Kerala’s Ayurveda Treatments
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In today’s hectic world which has turned many of us into workaholic
robots, we might wish to re-examine our values and prioritise our health. There
are great advances in modern medicine and general healthcare but many causes of
diseases remain unresolved. There have always been critical discussions between
modern medicine and traditional herbal treatment. This article takes a brief
look into the Pandora’s Box that is Herbal Medicine.
Herbal Medicine is very common throughout the Middle East and Asia.
There are many herbal practitioners who work from a small shop with hundreds of
different types of plants and herbal extracts. One of the most significant of
these ancient types of medicine that’s still practised today, is to be found in
Indian traditional medicine, known as Ayurveda treatment, goes back
over 5,000 years. It has become a recognised brand all over the world, thanks
to the traditional pharmacological experts of India. Kerala in the Southwest of
India is a mecca for Ayurveda treatments. Here is a land of spices, rich organic soil
blessed with seasonal rainwater which contains the highest peaks in the
western part of Southern India. This idyll is bound by the Arabian Sea and perfect
for growing a variety of curing vegetables and plants.
It was September 2018 when I first visited Kerala. I toured several
Ayurveda resorts and hospitals during my visit. There was a lot to digest and
understand about the philosophy and the practice behind the ancient therapies. I learned even more when I stayed at Somatheeram,
an Ayurveda village, located along Kovalam beach on the west coast of Kerala, just
25 kilometres away from Trivandrum Airport. Somatheeram is not only a luxurious
resort but also a health farm or, to be more precise, a hospital. The
traditional health clinic is set in beautiful gardens full of flowers with a
great variety of vegetables growing under lofty coconut trees. The
accommodation, scattered in the hilly parts of the parkland, have been designed
to resemble timber lodges and chalets with a native classical décor. The accommodation,
all with ensuite bathrooms, offers a calm, comfortable and relaxing stay for
The Somatheeram Resort is not only a holiday destination, but also a
little paradise for rejuvenation and balancing your body. In the resort, you are
given a daily traditional oil massage complemented with a special diet of
vegetarian dishes and yoga classes for beginner up to advanced levels. You
could relax by the pool, enjoy a swim or make your way down to the long sandy beach
to test the temperature of the ocean.
For my four days stay at Somatheeram, I had a daily two-hour treatment.
To begin with I was dressed in a green gown to meet an Ayurveda doctor and
nurses in white uniform who carried out my initial examination. This was
followed by the prescribed treatments administered by two male masseurs in
Ayurveda means 'the science of life' and is derived from two words
Ayur (Life) and Veda (Science). This ancient science works on the knowledge of
a fundamental relationship between body and mind. It looks deeply at the
balance of our anatomy and body chemistry with the floating energy in the
universe. The Ayurveda principals are based on three Doshas (the fundamental
functions in balancing the body). These Doshas which form five elements of
energy in the universe are: VATHA (Air and Space), which constitutes the bodily movement and
activities, PITA (Fire), which constitutes the entire biomedical process in the
body and KAPHA (Water and Earth), which defines the entire physical volume
in a living organism.
One’s health or disease depends on the balance of these Doshas.
Seasonal fluctuations, anxiety, contradictory activities and diets can also
contribute to the imbalance of Doshas and lead to disease. An Ayurveda doctor
would pursue an investigation regarding the main causes of any disease or
disorder based on the principle elements of Doshas. This would guide them to
suggest a treatment plan and recommend the correct diet.
My first treatment was traditional Panchakarma, a two-hour oil
massage over a special wooden massage bed, called Dhroni Dharapathi. The
procedure was not really massaging the muscles, rather rubbing herbal oils all
over the body with four hands. Then I was offered a steam bath in an enclosed
wooden box. The aim of the procedure is to remove all toxics from the body. A
planned vegetarian diet is a fundamental complement to the procedure in order
to refresh the body. The Somatheeram restaurant offers a variety of Indian dishes
to fulfil that requirement.
There are a wide variety of other Ayurveda treatments which are
particularly suitable for the over fifties. During this Covid-19 pandemic, Somatheeram
Ayurveda Resort Village has been offering weekly online presentations to inform
those who are interested about the treatment programs and yoga sessions.
I plan to delve deeper into the ancient science of Ayurveda as I hope
to return to Somatheeram for further treatments once the current travel
restrictions are lifted. Why not visit Kerala and see for yourselves the
wonders that await you there?
For more information about Somatheeram Ayurveda Village, visit somatheeram.net
To see more of Reza’s images of Somatheeram, go towww.amirinia.com/india.
Images and story © Mohammed Reza Amirinia
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