at that time of birth or conception, that energy make-up stays in your system unchanged for the rest of your life.
Q: What causes the imbalance of these energies?
Dr Arun: It's close to impossible to maintain the balance throughout life because we are exposed to improper diet, unhealthy lifestyles, climate change, emotional and mental stress. Also, people around you are influencing you, so these energies go out of balance. Not just in the physical concept, but it is also happening in your mind. Anything happening in life can affect the balance of these energies. Things outside you and the world around you influence the balance of these energies continuously.
Q: When is a good time to start Ayurveda?
Dr Arun: Imbalances stay in the body system after the age of 40. Ayurveda helps keep you healthy. If you do a lot of things that don’t suit your body type (or dosha) unhealthy imbalances will stay in the system. Ayurveda can be used as preventative care. From around 40 to 45 years old, there are hormone changes in the body, and this is a good time to start, when you are not entering the phase of accelerated cell degeneration. Once that happens, most changes especially with bones and the nervous system is irreversible. After that, it will be too late to recover from these issues. But with Ayurveda, you can prevent this from happening. If you have genetic health issues, then you can help manage this and plan ahead. Why wait to be sick? Ayurveda is used as preventative care. If you are healthy, you can still start now so you stay healthy and so your body doesn’t face major issues later. It’s important to invest in your health now.
Q: What if you are a fit and healthy person, should you still try Ayurveda?
Dr Arun: Even if you eat healthy food or you live a healthy life, it’s still not enough because there’s external elements involved, like changes of the season, mental stress and physical stress that are inevitable. You can’t control all these things. This is how these energies move out of balance. When you’re young your immune system may be perfect, your digestion, your nervous system, and so on, are all functioning well, and the body can rebalance on its own. You probably won’t even notice when the balance and rebalancing happen. It’s a dynamic process. It can happen several times in a day, week, month, and year. The body has an innate power of healing; it heals, rebalances and we remain healthy. When we are older, or if we have a compromised situation – when the immune system or digestive system is not properly functioning this will influence the rebalancing process. As a result, the food we eat won’t be digested properly, your metabolism gets affected, and the body generates metabolic toxins – toxins called Amma – accumulated in your system.
Q: What are Panchakarma therapies? How do they help cleanse and heal the body?
Panchakarma therapies stands for five therapeutic actions to cleanse and purify the body system. Pancha means five and karma means procedures. It’s an intensive form of ayurveda therapy which takes two or three weeks to achieve. Panchakarma is a method of cleansing the body of all the unwanted waste after lubricating it. Panchakarma treatment is unique in the sense that it includes preventive, curative, and promotive actions for various diseases.
Toxins must be eliminated but it can’t just be extracted instantly. Just like when a mango is ripe only then can we extract the juice from it. The same is applied to the body. You can flush toxins out of the body in one or two days, but it will also damage your internal system. It should be a natural and spontaneous method without putting too much strain on the body’s system. Jiva Spa has restrictions in the sense that we can’t give medication as we are not a clinic, but we can do the rejuvenation part, focusing on body purification.
We try to facilitate the body’s system to help flush the toxins out by itself. For instance, if a person has a lot of health issues with their digestive system and it is not functioning properly, we may not be able to effectively administer rejuvenation therapy. But for a person who is relatively healthy, maybe with some lifestyle diseases like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetic issues, digestive issues etc… with nothing major, then we can treat them effectively with rejuvenation therapy.
Q: How important is detoxing in Ayurveda?
Dr Arun: Toxins are eliminated through bowel movements, sweat, urine, breathe, but over time these outside influences cause imbalance in your system and the body will not continue to generate and process metabolic toxins. It gets overloaded and the body can’t manage with all the toxins. It will go into your blood circulation and reach every cell. Every cell in your body phytoplasma will not cope with continuous generation of metabolic toxins and the body will not be able to manage and this could eventually lead to illness and disease.
Once the toxins reach the cells in the body, over a period, Ayurveda has a solution. One can’t avoid influences from the outside world but periodically we must do a detox. If toxins are sitting in the gastro tract you can flush it out, but if toxins are in tissues, cells, and in the body’s fluid, toxins reach a cellular level, so we must remove that process, and this takes an intensive programme and time.
We have a combination of body therapies to help it move into better balance. In that process it will facilitate detoxification. It will take time though. And with a proper diet and a regimented lifestyle, along with ayurvedic therapies, balance and harmony can be achieved. This is the focus of the spa.
Q: How does an Ayurvedic diet improve our health?
Dr Arun: We want to prevent health issues by changing a way of life that’s more than a medical system. The Ayurvedic methods have been passed down for generations to help people lead a healthy life. As the seasons change so should our diets. There should be periodic cleansing along with the change of climate.
Q: What about weight issues? Can Ayurveda treat this?
Dr Arun: Weight issues can be helped but not really if you're genetically programmed to gain weight. Ayurveda can only help to some extent. We can manage it, but sustainability is questionable.
Q: Is Ayurveda good to do during pre- and post-pregnancy?
Dr Arun: Yes, but there are limitations in our spa as we are not a clinic. Pregnant ladies can come in the last trimester for specific treatments. For post pregnancy, if you had a natural delivery, I suggest coming a month after delivery for restorative therapy. But if you had a C-section, it’s better to come three to four months after because stitches need more time to heal. However, from four to six months, you should do Ayurvedic treatments to help your muscles adjust post-pregnancy. It can also help with water retention and rejuvenation.
Q: Why is yoga important in Ayurveda?
Dr Arun: Yoga compliments what we do. In Ayurveda, it’s indispensable. Always start with yoga so you feel grounded, centred, and healthy. Yoga is practiced in Ayurveda because we all have energy points and vital points need clearing if there are any blockages. Ayurveda is more beneficial when someone does yoga and meditation too.
Jiva Spa at Taj Palm Exotica
Tel: 04 275 4444