Om magazine.com is one of UK’s most talked about and one of the best-selling new yoga and lifestyle publication. Every issue of this magazine publishes the best articles about yoga and helps one to nurture one’s body and mind. Designed to inspire and to energise, OM magazine wants to help all its readers to enjoy a more active and rewarding life, drawing on the physical and mental disciplines of yoga, an ancient practice just as popular today as it was thousands of years ago.
Kairali Ayurvedic Group is proud to be featured in this magazine. On its special issue of Om special - Live Your Dream in 2014, Kairali - The Ayurvedic Healing Village has been referred to as the Ultimate Detox Destination and the best place to experience authentic Ayurveda. The article is about the experience of Emily Yates,a yoga retreat organiser based in India for many years, who had signed up for the full Panchakarma experience at the The Ayurvedic Healing Village and refers to her experience as the ultimate ayurvedic detox program - in Kerala, South India. The article gives a detailed description of panchakarma experience and its amazing effects.
Om special - live your dream in 2014
Ultimate Detox Destinations
Emily Yates signs up for the full Panchakarma experience - dubbed the ultimate ayurvedic detox - in Kerala, South India.
As a yoga retreat organiser based in India for many years, I’ve had frequent opportunities to experience the ‘authentic ayurveda queuing with the locals to see the village doctor, taking part- time treatments on the tourist trail and even working in a 100-bed ayurveda charity hospital. However, the chance to go deeply into the full experience of Panchakarma - the classic ayurvedic detox - has eluded me, until now.
With the £2,000 per week UK spa experience firmly out of my price range, and hesitating at the comfort levels of an Indian ashram-style facility, I find a third alternative coming in at less than half the price of its Western equivalent – a luxury ayurvedic hospital in Kerala, providing all the comfort I need to completely surrender to this ancient process of transformation.
Diagnosis (day 1)
I am greeted at Kairali’s The Ayurvedic Healing Village by Dr Raman Chandrasekharan, a physician of 45 years’ experience and viewed as something of a guru within the industry. Utilising an approach to health that conflates physical and behavioural traits into a reading of one’s total nature, he takes just minutes to ‘scan’ my mannerisms and physical features for my precise ayurvedic dosha type, and spends a further hour describing his beloved ayurveda – an elegant ‘science of intuition’ identifying the future health conditions of the patient at the earliest possible stage.
I receive a personalised Panchakarma treatment programme based on my personal vata-pitta (wind-fire) dosha type and am asked to attend regular consultations with Dr Sarvan Narangaparambil throughout the process, so he can adapt the initial schedule according to my response. My twice-daily consultations form the core of my Panchakarma experience, a source of guidance providing emotional support I will later find invaluable.
Surrender (days 1-4)
The basis of every Panchakarma is the purva karma phase, or preparatory procedures. For me, this means four days of ‘oleation therapy’, a detoxification process requiring internal and external lubrication. I begin my days with a drink of medicated ghee (clarified butter), followed by twice-daily oil massage and steam bath, intended to loosen the toxins in my body and bring them to the intestinal tract. The herbal ghee is extremely potent stuff, medicine intended to ‘pierce the channels’, according to Dr Sarvan. He warns me that my metabolism will increase rapidly, right down to the cellular level, and my food intake will be limited to o increase the strength of the detoxification.
Nobody could complain about twice-daily oil massages, and total relaxation under the palm trees of Kerala, right? But, for the first few days I suffer terribly. The very hunger and exhaustion that prove the process is working well also trigger a completely unanticipated emotional reaction. With all my energy diverted to the detoxification process, I remain in the mental rhythms of city life and fight against myself until I am forced to let go, give in, and do absolutely nothing. Just as ‘shavasana’ (the corpse pose) is sometimes said to be the most difficult yoga posture, so the surrender required by purva karma turns out to be the most difficult stage for me; though ultimately, the most beneficial. I can’t put it any better than Dr John Douillard, an ayurveda expert and author of the book Body, Mind and Sport: “Panchakarma is not a detox programme. This is only its side benefit. It is a transformation in consciousness—replacing stress with silence.”
Purification (days 4-10)
By the time of the second phase (pradhana karma), I I am firmly in the head-space of the Panchakarma process. Settled, relaxed and trusting of my doctors, I feel ready to face whichever of the classic ‘five cleansing actions’ (Panchakarma) are prescribed for me. Due to a vata-pita dosha predominance, I am spared the experience of emesis (induced vomiting), and begin with purgation, induced by herbal laxatives, to remove the accumulated toxins of stage one. My days continue with medicated enemas prescribed from among the 100 or more recipes given by ayurvedic scripture.
At this stage, I notice my emotions become vivid and mobile, rapidly arising and subsiding; experienced almost as physical sensations. It is as if my thought patterns, previously enmeshed in my physiology, have become detached and are undergoing their own process of detoxification. Recalling the teaching of Deepak Chopra – that the dispersal of repressed emotions is a key part of Panchakarma - I devote myself to a routine of meditation and pranayama, which helps me feel lighter by the day.
Strengthening (days 10-14)
By the third phase of my Panchakarma programme, I feel better than ever before, an abundant sense of strength and mental clarity. My routine continues with regular oil baths, and daily nasya karma, the ayurvedic ‘head detox’ involving the pouring of medicated oil into the nostrils, and treating the chronic sinusitis I’ve suffered for a decade. My daily ayurvedic consultations grow longer in duration as we enter the paschata karma phase - traditionally the time when the doctor works closely with the patient to find the most sustainable routine for their ayurvedic type and particular health conditions. We discuss every area of my diet and lifestyle, and the fundamental changes I can make to stay as grounded and clear as I feel on retreat in Kerala.
Returning to a busy working life in New Delhi, I realise that the intensity of the Panchakarma experience is probably the reason for its vastly growing popularity worldwide. We are starting to understand that ayurveda offers complete transformation, requiring us to face our inner fear of surrender - a challenge that every serious yoga practitioner is familiar with.
Emily Yates is a yoga therapist and philosophy teacher based in South India, where she organises yoga and meditation retreats (kairaliyoga.com).
Published on : January-February 2014.