Photo courtesy: maayogashram.com/ayurvedic-treatments-rishikesh.html
Pancha Karma means "Five Actions" in Sanskrit. Back in 2006, I first discovered Ayurveda while residing at the Himalayan Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy in Pennsylvania. During that time, I began studying Ayurvedic medicine along with my studies of yoga science and philosophy as I began moving deeper into the spiritual practices of yoga. Since then, I've had a few individual treatments both at the Institute and Satchidananda's Ashram - Yogaville, in Virginia. Yet, I have really wanted to experience a long term panchakarma retreat, consisting of a specified diet, yoga practice (asana, pranayama, and meditation) and daily treatments for several weeks. Finally, I am doing just that here in home city of yoga, Rishikesh, India! And for a full 17 days! Below is my daily treatment regimen. I will probably describe the asana, pranayama, meditation, and food in another article. Explanations of the treatments follow, courtesy Dr. Amrit Raj, of maayogashram.com/ayurvedic-treatments-rishikesh.html
Monday, January 28
My first set of treatments include an Ayurvedic massage with herbal oils and packets of black gram flour and herbs, followed by Shirodhara oil treatment, and lastly a camphor steam sauna. Shirodara consists of a continuous stream of herbal Ayurvedic oil streamed down onto the forehead and scalp. The steam sauna is an box built for an individual to sit and absorb the herbal vapours.
Tuesday, January 29
On Day 2, I luxuriate in a second massage treatment with Ayurvedic oils and herbs, followed by vhasti oil treatment at my naval center, and finishing with the camphor steam sauna. I believe I will receive an Ayurvedic massage each day!
I am considering extending my stay to benefit from an additional 4 days of treatment. I'd rather spend those days here than in Chengdu!
Wednesday, January 30
Massage, Shirodhara, steam box
Thursday, January 31
Massage, Vhasti on my back, steam box
Thursday, January 1
Massage and steam box
Friday, January 2
Today I had my first bhasti treatment, which is an enema with herbal oil. I thought it would be more rigorous, but it was quick and easy, and I barely felt anything. This is a seasonal cleansing technique especially good to get rid of toxins in the mind and body. www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/blog-banyan-vine/details/basti-the-primary-treatment-for-vata/
When I was avidly practicing yoga cleaning techniques, I did this at home one time. It rids the body of vata, which can greatly aggravate pitta. Pitta is my primary dosha, along with kapha.
The bhasti was preceded by Massage and Shirodhara, then followed by the steam box. I thought I would feel very tired and worn out, but I actually feel energetic and invigorated. I had eaten a light dinner of kitchari and soup last night (Bharendar gave me some ghee, too, yum!) and for breakfast, only half my noodles and spicy soup broth. I feel alert , thirsty, and notice a slight sense of hunger. This is the first of my daily treatments of bhasti. I forgot to hold the oil in for any length of time; I'll try to remember tomorrow.
Saturday, January 3
My Ayurvedic massage today was followed by a new treatment: vhasti eye treatment, which was very unique! After the vasthi, I had another bhasti oil enema, and finished with steam bath. The eye treatemnt is similar to the other vhasti treatments, where a circle of dough is molded to the skin in a specific area--this time around my eyes-- and very warm oil is poured into the ring. After a few moments, Santosh (my treatment specialist) instructed me to begin blinking. I thought it would be uncomfortable, but the oil did not really irritate my eyes, although it was difficult to open my eyes for any length of time. After blinking, she told me to roll my eyes in circles in both directions.
Now as I rest in my room after treatment, my eyes feel a little foggy and I'm concentrating on holding this bhasti in a little longer so it will have more effect today. Asana class this morning was seriously hard, even the strong guy next to me said the same; my muscles are sore and I feel tired. But it's a beautiful sunny day and I want to finally walk into town, get some rupees, and check out the market. I sure do want a nap though!
Click "Read More" to the right, to discover details of each panchakarma treatment!
Explanations of the treatments follow, courtesy Dr. Amrit Raj, of maayogashram.com/ayurvedic-treatments-rishikesh.html
Sunday, January 4
Everybody needs a day off!
Beautiful Tulsi Tea. We get unlimited supplies of freshly made herbal teas: ginger, cinnamon, lemongrass, tulsi, lemon, and more!
Explanations of Pancha Karma Treatments courtesy Yogi Dr. Amrit Raj of Maa Yoga Ashram and Arogyadham taken from their website: maayogashram.com/ayurvedic-treatments-rishikesh.html. Much more information is available there!
"Purva Karma (Preparatory Treatments):
Snehana: Eliminates toxins through massaging the skin with herbal oils. These medicated oils can treat specific disorders, such as stress, anxiety or circulation problems. The therapist massages the patient’s scalp with them, thus palliating mental health problems like depression and insomnia. Snehana can also involve immersion in an oil bath, which allows the patient to absorb the properties of the herbal oils.
Swedana: Entails eliminating toxins by taking steam baths. The vapor opens the pores and together with Snehana, flushes out the toxins.
Vamana: A painless, drug-induced emesis.
Virechana: Entails a medicated purgation therapy.
Basthi: Consists of cleaning the patient’s colon with an herbal concoction.
Nasya: It is the administration of medical oils or powders through the nose.
Raktamokshan: Medicated blood-letting.
Pinda Sweda (Kizhi):
This Ayurvedic treatment relieves pain and oedema. It is recommended when treating arthritis, spondylosis and low back aches. Kizhi has also proven effective in healing sports injuries.
During Kizhi sessions, the therapist wraps herbal leaves or powder in small boluses and heats them with warm medicated oils. Afterwards, they apply these small balls all over the body. Kizhi sessions last 45 minutes per day and the entire treatment usually spans anywhere from 7 to 14 days.
This treatment is effective for diseases of the head and heck, as well as auto immune diseases. It mitigates insomnia, impaired memory, spondylitis, paraplegia and fatigue. Moreover, Shiro Dhara is useful for treating rheumatoid arthritis and reducing stiffness; as well as stimulating the nervous system and palliating the effects of allergic rhinitis and psoriasis.
This Ayurvedic treatment acts on the forehead. The therapist pours herbal oils, medicated milk, medicated buttermilk or other liquid for 45 minutes every day.
The therapist builds a reservoir made of black gram dough on the area... Afterwards, they pour a warm, medicated oil in the receptacle and keep it there for a space of 15-20 minutes.
Marma Massages :
Marma is a Sanskrit word which means “hidden” or “secret”. By definition, the marma points are the junctures on the body where two or more types of dhatu (tissues) meet. Moreover, marma points are the intersections of the prana, or vital life force, hence they are vital points of the human body.
Marma massage therapy is an important part of Ayurveda because it helps to clean blocked energy. This happens because marma massages have the power to calm or arouse the doshas, since each marma point is connected to all three of them."
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...meditating on the banks of Mother Ganges!