Back in March, I spent 7 days immersing myself in a traditional Ayurvedic detox in Kerala, south India. Known for its detoxifying abilities and the power to restore balance in the body, the Panchakarma ranges from seven days long to one month long (for the brave!). Including relaxing massages, being rubbed all over with herbs & spices and one whole day of purging, this treatment not only promises to rid you of the toxins in your body but also to totally rejuvenate you. Sounds great right? If you’re travelling in India and looking for a unique experience set to benefit your health, you’ll love this!
In this post I’ll cover what it’s like to go through the Panchakarma including what’s to love, what’s to be endured and a few top tips before you book.
The Pancha What?
Let’s start with the basics. Because I had no idea what the Panchakarma was before I arrived in India.
In a nutshell – it’s an ancient Ayurvedic practice that rebalances and restores, promoting rejuvenation and detoxification in the body. The word Panchakarma actually means ‘five actions’ in Sanskrit, relating to the five treatments which you’ll undergo to fully clear out the body of any excess toxins and waste.
Ayurvedic treatments are always natural and plant based – including any medicines you may be advised to take. For example just a few of the treatments I received included oil massages, a steam box and nasal drops all of which were detoxifying and natural.
It’s that simple really!
Why the Pancha Karma?
When our lifestyle is tough – long working hours, stressful journeys on the Tube and subsequent rushed or poor eating habits, the toxins and waste in the body starts to build up. Even though I led a healthy life in London, I definitely still ate when I wasn’t hungry, took on long days at work and the gym and inevitably put additional stress on my body. And I felt like I needed to rebalance after living this hectic lifestyle which is why I chose the Panchakarma.
But it can be far more personal. Whether you have high cholestoral or you’re just looking to lose a bit of weight, the programme can vary to include treatments and medicines specific to your personal goals and ailments. You’ll have a consultation with the doctor before you start and they will decide the best combination of treatments and medicines for you specifically based on your goals and dosha.
Wait! What’s a dosha?
Again the only dosha I knew about before I stepped into the Ayurveda centre was a Masala Dosha (super tasty – make sure you try one! Just not on the detox week…). Doshas are the three the biological energies that govern our body and minds; Pitta, Vatha, Kapha. We all have all three of them but usually one is dominant. Your doctor will be able to determine which one dominates in you during your first consultation.
What you’ll love!
- The massages!
- Shirodhara – the art of oil being dripped on your head which is said to send you into a meditation-like state (it sent me into one!).
- Water treatment – water being poured all over you while you lay naked on a wooden table. It’s good, promise!
What you’ll endure…
- Being rubbed all over with herbs – it literally feels as though you’re about to be marinated and chargrilled.
- Pooing your guts out for 4 hours.
- Eating rice gruel. It’s a disappointing bowl of food after you just pooped your guts out for 4 hours and ate brown goo for breakfast.
Other Top Tips
To help you get the best out of your time immersed in the Pancha Karma, here’s a few top tips based on learnings from my experience…
- Find a centre that will support you.
Make sure the staff are friendly, communicative and sensitive to your personal needs.
- A place you stay at and also offers yoga is helpful.
In this case you have the support of other patients as well as the staff, and yoga to keep your mind occupied when all you can think about is your next meal!
- It’s tough, but if you want to see results you have to stick to it.
And it makes it so much easier if you have the full support of the centre to get you through.
- The right programme for you…
I chose the slimming programme, but there are other programmes to choose from which you’ll discuss with your doctor to make it more personal to you.
Have you done the Panchakarma? Or maybe you’re considering it?
I’d love to know! Tell me all about it in the comments below.
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