Ayurveda recognises that we are not all the same. We are each unique and therefore need something different. This is emphasised by identifying and abiding to an Ayurvedic ‘Life-Style’ that is compatible, restorative and corrective for each person.
Established as the oldest surviving complete medical system in the world, Ayurveda has its origins dating back more than 5ooo years ago. The name AYURVEDA is derived from its ancient Sanskrit roots – ‘AYUR‘ (‘life’ or ‘longevity’) and ‘VEDA‘ (‘science’ or ‘knowledge’). Ayurveda can be described as ‘The Science of Life or Longevity’ or ‘The Yoga of Life’. Ayurveda and Siddha, provide the knowledge and the tools to allow you to experience your ‘life-span’ to its fullest extent for very specific purposes. This medical science offers a rich, comprehensive outlook to a healthy life. It was expounded and practiced by the spiritual rishis, who laid the foundations of the Vedic civilization in India, by organising the fundamentals of life into proper systems.
Ayurveda aims to integrate and balance the body, mind and spirit. This is believed to help prevent illness and promote wellness. Ayurveda philosophy believes that people, their health, and the universe are all related. It is believed that health problems can result when these relationships are out of balance.
The Goal and Purpose of Ayurveda
There are two objectives of Ayurveda:
- To maintain the health of those who are well and are not suffering from any disease condition. This is achieved by regulating one’s diet and nutrition, exercise, hygiene and lifestyle.
- The second objective targets curing the diseases of those who are sick. This section has a detailed insight into the various disease conditions, their causes, diagnostic techniques, remedies and therapies to cure, prognosis etc.
However, the highest or ultimate goal of Ayurveda and Siddha treatment is to attain absolute detachment of the ‘Atman’ or soul. This is the state of liberation or ‘Moksham’. At the same instance, the body, mind and its equipment are not neglected but brought very much into focus and attention, as it is the means of realising the Self or Truth.
Principles of Ayurveda
Ayurveda is based upon the principle of the unity of life and seeks to increase our state of health through developing those factors of similar nature to it and reducing those factors of contrary or variant nature. Ayurveda believes that life is conceived as the union of body, senses, mind and spirit. A living being is a combination of three humours – “DOSHAS” (Vata, Pitta and Kapha).
Each person will practice and live differently as each person is different and unique.
THE FIVE ELEMENTS
How and why are we different and unique?
Ayurveda tells us that all that is matter contains five great elements, namely Ether (Space), Wind (Air), Fire, Water and Earth. These elements are in all matter and therefore present in Man. As such the physical Man is an integral and inseparable part of Nature.
The Five Great Elements are:
- Ether (Space/Akasha),
- Wind (Air/Vayu),
- Fire (Agni),
- Water (Jal), and
- Earth (Prithvi).
The elements in their subtle form moving from the most subtle (Space/Ether), to the most gross (Earth) element.
The Origin of the Five Great Elements
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God (Om). When we say word it means sound and sound means waves and these sound waves are vibrations. When there are vibrations in Space, in Akasha, it is immediately followed by movement. Space pulsating to and fro gives rise to movement. This movement of space is Wind. As the pulsating to and fro of Space increases in speed, the speed of Wind also increases. As the pulsating and vibrations increase friction is experienced. As this further increases it gives rise to heat and the element Fire. When there is heat in Space there will be tendencies for condensation. As condensation increases water droplets form thus condensation produces the Water element. As the Water increases in volume it gains in mass and weight and gathers cosmic dust and due to certain forces of nature such as gravity, this mixture of Water and cosmic dust gathers together and as it swirls around a mass is produced and this produces the Earth element.
The Attributes of the Five Great Elements
Ether is space; and for consciousness to exist, space is required. This is the place where everything happens and all exists. It is characterised by the quality of sound. Its attributes are cold, dry, light, subtle, liquid, mobile, sharp, soft, smooth, and clear.
Wind is movement and has the quality of touch and sound. Its attributes are cold, dry, light, subtle, mobile, sharp, rough, hard, and clear.
Fire is energy and has the qualities of sight, touch, and sound. Its attributes are hot, dry. Light, subtle, mobile, sharp, rough, hard, and clear.
Water provides flexibility and has the qualities of taste, sight, touch, and sound. Its attributes are cold, wet, heavy, gross, liquid, static, dull, soft, smooth, and cloudy.
Earth gives firmness and has the qualities of smell, taste, sight, touch, and sound. Its attributes are cold, dry, heavy, gross, solid, static, dull, hard, rough, cloudy, and dark.
Although some of the qualities are shared by more than one element they exist to different degrees in different elements. For example fire, air, and ether all contain the attributes of being dry, light, subtle, but these are the least subtle in fire and most subtle in ether.
According to this science, there are three primary life forces or energies formed by the combination of these five elements.
These three energies are known as Doshas and classified as follows;
Vata Dosha – Ether/Air Elements
Pitta Dosha – Fire/Water Elements
Kapha Dosha – Water/Earth Elements
Each of us possess a basic nature or constitution, (Prakriti) in whose state of balance or equilibrium is health. Disease arises from a differentiation or degeneration from that basic state of health, (Vikriti). Ayurveda aims at restoring our basic nature (Prakriti) and allowing us to live in harmony with it. To do this, we must first understand what it is. For that determination of constitution, physical and mental, is necessary, which is the foundation of Ayurveda.
The following information is a typical overview of the consultation procedures at Ayurveda Village.
What to do before a consultation:
- It is desirable that consultations are conducted first thing in the morning. The heat, noise, and crowd all affect the quality of the pulse readings and thus this time ideal where possible.
- You should not have eaten for at least 4 hours before having a pulse diagnosis. However, a drink is allowed.
- Please tell us ahead of the consultation if you are taking any medication as we may require this to be temporarily suspended for a few hours prior to the diagnosis. This does not include life-support medicines.
What happens during a consultation?
- The principles and philosophy of Ayurveda will be explained in general to you, so you will understand the diagnosis/prognosis.
- Thereafter Pulse reading and Diagnosis/personal interview are carried out. Once the pulse reading has been taken a brief explanation as to the meaning and condition of the pulses will be given.
- A comprehensive Food list containing information on Food dietetics (items of food that you may eat) that is correct for your Vikriti (current imbalanced state) will be provided and other pertinent instructions will also be given. You will also be provided with a relevant constitution analysis to study.
What happens after a consultation?
- After the session you will receive an individualised treatment recommendation by email. These will clearly state the course of action needed. It is then your decision as to whether you go further
- Special Herbal support formulas are prepared for the individual.
How long is the consultation?
- The consultation will be 60 minutes in length.
What is Pancha Karma?
‘Panch’ means five and ‘Karma’ means therapy or action. Pancha Karma refers to an intensive detoxification program using five actions or procedures to remove toxins from the body and mind.
These five actions are:
- Virechana – purgation (for Pitta)
- Asthsapana Vasti – Herbal Decoction Enema (for Vata)
- Anuvasana Vasti – Oily Enema Therapy (for Vata)
- Nasya – nasal administration (for Kapha)
Pancha Karma is a very ideal and a perfect solution and is a totally holistic detoxification. This is because it not only works on the physical system but it works on the mental and the subtle energies as well.
Preparation for Pancha Karma
Before starting Pancha Karma therapy you will have been through the consultation process and standard treatment. This is required so that you understand your birth constitution (Prakriti) and current state (Vikriti) and know what kind of life-style and diet is compatible for you. You will have had time and support to make necessary adjustments and it is likely you will have undergone standard treatment to help remove excess Doshas and stabilise your system. Such standard treatment may include herbal formulas (taken orally), Ayurvedic Abhyanga massage therapy, Yoga for Doshas therapy, and other treatment as required. This preparation process may take one to several months, the longer the better, as you will develop discipline and prepare the system, the body and mind, for the more intensive process of Pancha Karma.
What happens during Pancha Karma Treatment?
The duration of Pancha Karma treatment may vary but a seven-day period of intensive therapy is usually recommended by us. Before starting you will prepare for a few days ensuring that you eat more fruits and vegetables to get better bowel movements and make sure you are not constipated. The combination and type of actions performed during the Pancha Karma will be suited to your individual needs. Some or all of the actions may be required. Only one of Virechana or Vasti, will be performed on any one day with Nasya typically performed every day. All herbal decoctions given are based on the patient’s strength, capacity and Doshas and we prepare such decoctions to have the desired effect in relation to the number of bowel movements. In addition to this, full body Ayurvedic Abhyanga body massage is carried out daily along with full body steam and application of herbal wash. You will adhere to a very simple and strictly controlled diet and sip hot water continuously. You will take complete rest at all times and will continue on a light program and simple diet for several days after the Pancha Karma is completed. Special yoga poses are also recommended for this period to assist in the movement of toxins through the digestive system for elimination. Daily detailed reports are kept and given to the physician. These will document exactly what you are experiencing and observing physically and psychologically.
We have to also remember that though the intake of food is greatly reduced and controlled and the food you eat is very simple (like plain rice porridge and kitcheree) there is ample food in the way of the herbs and the massage oil. Herbs provide you with nourishment and something that is already digested. So you never feel weak or like fainting; you are constantly conscious and awake.
Ayurvedic massage is an integral and vital aspect of Pancha Karma whereby toxins that are hardened and stubborn, are broken by means of the special strokes, and the herbal oil that penetrates through the skin directly bypassing the digestive system. This means the oil is ingested very quickly, and then there is the application of heat – the oil is warm, the strokes give you continuous heat, and this heat combined with the herbs becoming absorbed into the blood helps seek out toxins and loosens and breaks them. So a combination of these factors together with hot showers and the steam bath after the massage allows whatever toxins have broken out to liquefy. Normally this is where massage therapy stops and the patient returns home after a hot shower. But in Pancha Karma this is when some of the five actions are carried out. Often times the toxins that have come loose and are now in the digestive tract have the potential to be reabsorbed via the intestines. These things (the five actions) are carried out to ensure that the toxins in the digestive tract are forced out and are not reabsorbed.
Just a note about the absorption of substances through the skin, be aware what you cannot put in your mouth as food you should not put onto your skin as this can be absorbed directly.
How does Pancha Karma remove excess Doshas and toxins?
Pancha Karma is an intense detoxification program, breaking toxins and forcing them out as rigorously as possible without creating too much of discomfort. However, there is some discomfort nonetheless and this will vary according to the individual. The first 2-3 days there will be some disturbances because there is a kind of a shock to the system and some of the symptoms of detoxification such as bloating, headaches, skin eruptions, nausea, tiredness etc. may be experienced. Perseverance is very important. The physician is there to motivate and to continuously support and to make sure you are not frightened.
The herbs administered (whether orally or via enema or through the skin during massage) are rapidly absorbed and digested. They search out and find the toxins that are deposited throughout the body and bring them back to be expelled from the body through the various excretory systems. The process works quickly and after any initial discomfort you will feel renewed energy, awareness, and an increase in vitality.
The three Doshas are found everywhere but they are predominant in certain areas. An excess or aggravated Dosha tends to accumulate more toxins in the areas where that Dosha predominates.
Pancha Karma: The four actions:
Virechana – purgation (for Pitta)
Purgation works mainly on the digestive areas and the mid portion of the system is purged of toxins. This is the area where Pitta predominates. Purgation is given in a liquid form that you drink. The herbs are ingested and digested and brought around every cell and tissue. The activity of the herbs is to draw out and loosen and suck out toxins that have already come loose and drain them out towards the digestive system. There are also herbs there that do not allow the toxins that have come into the digestive system to remain there but to be eliminated. That is why it is called purgation – toxins are purged out. It is quite unlike what often takes place when people do a physical flushing by taking some kind of laxative thinking this is detoxification. It is not. Such a process just physically cleanses your digestive passage but not your digestive system. Detoxification of the digestive system means it has to be ingested, it has to be digested, it has to be metabolised. This is what Pancha Karma is all about and so this is where it is so intense, so complete, and so perfect.
Asthsapana Vasti | Herbal Decoction Enema and Anuvasana Vasti Oily Enema Therapy (for Vata)
Then we have two forms of Vasti or enema. This is basically to take care of Vata as the intestines are where Vata predominates. One enema is a herbal decoction which is basically cleansing and then the other is an oil decoction which is nourishing you.
The two forms of enema are given after 3-4 days of purgation meaning your intestines are virtually clear of physical faecal material and the introduction of the herbal solution into the intestines at that time allows 70-80% of absorption and assimilation of the fluids. The fluid once introduced into the intestines is to be retained up to 40 mins and it is understood that up to this period the assimilation is very good. Thereafter you can eliminate whatever is left. The herbs are assimilated and absorbed just as digested food is and brought throughout the body by the blood where toxins and excess doshas are sought and removed by the elimination process mostly back through the intestines. The oil is more difficult to hold because it is heavier but nevertheless it can be done. It takes a little bit longer to be absorbed. During this enema period you will regain a lot of strength, a lot of vitality, a lot of energy because food assimilation and digestion of food is virtually instant as it bypasses the whole digestive system.
Nasya – nasal administration (for Kapha)
Lastly we have Nyasa or nasal infusion. This is medicated oil dropped into the nostrils and then the face is massaged to allow for better absorption of the medicated oil. This is to support the the Ear, Nose and Throat and the eyes as well and also to help clear the Kapha in the head regions.
Why undergo Pancha Karma?
The process of Pancha Karma is mainly to remove toxins that have remained in the system for long periods of time. These toxins are like grease, the longer they remain in a place, the harder they becomes. Pancha Karma works on the system to remove these excess Doshas and toxins and may be effective in eliminating many chronic and degenerative conditions. Often times less intensive forms of treatment may be effective in managing our Doshas but may not be enough to break out these deep rooted and stubborn toxins. Therefore Pancha Karma becomes a very important and vital tool. Most importantly it is a very controlled process where the physician and therapist are in full control and nothing is left to chance, and where every aspect of your well-being is considered and taken care of. You will also understand what is happening and why, and be ready, with a fully prepared and correct attitude. All these factors support and contribute to the profound benefits of this therapy.
This same process of Pancha Karma from a detoxification program can become a rejuvenation program but at a later stage. The herbs are changed, the concept changes, the attitude also changes, and then the results are also different. It is very useful to undergo such therapy at least once a year for the promotion of health and longevity.