I Tried Panchakarma… THIS is how it went
Hello beautiful readers! It’s absolutely been a hot minute, or like a few months, since I’ve been here and much has happened since my last post. I’ll update you all soon on everything, but the short version is that I have been writing my new book and all my time and energy has been going into that, along with moving from Paris to London, Tony Robbins events that I take part in, challenging myself more and more to do YouTube and IGTV videos which end up taking a lot of time. So yes, that about sums it up for the past few months, hehe. As I said though, I will update you soon on everything with more detail… but for now, I must share my experience of Panchakarma!
It was my birthday this past Monday (June 10) and I turned 32. About a week before my big day I decided that I wanted to gift myself a treatment that would make me feel great going into this new year & what better than an Ayurvedic one! Seriously though, I’m pretty much obsessed with all things Ayurveda and have found it to be the most helpful when it comes to my health concerns.
After researching various websites here in London, I settled on The Ayurvedic Clinic, part of the Ayurveda Institute UK, which is in Surrey, or about 20 minutes south of London. It seems to be that these treatments are less expensive than those offered in LA (where I used to live) so I was quite excited to book something. I’ve actually been researching various Ayurveda schools as I’d like to do a year-long course in order to provide even more to my clients and then realized that I should do a treatment in the short term period.
What I liked about The Ayurveda Clinic was that they had both diplomas and treatments in the same facility, which shows that it’s a very authentic place for this ancient practice. For those who don’t know much about Ayurveda, originated in India thousands of years ago that is holistic in nature. Ayu – meaning life, Veda – meaning knowledge. I won’t go into too much here, but it’s pretty fascinating stuff and has always been spot on to help me get back on track whether it’s a skin condition like acne, or digestive issues.
So what IS panchakarma?
Panchakarma is a complete mind and body rejuvenation experience that helps you to achieve optimal health. It’s focus is on eliminating toxins from the body through a five-step program consisting of an herbal warm oil massage that has been formulated based on your consultation, followed by swedana, or using a poultice of herbs to help draw out toxins. Next is shirodhara, where warm oil is poured on the forehead for an up to an hour, calming the entire body and nervous system. Then comes virechana, or the expelling of toxins through your body from both ends, followed by nasya which is the herbal oil going up your nose to cleanse the excess mucus in your sinus passage. Whew, that’s a lot of steps and definitely sounds a bit intense. Treatments will vary depending on the person and what the doctor has found in the consultation.
Prior to doing it, it’s recommended that you have a consultation so the doctor can learn what dosha you are, what imbalances you may have, your emotional stress among other things. We spoke via Skype for an hour with her asking me questions about my diet, exercise, stress levels, childhood and much more. This then gives her the basis on what herbs to add for your treatment along with what you need to take post treatment. Dr. Wathsala, who has been a practitioner for over 25 years, guided me through what foods I should avoid over the next three weeks and which ones are okay and during the conversation, she really made me feel comfortable about the whole experience.
Next, it was time for my one day panchakarma treatment which I was quite ready for. Having been a bit of an emotionally draining week, this couldn’t have come at a better time. The treatment is focused on helping you rid toxins from food, drugs and alcohol, stress, and emotional stress; can’t wait! I chose to do only the one day treatment to get a feel for it, then go back in a few weeks for the three day one. It goes up to a full month as well, for those who have chronic illnesses, cancer and other serious issues.
They recommend you to eat a light, but filling breakfast as your body will need the energy throughout the three hour process. I settled on a bowl from a health food store of brown rice, beans and soybeans. These ingredients had all been on the approved list of things to eat and I knew it was hearty, yet wouldn’t leave me feeling heavy. I had this at 8.30am for my 11am treatment, along with a almond milk matcha latte. You’re supposed to eat kitchari, which is a staple in ayurvedic cooking; it’s a easy-to-digest combo of basmati rice and mung dal. However this specific clinic doesn’t do food so I had to make do with what I could find that was closest.
Upon arriving I was given a warm tea then taken to the back where I undressed fully and put on disposable underwear while my therapist prepared the oil. I laid on the bed, face down, got comfy and the treatment began. She poured mass amounts of oil all over my back, then used various strokes to help release my muscles and break up toxins within them. This process was repeated down the backs of my legs, front, and then on my belly and shoulders. There are various points that have a buildup of toxins and can feel painful when they are touched; for me this was the bottom of the shoulder blades and in-between my index and thumb fingers, as well as a super tight IT band.
The massage on each part of the body was followed by a poultice of rice and herbs that was heated and helped to release tension, move the oil through the skin, and work on the toxins. Each part was heavenly and I found myself feeling so relaxed at this point.
Then came shirodhara, which is one of my favorite Ayurvedic practices with oil dripping down at a constant speed onto your third eye, or in between your eyebrows. While this was going on, she rubbed a specific herbal paste for my body on my belly that was quite cool. The treatment thus far was all warm and the touch of cool on my skin was a bit shocking, but she said it was needed to reduce the pitta, or heat in my digestive tract and stomach to help with my bloating and constipation I get. After this was slathered on, she then took what looked like a bagel and moulded it into a shape on my heart chakra aka in between my breasts. It is made of flour and water that is used in Ayurvedic cooking and in the panchakarma treatment is used to house oil on certain points on the body. She filled this up with hot oil to help work on my heart chakra and release some emotional distress.
(the photo below is not me, clearly, but I found this practice so fascinating that I wanted to share what it looks like as it’s being performed)
At this point I did wonder if I should get her to take a photo, but they take their treatments quite serious so I didn’t want to be ‘that girl.’ It was quite a sight to be seen though. Thick paper towel on the rest of my body, brown paste on my belly, bagel-looking shape with oil in between the girls, and oil being poured on my forehead.
It was total and complete bliss. During the massage, my mind was thinking and trying to process and make sense of various things that come into it. During this next part of the treatment, I was dreaming and in and out of consciousness. I couldn’t remember anything after I ‘woke up’ to which she said this was very normal and good as my mind was helping to eliminate unwanted thoughts and emotions in the body.
Last, it was time to get into the full body sauna, except my head poked out, allowing my face to breathe in the cool air while the heat created sweat all over my body. It was hot, slightly uncomfortable, but also totally yummy. Then again, I love heat! I learned that this treatment was very specific to my needs and so the consultation is definitely needed.
Once I finished the treatment, I went out to get the herbs that had been recommended to me, along with the list of foods I should avoid for the next three weeks, and which ones I should eat. These will all help to balance out my doshas, decrease any emotional toxins I have in my body, increase my energy, help with some acne I’ve been getting, and improve my overall wellbeing.
Tonight I will take the herbs and eat the little brown square, which is the purgatory piece of my treatment that is done at home and will have me on the toilet seat tomorrow for a bit. Can’t wait!
I’ll give you all an update on how it goes and what I feel after a few weeks of taking the various herbal treatments, having my cilantro (corriander) seed tea in the morning, and steering clear from some foods not allowed.
I’d love to know: have you done any ayurveda treatments? Or are you interested in any of them? I’d love to know… drop me a line below!