Friday, February 09, 2007

Ayurveda Panchakarma Treatments #1-3

Feb. 6-9, 2007

I have decided to write separate posts describing my treatments here so that those of you who are interested in that aspect of this trip can simply skip to the categories and easily find only these posts.
So this is the first one and will just very briefly descirbe what these treatments are and then write about the first 3 treatments which I have had so far, in short.

Ayurveda is the ancient Indian medicine, thousands of years old, and I've been involved in certain aspects of it for several years now. If you want more specific information, simply Google it and you will find all you need to read about it.

After doing treatments in the past in India, I have decided to do a full panchakarma treatment here which will take two weeks. in short, it is a general detoxification of the body and then specifically used to treat individual problems. I will be specifically treated for my arthrities which has gotten much worse over the past winter. So, here we go.
The first day I was taken from my Ashram by motorbike (!) to the clinic for my meeting with the doctor. He examined me, using questions, pulse, eyes, tongue and nails to make his diagnosis. He then goes on to prescribe the specifics of the treatments as well as diet changes which he feels necessary, yoga suitable to my condition, pranayama and meditation. After concluding that my basic diet is surprisingly perfect for my body type and condition, and making a few simple suggestions, I was told to return the next day for my first treatment.

The biggest addition to my diet is quite lovely. Three tablespoons of melted butter in my food, twice a day! Or whole wheat toast for breakfast with 3 tablespoons of melted butter if I feel like it instead of porridge.

Other small changes but nothing spectacular, so that at least will not be very difficult for me to continue once I get home. He claimed that pommegranates are very good for me, as is avocado, dried fruits and nuts, hot milk with spices and honey in it (lovely) and other interesting suggestions. I'm quite pleased.

Now, my first treatment was the following morning and consisted of the follwoing:
It was a fabulous full ayurveda massage and then a steam box. The only way I can describe this contraption was to take you back, to those who remember, old TV shows where people were put into these boxes with a towel on their head and then a dial was turned and they were steamed. In on "Lucy" episode, she got stuck in one and it was quite funny. I also think one was used in a James Bond movie to kill someone but whatever.
This was simply a wooden box that I was closed into and then steamed until i began to sweat and then told to massage my body so that the oils would be absorbed thoroughly and my body would get full benefit from them. It also raises circulation to the service further was really nice. Following that I was told that most people take a cold "bath" (same idea as sauna and then ice water) but in my case they would give me luke warm "bath". Turned out to be one small bucket of cold water to pour over myself and then get dried and dressed. Well, they say this is a very important part of the treatment, so of course I did it.

Then I was given lunch which will be part of the treatemnt each day. Chapati, dahl and rice of course, with melted butter poured over the dahl. Quite delicious actually sitting on the floor with Vivek who is in charge, Deepak the yoga instructor and the sweet massage therapist. Nice end to the first day.

My second treatment was of course the next day and included again a full body massage, then hot herbal bundle massage for specific problematic areas and this was done by the director, Vivek himslef. Then steam box again for longer even than the first day but no bath....just sat there until I sweated so much that all the excess oil dripped off me and then I just towel dried myself very easily. Then up to the roof for a 15 minute sunbathe, and then down to lunch which also included a little hotter food all meant to heat up my body from inside and out. another lovely day.

Third Treatment today consisted of a localized massage concentrating on the hip area, lower back and shoulder neck area followed by the heated herbal bundles again...this time done by TWO people working on me....what luxury1 Then just local steaming of the problematic areas and a very light rice today. They jokingly said that each day the food would get less until I was paying for no food! Joking of course, but each day the food is cooked in a way that supplements the treatment of the day.

I also had my first yoga session today and Deepak gave me a full workout which works my entire body but is so gentle and easy on the joints that it is amazing. It was worth coming just for that!

So, I will end this post here and write another after I've done another few treatments.

If you have any questions, either comment here or e-mail and I'll be happy to go into more details for you.