Ayurveda and Wellness
Ayurveda or the ‘science longevity’ is the system of nature cure. It is known to promote positive health, natural beauty and long life. It is as perennial and universal today as it was 5000 years ago. Ayurveda is based on universal principles and uses the power of nature to bring health back.
Ayurveda, the traditional form of Indian medicine was developed by ancient sages whose astute observations led to the development of constitutional medicine. Traditional Chinese medicine too has similar origins. The ancients visualized the universe as a constant play of energies, an imbalance of which created discomfort and disease in the body. It was the duty of the vaidya (physician) to harmonize this imbalance of the body – mind environment.
Ayurveda [ayur + veda] is considered to be a sub-veda or the branch of knowledge that is concerned with the physical health and happiness on earth which therefore assumes great significance to human life. Physicians classify a patients’ state of health according to the imbalances of the three doshas namely Vata, Pitha and Kapha. Kapha is the entire physical volume in a living organism, pitha, the entire biochemical process operating in a body and Vata is that which constitutes bodily movement and activity. A disturbance in any of these three doshas leads to a particular disease and the treatment is administered to restore the equilibrium.
The treatment is prescribed by a physician which could involve either medicines or oil baths and massages or a combination of both. Another theory of Ayurveda is that certain passages or minutest channels of the human body have to be cleansed regularly through a purification process known as Panchakarma. Panchakarma involves repeated application of oil and heat therapy in tandem with certain internal medication. Panchakarma rejuvenates the body and mind to its potential.
Ayurveda and wellness has become an essential aspect in today’s jet setting existence. From being the ‘science of life’, Ayurveda has now become the ‘slice of life’ for many. People are willing to experience a healthier holiday by incorporating healing resorts and wellness spas to their indulgent itineraries in order to detox and take in the tranquility and peace that these places offer. With the advent and positive growth of rejuvenation centers and ayurvedic resorts in the country, one can go to an ayurvedic haven away from the cacophony of city life. There is a variety of options and packages that are designed and customized depending on what one wishes to achieve from this experience. It’s at a wellness center that you’ll be able to pursue holistic physical, emotional and spiritual healing. All remedies are derived from herbal plants, a tradition that dates back to the era of our grandmothers and great grandmothers.
People are often dissatisfied with allopathic medicines and are wary of the side-effects of drugs; natural alternatives and organic methods of healing are the preferred options nowadays.
There is a range of Ayurvedic resorts available for spa travelers, from more relaxed to 5-star properties. Bespoke immersive programs are curated for each guest based on various objectives from de-stressing to anti-aging and detoxification to weight management. The Ayurvedic retreats include Ayurvedic treatments, Tibetan healing, sunrise yoga, natural therapies (such as acupuncture, reflexology, acupressure), spa therapies (such as massages, oil baths and scrubs), fitness, and aqua therapies, wellness cuisine, daily guided meditation, nutritional cooking lessons, music performances, walks in serene, green surroundings, herb and vegetable gardens and fruit orchards.
Below are some of the Ayurveda treatments that are offered at all the retreats and wellness spas around the country:
Pizhichil – A cloth is dipped in lukewarm medicated oil, and then squeezed over the body for 45 – 60 minutes. This is followed by a gentle body massage. The oils are prescribed depending on the specific ailment. This is a process traditionally followed once a year, aimed at keeping the body fit and healthy and preventing premature ageing. It is also recommended for paraplegia, hemiplegia and general weakness.
Patraswedam – Little cloth bundles made of specially selected herbs are dipped in warm oil and rubbed over the whole body. Recommended for certain types of muscular and nervous ailments. The duration varies from 3 to 7 days.
Medicated Steam Bath – The patient is exposed to a steam bath with medicinal herbs steamed in boiling water. Most suited for obesity, and to rid the body of harmful toxic substances. It has also been found to help certain kinds of skin problems.
Udwarthanam – The body is massaged with various medicated powders. A procedure primarily to melt away subcutaneous fat and obesity – related problems. It also helps blood circulation.
Shirodhara – The patient lies on the back and medicated oil is poured continuously on the forehead from a vessel. Extremely beneficial in cases of disorders such as migraines, headaches and insomnia.
Punnagathi Kizhi – Small muslin cloth bags containing special fresh herbs are kept warm by constantly dipping in hot medicated oil simmered in a pan. These are then rubbed onto the body for 60 minutes.
Njavarakizhi – Small cotton bags are filled with a particular kind of cooked rice which is dipped in warm milk with medicated decoction and rubbed on to the body. This is very effective in cases of wasting of muscles, weakness and rheumatism. The duration varies from 7 to 14 days.
Uzhichil (General Body Massage) – Useful for general fitness and wellbeing of the entire body. It helps in toning up muscle tissues, alleviates stiffness of joints, promotes better blood circulation and stimulates the nervous system.
Foot Massage – The masseur uses his feet to massage the body. This is excellent for general fitness also. This massage is for conditions of obesity or inflammation of muscles resulting from a fall etc., where extra pressure has to be applied.
Nsyam – This process of treatment is done via the nasal canal. Medicated oils of certain herbs are dipped into the nose to expel all the doshas which cause head-related problems. Sometimes, mere inhalation can work wonders. Ideal for sinusitis, problems concerned with dental care, ear, nose and eye ailments, facial paralysis and migraine.
Takradhara – The procedure is the same as that of Shirodhara. In this treatment medicated buttermilk is poured on the forehead continuously. It cools the system and is good for eye-ear-nose related complaints.
Kulatha Swedham – Small bags containing various herbal powders are heated to a constant temperature in a dry pan. These bags are then rubbed longer on the affected parts of the body than the rest of the body, though the whole body is massaged as well.
Yoga in India
Ayurveda and Yoga are parts of the ancient life-disciplines that have been practiced in India for centuries. They find mention in the scriptures of the Vedas and Upanishads. Yoga is the science of the union with the divine, with truth; and Ayurveda is the science of life. The purpose of each practice is to help the individual achieve longevity, rejuvenation and self-realisation. The object of the practice of Yoga is liberation, although only certain disciplined individuals are able to achieve the ultimate goals through these practices. If Ayurveda is the science of the body, Yoga is the science of spirit. The practice of Yoga is an important , natural, preventive measure to ensure good health. The practice of an ayurvedic regimen is a precursor to Yoga because it is only when the body is fit that the individual is ready to study the spiritual science of Yoga. They go hand in hand and therefore , all retreats and wellness centers around India offer yoga and meditation sessions in order to provide a whole rounded experience for each traveler.