Here’s What to Expect at the Middle East’s First Wellness Retreat | Savoir Flair
Health & Wellness
Here’s What to Expect at the Middle East’s First Wellness Retreat
by Jana Shakhashir 6-minute read June 8, 2022

Wellness retreats are a time to slow down and step away from the stresses of day-to-day life, and we found a local getaway that will give you the break you need.

Ever since that life coach on TikTok said it takes three to five years to recover from burnout, I have developed a new irrational (actually, pretty rational) fear of burning out. Burnout is defined as a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Sound familiar? If so, please keep reading. 

It seems like people don’t know how to relax in this world. Personally, everything I do has an agenda behind it. Whether it’s burning calories, clearing my skin, learning something new, or improving a skill, there’s always a motive behind the things I do outside of work. I don’t remember ever doing anything just for the sake of relaxation, and that set off alarm bells when I actually put it into words. I don’t know if this comes from a millennial/Gen Z obsession with self-improvement and insatiable hunger for experiences, but relaxation should be a priority in and of itself, especially if you want to avoid burnout. But right now, it just doesn’t fit in my schedule.

So, how do we stop and recharge our batteries? It’s not easy to implement time to relax in our everyday routines, I personally always find myself feeling guilty for doing things that are “unproductive” or don’t contribute to achieving a certain goal. Then I discovered wellness retreats. Wellness retreats are a time to slow down, step away from the stresses of day-to-day life, and refill our cups. One of the best ways to truly rejuvenate yourself is to attend a retreat on a regular basis. Unfortunately, we can’t all pick up and go to Bali whenever we feel like it, but I just found a local getaway under an hour outside of Dubai that will give you the break you need from your routine and responsibilities. 

The Lighthouse Retreat is the Middle East’s first wellness retreat, situated on the Al Hamra Lagoon in Ras Al Khaimah, and could be exactly what you need to recharge. You might be wondering what a wellness retreat actually is, so below, I’m taking you through a day at The Lighthouse Retreat. 


7:30am - Morning Routine

We started the day with a 30-minute meditation on the deck, facing the beautiful reflection of the sunlight on the water, with hundreds of different bird sounds in the background. The retreat co-founder, Simon, was leading us through it and reminded us to ignore the misconception that our minds should be blank while we meditate and to allow our thoughts to flow freely. Think about that exercise where you’re told not to think about a pink elephant, and all you can think about is a pink elephant. The very act of trying not to think about something and trying to suppress it actually leads your mind back to that exact thought, so you actually should let your mind wander while you meditate.


8:30am: Standup Paddleboarding & Yoga

Next, we paddle boarded to the little island in the middle of the lagoon and did a yoga class on the boards. I expected to have a hard time flowing while maintaining my balance, but the sequence was actually the perfect difficulty level where I was stable on the board and didn’t feel uncomfortable or struggle to keep up. I had a pretty magical moment waking up from shavasana at the end of the session. You know that split second when you wake up from a really great nap and you forget where you are and what day it is? Imagine experiencing that split second, but you opened your eyes to the sight of glittering sunlight on what looked like an endless body of water. It literally felt like I had woken up in the middle of the ocean.

10am: Breakfast

The menu at the retreat is 100 percent plant-based and eliminates processed carbohydrates, meat, and dairy products as well as any and all additives in order to deeply cleanse and nourish your body and mind. I don’t want to disclose too much information about the meals to leave you with a bit of mystery — all I’ll say is this was the first time I actually enjoyed taking a ginger shot.


11am: Self-Awareness Meditation

Before coming to The Lighthouse Retreat, I thought meditation could only mean sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed and focusing on your breath. You can imagine my confusion when I walked into the studio for Self-Awareness Meditation to find little mirrors set on a stack of yoga blocks in front of my seat. One of the wellness coaches, Anna, asked us to sit down and explained the meditation, saying we would be looking into the mirrors for the duration of the session, first focusing on the right eye, then the left, then the center of our foreheads, each time for five minutes. This unique approach to meditating starts off uncomfortable, and over time becomes deeply intimate, bringing you closer to a positive perspective.

12pm: Lunch & Free Time

After lunch, we had free time to do anything we wanted, whether we wanted to use the facilities or not. It was really refreshing to be able to have some freedom and not be restricted to a jam-packed itinerary that’s so overwhelming that the experience is no longer relaxing. There was no pressure to do something productive during the break, just to do what makes you feel good. Liza, the Wellness Manager, offered me her homemade coffee scrub and recommended 15 minutes in the sauna, followed by a scrub, then a cold shower, and to repeat this twice. I took her up on the offer and did not regret it.


3pm: Yoga for a Healthy Spine

Good posture is so important to your overall health, and sitting at a desk slouched over a laptop for eight hours a day really takes a toll on your spine. As a chronic sloucher, this was the most physically demanding part of the day for me. We spent a full hour on yoga poses that worked our back and abdominal muscles to strengthen the spine. It was uncomfortable, challenging, and slightly painful, but ultimately served as a wake-up call to pay more attention to my posture, and I’m now able to carry that to my everyday life. 


4:30pm: Sound Healing

Sound healing is one of those things I’ve always wanted to try but never made time for because it did not fit an agenda, so I’m really glad I had the opportunity during the retreat. If you’re not familiar, a typical sound healing session involves using singing bowls to produce sounds and vibrations that put you into a meditative state. Contrary to the morning meditation when thoughts were racing around my head, my mind was surprisingly totally still for the full hour of sound healing. I was almost in a light trance that I had never experienced before, not asleep, nor fully awake, and I came out feeling more rested than I do after a full night’s sleep. 

6pm: Dinner & Goodbyes

Life feels hard when we’re running on empty all the time, and it can be difficult to feel grateful for things. After experiencing a real wellness retreat, I can confidently say that taking this break was true soul medicine. I checked in with myself, totally removed from the stresses of everyday life, and left feeling ready to be a better person, colleague, daughter, and friend. 

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