Around the world in wellness traditions

From luxury spa hotels to local wellbeing tips

From ancient Ayurveda practices to the latest technological treatments. Making time each day for yourself, or connecting with other people and the natural world. Wellness has always meant different things to different people. However you want to relax or boost your wellbeing, you have a whole world of traditions, treatments and luxury spa hotels to choose from.

Ayurveda and yoga: India and beyond
No luxury spa hotel menu is complete without a choice of massage treatments. But the practice actually has its roots in Ayurveda – an ancient Indian philosophy focused on the total wellness of mind, body and spirit.

Spas such as The Fortress in Galle, Sri Lanka offer treatment plans grounded in Ayurvedic theory, covering massage treatments and exercise plans, along with aromatherapy to encourage deep, peaceful sleep.

Yoga and meditation are also linked to Ayurveda. But they’ve become so popular worldwide that they’re often practiced independently. From sunrise yoga classes on a Maldives private island to guided meditation in a rainforest pavilion in Thailand, it’s time to relax in style.

Water cures: Ancient Greece and Rome
Belief in the therapeutic powers of relaxing in hot spring water dates back to the days of Ancient Greece and Rome. The Romans built bathhouses pretty much anywhere they discovered hot springs – and many of these locations are still popular spa resorts. Merano, in the Tyrolean Alps, features an original Roman spa as well as plenty of modern hotels such as the Miramonti, where you can enjoy an outdoor steam bath with magnificent mountain views.

Or, to discover a contemporary take on the ancient Greek theories that formed hydro- and thalassotherapy, make for Mykonos. Here, Petasos Beach Resort & Spa offers the latest treatments in sublime, mosaic-clad pools.

The forest effect: a gift from Japan
With more and more of us living and working in cities, getting back to nature is becoming a wellness tradition in itself. The idea of ‘forest bathing’ started in Japan in the 1980s, when psychologists found that people who regularly visited certain forests had lower stress levels. With few sights as beautiful as cherry trees in blossom or autumn colours in full glow, it’s easy to see why. To try it, base yourself in mountainous Nagano prefecture, home to Akazawa Recreational Park, where forest bathing was born.

Hammam rituals: Turkey and Morocco
While many of us are used to just having a quick shower before we leave the house, hammams turn everyday ablutions into something to savour. These ornate bathhouses developed in the Muslim world, and traditionally include steam rooms, hot and cool baths, and a massage.

Many modern spa hotels have given the historic hammam a glamourous update. At Hotel Sahrai in Fez, Morocco, you can follow your steam bath with exclusive treatments by Givenchy. While at Hotel Les Ottomans in Istanbul, you can book a few hours in an exclusive Turkish spa decked out in white marble and gold.

Fika and hygge: daily wellbeing from Scandinavia
Scandinavian countries often come out top in national wellbeing studies. While it’s not all down to coffee and cinnamon buns, national traditions focused on savouring simple pleasures with friends and family certainly play their part.

• Fika is something of a social institution in Sweden. A couple of times a day, everything stops for coffee, cake and conversation. Find your way to a friendly fik (café) in historic Gothenburg or on the Stockholm waterfront and join the fun.

• Hygge had its moment in the spotlight as a popular lifestyle trend, but it’s very much part of everyday culture in Denmark. Associated with cosiness and conviviality, hygge is about enjoying time together and appreciating everyday moments of contentment.