Understanding Ayurveda With Four Seasons Hong Kong's Spa Director, Tania Bardhan
It's been an exciting year for The Four Seasons Hong Kong. In May, the five-star hotel completed the first phase of its highly anticipated transformation—marking the first major changes to the property since it first opened 15 years ago, starting with a collection of newly designed rooms and suites reimagined under the direction of acclaimed design firm, Remedios Studio.
June marked the opening of Argo, a stunning neo-classical cocktail bar that has quickly become the toast of the town. On top of stunning new interiors, Four Seasons Hong Kong have also ramped up their wellness offerings, including a Wellness Retreat package designed to nurture mind, body and soul. It includes a120-minute Reawakening Ritual that combines massage and reiki, chakra meditation and grounding breathwork.
This spiritual approach to a legendary five-star spa experience at Four Seasons Hong Kong is the work of the hotel's new spa director, Tania Bardhan.
At the age of 17, Bardhan was introduced to Vedic astrology by her grandfather. “He was a brilliant mathematician and educator,” she recalls. “He had a deep interest in astrology, and he showed me that it wasn’t just about looking to the stars and foreseeing the future; it was about maths and science, and you had to get your calculations right.”
Ayurveda’s growing influence in the world of wellness is hard to miss, as the healing system spreads its ancient roots to spa treatments, yoga studios, skincare products and even stylish teas. Last year, New York City It-man and frequent Wes Anderson collaborator Waris Ahluwalia introduced House of Waris Botanicals, a collection of teas and elixirs that draw heavily on Ayurvedic principles.
“We’re creating blends that give us the chance to be better,” Ahluwalia said from his Lower East Side studio just before the launch. “They address some very human needs: love, sleep, immunity, digestion, detox, clarity and beauty.”
Meaning “the science of life” in Sanskrit, Ayurveda’s holistic, all-encompassing approach is increasingly attractive to the wellness seekers of today who prefer solutions for long-term wellbeing over short-term indulgence. Similar to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda emphasises balance, prevention and a deeper understanding of our body’s needs.
“For more than 5,000 years, Ayurveda has promoted dinacharya, or daily routine and self-care,” says Bardhan. “It teaches us to lead a healthy lifestyle and adjust to changing seasons.”
It isn’t an easy task to sum up one of the world’s oldest practices, but Bardhan managed to break it down for us. “Ayurveda recognises that we are made of the same five elements that make up the universe: fire, water, earth, air and space,” says Bardhan, who is also a certified homeopathy and acupuncture practitioner.
Bardhan has been sought by some of the world’s leading spas for her expertise and modern, practical approach to the ancient healing systems of Ayurveda. These include The Leela Palace in New Delhi, the Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort in Oman and the Four Seasons Hong Kong, where she is currently the spa director.
Here, she has introduced Ayurvedic programmes and treatments such as chakra crystal meditation to promote balance of body and mind.
“My aim is always to bring outcome-based wellness programmes. Guests today are well-informed and much more conscious about what they are looking for in their wellness experiences,” she says. “I can talk for hours about chakras and colours and symbols on both a mystic and scientific level, but unless the results are felt, you’re not going to come back.”
Tania Bardhan’s Favourite Ayurvedic Brands
One of the original and most prominent modern Ayurvedic brands, Subtle Energies was started as a clinic of natural therapies in Sydney by Farida Irani in 1993. During her many trips to India, she came across essential oils not heard of in western aromatherapy and no longer used by Ayurvedic doctors. She has revived these ancient concoctions with Subtle Energies’ line of aromatherapy, natural skincare and wellness products.
Founded by four friends in Delhi in 2002, Kama Ayurveda is on a mission to revive Ayurveda
in a modern way. To ensure authenticity, its line of skin and haircare products are developed in partnership with the 100-year-old Arya Vaidya Pharmacy in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.
British natives, but with Indian heritage, husband and wife Anita and Bittu Kaushal made a pilgrimage to their motherland, where they were inspired by the healing power of India’s holistic traditions. They went on to study Ayurvedic health and ultimately founded Mauli Rituals, which, according to the Kaushals, creates “all-natural and organic sensorial blends inspired by science-led Ayurvedic principles and a sense of British refinement”.
Proposing that the skin is a mirror that reflects the state of our bodies, Rasasara Skinfood seeks to put the care back in skincare with its line of organic products that are handcrafted in Melbourne. Products include potent oils, hydrating mists, holistic haircare and even a mouthwash.