What happens after 16 days deep in an Indian Ayurvedic center
Let’s face it, there’s nothing more important than health.
The thing is, despite wanting a very healthy lifestyle, I’m not perfect. I regularly stay up too late, eat too little (or too much of the wrong things), drink a bit more alcohol and a bit less water than I should. But I’ve also found that the best way to counteract my imperfections is to create a daily practice of healthy habits.
Ayurvedic medicine is one of the ways I stay healthy and on track. I discovered the healing power of Ayurveda after a cycling accident in 2008. Over the years, as my knowledge has deepened and we’ve started working in India to source ingredients for HANAH ONE, I have been able to travel to the global heart of Ayurveda — Kerala, India — multiple times for the full-immersion experience.
Ayurvedic hospitals are deeply traditional and not expensive.
It’s proper Ayurveda, practiced the traditional way.
Ayurvedic practice is, in many ways, so foreign to the Western approach and so central to the philosophy behind HANAH ONE, that it bears a deeper explanation. My most recent trip, early in 2016, was typical of the experience. Here’s how it went down:
Ayurveda is good. It’s natural and, depending on both the practitioner and the patient, can be powerful. Indian Ayurvedic treatment centers tend to fall into three categories: expensive, 5-star ‘treatment centers’, Ayurvedic spas, and traditional Ayurvedic hospitals. Ayurvedic hospitals are deeply traditional and not expensive. It’s proper Ayurveda, practiced the traditional way.
Ayurveda Kerala provides an air-conditioned ride from the airport, and a driver whisks me up immediately on a death-defying, safety-third drive to the center.
A stay at the center generally starts with a meeting with Ayurvedic doctors. They assesses my dosha and plan out my food, medicine and treatment schedule.
I am coming in basically healthy, but looking to detox from a pretty hefty three-month span that saw lots of air travel, occasional lack of sleep, the odd party and some stress.
Treatments begin in the morning with tea and herbal mixtures prepared to the doctor’s orders, followed by an hour and a half of yoga. Then, things get really interesting: a Vedic astrologer arrives to read my chart.
Vedic, or Hindu, astrology has been around for almost 5,000 years. Being someone who definitely does not read his horoscope, I’m usually skeptical of anything of this sort. But hey, I’m in India, and the doctor ordered it, so I give it a shot. To my surprise, it’s spot on. There’s no way he can know what he does about my life. I’m in.
The doctors then organize a specific Homa ritual for those of us who need it. According to Ayurveda, diseases can be caused by things including thought patterns, emotional states, and deeply ingrained beliefs. Ayurvedic practitioners attempt to identify the root cause of such ailments, and then, through ritual and Ayurvedic services, remove the blocks. For some people in the West, this is an absolute last result that they take on unwillingly. In every one of my many experiences here with patients from all over the world (some of the most hardened and skeptical people I’ve come across), all of them have become believers, and have improved their health and well-being by embracing these practices.
Programs vary depending on the patient and conditions. I’m focused on a program for an athlete who works hard and likes to have a (ahem) good time, some of the time. As I’ve mentioned, I eat quite healthy, supplement my diet with herbs and HANAH ONE, do yoga and train. Here’s what my schedule at the center looks like:
- 4:30 a.m. Wake up. Have tea, make phone calls and read emails
- 6 a.m. Detox tonic #1
- 7 - 8:30 a.m. Yoga and meditation with the house yoga master
- 8:45 a.m. Breakfast
- 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. Panchakarma massage treatment #1
- 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Meetings, writing, work, relax
- 1:00 p.m. Lunch
- 1:30 p.m. Detox tonic #2
- 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Meetings, work and relaxing (Usually reading yoga or meditation books)
- 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. Panchakarma treatment #2
- 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. Work / Read / Relax
- 6:00 p.m. Detox tonic #3
- 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Yoga
- 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Dinner and a game of Cribbage
- Reading & sleep
The panchakarma treatments vary according to what the doctors deem necessary for each person. I have heavy massages, oil baths, herbal steam treatments and oil-based enemas. I’ve fasted and done colonics/enemas before, but nothing even comes close to the experience here. In combination with the massage, yoga, food and tonics, the experience is highly powerful. Make sure to light a candle and bring a Barry Manilow CD.
As fun is this all may sound, it can become quite tedious and requires some serious endurance. You’re not allowed to leave the treatment center (although we sneak out almost daily on stealth coconut-gathering missions). It’s like going back into the womb, stripping away every vice and taking a good, clean look at yourself. Although this is difficult, your perspective shifts and your motivation grows. If you’re lucky, you realize that the only thing in the way is you.
It’s all about balance and living a good, wholesome,
complete life where the mind, body and spirit
work together to serve you and those around you.
My advice? Take action, don’t scrape the surface, dig in and accept that you are in this for the long haul. Deep realizations happen on a daily basis if you continue to strip away the layers. The clarity can be addicting. Every time that I’m here, I realize that the best I’ve ever felt comes as a result of a lot of hard work and no alcohol or stimulants of any kind, barring the ridiculously good Chai tea that they serve here.
Which is not to say that we shouldn’t follow our desires when we get back into our real world. In fact, the opposite is true. Ayurveda teaches that we should be happy, first and foremost. If you like cake, have a piece of cake. Just don’t live on it. If you want a drink, do so in moderation. It’s all about balance and living a good, wholesome, complete life where the mind, body and spirit work together to serve you and those around you.
The experience here is more meaningful and amazing every time I come back. The doctors and practitioners get to know you, and the journey takes on more significance. They are also able to take you deeper into the practice as you become more familiar with it. It’s a lot like yoga—the longer you practice, the better and more flexible you become.
At the same time that my body is healing from all the small injuries, aches and pains that I’ve gathered over the last couple of months, I’m able to break habits that no longer serve me and pick up a few healthy ones to replace them. My yoga game is on point. I have no plans to change my name to Govinda, however. Instead, I’m off to Fort Kochin for the spiciest damn fish curry I can find and a huge ice cold bottle of beer. Namaste.
Checkout similar HANAH blogs to discover more about India and Ayurveda:
- How I Turned Terrible Injury Into Inspiration for a New Company
- Building a Traditional Superfood for the Modern World
- Not All Ingredients are Created Equal: HANAH Ashwagandha+
Statements throughout this publication have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease process.
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