- Panchakarma at Mountain Top Ayurvedic Clinic in India
- Ayurvedic Panchakarma Preparation Days 1-5
- Drinking Medicated Ghee
Ayurvedic Panchakarma Treatment Program
So now my Ayurvedic Panchakarma therapy begins and it looks like my days at Mountain Top Clinic are going to be busy.
I am here for three weeks, which is the minimum recommended time to undergo the program. This amount of time is needed in order to complete the detox, purification and rejuvenation stages of the Panchakarma therapy. The three week program will give me enough time to enable the natural ability of my body to support the healing process.
My Ayurvedic treatment program will be specially designed, to not only treat my body whilst I’m here, but will also help me to sustain the long-term health benefits of the treatments when I get home. This after care treatment is what really drew me to Ayurveda, as it is a lifestyle to learn and follow. Not just a quick detox, followed by no retox like many of the cleanses I have taken in the past.
Dr Sundara also advises that I need to make a food list for him of my normal weekly eating habits. From this he will be able to advise me on a good Ayurvedic diet to follow to keep my doshas balanced in the future. This will give me the necessary knowledge to maintain a healthy lifestyle and aid in the prevention of any future unbalance or disease. I just need to be good and try and follow it when I get home! That is going to be the hard bit.
Dr Sundara explains to me in depth about Ayurveda principles and Panchakarma and I try and take in as much information as I can. There seems to be a lifetime of information to learn and it looks like I will be doing a lot of reading. What I like most is the fact that it deals with the human as a whole –not just a body, but body mind and spirit.
Panchakarma is a time-proven natural therapy that detoxifies and restores the body’s inner balance and vitality and there is an aweful lot to learn and understand about its benefits.
Principles of Ayurvedic Panchakarma – detoxifying the body and mind
According to ayurveda, good health depends upon our capability to fully metabolize all aspects of life, assimilating that which nourishes and eliminating the rest. When we can’t completely digest our food, or experiences and emotions, then toxins accumulate in our bodily tissues, creating imbalance and ultimately disease. Panchakarma is a very thorough cleansing process that releases these stored toxins and restores the body’s innate natural healing ability.
When our digestive energies, known as Agni (fire), are robust, we create healthy tissues, eliminate waste products efficiently, and produce a subtle essence called Ojas. Ojas, which may be envisioned as the innermost sap of our psychophysiology, is the basis for clarity of perception, physical strength, and immunity. On the other hand, if our Agni is weakened, digestion is incomplete and this creates toxins that get stored in the body. This toxic residue is known as Ama.
When ama accumulates in the body, it blocks the flow of energy, information, and nourishment throughout the system. Ayurveda considers this build-up of toxins the underlying cause of all disease. A common example is the accumulation of saturated fat and cholesterol that is beyond the body’s capacity to metabolize. Over time, this can lead to the blockage of the blood vessels and arteries and possibly heart attacks.
It’s easy to understand agni and ama in terms of food, but our minds and hearts are continually digesting energy and information too. The inability to metabolize emotions, produces just as much toxic residue as undigested food. Amazingly, things like pent-up anger, long-held sadness, and lingering guilt are more debilitating for most people, than problems with physical digestion. Even though you might not realise you are holding on to these past emotions, they are causing harm.
In order to experience optimal health, it is crucial to maintain a strong digestive fire and eliminate toxins from the body. And this is where Panchakarma comes in.
So it’s time to get mine working.
My busy daily Panchakarma schedule begins
On my first morning Dr Sundara hands me a printed copy of a schedule showing timings of what my days at Mountain Top Clinic will involve. It looks like I will be kept busy!
- Rise at 6am
- 6.30 am morning yoga (although I am doing my own Prana Vashya yoga practice in my room, so I have to try to get up at 5.30 and start yoga at 6am so that I can finish in time for my fruits and also try and see a bit of the wonderful sunrise)
- 7.40am locally grown fruit breakfast (fruit is eaten seperate as it is an incompatible food combination with other foods as it can cause fermentation in the stomach)
- 8.30am organic Ayurvedic breakfast/porridge
- 9am–1.30pm one hour of daily detox/rejuvenation classical authentic Ayurveda Treatments followed by a herbal bath. These treatments will vary over the days depending on which part of the program I am on.
- 9am–12pm half hour consultation with Dr Sumara to discuss treatments (he is so interesting to talk to, I loved this session)
- 1.00pm organic fresh Ayurvedic lunch
- 2pm–4pm half an hour daily detox/rejuvenation treatment, which will again vary according to my Panchakarma treatment
- 4pm chai time – yay!
- 4.10pm–5.00pm walk with nature
- 5pm–6pm pranayama and meditation
- 6.40pm freshly made special Organic Ayurvedic dinner
There are also other activities offered once a week, such as an Ayurvedic Cooking Class, Chanting, Temple and Local Food Market visits.
In between all this, there is also time where you have to rest after treatments and slow down. So I don’t think I’m going to get bored and hopefully I will learn to relax a bit.
Preparation for Panchakarma
After my initial consultation with Dr Sundara, he advises that my first five days here are going to be preparation days. These will be used for strengthening and preparing my body for the actual detox and main Panchakarma therapies.
I will be fed a freshly made organic Ayurvedic cleansing diet and be given preparatory treatments. These treatments will involve a range of Ayurvedic therapies which address specific aspects of my mental and physical wellbeing. Which all sounds good to me.
For these initial five days of my treatment, I am prescribed Abhyanga in the morning and Ela Kizhi/Patra Potli Swedan in the afternoon. These treatments could be seen as types of Ayurvedic massage with special herbs which are prescribed specific to my treatment therapy. Each person might have a different set of herbs and oils. The treatments are performed by two (sometimes three) wonderful Ayurvedic therapists who work in harmony, one on the right side and one on the left side of your body. Dr Sundara discusses with the ladies each morning what is required that day and any special requirements I may have.
In the mornings I receive a one hour Abhyanga treatment. This is quite an experience for anyone who has never had two people massaging at once. For this treatment, and also for most of these Ayurvedic massage treatments, you strip naked and wear just a small loin cloth (or none at all!)
Abhyanga is the traditional, synchronised, full-body treatment which is given by two Ayurvedic therapists together using warm herbal oil. A variety of Ayurvedic techniques are applied, which work along the energy channels of the body helping to restore the flow of vital energy (Prana).
Before the treatment begins the Gayatri Mantra is turned on and plays throughout the treatment (I love this). You begin sitting on a small stool whilst one of the massage therapists massages your head, face, shoulders and back with warm medicated oil. You then hop up on to the special massage table and lie on your back. The two ladies (or men if you are a male) position themselves left and right and begin.
Warm oil is first applied to your feet and then up over your body in a synchronised sweeping motion from your feet, up and over your entire body, down your arms and to your hands on each side. They then work on a routine of working around all pressure points and parts of your body separately with the synchronised sweeping movements. It’s very special and quite unique. And all the time the Gayatri Mantra continues…
Regular Abhyanga treatments are said to aid in delaying and preventing degenerative diseases, help to liquefy toxins, and will induce relaxation. Abhayanga is also effective in normalising blood pressure, eliminating impurities, and initiating deep healing within cells. It affects bones, joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles and bestows clarity of vision. You can’t go wrong there!
Ela Kizhi/Patra Potli Swedan
My afternoon treatment is half an hour of Ela Kizhi (Patra Potli Swedan). Ela or patra means leaves; kizhi means bolus; Swedan means sudation (sweating).
This Panchakarma therapy is a highly rejuvenating herbal practice for treating Vata. Medicinal leaves are collected and cut into small pieces, fried with several herbal ingredients relevant to your dosha, and tied in a linen cloth into four boluses. The boluses are dipped into warm medicated oil in a heated pan until they turn a light brown colour, then patted rhythmically all over the body.
Mam, heat OK?
Again my treatment begins first with a quick head and shoulder massage whilst sat on the stool. I then hop onto the table and the boluses are applied over the body in a set routine of different postures. Starting at the feet and moving up and over the body. First on the front and then on the back – my favorite part. The lovely massage ladies ask frequently “Mam, OK?”. As care is taken throughout the procedure to make sure the temperature is maintained at around 46ºC whilst reheating the bolus over the hot vessel. Too hot and I will be burnt!
After the procedure, I need to lay down in bed for about 30 minutes. The treatment actually makes me feel quite tired. After a rest I am then able to take a shower with hot water.
Ela Kizhi is said to beneficial in:
- Improving blood circulation
- Improving skin complexion
- Increasing muscle strength
- Relieving body pain and stiffness
- Anti aging and rejuvenating
I should soon be feeling great.
After five days preparing my body, on day six we are ready to start the ghee. Help!!!
COMING SOON: Part 3 – The dreaded ghee days!
To find out more about Mountain Top Clinic, who I highly recommend, please visit mountaintopclinic.com