Ayurveda, the science of life that guides you on the way to good health and longevity. Let's see..
Before we get started, let me tell about Ayurveda & Panchakarma in a nutshell. Ayurveda is an 5000 year old Indian 'science of life' with the aim to maintain the health of a healthy person and to cure illness from the root (whereas Western medicine is focussed on curing symptoms). Due the rising knowledge about the side effects of Western medicine people are becoming more and more curious about Ayurveda. Especially because all Ayurvedic treatments, detoxes and medicine are natural.
Panchakarma is part of Ayurveda and literally means "five actions" (= treatments) to detoxify the body. The virechana detox treatment I took consists of a combination of massage, herbal saunas, special foods and nutrition directives, mild fasting to get rid of accumulated toxins in the body. Getting the body clean and healthy (again) can result in a wide range of positive effects, both mentally as physically and this is what got my attention. Being in India I wanted to get a deeper understanding and experience from the source.
Getting the body clean and healthy (again) can result in a wide range of positive effects, both mentally as physically and this is what got my attention. Let me take you on this journey of the virechana purification.
DAY 0 determend | excited | nervous
No more hesitations! I am going to do an ayurveda detox program - panchakarma treatment. The idea has been in my head for the last few days but now I AM SURE. This seems the perfect moment. I feel safe and at home here at Preksha ashram and my boyfriend is having a great time in Nepal so I don’t have to worry about anything or anyone. Pretty good because during the detox program emotions and mood swings might come up and I surely don’t want to bother anyone. With two more weeks to spend in in Mandrem, Goa, there is plenty of time and space for me to go through this purification process.
It’s starts off Indian style. On Friday the doctor comes to the Preksha Ashram for a consultation but somehow she forgot about me and left after her consultation with another Dutch girl. I ran to the chef because now that I finally made up my mind I really want to have the consultation and get started straight away on Monday (it’s Thursday today and weekends are for coffee & Falafel). He rings her and then takes me to the clinic by motorbike. Very kind. Doctor apologizes - she is very bus. I sat down and we do a short intake. She briefly finds out which dosha’s seem out of balance and comes with a plan: virechena for the first 5 days (great to lower pitta) and than 5 days of basti (perfect when too much vata). I was planning on just a day or 7 but now that I am here I might as well go all the way. The only thing is the price. She can’t yet tell me exactly how much it is going to be so I tell her that I do the first treatment for sure and then see if I can afford a second one. I got taken back to the ashram and back in my room I experience a feeling of both excitement and nervousness. I will start tomorrow morning!
DAY 1 excited | lazy | hungry
It’s 6.45 am and I make my way to the ashram kitchen for my breakfast: 30 ml of Ghee (clarified butter = pure fat) with delightful ginger & lemon tea to get rid of the taste. I tasted a little bit of it yesterday but now I had to drink a full shot, holy crap that stuff is grose. As soon as a finished the shot I wanted to flush my mouth so badly but I wasn’t allowed to! Could only squeeze some lemon juice to get rid of the taste. Yuk. Great start to the day. An hour later I striked down on my yogamat for a yin yoga session. Couldn’t help myself but I was burping as soon as I turned my head down in ragdoll pose. Oops, lucky the class wasn’t full. I felt really good afterwards.
Breakfast at 8.30 am: moong beans and papaya. Nice and light which I prefer for breakfast anyway. At 11.00 am I got taken to the doctor. We continued the consultation and loads of questions came up. As we went through all of them it turned out that I am vata & pitta dominant. Not much kapha there. Apparently I need more balance between these three. Even though I don't know much about dosha's yet, that really resonates with me: I would love more balance in my life and it seems like the detox is going to help me. I feel excited, 12 days, that’s definitely doable! Right? With this in mind I get ready for my first aroma massage which turn out to be - I am not execrating - AMAZING. It truly felt like it was doing something for my body. Taken a steam bath was next. It looked so hilarious: a wooden chair with a tiny space on top for my head to pop out. Not even 15 minutes later I started to feel a little dizzy. As a result I laid down for a bit as soon as I got out. This was it for now. I got dropped back at the ashram around 3 pm, I was starving! It was 3 pm already and for late lunch I got served Dal (lentils soup), white rice and some boiled veggies. I ate loads, not sure if I was suppose to but man I was so hungry. For the rest of the day I took it slow. Didn’t even go to hatha yoga. Cycled around for a little bit and got my 36.000 R (€ 460,-) out of the ATM for the treatment, a true bargain for those 12 days I got told. After dinner (spinach soup and rice again) I sat down with the other ‘victims’, a Dutch girl and a girl (at first I wrote woman but when she kindly checked my blog on spelling she got upset because she is only 44:)) from the UK, for a little while and then went to bed. Some reading & meditation and that’s it for day one.
DAY 2 slow | moody | emotional
I started the day at 6.45 am again with Ghee and doses got doubled up to 60 ml! I am not sure if I can take more of this. It just feels so unnatural to drink PURE FAT liquid in the freaking early morning. But did it again #worstoftheday. Two treatments today: A full body massage and again the steam bath. I experienced that both were very intense and again I just wanted to lie down. Got back at the ashram and got into an argument with my boyfriend. I felt terrible and couldn’t help myself from crying. What’s in there needs to get out so that was fine. I called with my aunt and that made me feel better. Luckily the day passed by quickly. Had a chat with the girls after dinner and that cheered me up. Happy I am not alone in this! Again did my routine of reading and meditation and not long after I fell into a deep sleep. Didn’t wake up until 6am! I had crazy dreams though about me shopping in the supermarket and buying all sorts of ‘bad stuff’ like chocolate, cookies and crisps and I was eating it all while I was still shopping! Busted! My greedy subconscious mind can’t be controlled.
DAY 3 relaxed | positive | slow
I woke up feeling much better after such good night of sleep. 90 ml of Ghee at 7.30 am and then straight to yoga. Moong beans and pineapple for breakfast just before I got picked up at 10.00 am. Three treatments where scheduled in: a 1,5 hour deep tissue massage (Lotte's kind of party!), steam bath and Shirodhara (oil treatment on the forehead to calm the mind). Quite intense and it took 3 hours all together. Back in the ashram lunch was served right away. Boiled vegetables, rice, dal (lentils soup) and cooked green beans. Not bad for a detox. We ate heaps! The chef always sets the food up in buffet line thus we can scoop up as much as we want. We went for several rounds while we were probably not supposed to do that. Okay, next meal I’ll try to cut down my portion.
After lunch I went to the beach. Treated myself on a sunbed and a ginger lemon tea (the only thing on the menu I could have). Nisha joined me for a little. We both felt much better and more energetic today! Hopefully it just get’s better from now on, and we’re only 3 days in to treatment. After practicing handstands, and cuddles with the stay dogs we walked back. Dinner was served and again we all felt super hungry or hangry even! We couldn’t help our self but again ate a whole lot. No willpower at all. Something’s wrong here! We asked Chef Deepak if he could just not serve us rice tomorrow, that would make it easier. We had ginger lemon tea as ‘desert’ and then I went of to my room. Hasta mañana.
DAY 4 heavy | restless | sensitive
Oh gosh it's 7.15 am and I will have my mug (110ml!) of ghee. That’s it, can’t take any more of this stuff. The walk after helps and yin yoga with teacher Kelly is beautiful. I enjoy my little breakfast of papaya and pomegranate just before my pickup at 09.45 am. A krichi massage (stone) and team bath. I asked the doctor about the food portions and she said that we should just eat a little, and feel hungry so the energy could go to the detoxification of the body rather than to digestion. OOPS. I felt bad because of course I want to get the most out of this detox. For this reason I skipped rice and only had lentil soup and cauliflower for lunch. Felt like it was enough. The rest of the day was pretty lazy but I did take the hatha yoga class and loved it. For dinner again little food. I need to make a come back and control the mind!
Tomorrow will be detox day so I had to take a herbal medicinal drink. Again, disgusting! I had a hard time to first take it and then keep it in. What a pussy I am but couldn’t help myself. Nisha and Nicoline will go for another day of Ghee so I will be the first one who starts (and finishes gehehe) the detox. Let’s see what tomorrow will bring.
DAY 5 lethargic | giddy | relieved
Today is the day: detox day! Nisha and I go for an early morning walk which is going to be the only exercise for me today. I am not allowed to do anything else:n o yoga, no sports and even no reading or writing is the advice! My oil massage is at 08.00 am. Just before the doctor gives me herbal medicine to support the detoxification process in my body. As I lay there I realise that this is going to be the only exciting activity of the day so I try to be fully present and enjoy. One more steam bath but 20 minutes is enough. I feel super dizzy as I get out and lay down, not for long because soon I feel the urge to go to the toilet. I think the detox has really started and I even get a little scared. Doctor is very caring and checks my blood pressure: low (94). Got my clothes back on and then I have to take another medicinal drink. Oh my gosh, so grose again! I had a hard time taking it all at once but I made the doctor proud. I get dropped off back at the ashram and I go straight to my cottage. I feel exhausted! Within 2 hours I go to the toilet 7 times. Doctor gave me this ‘poop diary’ and I need to describe my stool. A higher level of self study right! I go to bed, read a little.
A couple of hours later the doctor comes to check my blood pressure: better than before. That’s great. For lunch I get clear rice soup (truly nothing else but the water in which the rice got cooked). Tastes surprisingly good after just luke warm water! I spend the rest of the day close to the toilet. Read a little, just stare and talk with some of the people around. A lazy day but to be fair, energy seems far gone anyway. Thick rice soup for dinner, a little chat and then I make my way to bed. Can’t wait for tomorrows breakfast: Moong beans with moong bean water. Yeeey.
DAY 6 energized | healthy | bored
It is the day after the detox. I get out of bed and look in the mirror: my skin looks calm & good. Happy face happy days. Unfortunately I am not allowed to join yoga today so I take it easy. I have my first solid food (moong beans) since 48 hours. I feel really good (compared to yesterday). Seriously I can't believe how different I feel, surprisingly fresh, clean and energetic! Ready and excited to get back on track again however I have to take another rest day before I can slowly start to increase my activities AND food portions. Once again I experience how hard it is for me to sit still and to do nothing. Good practice I guess. I feel certain about my choice to leave it with just one treatment for now. Not sure if this is lack of willpower underneath my decision but I can’t even be bothered. I want to enjoy Goa, the beach walks, yoga classes, coffee, and fresh coconuts. Apart from that I want to give my body a rest and see how I feel after a couple of days. The day goes by pretty slow. I walk to the beach which feels like a big effort, wander around and then make my way back to the ashram to support my other detox mates. Their having their detox day today and my gosh I feel for them. In the evening I get back to my room and feel a little emotional. Not sure why but it’s fine. I read a few chapters of my Karma Kurry book and then go to bed.
DAY 7 clean | satisfied | proud
The final day has come. I was so happy I could join the yin yoga class again this morning, that felt great! I had my last shrirodhara treatment, a wee massage and a steam bath at 10.15 am. Gosh I got spoilt and will miss the treatments for sure. Back in the ashram I decided to have a little more for lunch then just a soup (against the advice of the diet chart) I want to join the hatha afternoon class but I feel a little light headed because I’ve eaten so little the last two days. I crave some solid food so I take some dal apart from the beetroot soup. Freaking stoked to taste spices again, but: just a little bit Lotte.
Okay, I feel like it is time to call it's quits! Let me finish with the oneliner that moderation is the key for a happy healthy life.
especially the part of not waking up with still a full tummy feels liberating.
To summarize, it has been such an experience to undergo this whole detox program. Now that I’m finished I can look back with a smile. There were definitely hard parts - the ghee, disgusting herbal drinks, the fasting, and the terrible cramps on detox day – but so worth it. Even the fact that a lot of things were not allowed I consider as positive. I mean I am just used to eat whatever, whenever I want and that’s not always good. I sometimes forgot to listen to my body and often ate just for joy and pleasure. I didn’t really think of the consequences that our diet does to our bodies. As a result of consciously taking foods out of my diet I realised that I DON'T NEED certain foods (SUGER, very spicy food, a lot of carbs) and that I can still live happily consuming other foods and drinks in moderation (coffee, bread, alcohol). I also realised that I am used to overeating myself. I stop eating when I feel really full and for me that’s was normal until now. Especially later in the evening and the next day you feel so much lighter and more energised if you don’t stuff your face the night before. Really, there is no point and I was actually damaging my body.
As a result of the detox I lost 3,2 kg’s. My weight was healthy before but I do feel better now and especially the part of not waking up with still a full tummy feels liberating. Not everything is for everyone but from my experience I would recommend a panchakarma treatment. It is a natural way to cure illnesses or health issues (for me bad skin, suger cravings) and absolutely worth trying.
Ultimately I want to thank you so much for reading. If there is anything I forgot, please shout out below!
Love and Light(ness;))