My 10 Day Detox in Moinhos Velhos
I'm definitely not new to the idea of detoxing and personally I've found, having been on several retreats both home and abroad, it's something that stands to me for the rest of the year. This year I wanted to go on retreat somewhere warm but I didn't want to travel too far. Moinhos Velhos came up in searches frequently and there was a lot that appealed to me about it.
Developed in the 1992's by Norwegian, Frank Jensen, Moinhos Velhos combines yoga, detoxing juices and therapies in a truly stunning location. It was a direct flight from Dublin and only an hour's drive on the other side which was important as I didn't want to be travelling too far. Groups are capped at 14 and it came highly regarded and seemed to go much deeper spiritually than other boot-camp style retreats which didn't appeal to me.
There are programs available for 7, 10 and 14 days and I chose 10 days. Arriving on a Saturday I was in a complete daze but felt strangely calm. I had a feeling I was in very good hands and I made a decision to trust the process. Our first meal was soup that evening and we all chatted and shared our reasons for being there. People had come from all over the world and there were people from England, Scotland, Iceland and Finland. They had different reasons for being there ranging from emotional to physical and many were return attendees. One, a busy doctor had been coming annually since 2002.
Accommodation is simple but extremely clean. My bed linen was changed weekly and my towels were refreshed every second day and a bathrobe was provided and changed weekly. They also provided us with other detox tools like a dry skin brush, a neti pot, a loofah and locally made natural shower gel and shampoo. There was a Reverse Osmosis tap just by the room and they also gave us a water bottle to use during the week.
There was an OK phone signal by my bedroom but perfect wifi so ensure you are set up on Viber or Watsapp before you head to ensure you can keep in touch easily. They rang a bell in the morning and provided an alarm clock also so I completely switched my phone off at night.
The days began with a 7 am bell waking you up but of course you are free to sleep in and everything is optional. We had 2 hours of yoga and meditation followed by our first juice at 10 am. There were then gaps of 3 hours between the next juices and the final evening broth to swim, go for walks, get treatments -more on those later- or just relax. I found for the first few days I needed to take a nap during the day but my energy increased as the week went on.
The Yoga takes place in the most beautiful studio and had a large focus on breathing techniques which support the detoxing process. The standard was mixed and personally I found myself challenged, but the teacher would customise it for people who were beginners so everyone could get involved.
On the Saturday there was the option to go to the beach which was about a 40 minute drive away and 100% worth it. As beaches go this ranks up amongst one of the most beautiful I have ever been on. It's absolutely stunning and vast. The water was icy cold but also so refreshing. They brought juices for us so we stuck to the detox routine.
Naturally there was a lot of juice involved... We had fresh juices and shots - such as wheatgrass which is grown on site - 3 times daily. The vegetables and fruit are either locally sourced or grown on site. We mixed them with Bentonite Clay and Psyllium husks which help detox your intestines and also the husks bulked out the juices and gave a feeling of fullness. As strange as it may sound - hunger was not an issue at any stage over the 10 days. We had supplements prescribed by the on-site nurse that helped with the process also. There was a lovely selection of herbal teas and fresh herbs to make your own tea combinations freely available as well.
In the evenings we had a vegetable broth with miso. Honestly it was lovely to have something warm and lightly savoury in the evenings. After this there was a meditation session.
There was a range of treatments available by some highly skilled therapists. Treatments cost €65 and I had a fabulous Lymphatic drainage massage with Trixie and a Tachyon Healing treatment which was incredible. They also have an amazing machine called a Physiospect - which is a bio feedback diagnosis machine. Although not essential I really enjoyed and felt that the treatments added to the week.
-Check the forecast before you go. It's been a strange year for weather and for the first four days it was very rainy and I didn't have the right clothing. The building was warm and my room was cozy but I could have done with a proper jacket for walks.
-Follow the detox protocol provided. Having been on retreat and experienced a splitting headache from caffeine withdrawal I can promise you no cup of coffee is worth it. They will email you guidelines to follow in the lead up, including minimising caffeine and processed foods and I would encourage you to stick to it. It's much easier gently cutting down the week before rather than shocking your system.
-Bring plenty of books. The routine keeps you busy enough but there is also plenty of time to catch up on any reading. I brought a mixture of fiction and some mind, body spirit reading. There is a library full of wellness titles to enjoy also. During my stay I read The Source by an Irish author Judith Mcadam which I found really interesting. I actually had a session with her on my return and found her very insightful. I left my copy at the retreat in the library so if you go - it's there waiting for you! I also read two books by Doris Cohen - who is fascinating.
-Know you are in excellent hands. The owner of the retreat Frank lives on the grounds and I was delighted to meet him. He is a wellness pioneer and has the most incredible energy. When I was prescribed homeopathic remedies he used kinesiology - a form of muscle testing - to access they were correct for me. The program he has created and keeps continuously improving has seen thousands of guests arrive at the retreat and keep coming back. This is not the kind of place where you are expected to wash up, or do anything bar focus on yourself and your healing and the staff are there to assist and help. I always found everyone to be pleasant and understanding and compassionate. Detoxing affects people in different ways and they seemed to intuitively understand exactly how to support, whether it was to chat or provide distance and space to everyone.
-Enjoy the beauty. The areas surrounding are stunningly un-touched. The air is so crisp and clean and being in that atmosphere is so healing and calming. I did emails for about an hour each day and updated my social media every other day but otherwise I really enjoyed the switch off and went on some lovely peaceful walks.
My Overall Feeling
I am back nearly ten days now and coming down to earth. I feel rejuvenated physically and lost over 5 lb in total while away on retreat and have maintained that since returning to eating normal food. I also feel as if I have left behind emotional weight I didn't know I was carrying. I did a lot of self-evaluation in relation to my site, and work, and have a far stronger focus now. Whilst it seemed like I was taking 'time off' I know I achieved so much 'work' while on retreat. I don't think there is anyone who wouldn't benefit from taking time for themselves like this and it's something I want to have in my diary annually for the rest of my life.
Retreats run for 7,10 and 14 days. For More information see Moinhos Velhos.com