Elemental Embrace, an Ayurvedic spa in Canada that specializes in the traditional Indian detoxification called panchakarma, is a real gem. It's authentic. It's small, with lots of individualized attention. AND it's affordable.
The loving atmosphere flows from Begum Teja, who owns the small wellness retreat in the woods just outside Brighton, 90 miles east of Toronto.
Locals use Elemental Embrace as a relaxing day or quick overnight spa, but many people travel there to do the 7 to 21-day detox.
(You can also do a two to six night "Quick Cleanse & Refresh.")
Traditional Indian Detox
I was there for a week of panchakarma, the traditional Indian "detox" that helps the body get rid of fat-soluble toxins. Elemental Embrace employs a highly trained Ayurvedic doctor, who together with Begum decides what Ayurvedic treatments you should receive.
Most days I had abyhanga on a wooden table with warm, medicated oils from India, followed by Swedana (time in a steam cabinet), bastis (enemas with medicated oils) and nasya (a snort of medicated oils through the nose that is not pleasant, but part of the classic panchakarma treatment.) I also had colon hydrotherapy, which worked in concert with the bastis.
Rest And Heal
Begum says that most people who are there for detox have emotional ups and downs -- that is part of the process -- and that was certainly true for me. At Elemental Embrace, you tend to go inward.
I wanted to rest a lot and Begum encouraged me too. "It takes a lot of energy for the body to heal," she said.
I was there in winter so things were a little quiet. There was only one yoga class a day, and walks outside in the snow-covered landscape were sunny but cold. There is a small gym, pool, steam and sauna.
There's more to do in summer, but this is not the place for lots of high-energy activities.
My days revolved around treatments, rest, and meal-time, where I enjoyed both the food and my fellow guests. The big meal is lunch, and the first course is dessert to aid with digestion. I was expecting vegetarian but there was mostly chicken and fish for the first few days. Soon I was put on a bland diet of Kichri -- 1/3 part rice and 2/3 mung beans -- to aid in my detox and digestive overhaul. This was surprisingly satisfying.
When I left, Begum gave me an "Ayurvedic Constitutional Analysis" that charted my natural balance of doshas (kapha, pitta, vata) at birth (my "prakruti") and where I was at that time (kapha and vata too high, pitta too low). This was enormously helpful. I had an expensive Ayuvedic consultation before, but it just confused me. Now I know why! It wasn't correct! This one made sense, and I continue to use it to stay balanced.
Begum also gave me personalized recommendations, including dietary advice, skin brushing twice a week, and wearing bright colors like reds and orange when I need more energy.
When I left I felt calmer, happier and more balanced. I am better able to identify what I really like and what I need to stay away from.
I have new ways to take better care of myself. What more can one ask for from a spa? It's not a glitzy or action-packed destination spa, but a nurturing place where real change can take place.
Elemental Embrace At A Glance:
- Type of Spa: wellness spa retreat
- Location: Brighton, Ontario, 90-minutes from Toronto.
- Phone: US toll-free 866-212-9355
- Website: Elemental Embrace
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodations, meals and treatments for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.