Balanced humours, digestive fire, tissues of body and excretory functions and the clear consciousness, sense organs and mind indicates a healthy person. — Susrutha Samhitha, 400 BC
Last Monday, Mae Dolonius, a good friend, invited me to the opening of the Shanti Ayurveda Center in BF Homes, Paranaque. It was the second clinic they were inaugurating. The first one is on Xavierville Road in QC.
Ayurveda is the oldest system of health and medical treatment known to man. It has survived for more than 3,000 years and is widely practiced in India. In Europe, the US and other countries, there are schools and wellness centers that teach Ayurveda even if it is not as widespread and popular as Western medicine.
When I got to the opening, Mae noticed I had a cold and cough and referred me to an Indian doctor who works in the facility. The Ayurvedic doctor asked me a few questions and then gave me a powdered concoction inside a Ziploc bag. It was made of ground ginger, pepper, sugar cane and some herbs. He told me to take less than half a teaspoon every two hours.
I took one dose and almost immediately, I felt my throat itchiness go away and my nasal passages open. It was the best, fastest-acting medicine against cough I have ever experienced. I continued taking it for the next two days and my cough was practically gone.
Ayurveda has a holistic approach to healing. Its aim is to balance the body, mind and spirit to achieve well-being. As far as I gathered and understood from the talk I had with the doctor and the mini lecture that followed later, its approach to healing is all-natural — all its medicines are derived from nature and its processes.
I had heard about Ayurveda but have not had any real experience with it. One time, I had what was advertised as an Ayurvedic massage in a hotel in India. It was okay, nothing great, and I did not feel any real benefits. I learned later on that it was more of a spa treatment being passed as the real thing.
“Ayur” in Sanskrit means life, and “veda” means science and knowledge.
There are three body types called doshas. There are the Vata, the Pita and the Kapha. It is believed that each person has a dominant dosha that defines his body type. After I answered a questionnaire, Dr. Ciga told me that I was primarily a Pita (active, energetic, creative, restless) with a sprinkling of Vata.
After your body type is determined, they can proceed with what treatment you should get and choose what medicines, spices and herbs you should use.
Last Tuesday, I started the three-day treatment. Dr. Ciga, the resident Ayurvedic doctor from India, recommended Abhiyangha, which is known to be Ayurveda’s main healing tool. It is also called the “Mother of all Massages.” It is a massage customized to your body type complete with herbal oils to “detoxify, nourish and revitalize” the body tissues.
They made me lie down on a special wooden table. It had no mats. Where parts of your body need a cushion for comfort, they put a folded towel. I was worked on by two very coordinated masseuses. Unlike spa treatments and regular massages, there was no pressing, no kneading, or pounding on my body with clasped hands. There was only the pleasure of rubbing and scrubbing motions on my richly oiled body for 40 minutes. They claimed that this type of massage has far-reaching effects on the body, mind and spirit. More on this later.
After the massage, I spent the next 20 to 30 minutes having the Shirodhara. They covered my eyes and continuously poured a stream of warm oil on the middle of my forehead going about two inches in left and right directions. It was a strange sensation at first but ultimately its magic worked on me making me feel very relaxed. I fell asleep and woke up very refreshed.
I had the same two treatments for the next two days. On the second day, I felt my body and spirit lighten up considerably. I felt more calm, concentrated and positively focused. It was a wonderful feeling. The other benefits I felt were better blood circulation, smoother skin, more vitality and better sleep. On the first night, I had a very good sleep, and also on the succeeding nights.
When I finished the three-day treatment at the Shanti Ayurveda Center on Xavierville Avenue, I noticed that I felt stronger, healthier, calmer and more centered. They also offer three-, seven-, 14-, and 21-day programs to help you detoxify your body and achieve the mind and spirit balance you need. I can only imagine what that feels like.
The Shanti Ayurvedic center is not a spa, but more of a healing place. No sweet music plays in the background when you get the massage. All you hear is the gentle sound of water flowing in a fountain in the garden. The room does not have air conditioning but it is pleasant. The oil they use for the Shirodhora treatment is saved and used only by you in your succeeding treatments.
I am glad I did not research much about Ayuverdic treatments and decided to experience it without any prior knowledge or bias. I simply said yes to the invitation and I am writing direct from my own experience.
As I said earlier, Ayurveda’s approach is holistic. Their aim is to cleanse and balance all the forces within us with the Universe. It is both a practical and spiritual approach to healing.
An Ayurvedic proverb goes, “When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use.
When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.”
In the same breath, Ayurveda believes that:
“As in the cosmic body, so is the human body.
As in the cosmic mind, so is the human mind.
As in the macrocosm, so is the microcosm.”
You probably will not hear a Western-trained doctor say such things. But in Ayurveda, they like to cover everything.