I’m flying back to the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas as I write this blog.
Time has flown by since last July, when I started summer with a brief visit to Chicago area and then traveled to New York for a week of Ayurveda lectures by Dr. Vasant Lad. There was an incredible amount of material covered, and Dr. Lad inspired all of us.
Next stop was Pune, India to continue my journey with Dr Lad at the Vasant Institute of Ayurveda (VIOA). I had the good fortune to participate in a pancha karma experience as part of a course that Dr Lad taught for Ayurveda practitioners learning to administer the powerful cleansing program for their own clients. Pancha karma was new for me, and so was India! I enjoyed the trip and found the travel to be quite an adventure. India is very unique and cities are very loud! The people and cuisine of India are wonderful. Luckily I stayed in India after the pancha karma course and was able to try some of their delicious foods.
The detoxification of pancha karma goes deep into the tissues and cells, cleansing and removing toxins, in order to allow the body to then regain vitality throughout the the body.
In India, those who follow Ayurveda often do the treatments seasonally. It might be equated a bit to an ‘oil change’ in the upkeep of a car - the car will continue to run for a long time without changing the oil, but eventually damage will be done. Regular oil changes help to prevent damage to the systems of the car.
Similarly, regular pancha karma is good for optimal health. Pancha means five, and there are five procedures that can be used, depending on the client. I had daily abyhanga (oil body massage), nasya (nasal oil), Shirodhara (hot oil streamed on forehead, relaxing the nervous system) and swedhana (sweating with steam) treatments. I also had 5 or 6 basti treatments, a bit like enemas but using tea-like mixtures with herbs and warm water that flow into the rectum from a soft tube that is attached to a hanging bag for the fluid. It sounds much worse than it actually was. After the first one, I felt quite comfortable with this process. I especially liked the eye, liver and stomach bastis - same word but not enemas. I show a picture and explain them in another blog post.
Additionally, Dr Lad prescribed various herbs and tinctures customized for each person. The cleanse consisted of a mono diet of 3 meals daily of kitchari. Kitchari is made from Basmati rice, mung dal beans, ghee and spices. Sometimes, it was soupy and others it was a thicker rice consistency. I liked the taste and had no problem staying on the diet - though two weeks of eating the same thing is a bit boring. The third week, other foods were slowly added to the kitchari diet. We also had ginger tea and electrolyte fluids throughout the day. I did not feel hungry, but a couple of the other people on the program did.
I've noticed positive results from the cleanse and was told I'd continue to note changes for two to three months after - I ended on August 29. There are different lengths of time for cleanses too, depending on what an individual needs.
I’m happy that Dr. Lad and others continue to train Ayurveda practitioners in this procedure. Many of them are from and living in the U.S. While I likely won’t be doing the full program seasonally, perhaps once or twice a year will become part of my health maintenance.
I found it interesting to learn that Prince Charles of England undergoes pancha karma each season and is an avid fan of the process.
KP Khalsa, my Ayurveda doctor, is now working with me to rebuild after the cleanse.
I am so grateful for his expertise and loving spirit. Continuing to improve my health and sharing about What is Possible? is the journey I am on.
Loving Life and Living Love,
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