I’m an African, winter-born baby and I consider myself a sun chaser. I don’t just like sun; I love it! It makes me happy, it energizes me, it invigorates me on a molecular level and reminds me that I’m blessed to be alive. So I totally get why there are a set of postures in yoga called the sun-salutations – the word salutation says it all: to express respect, to greet, to address with goodwill and respect. While this post is not about delving into the sun’s raison d’etre, I do think it’s worth noting that large populations across the globe are suffering from vitamin D deficiency. You see our bodies produce 50- 90% of vitamin D, which is both a vitamin and a hormone, through sun exposure and vitamin D regulates hundreds of genes in our bodies and, as with other vitamins and minerals, it is vital for growth and development. In fact, it plays a pivotal role in maintaining optimum gut health which means it plays a crucial role in immunity as well. Studies show that a vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a whole host of health concerns plaguing modern society such as obesity, fibromyalgia, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome and Alzheimer’s, it even contributes to the development of or proliferation of cancer! But why would those of us living in sunny South Africa suffer from this deficiency? Well, a snippet from this article in the Journal of International Health Sciences – Qassim University, sums it up succinctly:
“Exposure to sunshine each day helps [the] human body to manufacture the required amount of vitamin D. However, due to fear of developing skin cancer most people avoid the sun exposure. To prevent vitamin D deficiency, one should spend 15 to 20 minutes daily in the sunshine with 40% of the skin surface exposed. High concentration of melanin in the skin slows the production of vitamin D; similarly aging greatly reduces skin production of vitamin D. Use of sunblock, common window glass in homes or cars and clothing, all effectively block UVB radiation – even in the summer. People who work indoors, wear extensive clothing, regularly use sunblock, are dark skinned, obese, aged or consciously avoid the sun, are at risk of vitamin D deficiency.”
I hope you see where I’m going with this? There aren’t many days left of summer and so I’m imploring you to get out there, shed some clothing, show some skin, enjoy the sun for the sake of your complexion AND your health! “But Stacey, (I hear you whining), we’re already on the cusp of Autumn for goodness sake !” Fear not my fellow Jozi or Cape-based sunchaser, I have the perfect vitamin D-replenishing getaway for you!
Summer All Year Round
Nestled in the heart of the Midlands, in the summer-all-year-round province of Kwa-Zulu Natal, lies the picturesque area of Nottingham Road… And tucked away in this luscious region is a haven, where cellphones are forbidden and massages are mandatory and delicious, healthy fare abounds. Can you picture it? (It sounds just like the opening scene of the Shire in Lord of The Rings, The Fellowship of the Rings, doesn’t it?!)
The sanctuary I speak of is none other than Brookdale Health Hydro and I spent four indulgent nights there with my hubby, recuperating after my first triathlon, The Midlands Ultra Sprint, in November last year. It was downright amazing.
Smiles greeted us at door as we checked in and never left for the duration of our stay. We were taken to our rooms after a short tour of the facilities and I remember thinking ‘this is just so serene and calming, exactly what I need to unwind and truly relax!’.
Although there are TVs in each room, the general idea is to detox mentally as much as you are going to physically and this means creating a technology-free environment as much as possible. There is a rose and herb garden that is the designated cellphone area where one can make or receive calls as cellphone use is discouraged pretty much anywhere else in the venue, including your room! I couldn’t believe how much I craved this digital detox and relished being unplugged, save for having to snap a few pics here and there to share with you on the blog. The main house has a great variety of books to read, adult colouring books and pencils and one of my favourite pastimes, which I hadn’t had a chance to do in ages – knitting!!
If you’re based out of town and choose to visit Brookdale, you’re doing it to pamper yourself so try and get the best out of your time away by not skimping on the indulgent add ons. Budget dependent, you can choose either a two, three, four or six-night stay with a set amount of treatments with each basic package. I’d highly recommend the six night stay as we stayed for four and it seemed long enough but perhaps just too short and irrespective of your duration, it’s worth investing in additional treatments, I’d say you need at least two per day.
You’ll know by now that I am actually not much of a fan of the word detox when it comes to physical health, I much prefer the idea of resetting as detoxing is something your body does (or attempts to do) naturally anyway. But everything at Brookdale Hydro is designed to allow you press that reset button physically, emotionally and mentally as well as allow you to detox from those activites that we as modern humans don’t have a natural tendency to refrain from despite the fact that they clutter and, to a great extent, create toxicity in our lives such as using our cellphones, stressing about emails and the work day ahead, worrying about finances and what to wear for work.
From the meals that are served, the nutrition and stress workshops offered to the treatments and activities available, a break at Brookdale takes you back, in order to propel you forward. I’d even go as far as saying that a necessary fashion or wardrobe detox is taken because you’re provided with robes to wear all-day long, everyday, for the duration of your stay! The idea of paying Brookdale a visit is that for the briefest time, you’ll let go of some of those elements in your life that create a stress response because at the end of the day, that is exactly what dis-ease is…