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All is Well

It’s said that one thing money can’t buy is time. But having good health is, without doubt, one way to add a few years on the clock. In today’s world, wellness means more than being free from illness. It is about making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. In fact, it is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Today’s wellness is more holistic, bespoke and offers a rich depth and breadth of experience, reflecting the growing demand for a healthy mind and body. According to the latest report from the Global Wellness Institute, Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing market for wellness trips, wellness tourism expenditure and boasts the largest number of spas, and counting. 

Wellness programs are good at helping people adopt and maintain healthy behaviors. This is perhaps the biggest benefit of having a wellness program. Healthy behaviors lead to lower health risks, which in turn lead to less chronic disease. With less chronic disease people have fewer health care costs. No wonder wellness programs are getting more popular than ever though not every wellness program is able to show positive results. The ones that are well-organized and follow effective behavior change models show the best results. For large corporations they started out as employee perks; in fact, they used to be called corporate fitness programs. Today wellness programs are common among both medium and small-sized businesses. Wellness programs are now regularly part of a company benefits package.

Myanmar is fast emerging as a wellness retreat that is advocating proactive holistic wellness that combines modern science with ancient healing. To relieve stress, restore optimal well-being or simply prevent and treat a range of illnesses, the guests who visit Myanmar are advised a comprehensive healing. Yangon and other major Burmese cities typically offer a range of day spas and reflexology centers. If you visit one of Myanmar’s premier spas, you’ll find that the country boasts massage traditions that draw inspiration from India’s ancient Ayurvedic medicine, as well as Chinese acupressure techniques. Yangon Excelsior, Jasmine Palace, Hotel 63 and several other modern hotels have spa and wellness centers with latest state-of-the-art facilities claiming to treat their guests by exceptionally skilled consultants and therapists. A national landmark in Yangon’s centre, the charming three-storey Victorian hotel also offers an excellent spa treatment.

The best part of getting a wellness treatment in Myanmar is that it doesn’t break your bank. Even the more luxurious spas complete with fluffy bathrobes and cucumber water won’t pinch you much. In most Spa or wellness centers a 90-minute Burmese full body massage will set you back just about $20 with manicures starting around $10. Burmese massage is an integral part of most wellness programs. Yangon-based Ko Min Min Soe, a professional masseur, says, “In Burmese culture it is traditional for a parent or grandparent to ask their children to tend to their aches and pains by giving them a massage”. Similarly, at Innwa Health & Spa Mandalay, it’s really worth experiencing the wellness treatment. A visitor says,The incredibly beautiful setting, friendly staff, and a good Burmese massage refresh you a great deal”. Similarly, at Yangon- based Orchid Foot & Body Reflexology centre one gets an exceptional a full body massage at an incredible comparable price. In Scott’s Market (also called the Bogyoke Aung San Market) you can easily splurge on a head/neck/shoulder massage for just $3 which every foreign tourist finds quite amazing.

In Bagan and other major Burmese Buddhist centers, there are opportunities to try temple meditation experiences as a part of wellness. Many travelers find these quiet, contemplative moments both calming and intensely moving. Several hotels and resorts offer individual diagnosis-based treatment including herbal medicine, nutritional therapy, acupuncture, qigong and meditation.

In Asia’s top urban restaurants, wellness is making its way onto the menu. The Pan Asian cuisine offers an intelligent blend of flavours in their numerous preparations. From sizzling sea bass to simple stir-fries, there are numerous choices. If you’re looking for low-calorie cooking, then the process of steaming is just the ticket for you. At The Upper House’s Cafe Gray Deluxe in Hong Kong, order the Revitalizing Menu and you’ll be served a vegan, gluten-free, four-course feast including charred king oyster mushrooms with nasturtium cress, and a potage of green asparagus sprinkled with toasted almonds. 

“Every healthy person has a passion for food,” says Yangon-born Sonny of Padonmar in Dagon Township, Yangon “I want to introduce Myanmar food to the visitors, the foreigners, so that they can taste the real food which is healthy and tasty as well.” Sonny offers a healthy mix of chicken curry, grilled eggplant salad, rice and lentil soup for lunch. His favorite dish to serve visitors is Hilsa fish of Myanmar’s delta region, steamed for hours until you can eat the bones. “It melts in your mouth,” he says. Sonny says his desserts are healthy too: grilled banana, honey and watermelon, a signifier of the restaurant’s simple, good fare. Sonny is a veteran of the country’s food scene, having been in the business for 26 years. 

When it comes to Japanese cuisine, there’s much more on offer than sushi. Right from crispy tempuras to silken tofu, there are many contrasting textures at play that help you enjoy the light, simple flavours and make the experience more exciting and of course, healthy, too. In Korean and Thai cuisines, rice is the backbone of almost every meal. 

“Whole-grain rice, popularly known as brown rice, varieties contains the bran and germ, providing more of specific nutrients like fiber, protein, antioxidants, and certain vitamins and minerals. Small changes eventually add up to huge results. Choosing whole-grain over white rice can benefit health in many ways and may even reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease” says Indian nutritionist Dr. Shikha Sharma. She further says, “White rice, in contrast, is a refined grain, meaning that the bran and the germ have been removed, leaving just the endospore. This process strips away much of the fiber and nutrients. Some of these nutrients —including B vitamins and iron — are added back to “enriched” white rice, but fiber is not added back”. 

According to the Global Wellness Summit (GWS) wellness tourism will grow worldwide and will become big business in the years ahead. It will pull people to less trafficked and healthier destinations meaning travel that allows the traveler to maintain, enhance or kick-start a healthy lifestyle, and support or increase one’s sense of wellbeing. 

William Shakespeare rightly said, “Our bodies are our gardens – our wills are our gardeners”.