Sophie Benge


Sophie's adventures


I was recently on retreat with the fabulous 'Bodhimaya' brothers. This was a retreat of sumptuous proportions - if not portion size - for fasting, alongside meditation, is the backbone of their method. But when padding around a country estate in princess style, being poured with love and attention, plied with knowledge and practicing asanas under the ancestral portraits, food denial was hardly a trial. Cornelius and Daniel O'Shaugnessy's Bodhimaya Method made all of us staying at Cowdray Park that week want to swing from the (copious) chandeliers. Here I share some easy-peasy ways I learned to add to the anti-ageing arsenal. Thank you boys!

Cornelius and Daniel O'Shaughnessy and me on the Bodhimaya Retreat at Cowdray Park

Cornelius and Daniel O'Shaughnessy and me on the Bodhimaya Retreat at Cowdray Park

1. BONE BROTH - because chicken carcasses and chicken claws especially are full of collagen and protein, two big building blocks of our bodies. Collagen builds the gut lining, plumps up our skin, brings shine to our hair and strength to our nails. My butcher gives me claws, gizzards and carcasses for free. Those OTC collagen products are pricey and they're often filled with 'farmed' fish parts.

Bung it all in the pot - carrot tops, leek tops, beetroot tops too. Waste nothing. Onion, herbs, garlic and the all-important fresh tumeric root. We already know all about this anti-inflammatory panacea! Key: boil, boil, boil. Bhodimaya chef Olivier Sanchez says 24 hours is optimum to extract all anti-ageing goodness. I manage 12 and reckon it's long enough - for a silky, nurturing broth that fills me up and fills out the wrinkles too. I store it in silicon muffin trays in the freezer until the next time I have 12 hours at home by the stove.

2. OIL PULLING - As a new day dawns, open your eyes, stuff a teaspoon of coconut oil into you mouth and start swilling. So says Daniel for a perfect kick-start daily detox. Many toxins accumulate in our mouths during the night, the oil swilling detaches debris from cells and gum crevices. I'm starting to notice whiter teeth too. The hazard of oil pulling however if jaw ache. Wisdom says swill for 15 minutes. I do it in the shower. Spit don't swallow!

3. DRY BODY BRUSHING - This is an easy one to spring clean the lymph, the storehouse that easily clogs with debris without our realising it. Long sweeping, upward strokes towards the junction box lymph nodes in our groin and armpits is the way to go for optimum flush out. At my time-for-the-mammogram age, I've been recommended to dry brush my breasts. We want our chest area to be a flowing stream rather than a swampy bog in a bid to stop anything nasty taking root. Dry brushing, particularly the thigh area, seems also to crack down on cellulite and there's a gloriously tingly feeling when you get under the shower straight after.

4. FASTING - This is a big one. Simply put digesting food diverts 70% of our body's energy to the digestive process, leaving 30% to work on homeostasis - keeping balance internally. When there's no food to tackle, the 'little minions' - as Daniel calls the metabolic process for ease of understanding - are more available to get to work on reducing inflammation, the overall cause of disease. So abstain to maintain rejuvenation. Needless to say fasting features large at Bodhimaya retreats: three days of three juices per day - in my case largely cabbage but mixed with lime and mint its flavour is fine. This liquid diet gave me so much energy I woke at six, still buzzing by midnight, helped of course by a roster of yoga, meditation, massage and daily walks. Plus a fairytale bedroom in which to play the princess. And a bone broth extra for supper. Who would have thought broth would ever be a luxury!

Sophie Benge