This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Ayurvedic Panchakarma at Mountain Top Clinic

Finding my Ayurvedic Panchakarma Doctor

As I visit India annually, the idea of doing an Ayurvedic Panchakarma cleanse had been on my mind for many years. In the past I have undergone many other cleanses of various kinds with different herbal tablets and juices, varying from 1-6 weeks. However, I really didn’t know where to look to find a truely authentic Ayurvedic Panchakarma experience with a recommended Ayurvedic Doctor.

My luck changed whilst on my annual pilgrimage to do yoga in Mysore in India in December 2015. Whilst there I learnt that a friend was at the Mountain Top Clinic in the Nilgiri Hills studying Ayurveda with Dr Sundara Raman. Coonoor is just a five hour scenic bus trip from Mysore, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to head down to visit my friend and to find out more about Mountain Top Clinic and their Panchakarma treatments.

On meeting Dr Sundara for a consultation and hearing of the marvellous results my friend had experienced herself and witnessed on others, I knew straight away that this was the place I was to return to for my first Ayurvedic Panchakarma. My friend had witnessed so many transformations in people that there was no doubt on the authenticity of Dr Sundara.

Therefore, on returning to Australia I promptly booked myself in for a three week Panchakarma with Dr Sundara in January 2017.

Arriving at Mountain Top Clinic January 2017

Healing, detoxification and rejuvenation.

Unfortunately my flight from Mumbai to Coimbatore was delayed, which meant that I didn’t land until 11pm at night and we then had a 2.5 hour drive up the winding hairpin mountain range under only the light of the moon and the glaring lights of on coming trucks. We finally arrived at 1.30am and by the time I got to bed exhausted after a whole day of travelling from Goa it was 2am and I was so over tired that sleep was hard to find.

When morning came it was nice to see my surroundings in sunlight. Mountain Top Clinic is in a remote location just outside the main town of Coonoor, set high amongst the tea plantations of the Nilgiris Mountain range in Southern India. The property is set in the middle of two rows of tea plantations overlooking a valley and numerous hills covered in tea plantations, forests and a few tribal villages. So peaceful, with no traffic noises and just the sound of the birds chirping. The perfect place for healing, detoxification and rejuvenation.

One of many wonderful sunrises

Sunrise at Mountain Top Clinic on Day 1 of my Ayurvedic Panchakarma Retreat

Ayurvedic Consultation & Treatment Program

At 7am, in a daze after only 3 hours sleep, my retreat at the Mountain Top Clinic begins with a personal consultation with Dr Sundara. We discuss my case history and my physical, mental and emotional wellbeing in order for him to gain an understanding of my unique energetic constitution (one or a combination of the three Doshas – Pitta, Vata, Kapha) which will determine my body type and current state of imbalance. He also takes my pulses (left and right) and blood pressure and another Dr takes a blood sample, in order that we can physically see any changes to the blood at the end of my personalised Panchakarma treatment.

From this information my individual Ayurvedic healing program will be prepared based on my constitution and any specific health issues. This will be updated on a daily basis following my meetings with Dr Sundara.

The program will include internal and external body treatments, herbal teas and powders and simple, easy-to-digest vegetarian meals, sourced from the freshest natural and locally grown ingredients. All designed to help detoxify, purify and rejuvenate me.

People come to do Panchakarma at Mountain Top Clinic for many different health related reasons, some minor and some chronic. I haven’t arrived with any particular known health issues, apart from a few issues with my stomach and digestion. I also know I suffer from high cholesterol. With this panchakarma therapy I am mainly looking to thoroughly detoxify and rejuvenate my body and learn about how to eat more sensibly to aid my digestion following an Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle.

Dr Sundara is incredibly knowledgeable and so interesting to talk to that I could listen to him for hours. I admit to him that I don’t really knowing anything about Panchakarma, so he explains to me in depth about Panchakarma therapy and the different phases of treatment I will receive.

My trusty hot water flask, copper cup and Ayurvedic Medicines for my first few days

My trusty hot water flask, copper cup and Ayurvedic Medicines for my first few days

Panchakarma

Panchakarma is the Ayurvedic art of detoxification, purification and rejuvenation of the body, mind and consciousness. It has been utilised for thousands of years for its restorative affect in strengthening the immune system and returning the natural state of equilibrium to the three Doshas: Vata, Pitta, Kapha. It is a complete approach to addressing the root cause of chronic disease, both physically and mentally. Panchakarma is known for its beneficial effects on overall health, wellness and restoring the body’s innate ability to self heal.

Panchakarma is recommended for most individuals, even those who are healthy, as part of a seasonal regime. The doshas accumulate naturally owing to seasonal changes and can cause disease if they are not removed.

Pancha means five in sanskrit and Karma means actions. So Panchakarma is a purification therapy with five types of therapeutic actions. The five main methods of Panchakarma are:

  • Vamana – Herb induced emesis (therapeutic vomiting)
  • Virechana – Herb induced purgation (bowel evacuation)
  • Basti – Herbal enema (cleansing the large intestine)
  • Nasya – Nasal drops (cleansing the nasal passages which are the doorways to the mind and senses and the first site where Prana is absorbed)
  • Rakta-moksha – therapeutic blood-letting.

All are essential parts of the Panchakarma treatment program in cleansing and eliminating residual toxic impurities (Ama) that have accumulated throughout the bodily tissues (Dhatus), due to a persons experiences, emotions and environmental factors. These impurities create imbalance and ultimately lead to disharmony and disease.
Panchakarma is used to achieve the three objectives of:

  • health maintenance
  • to treat disease, and
  • to prepare for rejuvenation.

This is achieved by removing excess doshas in order to bring the individual doshas into balance. In order to remove these excess doshas from the body, they must be first brought to the appropriate sites where they can be eliminated. The sites are the stomach, small intestine and large intestine.

To achieve this, two preparatory practices are recommended, Oleation (Snehana) – internal or external oil therapy (the dreaded ghee!) and Sudation (Swedana) – sweating. Through these two practices the doshas that are localised in the the skin and tissues are brought to the gastrointestinal tract for elimination. I will write about Swedana (the ghee treatment) and Swedana (the steam bath) further in Part 3 of my blog which covers the days I am undergoing this treatment.

Once the preliminary procedures of Oleation and Sudation are completed, the primary practices of Panchakarma are selected according to the individual requirements of the person. Dr Sumara suggests that I will only need Virechana, Vasti and Nasya which makes me happy as I don’t fancy the vomiting or blood-letting!

Let the healing, detoxification and rejuvenation journey begin

Now that I have a better understanding of the Panchakarma process and what to expect over the next 3 weeks I am really looking forward to my rejuvenating journey (although not so much drinking the ghee!)

This is Part 1 of my Blog on my Panchakarma experience, click below to continue following my journey.

READ NEXT: Part 2: Ayurvedic Panchakarma – Preparation Days 1–5

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