Ayurveda is much more than the popular massages it has come to be associated with. It is a finely tuned prevention and healing system that addresses the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of our lives. Experience the magic transformation brought about by the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda only at Niraamaya Retreats.
Browse through its fascinating history or talk to experts and you will realise that Ayurveda is much more than just the popular massages we associate it with. It is a system of healing or prevention, of understanding and harnessing your body’s energy and its composition to lead a far healthier life. The system is a blend of ayu (life) and ved (knowledge).
Ayurveda promotes the idea of living a holistic, healthy life in harmony with your inner self, nature and the environment. This healing system addresses the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of our lives.
Dr. Arun Aravind, a qualified Ayurvedic physician who brings to Niraamaya Retreats’ Spa an in-depth knowledge of the ancient practice of Ayurveda and of panchakarma therapies, says, “Ayurveda is not a curative medical system. The emphasis is on preventive healthcare. It focuses on diet and lifestyle corrections that help an individual stay healthy. Healing is only secondary. The entire concept is based on living in harmony with nature.”
Simply put: Ayurveda is a form of lifestyle adopted to maintain perfect balance and harmony within the human existence. The crux of this ancient healing system lies in preventing ailments, instead of prescribing medicines when you fall sick.
Stress and emotional distress are part of modern living and Ayurveda, through a blend of healing foods, yoga and meditation, helps in dealing with emotionally and physically stressful situations. In Ayurveda, spirituality and a holistic view of life are integral to the healing process, with an emphasis on living in sync with nature’s rhythm and its cycles. Nature, in fact, is at the core of the Ayurvedic healing process. A variety of plants, medicinal herbs and food with healing properties, which are drawn from a knowledge system followed over thousands of years, are part of Ayurveda’s complex healing system.
The first reference of Ayurveda as a highly evolved form of healing and prevention can be found in Atharva Veda. Ayurveda, in fact, is considered an Up-Vedas (auxiliary themes) of the Vedas. The clinical aspects of Ayurveda were enumerated in Charaka Samhita, a compendium or medical treatise written by Charaka, often referred to as the father of Indian medicine.
The Five Elements
Ayurveda believes that the Universe is a harmonious balance of five elements: Vayu (air), Jal (water), Aakash (space or ether), Prithvi (earth) and Teja (fire). Dr. Arun says these Pancha Mahabhootas combine to form the tridoshas of the human body. “Human body is a microcosm of the universe and a combination of these five elements. They combine to form three bio-energies or tridoshas: vata (air and sky), kapha (earth and water) and pitta (fire and water). Everyone has at least one of these compositions in excess at birth and that makes up his or her Prakriti, or basic body constitutional type. Ayurveda helps in maintaining the balance of these doshas.”
Besides the doshas, the stresses associated with urban living leads to an emotional and physical imbalance that needs to be corrected. “There is a release of Ama or metabolism toxins within your system. Ayurveda describes Ama as the underlying cause of many health issues,” reveals Dr. Arun.
Balancing the Doshas
The balancing act is achieved with both food and panchakarma therapies. Food, says Dr. Arun, can be classified into different categories. “Depending on the Prakriti, we recommend a certain diet and advise on what food should be eaten and what should be avoided to bring your body in harmony with nature.” For instance, Vata diet favours warm, cooked food and avoidance of anything that is cold, pungent, bitter or astringent; the Kapha diet recommends food that is bitter, pungent and astringent, and less of sweet, salty and sour flavours; while Pitta pacifying diet focusses on food that is cooling. Sweet juicy fruits like pears can cool a flaming Pitta and so can spices that are not too pungent, such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom and fennel. The food that is avoidable includes anything too hot, sour and salty, as well as caffeine.
Dr. Arun adds, “Rest, therapy and food can help deal with metabolic toxins. We have to periodically eliminate toxins and bring back harmony into the system. That’s how healing happens. Nature gives us warning signals when we need to take a break and if you do not heed the signals, it could manifest into some form of the disease. For instance, you will experience a lot of aches and pains in your body before arthritis sets in. The first signal of digestive problems includes constipation, indigestion, bloating and acidity. Taking an antacid does not sort the problem out.”
The purification processes in Ayurveda to balance the doshas are brought about by panchakarma therapies. “You will also find changing seasons leave your doshas in imbalance. When summer changes to monsoons, you go from extreme heat to sudden exposure to cold. The spring to winter change is gradual. Monsoons are recommended as an ideal time for panchakarma therapies, though of course you can undertake the therapies anytime during the year.”
At Niraamaya Retreats, several Ayurvedic therapies are recommended to bring the doshas back into balance, from short interventional programmes that help guests detox, manage stress and deal with weight issues which are often the result of stress, as well as intense Ayurveda immersion programmes. “They are a blend of diet and various traditional therapies such as Shirodhara, Pinda Swedanam, Pizhichil, Njavarakizhy, Udwarthanam, Nasyam, and several such.”
Dr. Arun and his team devise holistic wellness treatments that follow the principles of Ayurveda and encompasses holistic wellness practices. Every guest is put through a consultation before a highly personalised programme of massages, therapies and diet is put together.
The programmes, based on ancient Ayurveda principles are administered in retreats that combine luxury with beautiful destinations to offer a holistic experience.
Live Science, an American magazine that talks about scientific development in the world of medicine, puts down a few facts about Ayurvedic medicine.
A glimpse of Ayurveda – The forgotten history and principles of Indian traditional medicine