Ayurveda - what is it and does it work?
Updated: May 19, 2019
The idea of Ayurveda is fascinating. Originating from a Sanskrit word meaning science of life and the art of living, it evolved in ancient India around 5000 years ago. It aims to balance and restore harmony to the body and mind to enable you to lead a full life. The Ayurvedic philosophy linking us to nature and the universe.
Determined to experience and learn what it was all about we checked in at Somatheeram Ayurvedic Resort near Kovalam on their 10 day rejuvenation programme. Now, I’ll happily admit to feeling very comfortable at a Champneys spa, but was this a step too far?
On arrival we were whisked through a rather lush resort to the restaurant overlooking the sea. So far so good, it looked like any other resort; swimming pool, sunbeds and sandy beach stretching as far as the eye could see. An array of food was presented on a banana leaf, all mouth wateringly delicious, and we were entertained by dancing, hypnotic drumming and fire eaters. First impressions 10/10!
Day 1 and we were on the programme! Summoned to the doctor at 2 pm and presented with two options: Panchakarma (treatments of a more invasive nature, shall we say, to detoxify) and rejuvenation; we opted for the latter. Completion of a questionnaire and a doctors consultation established my dosha as Kapha Vata and treatments, medication, yoga, meditation and food would be provided to restore dosha harmony. On reviewing the symptoms of a dosha imbalance it proved I was in the right place!
Years spent hunched over a desk were evident in my immobile neck and constantly twinging back and the therapist immediately focused on these troublesome bits massaging repeatedly and treating with herbal oils. I emerged 2 hours later in a green gown, covered in oil, with bandaged knees and sporting a rather fetching face mask and cloth cap. It was amazing just how quickly the gown became normal and perfectly acceptable to rock up to lunch or dinner in a post-treatment state.
We soon surrendered to the soporific rhythm of the programme and with each passing day began to feel, and see, the undeniable benefits. My skin was glowing, my neck proved that it was not so decrepit after all and the vegan diet was working miracles on my digestive system. The extensive buffet provided sufficient temptation for each dosha type and meals were enjoyable. The struggle for me was waking up without my morning caffeine hit but copious amounts of herbal water filled the void slightly.
7.15 am meditation was part of the routine to acknowledge our in built circadian rhythm. I'm a natural early bird and, in truth, could have been there earlier. The daily chanting of Om (or more correctly AUM) was part of the meditation and, despite some reluctance initially, I embraced the Om and tuned in with the cosmic energy of the Universe. Daily yoga reaped rewards and previously unattainable postures were now achieved. Empowering stuff!
You can imagine just how pampered you feel after 20 hours of treatments with two therapists determined to eliminate the toxins and aches and pains. A few of the treatments we experienced are below:
* Pizhichil - lukewarm herbal oils applied rhythmically by 2 therapists
* Njavarakizhi - massage with a bolus (herbs wrapped in muslin and soaked in medicated oil) which are used to massage the body; definitely one of my favourites!
* Sirodhara - continuous flow of herbal oil onto the forehead - relaxation on a whole new level
* Sirovasthy - lukewarm oils poured onto the head and contained in a rather tall hat. Odd treatment but induced an exceptional night’s sleep.
11 days later we emerged; glowing, more agile, a few pounds lighter and with a greater understanding of Ayurveda and its benefits. Would I go back? Absolutely, in a heart beat! The holistic approach, structure and diet were revitalising. 3 months later and my neck is still mobile; Ayurveda having achieved more in 10 days than countless physio sessions.