Jaillan Yehia

Why I’ve Decided To Spend A Month in Sri Lanka

Written by Jaillan Yehia

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buddha Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a good place to find your zen

I’ve been secretly planning my month in Sri Lanka for most of the year, but didn’t want to jinx it by saying anything out loud.

Now I know it’s happening I can tell you my exciting news: I will be spending a whole month in Sri Lanka in October.

Jai in Sri Lanka

I was lucky enough to visit Sri Lanka previously and climbed Sigiriya but this time I’ll climb Pidurangala Rock.

This isn’t just any old trip to get a tan and take some nice photos – this will be, I hope, a totally transformative travel experience.

That’s because I am going to Sri Lanka for a month to try a whole host of different ways to get healthy, detox and reconnect with myself physically, mentally and spiritually  – ranging from a dedicated Ayurvedic retreat and a luxury spa hotel, to a jungle-based meditation centre and an eco-friendly beachfront hostel.

Sri Lanka winter sun

I stayed at The Cinnamon Hotel Habarana on my last visit to Sri Lanka

Being English I find it hard to write phrases like ‘reconnect with myself’ and ‘get healthy’. I can imagine you rolling your eyes.

I instinctively want to look for ways to back out of writing these phrases, or take the first person out of them to disassociate myself from what all sounds quite frankly a bit ridiculous, poncy, self-indulgent and Californian.

Mexican Yoga retreat

I’ve tried yoga retreats before, and loved them

But after a pretty challenging year I’m desperate to relax, take stock, address my physical and mental weaknesses and create the building blocks for a better, healthier life.

So why do I need to do this, and why do I need to go to Sri Lanka for a month to do it?

Why I want a month in Sri Lanka just to concentrate on me

Alone time

I don’t actually like monkeys, but I like this one’s style

I don’t write a lot of personal stuff online – I’m not one of those bloggers who tends to share life events on their blog at all, maybe I should? – but the only way to explain the importance of this trip is to give you some background.

I was the victim of a car accident a year ago, and despite not sustaining any major injuries the whiplash and emotional effects just won’t go away.

my accident

I was lucky to walk away from this in one piece

After hours of physiotherapy and doing an insane number of different special exercises (which have helped but not cured the issues), I’m being told that when my whole body tensed up to protect me from the crash, all those muscles just never properly relaxed again.

My body is basically in a permanent state of high alert waiting for the next time an idiot with a mobile phone and a people carrier doesn’t look where they’re going and knocks me unconscious.

Banyan Tree Mayakoba Spa

I need more than a spa day to sort this out

Hopefully my muscles will have a long wait for that to happen again, but meanwhile lots of bits of me hurt, and a new bit hurts every day. It kind of sucks.

I’m also highly aware that as I was fit and healthy at the time of the crash I was incredibly lucky to have gotten away with just whiplash and anxiety  – if I’d been older and more frail I would have definitely suffered a number of broken bones.

Add to all this the fact that I’m not getting any younger (who is?) and I live with a chef who cooks far too much rich yummy food, and I feel generally bloated, flabby and physically not exactly at my best and I’ve decided to turn to Sri Lanka for the solution.

Do Turning Points Have To Involve Marriage and Kids?

Thelma & Louise drove off this cliff, but that’s not the kind of turning point I am looking for

I’ve noticed that many women seem to reach a turning point in their lives where they feel a need to re-evaluate who they are and what they want their life to feel like.

This seems to happen to a lot of women after a divorce, when they have a baby, their kids go to uni, or when they hit a certain age, and are about to retire.

A lot of these life assessments seem to involve other people, especially children, and I don’t fall into any of those categories, but I think that’s ok. Why do we women have to be defined by other people’s actions and timetables anyway?

I have been researching things to do to be healthier in general for a few months, and have added various supplements and yoga classes and essential oils into my daily life – this sounds a bit silly when you write it down, but it’s amazing how powerful inhaling a certain smell can be, or doing 1 hour of yoga practice when you thought you didn’t have time to leave your laptop.

Art retreat Kent

Yoga always helps

Once you begin to open the pandora’s box of looking into what your body actually needs to function at full capacity, you realise that trying to fit those myriad of needs around the demands of modern life is virtually impossible.

Green Farm Kent

Finding my style on an art retreat

Despite being freelance and not having kids I still struggle to find the time to really look after myself (and I take my hat off to those who do it all with children in tow) so I decided that setting aside a month of solid, unapologetic, ‘me time’ would be an incredible way to find balance.

Spa Costa RicaSpa Costa Rica

The spa at yoga retreat Blue Osa, Costa Rica

I have done yoga retreats before, as well as an art retreat, and I loved them  – I promised myself that I would do a retreat every year but do you think I honoured that promise to myself? No, of course not.

So, Why Go To Sri Lanka On A Retreat?

I visited Sri Lanka on holiday in 2011 and while I really enjoyed it, I didn’t have a burning desire to go back.

But I started hearing lots of amazing things about it from fellow travel bloggers and realised that the destination had changed a lot.

You know when something is just meant to be? When everywhere you turn little signs point to something being the right timing? Well in the last year one of my good friends from Vancouver moved to Sri Lanka and opened a wonderful hostel on Midigama beach, and I was also invited to a disproportionately high number of hotels and retreats in Sri Lanka.

In the end I have also managed to fit in trips to Mahagedara Wellness Retreat near Sigiriya, as well as Anantara Kalutara Spa Resort and a stay at Barberyn Sands Ayurveda Resort on the intriguingly-named paradise island. I am also sneaking in a trip to Yala National Park staying at Jetwing Safari Camp and rounding off the trip with 1 day in Colombo at the trendy Jetwing Colombo Seven, because I love city breaks and just can’t resist.

Sri Lanka

It is so obvious this picture was taken pre-instagram, I am not even posing a little bit.

How Did I choose the Hotels in Sri Lanka?

I’m signed up to tons of holiday deals sites and so I did browse some specialist long stay holidays to Sri Lanka thinking it might be easier to grab one cheap package for 3 weeks and just do #yogaeverydamnday everyday on my own, instead of putting together what is actually a really complex and hard to coordinate itinerary all over the country.

But this is one time when a good deal isn’t what I am looking for – and I wanted to try some different aspects of Sri Lanka’s famous wellness holidays as well as visit a few of the country’s various attractions, like Yala National Park and Pidurangala Rock.

I then attended a press conference at WTM (the UK travel industry’s biggest conference) where I learned more about the wellness side of tourism to Sri Lanka and realised it really would be the perfect place take stock of and work on my health goals.

At that event I was lucky enough to win my stay at the amazing Anantara Kalutara hotel in Sri Lanka, so I knew it was meant to be – and I set about choosing a couple of other life-changing travel experiences to try on the island.


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So my month in Sri Lanka is going to a once in a lifetime trip, when I intend to put other work on hold, and press pause on the endless commitments I have to other people (as we all do)  and just spend some time concentrating purely on me and my health and well-being.

I would really encourage anyone to try to do the same and set aside some time to look after themselves – even if you can’t travel to Sri Lanka for a month, which let’s face it is a huge commitment, you can still begin by asking yourself what you and your body need and spend just a few minutes a day working towards that goal.

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