Chiva-Som International Health Resort’s online consultations ensure that staying indoors to avoid a pandemic does not affect your well-being adversely. By Bayar Jain

Chiva-Som's Online Consultations
A yoga session at Chiva-Som International Health Resort, which fuses Western and Eastern wellness philosophies.

When you are compelled to stay indoors for an extended period of time, the challenge of maintaining mental, physical, and emotional health takes centre stage. Through the length of the lockdown in India, I’ve tried many things to calm my overactive brain—meditation, cooking, and even gardening. My troubling thoughts, however, emerged victorious every time. That’s when I received an invitation from Hua Hin’s Chiva-Som International Health Resort for an online wellness consultation.

Over its two-decade-plus existence, the resort has curated Western wellness practices and fused them with Eastern philosophies to create a seven-acre haven of wellness. Chiva- Som, translating to ‘Heaven of Life’, is designed to offer its guests holistic care, which gives equal attention to the mind, body, and spirit. While surrendering to the calming sound of the ocean at the beachfront is a major part of the journey at the resort, the online avatar of this experience is no less therapeutic. My voyage must begin with a consultation.

But before the session, an eight-page-long health questionnaire lands in my inbox. Although long, these questions—covering diet, lifestyle, and medical history—take all of 10 minutes to answer. The thorough nature of the form is reassuring and gets me excited about the experience. After multiple emails are exchanged to arrive at a suitable date—owing to a chock-a-block schedule—we reach a consensus on an early Saturday morning.

Chiva-Som's Online Consultations
Chiva-Som International Health Resort is a five-star wellness resort in Hua-Hin, Thailand

I’m new to the world of online consultation, so mild anxiety occupies my mind before the session. A smiling face on the screen, however, melts away this worry in no time. The Chiva- Som expert scans my form, discussing every answer along the way, and puts me at ease. She explains that they’re currently offering one-on-one virtual fitness training, naturopathy and natural fertility consultations, and guided meditations. For me, she suggests guided yoga. “It’ll help you stay focussed and take a step towards mindfulness,” she explains. Within five minutes of this advice, my next session is booked for the following week. Even though I am used to waking up late on weekends, this hour-long conversation is a refreshing and hopeful start to my Saturday.

As I set up my laptop on a stool and settle on the yoga mat in my room, the oddity of the situation clouds my mind. Nervously, I click on ‘Join Meeting’. A tutor greets me with a warm smile. I notice a mirror behind him and a glass door through which other fitness enthusiasts can be seen walking. A reflection of treadmills in the mirror reveals that he’s conducting this online class from the resort’s gym. “Are you a beginner or do you have some experience in yoga?” he asks, breaking my reverie. “A beginner,” I tell him.

Chiva-Som's Online Consultations
You can now sign up for online wellness sessions with its expert instructors.

Starting with some deep breathing and chants, he guides me through every step of the asanas. Basic exercises such as hand rotations, shoulder rotations, and neck rotations get
me ready for the regime to follow. While my body puffs and blows, not used to any exercise during the lockdown, my mind stays still and focusses on the movements. Taking me from sitting postures like naukasana (boat pose) to standing ones like vrikshasana (tree pose) and virabhadrasana (warrior pose), he pushes me to keep going. “One-two-three,” he counts, slowly guiding me as I inhale and exhale. Midway through the session, I break into a sweat.

Forty minutes breeze by and my favourite part of yoga starts—shavasana, or the ‘corpse pose’. I lie down on my back and close my eyes, as advised. The grogginess of the morning is gone. My mind is at peace. A little while later, I hear a Sanskrit chant and prayer music echoing in my room. My mind is no longer racing with thoughts of deadlines and video meetings. I’m blissfully unaware of the time and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m in a land far, far away, where the only thing to do is relax.

A gentle toe wiggle on cue, an instruction to sit up straight, and an ‘Om’ chant end the session. On opening my eyes, I see the same sweet smile of my yoga guru radiating on the screen, from thousands of miles away. But more importantly, I see myself smiling with a new-found calm. Indoors might not be so bad after all.

Related: Beat Quarantine Blues By Signing Up For Oprah Winfrey’s Virtual Wellness Experience