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Well & good in Provence

detox retreat in a 16th century Chateau in the south of France? Yes, please! But this is not a short journey from Australia, it needs to be something unique and  special, and it is. 

London-based brothers Cornelius and Daniel O’Shaughnessy run the Bodhimaya detox retreat. Daniel is a nutritionist specialising in the emerging discipline of “nutrigenomics”—an approach that looks at how our genes interact with the food choices we make. Cornelius is a “mind and meditation expert” with many years of studying Eastern philosophies. Together the siblings present the perfect balance of yin/yang to restore wellness, and in their expert hands we felt well-taken care of. “Doing a pure juice detox while working nine to five and then going to the gym isn’t good for the body,” says Daniel. We agree: detoxing at a gorgeous retreat in the hills of Provence is much, much better!

Located in the village of Cotignac, less than an hour from Saint-Tropez, Bodhimaya is an intimate and well-appointed chateau accommodating a maximum of 14 guests. The brothers offer a minimum seven-day bespoke detox; a highly customized experience tailored to each guest’s unique nutritional needs, which have apparently been analysed prior to arrival. This means you may be drinking a bright green juice of kale, cucumber, green apple and melon while the person next to you is enjoying a bright pink beetroot, watermelon mix with bee pollen on top—all cold-pressed and freshly made. Yum!

The first three days at Bodhimaya consist of juices and prescribed supplements during the day and a bowl of light soup in the evening. I am definitely missing food. It’s not that I’m starving, but somehow the conversation between guests often turns to delicious food and it takes a few days to repel those thoughts.

To kick off the second phase of the detox, smoothies are introduced on day three and nourishing solid foods are gradually brought back in, carefully balanced so each guest gets what their body needs. All meals are free of grain, gluten and sugar. In between healthy juices and nutritious meals, guests undertake yoga and meditation twice a day, cooking demonstrations, nutritional talks, one-on-one consultations, walks in the local village, and even blending your own organic facial serum. But there is always plenty of down time as well, when you can lounge by the pool or have a massage or facial from the spa. 

If you are new to meditation, Cornelius’ approach is both simple and down-to-earth. There is no talk of religion or spirituality (a wise move as we had five solicitors in our group and it didn’t appear any of them was searching for enlightenment). Instead, as Cornelius puts it, meditation is “a way to put space between you and your thoughts”.

An optional extra that I found interesting was the “BodhiGen” genetic analysis. You are sent a DNA test which must be completed (you put a saliva sample in the tube) and sent back to Bodhimaya at least six weeks before the retreat starts. BodhiGen analyses your genetic information drilling down into hundreds of factors. By looking at detoxification, methylation, the endocrine and cardiovascular system, neurotransmitter imbalances and other body functions the Bodhimaya team claims they can get a meaningful picture of your needs and then make choices that work with your genetic expression, instead of against it. Our genes can show if we are susceptible to certain diseases, but our lifestyle, diet, stress and other factors can determine if we develop those diseases. Daniel stresses that understanding our genetics can help us to make more informed choices.

Apart from the juices, there is a lot of information to digest during the week, but there is a thorough aftercare program which includes two further consultations either at the lads’ London clinic or via phone or Skype. The seven-day package includes airport transfers, six nights’ accommodation; all meals, drinks, juices, supplements; all of your classes, talks and as many one-to-one consultations with the expert team as needed; and a long-term wellbeing programme. 

And beyond the health and wellbeing benefits, the quality of the accommodation and beauty of the chateau and surrounding French countryside make for a lovely relaxing break.

Sunshine on Bodhimaya

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