What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is an ancient form of natural medicine that was developed approximately 5000 years ago in India. Ayurveda is essentially the study of life, Ayur = Life and Veda = science or knowledge. It is based on two main principles. The first being that the mind and the body are inextricable linked to one another, and the second is that the mind itself has the power to heal the body.
Unlike modern medicine where you may be seen by your local doctor for a 15minute appointment, they may discuss your symptoms and prescribe a medicine to counteract them. However if you visit an Ayurvedic Doctor you might be with them for several hours as they delve into every part of your life in order to determine what is at the root of the problem which you are experiencing. They also decide, based on your consultation, what type of body you have, vata (air), pitta (fire) or kapha (water) or a mix of these. These are known as the doshas and are the energetic forces of nature.
Why did I want to go?
My main reason for going on an Ayurvedic retreat was to gain clarity. I knew I wanted to make major changes in my life, I just didn’t know what was next for me. A good friend had assured me that he had benefited greatly by attending a similar retreat in Bali and recommended I do the same. With nothing to lose I booked myself in for a ten day retreat in Goa, India.
What I signed up for
I went to Goa to do a total body rebalance over ten days. This meant everything from juice fasting to enemas and daily traditional Ayurvedic treatments and even hypnosis. I had a full analysis done of my blood work, went to the dentist down what looked like the dodgiest laneway in India and took part in some meditation and daily yoga. I also had a self imposed ban of my mobile phone and internet access for the duration. After a full and in-depth consultation with the Ayurvedic doctor she determined that I had a pitta-vata body type and would be prescribed certain treatments and juices to pacify this.
I loved the Ayurvedic treatments! I did two a day. They were mostly different kinds of massages which involved a lot of oil, and I mean a LOT!! Apart from feeling like I had been just dipped in a deep fat fryer they were incredibly relaxing. The Shirodhara was a favourite too. This is a traditional healing technique which involves warm oil being poured in a steady stream over the forehead for about 45 minutes. As for the fasting, once I passed day 5 I enjoyed the detox experience (perhaps because I knew it was ending soon) and how light I felt.
The Low Points
Day five, was without a doubt the most difficult for several reasons. I had been warned that it would be tough. They call it parasite day! Apart from some nasty concoction I had to drink (possibly aloe vera) I had just about got used to the coffee and herbal enemas when they introduced the garlic enema. I won’t go into too much detail you’ll be glad to know but I was warned that on this day I could experience anger, sadness, frustration and in general, just feel crap! And so it was! I’m glad to say it passed by the evening and I felt great for the rest of the time there.
Would I recommend it?
Yes, in short. However, if like me, you are going there to find answers, direction or clarity, be aware that you might leave without finding these. My biggest revelation while I was in Goa was that I had the answers all along. What I was doing was delaying the inevitable. I had been looking for answers in all the wrong places. I wanted someone to tell me what to do next. It was there, on a beach in Goa as journaled, that I realised no one was going to hold my hand and tell me what to do next. Only I could take that step. Whether the juice fasting or Ayurveda treatments afforded me that clarity of mind I am not sure. But escaping daily life and allowing myself to stop and breathe certainly helped. And for that reason I would recommend a retreat like this to someone who needs to recharge, de-stress or just reflect.
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