Ok, all jokes aside, it’s time to explain what this Ayurveda is and the benefits of it. Don’t worry, I am not going to get technical but, it is an ancient vedic system of medicine which takes in all aspects of life, it is about following a daily regime and eating properly and basically keeping healthy. But in particular to coming to an ayurvedic resort, it is all about Panchkarma, or the five ways or actions and the backbone of ayurveda.
I suppose the easiest analogy to use is that of a car. You have a car and to ensure that it remains in good working order, keep fuel efficient and most importantly to prevent it from breaking down, you take it for a regular service. Ayurveda, or panchkarma is basically that service but for humans, it removes all the toxins from your body and benefits both physical and mental health. Ok, it takes longer than an afternoon but it’s the same principle.
The minimum recommended stay is 14 nights, and after being here for a week already I can see why that length of stay is necessary. You see, this isn’t a spa that gives you a massage which gives you temporary relief and leaves you feeling relaxed, this is a regime. Depending on your condition, and panchkarma is excellent for treating the cause of illnesses (not the effect as we do in the west) as well as providing preventative rejuvenation treatments (the car service equivalent), this happens in three stages, preparation, operation (cleanse, non-surgical), and post operation.
The first five or six days are spent preparing your body for it’s cleanse. In my case this involved:
Day 01 – consultation, diagnosis and my first relaxation massage for one hour.
Day 02 – 04 inclusive: drinking a small amount of medicated oil followed by a head massage, full body massage with 2 therapists, pounding massage with herbal pouches, facial and a small amount of oil up each nostril.
Day 05: head massage, a foot massage, as in being massaged by feet from a therapist hanging from a rope, full body massage, facial and steam bath.
All this is preparing your body internally and externally for,
Day 06: the cleanse, or purgation as they call it here. Medicine is administered at 0830, after an hour you have to start drinking glasses of warm water, every 30 minutes and you are advised not to stray too far from your room, or more pertinently, your bathroom for the day, if you get my meaning.
I am on this day today. They said ‘it’ would start around 3 hours after taking the medicine. Not for me, it started immediately. I am, mid cleanse and its only 1000. The hilarious part of all this though is the camaraderie with my fellow ayurvedic followers. As I said, mainly German, a few French and Russians and one other English girl, but, although everyone’s ailments, body types etc and therefore the treatments for everyone differ slightly, everyone, but everyone, goes through the cleanse and Germans being Germans, it is common conversation. We all gravitate towards the restaurant three times a day, conversations are had and within 3 or 4 days, you know who is on a cleanse. They virtually announce it.
Dinner Conversation 1:
Me: ‘Hi, how are you today?’
Them: ‘Fine thank you, preparing for my cleanse tomorrow.’
Me: ‘Oh, right, well, good luck!’
Them: ‘Thanks, I will tell you how it went.’
Me: ‘Hi, how are you today?’
Them: ‘Yah, good, I am on my cleanse, just collecting my hot water. I see you later and tell you how it went.’
Them: ‘Great, look forward to it.’
Neighbouring table: ‘Oh, today is your cleanse, mine is tomorrow.’
Another neighbouring table: ‘ Ahh, mine was yesterday, it was nothing much, quite disappointing really.’
Neighbouring table one, looking at me: ‘Have you had yours?’
Me: ‘Err, no, mine is in 2 days.’
Dinner conversation 3:
Me: ‘Hi, how was it?’
Them: ‘Oh my god, it was something else. I lost 2 kilo’s.’
Surrounding diners look on in awe, women who are coming up to their cleanse look on in glee, 2 kgs in a day!
Needless to say, I have around 20 people eagerly awaiting my evening’s reappearance to find out how I got on. But it’s not embarrassing, there is a great sense of being in this all together (through choice no less) and we will all get through it together. Given the nationality of my fellow inmates it would be imprudent to liken it to the blitz…….
But this is where the Germans, Swiss, Austrians, French just get it, not just the cleanse, but ayurveda. I have spoken to quite a few fellow inmates and they come every year for 3 weeks. Some because they have skin conditions which it completely clears for the next few months, some because they have arthritis and it helps, massively, and countless other ailments but some come every year simply because it is just good healthy practice. There is also one Indian guy who lives in America and comes every year for two weeks.
Six days in and I can honestly see why. Despite being on the toughest day of the programme! We all know that prevention is better than cure, and even just 6 days in, I have a lot more clarity of thought, I have lost 2.5 kgs, my skin is glowing and I have met some fascinating and hilarious people. Not only that, we are in a beautiful resort, in Kerala on the beach, with gorgeous gardens, comfortable rooms, great staff and a bunch of people all bonded here for a common purpose.
It’s not all pleasant but it is nowhere near as bad as I was expecting. Taking my previous points to task:
Drinking the oil. 25mls, gulped down in one with a hot water chaser, is all over in 3 seconds and that is that, easy.
Oil up the nose, a few drops up each nostril, clears the passages, takes 10 seconds. No sweat.
Being massaged virtually naked for a good hour each day – positively indulgent! And bear in mind, the therapists have seen it all, and most of it, a lot worse than you.
Despite being healthy the food is great, in fact so good I forced myself to go and see the dietitian as I was consuming too much.
My next few days will be dedicated to post cleanse treatment which is where the real indulgence starts and then I will be ready to face whatever my new chapter of life throws at me.
It is such a shame that as Brits we don’t ‘get’ the concept of prevention rather than cure and more importantly investing in such a healthy regime because, I have to say, despite being on the worst day of the perceived ordeal, I would highly recommend ayurveda to anyone. I haven’t even missed my evening glass of chilled sauvignon and I am happy to report that my wine ring looks like it will soon be just a thing of memory too.