Nichola Roche: How the Aman Spa is Balancing the Body and Mind

Nichola Roche: How the Aman Spa is Balancing the Body and Mind

Nichola Roche, Group Director of Spa for Aman | Image courtesy of Aman
Nichola Roche, Group Director of Spa for Aman | Image courtesy of Aman

Nichola Roche has had an enviable career, working in some of the world’s most luxurious destinations and learning about the deep-rooted wellness histories and traditions that surround them. As Group Director of Spa at Aman, Nichola heads up one of the world’s most luxurious wellness programmes, maintaining a global standard which adapts and embraces unique local practices.

She shares with CompareRetreats.com her desire to create an all-encompassing, holistic approach to wellness retreats that provide people with the tools to continue their journey at home.

Could you describe your personal wellness journey, and how you came to work in the field? My mother instilled in me an understanding and love of plants and nature, and I’ve always been fascinated by the healing herbs, foraging and medicine that could be made freely from the land. I was a graphic designer and commercial illustrator, and for a while I was the packaging designer for Harrods. I had the opportunity there to browse the amazing book department: I would often spend my lunch breaks there, reading books on herbs, healing and spirituality.

In 2000, I moved to Thailand to gain international qualifications in Holistic Therapy, Aromatherapy, Anatomy and Physiology and Ayurveda. There, I became an Ayurvedic Therapist. In 2004, I met Farida Sharan, who founded the British Register of Iridologists. I was lucky enough to be chosen as a student and undertook my ND in Naturopathy, Herbalism and Iridology.

Amangiri spa Thai massage pavilion | Image courtesy of Aman
Amangiri spa Thai massage pavilion | Image courtesy of Aman

What are some healthy habits you’ve adopted? The mind and body connection is something that is not fully recognised with regards to the importance of health, although I am happy and relieved to see this is changing. Handling stress and being in control of our emotions is essential when it comes to health.

Meditation, mindfulness and spiritual practice are also very important. More obvious habits include good nutrition and exercise—in particular, outdoor pursuits in nature that you love.

How do you recharge after a stressful situation? Disconnect and detach. Most people have the habit of replaying stressful situations; I believe that we can only reflect and learn once we no longer feel any emotion from the series of events, be it a professional or personal one.

I’m a big fan of hot and cold experiences for this as well—in particular, steam and saunas. This can easily be imitated at home if not accessible at your gym or fitness club. I then find time to be grateful. Gratitude rewires your brain.

Amanera's Casa Grande | Image courtesy of Aman
Amanera’s Casa Grande | Image courtesy of Aman

Could you share your personal detox tips? At the start of my career in wellness I ran a detoxification and raw food center in Bangkok. Having a raw food kitchen at that time in Bangkok was way ahead of its time. I am a huge advocate of raw and plant based foods. Do everything raw if you can. I also recommend and try to detox at least twice a year.

What advice would you give to first-time detoxers? A gentle approach will lead to long-term success. Never jump into fasting despite what you may read on the internet. Start with a raw, plant-based detox for at least one week, and be prepared for symptoms such as headaches and nausea.

If you’re not able to take time off work, start on a Friday, so that the worst symptoms can be managed on a weekend. Create the space to detox emotionally as well as physically, sometimes this is overlooked.

Amanoi Spa House | Image courtesy of Aman
Amanoi Spa House | Image courtesy of Aman

How do wellness approaches differ across the world? Wellness approaches across the world are steeped in what the ancient tribes had available to them. They worked with what nature produced around them in order find ways to live and be well. The one aspect that they have in common is the understanding that to be well, we need to take an integrative approach and treat the individual’s inner ecology as well as the outer ecology.

Some parts of the world are more advanced in health and wellness by way of accessibility to practitioners and clinics. Austria, and Switzerland are more open to advances and approaches to wellness, while Thailand remains at the forefront of the wellness industry, embracing the integration of naturopathic and conventional medicine.

Amangiri spa step pool at dusk | Image courtesy of Aman
Amangiri spa step pool at dusk | Image courtesy of Aman

What are the main benefits of using ancient and traditional healing methods? They are tried and tested, passed down from generation to generation and tend to be of natural source – by that, I mean without chemicals or synthetics. They are usually steeped in rituals which evoke the spiritual aspect and intent for healing.

Do they fuse well with modern practices? Absolutely. There is a place for the modern to enhance the traditional aspects of healing—particularly for anti-aging modalities.

What are some of the signature treatments on offer at Aman resorts? We pride ourselves on connecting with nature and being fully immersive. This is a common thread that you will find running through the signature treatments on offer at Aman. For example, the Amandari offers our guests the Melukate Purification Ceremony, which is steeped in ancient healing ceremonies of Indonesia. The Smudging that we offer at Amangiri heralds from Native American Indian practices where the healing properties are drawn from the elements of nature and the land.

Amanera spa treatment room | Image courtesy of Aman
Amanera spa treatment room | Image courtesy of Aman

How do Aman wellness programmes promote emotional as well as physical wellbeing? We address the four pillars of wellness that are integral to our health as beings: diet and nutrition (using food as medicine), movement, physical manipulation and mindfulness and wellbeing. Mental wellbeing is the foundation of our health and under pins all other modalities. We offer a variety of modalities that focus on our mental health, such as NLP, hypnotherapy, EFT and meditation.

Find out more at aman.com and follow their wellness journey on Instagram @Aman.

Amanda Sheppard

The former Art & Culture editor at Time Out Hong Kong magazine, Amanda is a freelance lifestyle writer based in Asia's world city. Amanda grew up in Asia, loves hiking, stand up paddle boarding, and a day well spent outdoors. Her last holiday sunrise trekking along Indonesian volcanic landscapes gave her a taste of the healthy holiday bug, and she’s been on the lookout for her next great adventure ever since.

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