Prince Charles and Camilla at Soukya© Soukya

What Goes Behind Running A Wellness Centre Loved By Royals?

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Nayare Ali

Issac Mithai’s holistic health centre in Bengaluru is a hot favourite with not only the British royalty, but several A-listers from across the globe. HELLO! speaks with the man behind Soukya, a world- renowned wellness centre.

HELLO!: You were one of the few Indians invited to attend the late queen’s ceremony in London. What’s your connection with the British royals?

Issac Mithai: “My connection with the royal family goes back 15 years, when I was a holistic consultant for them. They benefitted tremendously from their personal experience at Soukya, which is why they visited eight times in 12 years. King Charles III has always been very supportive of holistic medicine. I’m the Indian ambassador for the College of Medicine in the UK, which was initiated by him. I’m involved with the institute’s holistic medicine and integrative medical aspects. I also initiated the opening of a research centre in London, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and King Charles III.”

H!: Soukya, your holistic health centre, has been incredibly popular among celebrities since its foundation in 2003. How has it evolved since then?

IM: “As I treated patients from over 30 countries, I decided to start my own centre. Establishing a centre in the UK or anywhere else in Europe would have been expensive, so I decided on India and chose Bengaluru because of the pleasant climate and the capacity to attract guests from around the world. The aesthetically designed facility in a serene environment, which attracts over 100 species of birds, and the organic gardens with over 4,000 trees — fruit trees, vegetables, aromatic and herbal plants, etc — provide a great place for study and introspection. One can experience an eco-friendly way of living here.”

H!: You hail from a family of homoeopathic doctors and worked with your mother, Dr Annamma Mathai, as a child. Could you share your memories of that experience?

IM: “My mother’s homoeopathic practice was an extension of our home in a small village (Sultan Bathery in Wayanad), where low-income farmers and tribals arrived with acute conditions. At11or12,Ibegantohelpher at her clinic by doing odd jobs like packing medicines. At 17, I joined a medical college to pursue homoeopathy. During the third year of my clinical training, I actively started utilising the knowledge I had acquired from my studies. I could perform much better with the rich experience I gained from my mother.”

H!: You are a trained homoeopathic physician who branched out to holistic health. How did this transition take place?

IM: During the final year of my studies, I was introduced to transcendental meditation. Learning and practising this got me interested in therapeutic yoga, which gave me a deeper understanding of the interconnection among the mind, body and spirit and the usage of yoga in medical practice. Yoga having a lot of positive impacts on medical conditions gave me the idea of integrating the practice with homoeopathy.

H!: Indians today are quite conscious of holistic health. Does this make holistic healing less challenging today?

IM: “Yes, definitely. It’s a lot easier now as Indians have a better understanding and appreciation for yoga. Enough research has been done on it globally, bringing in greater acceptance of yoga and meditation even in our country. This has helped develop the concept and philosophy of holistic healing and made ideas around it less challenging.”

H!: You work with your wife, Dr Suja Issac. What’s that experience like?

IM: “My wife Dr Suja Issac has been a part of Soukya since it was conceptualised. She was instrumental in designing the place and is currently its executive director. It’s only an advantage that we stay in the same campus and have a personal connection with the staff. She manages the facility very well as I travel a lot. The only disadvantage is that because we stay at the venue, discussions on our projects, international collaborations, etc, continue even at home. We try to create a good work-life balance, though it’s a challenge.”

H!: Tell us about the prominent visitors your centre has hosted.

IM: “The late Nobel laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, visited Soukya three times. Oscar- winner Emma Thompson has stayed here twice. Our other guests include Deepika Padukone, royal families from the Middle East as well as heads of states.”