Since my first encounters of ayurverdic treatment, I am a fan of it. This means, feeling and experiencing your body in a way, where you can benefit the most: either your health increases and your flexibility changes or you loose weight and detox your body system.
It all started around ten years ago when I went to a natural health professional who offers and conducts Abhyanga. Such ayurvedic oil massage is an integral recommended part of the daily routine of the ayurvedic healing system for overall health and well-being. A daily full-body oil massage shall be nourishing, pacifying the doshas, relieving fatigue, and nourishing all parts of the body. Abhyanga provides transdermal absorption of the healing qualities of the material used in the massage and helps the skin to perform its diverse functions such as allowing toxins to be released from the body or nourishment to be absorbed by the tissues. As a self-employed and stressed journalist, I felt – after receiving such treatment – that I have been on a one week vacation. Therefore I begun to extend my ayurvedic experiences by going into treatment for ten days: Panchakarma was the suggestion of my therapist!
Because of the fact that I could only have short work breaks, I decided to get this treatment in Germany instead of flying to India, to visit an ayurvedic resort there and get the treatments at the place where Ayurveda medicine started around 5,000 years ago.
Three Panchakarma treatments in four years brought several benefits to my health such as the reduction of cholesterol, the loss of weight and a detoxication of my blood which was confirmed by my internist doctor at home.
Alternatives in India
Thinking of the costs of such a treatment in Germany (roughly 5,500 EUR for 21 days) I investigated in alternative offers in India and Sri Lanka. After checking the different locations and reviewing many customer testimonials, I compared prices and placed my final decision: the Poovar Island Resort in Kerala, India. This resort provides a dedicated Ayurveda area that is solely oriented to guests who do enjoy ayurvedic food and medicine. But what I did have in mind all the time was: I am going to visit a country where the society, religion, work area, etc. are totally different to what I am used to. It will be loud, dirty, over populated, messy, etc.
Because of my former experiences with airlines and hotels, I decided to book my flight and resort not through a travel agency but independently by myself much in advance to get valuable price offers. Again, I did investigate in flight fares and contacted the resort via email to get an offer for a 21 days ayurvedic rejuvenation treatment.
Awaiting the airline and resort answers I contacted a doctor who was specialized in travel medicine to hear whether or not I do have to apply precautions and be prepared of Hepatitis, Malaria, Typhus, Hydrophobia, or any other tropical disease. After the consultation and his advice I felt relieved from my concerns about flying into a country with different health issues than the people in western countries. He provided a prescription with necessary and helpful medicine (sterile injection needles and syringes, band-aid, etc.), that I should take with me – on a „just in case“ basis and as precaution.
Ready for an adventure
My investigations into best travel times showed that the period between December and March is the preferred period for traveling when someone likes to enjoy sunshine and less rain (average temp between 24 ° C at night and 34 °C during the day) although the humidity (approximately 80%) is quite high.
My flight was booked and the reservation for my 21 days treatment confirmed. The journey started on January 22, 2016 with Emirates (A 380) from Dusseldorf (DUS) airport towards Trivandrum (TRV) airport via Dubai.
Arrival in Trivandrum and ride towards Poovar
The plane touched ground with almost one-hour delay. The debarking went quickly and I received a warm welcome by 28 °C and 75 % humidity. Going through immigration services went smoothly. The eTV was helpful but the officers requested another “form” to be filled in. After the immigration procedure the luggage waited already for me to go through customs. I could choose the easy way because we Europeans don’t have to declare anything. What a traveler should keep in mind is the fact that the import of Indian Rupees (INR) is strictly forbidden. All other currencies – up to 10,000 USD – can be brought into India but have to be declared.
After customs I had to go through the arrival terminal until I got to the meeting point where the taxi driver – who was supposed to bring me to the resort – was still waiting for me, although the plane did have this slight delay. The heat outside the terminal was almost unbearable. Coming from Europe where the temperature was around +4 °C, first of all I had to get rid of my jeans, pullover and jacket. The driver offered me a wet napkin to wash my face and hands. Afterwards he handed me a fresh bottle of water and started the ride towards Poovar. Lucky me – the car was equipped with air-condition which saved my life at this point.
All that I had read and heard about India was nothing like, what I experienced then: The taxi driver drove like crazy because of the traffic, which was unusual for me. The road was crowded with taxis, Tuc Tuc’s, motorcycles, bicycles, buses, lorries, scooters, etc. To me it look like that there were no existing rules. Everyone was blowing the horn and it looked like they were all driving in a way that they don’t have any fear. Although I am an experienced driver by myself and I normally rent cars and explore new countries by myself, I did find here my limits. Someone has to be used to that kind of road traffic otherwise he will get into trouble soon.
Anyway, the driver made it’s way to Poovar with me. He dropped me at the landing port where the boat to the Poovar Island Resort leaves every thirty minutes. My luggage was unloaded and brought directly to the loading area. I was unsure how much I should tip the driver, because he was booked by the management of the resort as convenience service for their customers, but he drove me safely here: I donated one USD and thought immediately that it wasn’t enough. Whatever you try to find in regard of “knowing about tipping” is never the right answer on your question: Everyone tells you something different. Therefore I behaved like I would tip in other countries: Always appropriate to the service provided. That means when you think that one USD seems ok then convert it into INR (currently 76 Rupees) and you’ll see that it is a real benefit for the benefit recipient. For example: The average monthly income of an employee with a Masters degree (freshman) is approximately 25,000 INR.
The 20-minute boat-ride was enjoyable because of the slight breeze (warm like a hair-dryer), which “cooled” my body a little bit. The boat trip went alongside Mangroves, palm trees and other exotic plants. The fauna and flora was extraordinary and impressive. Finally I arrived at the landing port of the Poovar Island Resort where the Front Office Manager (FOM) was already awaiting me. Astonishing how good the information services worked: Mobiles are used like Walky-Talkies and help to make the day of a customer run smoothly. All personnel are always well informed and prepared.
From the landing port to the entrance hall it is a five-minute walk through flowering gardens and well-trimmed greens. The welcoming of the receptionist was very friendly with professional efficiency. After checking in (they needed a copy of my passport) I received the key to my room and someone guided me there. Again, we walked through the gardens towards the Ayurveda Village where I occupied room #260. This room does have a double bed, table with chair, cupboard, WC and open shower: very nicely arranged and clean. Very silently works the air-condition but is hard to adjust to acceptable temperatures. I was told that it is centrally controlled and can only be set to low, mid and high! Low feels like being inside a fridge. But maybe it is because of the fact that the outside temperature in the shade – at noon – is already above 32 °C.
I did unpack my things and went to the ayurvedic restaurant where I did get my first lunch, which was very delicious with dishes from South-Kerala. The receptionist contacted me afterwards in my room and told me that my first doctor’s consultation would be at 2 PM. I went to the Ayurveda Spa in time and talked to one of the two doctors’ for almost an hour. They needed to know my current health status, liked to get my full anamnesis and told me that my treatment plan will be ready by noon of the next day. Finally they introduced me to my Ayurveda therapist and I received my first massage. The two doctors provide 24/7 services. So just in case, if anything unusual happens, they are available.
During the consultation the doctor figures out what kind of treatment will be best. This is based on the three different Doshas such as Kapha, Pitta and Vata. The following day I received my treatment plan: Abyangha, Sirodhara, Kizhi, Udwartanam, Ksheerodhara, Tarpanam, Mukhalepam, Steam Bath and Njavarakizhi. I felt like being each and every day oiled like a sardine. When I arrived my body weight was 104 kg (188 cm tall). After ten days it was reduced to 98 kg and after another seven days it stayed at 96 kg. Quite a good result for an Ayurveda rejuvenation treatment, which was offered in conjunction with a body purification therapy. Following strictly the daily food recommendations made me feel like regaining power, getting easier to sleep, offered relaxation and more awareness of my health situation: eat less fat, reduce sugar, drink less alcohol, use more fiber for better digestion, etc. In total it did have a huge impact on my life. Especially the treatments in the Ayurveda Spa of the Poovar Island Resort made me feel like a „very welcome customer“. And that’s what I am. The ayurvedic therapist listened carefully on my daily health reports and acted each day differently as the doctor has told him after the regular daily consultation.
At 34 °C and ~85 % humidity the daily routine of getting massages was a kind of torture although it activated the metabolism to burn off fat and calories. Every single day at the same time – an hour after lunch – I went to the Spa to get the „subscribed“ massage and the body treatment in conjunction with it. This 90 minutes procedure calmed me down and I fell aslope most of the times. My therapist had to wake me up during the sessions frequently. I apologized for being so offensive but he said, that this shows to him how deeply relaxed I am. And that is the best during a session because any muscle strain will be relieved.
To reduce the body fat a four hand Udwartanam was performed. The hands of the therapists felt like sandpaper but only a little skin irritation could be recognized at the end. This massage was one of my most wanted. Unfortunately, it was only applied three times during the 21 day rejuvenation time at the resort.
Together with the massages and body treatments ayurvedic dishes were served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Who ever does do some research into Ayurveda finds out easily that the nourishment does have a major impact on the final result of the 21-day-cure.
Being back and in regular lifestyle I can tell, that I am glad that all of my treatments went well again and the nutrition had its effects too. My blood test showed that the detoxication was effective: LDL and HDL levels are back to normal as far as someone can tell what „normal“ means and I’ve lost a decent amount of weight. I am quite satisfied and hope that I can keep the results in the future.
Looking back I have to say: India is a special country. The dot-Indians are specific and you need to adapt to them. Some visitors say that they liked everything because of the varieties they could encounter: food, culture, religion, flora, fauna, etc. I have to say that I did visit India once and that’s it. I didn’t like the ignorance of the people you’ve met outside the resort as well as the humidity I encountered in January/February, the dry season (no rain) of India. In the resort I felt like being in a tourist ghetto: Being provided with the best services and food while the rest of the „world“ struggled hard for their living: too many people, too much dirt and waste, terrible traffic and an Indian-English which is hard to understand. You have to get used to it, otherwise you will be lost.
© 2016, REW