Bring the right knee to the floor and look up. As you breathe in, take the left leg back….move the hips back slightly, slide forward, rest your chest and chin on the floor….” I collapse on the floor in a heap.So much for my attempt at Surya Namaskara at 6.30am! After downing a litre of warm herbal water the previous night to detox, I was already feeling a little woozy and was looking forward to a strong cup of coffee and a sumptuous breakfast. Instead, I am served a plate of fruits: papaya,melon and grapes; pumpkin soup; ragi dosa with coconut chutney, and a cup of herbal tea to wash down the food.
As I look askance, I get a tutorial on the benefits of eating saatvic food.The breakfast is yummy no doubt,but over the years, I had gotten so used to eating oily and spicy food. An hour later, I am escorted through a winding path along a water body full of pink and white lilies, to the ayurvedic doctor’s room.After examining my pulse, the doctor declares my dosha as kapha-pitha and reels off a list of dos and don’ts. Gently but firmly, he advises me to be careful if “you wish to remain healthy the rest of your life.” A hushed conversation with the therapist follows, and I am led to the therapy room for a session of Abhayangam massage
. I am told that the massage is good for relieving stress and strain. It is also said to tone the muscles, reduce body numbness and remove excess fat. As I lie supine on the droni, the special wooden table, studying the patterns on the tiled roof, masseur Usha lights an oil lamp and some sticks of agarbatti.The fragrance envelopes the room and I feel a calming energy filling the room.Usha is soon joined by another masseur, Smita.
They pour warm oil all over me and begin the massage.With no electronic gadget to distract me, in the prevailing quiet, I find my body and mind converging. In the midst of stress and responsibility, how easy it is to lose this vital body-mind connection! After 45 minutes of Abhayangam, I am made to sit in the steam box for 10 minutes. “An oil massage makes the doshas soft,” explains Usha and adds,“Steam therapy softens the doshas further and initiates their expulsion from the body.”The steam bath is followed by a shower with mung bean powder scrub to remove excess oil from hair and body. I finally come out of the therapy room feeling light and fresh. Now I’m hungry.With a spring in my step, I head to the canteen to check out the menu as it’s nearly lunch time.
Perhaps a feast awaits me? OMG! The menu on the notice board lists coriander-lemon soup; two types of vegetables cooked with very little oil; dal, red rice; chapatti, salad and raita. For dessert, there are coconut balls made with palm jaggery. My friend, who in on a weight-loss programme is served a bowl of soup and boiled vegetables.We are told that the menu for guests is decided in consultation with the doctor. In the evening, I am booked for another massage. This time it is Udwarthanam — classic deep massage using herbal powders, which stimulates the subcutaneous fat tissue to break down intravenous fat deposits. Udwarthanam is effective in treating kapha-dominant ailments and is good for the skin. The following day it is Elakizhi. My masseurs gently thump my muscles with herbal poultices prepared with various herbs and medicated powder.The treatment improves peripheral blood supply and stimulates the nerve endings, I am told.
At the Kairali Ayurvedic Healing Village at Palakkad, Kerala, the therapies are designed to realign your energies. All rooms are designed as per Vaastu Shastra and are named after nakshatras or star constellations — Thiruvonam,Rohini,Avittam,Karthika, Aswathy etc. Each room has a Valampuri conch to generate positive vibrations.A daily dose of yoga, massages and saatvic food in a verdant setting can do wonderful things to our body, mind and soul. But then this whole body-mindspirit business can be tricky. An unhealthy lifestyle makes us lose that sense of connection we unconsciously crave for with ourselves.When we lose the memory of bliss — that connection with our own true nature — stress and ill-health attack the body, disturbing the energy fields and doshas.
A healthy body and mind link us to every aspect of ourselves and remind us that we are in union with all aspects of nature, each other, and the universe. As the doctor at Kairali says, “When all the energies and doshas are in sync, it is easy to break free from the limits of all belief systems and experience bliss. In ayurveda, mind and body not only influence each other, they are each other. Universal consciousness is an intelligent and aware reservoir of energy which gives rise to the physical world we comprehend through our five senses.” Impressed, I silently resolve to keep my elements and doshas in order.