Three weeks at Ayurveda Yoga Village


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March 17th 2017
Published: March 17th 2017
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Feb 24 2017.

We arrived at the Madgaon railway station at 6:30am to be greeted by the following announcement:"Your attention please. 12133 mangalore express scheduled to leave 7:15 is running 1 hour late. This result is deeply regretted". Our tickets indicated that we were in coach AB1 3AC which meant there were three tiers of sleeping or 6 people sitting in a section. 2AC is preferable as there are only 4 to a section however this was a short train ride so it didn't matter. However by the time we got on, there were 8 people already sitting in our area. We were taken along to the same seat numbers in a 2AC coach and were soon joined by some of the others who were in our earlier seats. Everyone was making comments about "Indian railways". Shortly the conductor came along, told us we were in the wrong seats ( we knew that) and he said our real seats were empty. So back we went. It turned out that coach AB1 had TWO sections in it -2AC and 3AC hence the confusion.

We arrived in Kumta, Karnataka shortly after 10am and were met by Vinit and driven a short distance to our home for the next three weeks:Ayurveda Yoga Village, sister facility to Ayurveda Yoga Villa in Kerala that we stayed at 6 years ago. The Village is located in 10 acres of shady trees, just meters from the Arabian Sea . A long secluded beach with small fishing villages at each end provide the perfect escape to harmonize body and mind. The public areas (dining hall and yoga hall) are open air pavilions that receive the benefit of the constant sea breeze while the treatment rooms are away from everything, but still on the beachfront. 20 cottages meander back through the trees.

Shortly after arriving, we were offered breakfast and then given a tour and orientation. Part of this was a sheet outlining daily activities. Get up at 4:30am for morning pooja (prayer) at 5:30am? I don't think so, although I did get up ONCE for pooja. Three yoga sessions a day (6:00am to 7:30am, noon to 1pm and 4:00pm to 5:00pm) - the noon session is Yoga Nidra which comprises approximately 30 minutes of breathing exercises followed by a 30 minute shavasana (corpse pose relaxation). The other two sessions are like nothing I have done before - mostly stretching asanas (poses) and breathing - my body parts can now do things I didn't think possible. It seems to be a form of Yin yoga. We were also provided with "instructions for making the stay effective"- eat quietly, avoid day time sleep, irrelevant talking and access to wifi and internet. Meal times was the primary social time so if anyone wanted to eat quietly they sat off by themselves.

Meals are 8am to 8:30am, 1pm to 1:30pm and 6pm to 6:30pm. The food is all healthy and vegetarian but very much the same day in and day out (except for "special diet days) - some sort of rice or millet, at least one small curry and always okra! We are sure the menu was more varied in Kerala. I will never eat Okra again. The various pickles are amazing though (garlic, lemon, date or mango and mint chutney). What we thought was potato curry was actually banana curry and a delicious drink was millet water, coconut, jaggery (from cane sugar) and cardamon- it tasted just like cardamon milk. During dinner we are always treated to the most amazing spectacle as the sun sets into the Arabian Sea.

Then there is the 15 to 30 minute daily consultation with the doctor and the one hour various treatments. Some days there was barely time to read a book.

The wild life is varied - lots of crabs scurrying around digging holes in the hard sand and huge flocks of seabirds. A fun activity was creeping up and startling them so they all took off at once. Lots of mosquitos unfortunately for Kelly (they never bother me) so morning yoga was often in long pants. There is a net over our bed but that does not seem to keep them out. Another fun evening activity was using the battery operated mosquito zapper in our room - ahh, the smell of fried insect bodies. Quite often mosquito repellent smoke was used in public areas. We tried in once in our room but it stunk!!!! A "big wind" came up towards the end of our stay and that seemed to get rid of the missiles. And then there were the tiny biting ants! They were an issue one night when they were all over the bed. The next day, a mixture of termite powder and salt was laid everywhere and that seemed to do the trick. Occasionally dolphins are seen out from during breakfast and there is always some sort of fishing activity going on. It is a bit distracting during morning yoga when you peek through supposedly closed eyelids and see a fishing boat front and centre.

The cottages are nice - fairly basic but roomy and with air conditioning as well as a fan. We are given fresh towels daily and the room is thoroughly cleaned and bed made (sheets changed) every two days. It is amusing that the cleaning staff turn the AC onto 16 degrees so the room is nice and cool for them to work in. Daily temperatures are between 30 and 37 and surprisingly it is not very humid, so overall very pleasant weather. And the ocean temperature is in the high 20's.

So what about the treatments? Panchakarma is a cleansing (purification) of the body and we thought it was a 28 day program so we were a little surprised to find that short versions are suitable for the 21 days that we are staying here. However, the sign at the entrance does state this is a research centre - maybe they are gauging the effect of a compressed time frame.

Day 1 and Day 2 - after consultation with Dr Sathyajith we both received a 45 minute head and full body massage with medicated herbal oils followed by a 15 minute herbal water bath (warm water poured slowly over the whole body - so relaxing). Each treatment is done by two same gender therapists ( we are butt naked) and all their movements are "choreographed" and encourage all toxins to move towards the GI tract. It didn't take long before I knew when to turn from back to right side to stomach to left side to back without hearing the "ok maam ". After the treatments you are meant to sit quietly for an hour and a half. Day 2 our appointments were late morning to mid afternoon so we went for a walk along the beach to the nearest fishing village - not realizing that this stretch of beach was the local toilet with piles of red poo along the tide line. Yuk. Won't walk in this direction again

Day 3 to 5 - now the fun begins. Each morning at 7am we are given an increasing amount of ghee (by product obtained from boiling off milk solids from unsalted butter. It is solid at room temperature but becomes more liquid as it is warmed. It pulls fat soluble toxins from the cells and triggers fat metabolism) followed by a couple of pieces of dried ginger and a few sultanas and a glass of warm water. This was followed by a walk "inside" which meant we could walk to the main road and back - no walking on the beach ( too windy), no swimming, no yoga and NO FOOD except for some rice porridge at dinner time. And no sleeping during daytime hours. Relax and drink 1/2 cup plain hot water every 1/2 hour. So reading, watching movies on the iPad and knitting socks - LONG day sitting around on our cottage porch. Every few hours someone would come to fill our water thermoses - they weren't kidding when they said to not do much! So 30ml of ghee on the first day and 60 ml on the second day. Kelly continued to feel energized while I felt quite lethargic so the third day my dose was kept at 60ml and Kelly's was 90 ml. Rice porridge and a glass of rice water are so delicious when it is the only thing you are allowed to eat all day. I finished knitting my first sock today - pinks/blues/purples which quite suits this first part of the treatment. I knew there would be some sitting around but I never realized it would be this much so an activity is appreciated.

Day 6. Kelly paid the price with the 120ml ghee this morning and is laying low. All the staff seem so impressed that he is "strong". They keep coming by our cottage to admire him! Kelly suspects he may have been the sacrificial lamb as it is not possible for us to both have purgation on the same day (one toilet). I am now on two days "rest" - my diet is the most delicious lemon or tomato rice with lemon water to drink at meal times. Plain hot water is getting to be very unpalatable. AND I get a treatment - a medicated hot oil massage and then steam (via a hose from a pressure cooker) applied to my body for the next two days which will prepare my body for purgation. I wait this next step with some trepidation after hearing stories - but then again everyone is different and react differently to treatments so fingers crossed. It is amazing how relative strangers so easily discuss bodily functions at the dinner table.

Day 7. Both of us are back to enjoying life - yoga, treatments, lemon and tomato rice. There are so many fishing boats out in front. They have their nets spread and you can hear the fishermen chanting as they pull the nets it.

Day 8 my purgation day (Virechana treatment). And what an anticlimax it was! A half hour oil massage and steam then some chocolate flavoured therapeutic laxative to eat followed by a large glass of ginger water - and then straight back to the room and wait for the diarrhea to start😊 - which it didn't really. There was a bad half hour when I broke into cold sweat and felt lousy, but managed not to vomit and that was really the worst of it. There was a continual parade of staff checking up on me, asking "how many times" ( my total was 8 - the average is around 16). I also had to keep a log of time, consistency, colour, odour and how I felt. A LONG day with a large glass of rice water at 5:30pm - the only sustenance allowed for the day. There did appear to be a bit of miscommunication - the previous day the doctor had told me to drink only when thirsty - by noon, he was saying "drink lots of water". Kelly came back from every meal with stories and advice from others who had gone through the process. At the end of the day the doctor said I had been given only a mild laxative because of my age - my age?????? That is the second time I have been made to feel old here. The first was at afternoon yoga when the instructor came to me and told me only gentle stretches " because I was old" - I showed him!!!

Day 9. Kelly's purgation was somewhat more climatic than mine - he went 28 times and felt rather poorly most of the day but he never lacked for caring staff coming by constantly. He says rice water has never tasted so good! I am on a new diet of kitcheri - rice, lentils and vegetables - pretty tasty when a lot of salt is added. My treatment today was a very vigorous oil massage followed by steaming - tomorrow starts a new regime. During ghee and purgation therapy you kind of disappear off the face of the earth as you are not allowed to eat or do anything. Some days there are so few people at meals.

Day10 - rather strenuous yoga to start the day- maybe cos that was the only yoga class, it being Sunday and the instructors and doctors get a day off. But that was made up for by real food - millet pancakes, curry and lentils. Kelly woke feeling dragged out but after a bowl of kitcheri we went for a walk along the beach. New treatment today - pounding!!!! After an oil massage, the two therapists each took a heated bolus and pounded the crap out of my limbs and body. That should release any toxins lurking around. Because hot water was used for heating, all the oil was washed off so I did not leave the treatment room feeling like a greased piggy. We weighed ourselves this am - I have lost 4.5 lbs and Kelly has lost 13.5!!!!!! It is pretty obvious what Kelly is full of- ha ha. Every day at 11am we are given a little glass of medicated buttermilk for digestion as well as encouraging flora growth back into the intestines. And then 5 minutes before dinner we drink 10 ml of Honey Amla which contains antioxidants, vitamin C and folic acid - again, good for digestion.

Day 11 - just another day in paradise. Real food for both of us, morning and afternoon yoga for me, morning and midday yoga session for Kelly. It seems these pesky treatments are getting in the way of some of the yoga classes.

Day 12 to 17. Kelly and I are back on the same schedule and now are on a 6 day Nasya treatment - An increasing number of nasal oil drops daily followed by a medicated smoke inhalation - and the rest of the day is spent hoiking out mucus - the brain and sinuses are being detoxed! There are extra facial massages especially around the sinus area as well as a facial and back steaming. The pounding treatment continues as well - my pounding boluses contain lemon, garlic and ginger as well as medicated powder ( Kelly's contain mint). The medicinal ingredients are activated by the hot water and the oil already on the skin helps absorption. Subsequent broken down toxins are carried out via the normal waste cycle. The down side? No swimming and no "head shower" - oh well, that will make the shampoo last longer but not being able to wash an oil massaged head for 6 days will mean greasy locks!!!! By the time the fourth (10 nasal drops in each nostril) and fifth (8 drops) treatments were completed, I was not enjoying life much, with a burning nose and sinus headache. Maybe the menthol that was added to the facial steaming opened up the sinus even more. Sure getting rid of a lot of mucous though. Kelly is just breezing along.

Each afternoon there is an hour long pranayama/meditation session and I was told by the doctor that I should be attending. I HAD thought that sitting doing breathing exercises for 30 minutes during morning and midday yoga was quite enough but I went along to my first meditation class obediently and was pleasantly surprised that it was it actually enjoyable!!!!! While it is not something I will be doing in my real life, it was interesting learning some new pranyamas that had specific purpose as well as learning about mudrhas (hand positions) and their meanings. I do have to disconnect my brain a bit as I fail to see how hands in a certain position and a certain breathing will help heart blockages. It is all about keeping an open mind. Even the meditation (which focused on the brown chokra or memory) was relatively painless - kneeling in madrasana, listening to the hypnotic voice of master Mani. During a couple of sessions we were taught a few Tai Chi yoga positions.

Dr Anu gave a lecture on understanding the three dosa - vata, pitta and kapha. Everyone has part of all three but one is usually dominant. We probably should have read up on this before we left home - something to do when we get back. We are both hoping that we are a dosa that allows spicy food.

March 12 and the final day of inhalations. It was Sunday so after the morning yoga and our 8am treatment there was nothing else happening for the rest of the day - other than food. So we thought it would be a good opportunity to go into the nearby village of Kumta and walk back along the beach. When Kelly went to reception to order an auto rickshaw for 1:30pm he was told we had to get permission from the doctor - we were allowed to leave at 3pm! So it was out into the real world and a short drive into Kumta - which was just a dusty Indian village with not much open as it was a holiday. We had not paid too much attention to the way into town so got a bit lost trying to find the way to walk back to the beach. We knew we should be on the south side of the river but as we walked down a quiet road with small single dwellings tucked back into the trees, people kept nodding and pointing that we were going in the correct direction. Eventually we arrived a the beach but on the north side of the river. Fortunately it was a very low tide and we figured that we should be able to walk through the water at the tide line. There was a fellow taking a poo on the far side and he waved us back further up the river a bit and then indicated we should cross - the water was barely up to our knees, but a fairly strong current. That adventure over, it was an easy 45 minute walk back along the beach. I am sure the river water was not exactly clean so it was an extra dab of polysporin on my knee owie- caused by warped floorboards in the yoga hall.

Day 18 - clean hair and a new regime that started with doing moon salutations instead of sun salutations in yoga - because the full moon was setting in the ocean as we watched. Today starts rejuvenation - rubbing down with boluses filled with rice and soaked in hot milk resulting in a slimy mixture over the body and then it was washed off with a milk bath - can you say Cleopatra!!!!! And now it is relax for the rest of the day as there is an enema at 5:30pm. 50ml of secret herbal concoction (milk, medicated ghee, salt and other stuff) - and I am pretty well cleaned out.

Day 19 and rejuvenation continues. A repeat of yesterdays oil and milk massage/wash and then a mud pack on the head to relax the brain. The pack stays on for three hours and when my head covering was removed, it looked suspiciously like cow poo. I am sure it was not but you never know...... all parts of the cow are considered sacred and cow urine is sprayed on the walk ways every morning. Most meals we are given a small bowl of curd which is a pro biotic. I do not particularly like it but was told by the doctor today that I should be eating it. Obviously the dining staff tell tales. Evening time there was a "special pooja" (prayer session). There were two priests chanting, often in unison and lots to watch through partially open eyes - marigolds being placed on the two mandalas, twigs being placed in the fire pit, bells being rung. Everyone was started getting a little restless sitting cross legged for so long and there was a lot of subtle body position shifts.

Day 20 March 15. We played hooky from yoga this morning and went for a sunrise walk north along the beach - waded back through the river and up the road a short way to see the fishing boats. Back through the river and I was a little startled to see a fishing boat bearing down on me on its way to the ocean - they obviously know exactly how deep the water is.

And down to the final two days of treatments - the rejuvenation continues with milk baths and mud wrapped head. After the final head wrap I had to sit silently for one hour letting my brain absorb the peace!!!! Our cottage door has two locks on it (one to bolt from the outside and one for the inside). This morning when I left for yoga early I accidentally locked Kelly in (he has locked my in three times already) - all the windows are barred so he had to open the window and call for help when he saw someone walking by😊 and then he forgot to close the window so when we returned form yoga the room was swarming with mossies!!!! 30 minutes of action with the zapper and an aroma of burnt insect bodies and the room was relatively clear.

Final consultation and we were given a list of foods we can eat for the next 30 to 90 days. It is not as scary as I thought it would be - so we will supposedly remain vegetarian for a while yet ( which is what we were expecting to be anyway), slowly introducing meat in soups - but no alcohol! The intent is to keep the body in an alkaline state as opposed to the acid state caused by lifestyle and normal eating. Kelly has been having extra medicine 3 times a day to help reduce his acidity levels which were quite high when we started. It is all about the colour of the tongue.

Definitely time to move on - the mossies have returned in force. Final weight loss was 4.5 lbs for me, 7lbs for Kelly. It is sad to leave all the smiling faces of the staff at Ayurveda Yoga Village but it is time for a new adventure.

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