In 'Panchakarma' or 'retreat therapies', many steps are taken, each tailored to patient with the right dose and proportion of the ingredients and activities, and each treatment in sync with others in the sequence. A Vaidya uses his/her knowledge, training, experience and intuition to plan a schedule that helps your body cleanse, repair and rejuvenate as fast and efficient as possible so that you can heal faster, easier and more completely.
Preparatory relaxation therapies Stress is the beginning and toxicity is the next step in almost all diseases. Ayurveda recommends appropriate relaxation, cleanse and repair in a disease. We use literally tens of thousands of herbs in hundreds of time-tested recipes and fine-tuned treatment techniques to achieve renewal of your body and mind. Relaxation therapies start with horizontal position, herbal oils, hot baths and deep strokes.
Abhyanga, Sekam, Pichu, Varti
Mardana and marma points
Anulomana and strokes
Pre-Panchakarma therapies This is to dissolve and dislodge the toxins effectively from the cells and thus giving the cells the best environment to heal, faster and better.
Snehana - internal and external - includes a large range of techniques such as such as abhyanga, seka, pichu, vasti and avagaha using recipes such as medicated ghees, oils, and fats.
Svedana - internal and external - includes a large range of techniques such as drava, ruksha, sankara, prastara, nadi, parisheka, avagahana, jentaka, ashmaghna, karshu, kuti, bhu, kumbhika, kupa, and holaka using heated water and oils.
Panchakarma/Panchashodhana therapies This is to remove toxins from the cells safely. Not all therapies are required in any given disease. These treatments are used based on the biochemical nature and anatomical location of the toxins and disease.
Vasti - Snehavasti and Kashayavasti
Post-panchakarma therapies This is to stabilise the digestion and metabolism to address the world.
Rasayana therapies This is to empower the body and mind.
Reconditioning and renewal therapies
A few interesting facts Panchakarma and Panchashodhana are theoretically similar and different. No one requires all these karmas, at least during one stay. Nasya and Vasti are done in a course of 3-28 daily treatment sessions. Vamana, Virechana and Raktamoksha are done once during the stay.
A SMALL LIST OF AYURVEDA THERAPIES
Each of these therapies are personalised using the preparation method, timing, duration, technique applied and ingredients used. In short, each therapy can be done in innumerable ways.
Abhyanga - Abhyanga is known as Ayurvedic massage. Technically massage is mardana. Abhyanga is only application of oil on the body. The massage style varies according to the therapist but it generally involves long strokes on the long bones and circular strokes around the joints. It can be firm or gentle according to the patient’s needs. A warm herb- infused oil suitable to the patient’s problem or constitution is applied or in some cases a herbal powder is employed (churna-abhyanga.)
Avagaham - Immersion of the body or limbs in an individualised herbal fluid or oil to strengthen the area, reduce inflammation and accelerate healing.
Bahyavasti - Pooling herbal fluids over an area of the body. This ensures the area absorbs the maximum amount of the therapeutic herbs. Kativasti (back), greevavasti (neck), urovasti (chest) are some specific styles of Bahya-vasti.
Brihmana - A series of therapies to rebuild and replenish the mind and body.
Dehadhara - In Deha-dhara (also known as pizhichil) a warm herbal oil or milk is poured over the body. This is one the most rejuvenating and soothing therapies to empower the nervous, muscular and skeletal systems. Chronic fatigue syndrome, poor circulation and chronic muscle tension is treated successfully with deha-dhara.
Dhumam - Herbal fumes to remove toxins and purify areas such as the ear canal, sinus and skin.
Gandharva-veda - Gandharva-veda This is Ayurvedic music therapy. It uses musical melodies (ragas) or mantras to create a harmonious vibration in the mind and body.
Gandusham - Herbal oil gargling to restore the health of teeth and gums.
Greevavasti - This entails pooling oil over the neck for conditions such as prolapsed disc, degenerative spinal conditions, chronic neck pain, compressed discs and spondylosis.
Januvasti - When therapeutic oils are pooled over the knee it is known as janu-vasti. This strengthens the knee joint by improving the circulation, joint lubrication strength and stability. It is often employed in arthritis and knee injuries.
Kayakalpa - A complete program of rejuvenative therapies and observances undergone over weeks or months.
Karnapuranam - A therapy for ear problems, vertigo or tinnitus whereby warm herbal oil is poured into the ear canal.
Kashayadhara - Herbal decoctions are poured continuously over the body. Kashaya dhara treats conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, varicose veins, blocked circulation, dull skin, pain, psoriasis and eczema.
Kativasti - Warm oil is pooled over the sacrum or lower back to rejuvenate joints, tendons and muscles. Extremely useful in sacro-iliac problems, disc prolapses, lumbar spondylosis, osteoporosis, sciatica, periformis syndrome and chronic backache.
Kavalagraham - Keeping the mouth full with a herbal liquid to heal or tones the tonsils, sinuses, teeth, gums, vocal cords, pharynx and larynx.
Ksheeradhumam - Steam fomentation with medicated cow’s milk. This treatment is good for facial paralysis, Bell’s palsy, speech disorders and other neurological disorders of the face.
Langhanam - A series of lightening therapies to reduce excess weight and waste.
Lepanam - Herbal pastes are used to purify and replenish the skin. Lepanam is also used for lymphatic congestion, bruises, fractures, rashes and poison.
Mardana - The traditional term for Ayurvedic massage
Marma-chikitsa - Marma-chikitsa Ayurvedic acupressure to reduce pain and promote healing energy.
Nasya - Nasya involves medication up the nasal passages. It is applied in conditions related to the eyes, nose, throat, brain, vocal cords and tonsils.
Navara-kizhi - Also known as shashtika- pinda-swedam. A bolus of herbal or plain rice is dipped in warm herbalised milk or decoction and massaged over the body. This treatment is used to regenerate wasted tissues such as muscles, tendons and ligaments, stabilise joints and cartilage. It is also assists recovery from strokes and paralysis.
Netra-dhara - For deep eye rejuvenation and purification herbal fluids are allowed to flow continuously over the eyes. Useful for all vision and eye problems.
Netra-tarpanam - Warm herbal gee is pooled over the eyes to renew the vision, optic nerves and retina. Retinal detachment, short sightedness, glaucoma and neurological weaknesses of the eyes are treated with Netra- tarpanam. This is also known as Akshi- tarpanam.
Paada-aghata - An Ayurvedic massage whereby the therapist massages the client with their feet, keeping their balance by holding on to an overhanging rope.
Pancha-karma - Five Ayurvedic therapies that are designed to cleanse every organ and tissue of our body. Panchakarma may include vomiting, laxatives, nasal medication, enema and blood letting.
Paschaat-karma - Post panchakarma therapies designed to ease the body back to a normal diet and routine.
Patra-pinda-swedanam - A herbal bolus is massaged over the body. This is often used to relieve back pain, lymphatic congestion, spondylosis, sciatica or arthritis.
Pichu - A warm oil pad is applied to the body, keeping it constantly warm by dipping in hot oil. This therapy is used successfully on prolapsed discs, damaged joints, chronically tense tendons and muscles, memory loss and insomnia. Based on the location it may be known as shiropichu (head), prishtapichu (back), sandhipichu (joints) or greevapichu (neck).
Purva-karma - Pre-panchakarma therapies to optimize one’s ability to assimilate the effect of deep cleansing and rejuvenation. This may include abhyanga, snehapana, swedana and other therapies.
Puta-paakam - Puta-paakam employs herbal juices to purify and tone the eyes. This is used in conjunction with Netra-tarpanam. Dry eye syndrome and cataracts are some of the conditions where these therapies are utilised.
Rakta-moksha - Rakta-moksha means blood-letting. It helps to heal diseases caused by toxins trapped in the blood. Special leeches or instruments are used to extract blood. Chronic migraine, ulcers, varicose veins and eczema are some conditions where rakta- moksha may be applied.
Rasayanam - A series of tailored therapies to rejuvenate the mind and body. Rasayanam invariably involves a strict diet, rest, meditation and herbs.
Rukshanam - Reducing and drying therapies to remove excess cholesterol, unwanted fat and fluid from the body.
Samsarjana-kriya - Select dietary or herbal preparations are given to rekindle the digestion and metabolism. This optimises assimilation of nutrients.
Shamanam - A group of therapies that prevent from accumulating in the body as wellYogaTherapyInstitute.com.au
Shirobhyanga - Soothing Ayurvedic massage of the head, neck & shoulders using warm herbal oils. Indicated in insomnia, eyestrain, headache, premature greying & hair loss.
Shirodhara - Approximately two litres of warm, herbalised oil is poured onto the forehead in a soothing rhythm from temple to temple for 40-50 minutes.
Shirovasti - A tall, open-topped cap is sealed around the head and filled with therapeutic herbal oil. The cap remains in place for up to an hour. Common conditions for shiro- vasti are anxiety, facial paralysis, insomnia, psychological conditions, psoriasis and stress.
Snaanam - Snaanam Bathing in different therapeutic substances which may include Ksheera-snanam (milk), taila-snaanam (oil), lavana-snanam (salt).
Snehanam - These nourishing therapies involve the use of oil or ghee externally and internally to restore essential fats and moisture to the body. It also lubricates the body to promote purification.
Snehapaanam - Drinking herbal ghee in order to lubricate the channels and dilute deep- seated cellular toxins. This prepares the body for deep detoxification.
Soundarya-charya - Ayurvedic beauty therapy utilizes innumerable methods to enhance one’s innate beauty. It includes treatments for smooth radiant skin, lustrous hair and a toned physique. Therapies may involve facials, hair treatments, steam, exfoliation, masks, wraps and massage.
Svedana - Is sweating therapies to optimize circulation, assimilation and elimination through the channels. Various forms of heat may be such as a steam chamber, sauna, warm blanket or warm bolus.
Talam - Application of herbal paste over a small area such as a bruise, torn tendon or joint subluxation is known as Talam. For insomnia and bad dreams it is used on the crown.
Udvartana - Ayurvedic massage with herbal or legume powder. It is used for weight loss and tones the skin, cleanses the lymphatics, reduces cellulite and stimulates the metabolism.
Uzhichil - Another term for Ayurvedic massage.
Vajeekaranam - Rejuvenating therapies to improve the quality and quantity of one’s sexual fluids in order to optimise fertility. The ultimate goal of this therapy is ultimate sexual satisfaction and to produce healthy progeny. Vajeekaranam also prevents genetic and congenital disorders.
Vamanam - Vamanam is a vomiting therapy to remove kapha predominant toxins that usually give rise to disorders related to mucus, congestion, heaviness, swelling and obesity. Conditions which can improve with vamanam include asthma, respiratory allergies, hay fever, psoriasis and eczema.
Varti - Herbs are soaked in a cotton tube and inserted into tubular structures of the body such as the nose, vagina, tubular ulcers or fistulas. This is used to treat infections, lubricate the channel and accelerate healing.
Vasti - Vasti is a decoction or oil enema that cleanses and rejuvenates the whole body. It is generally inserted in the anus but also the vagina in rare cases. Vasti is a broad-spectrum remedy particularly prescribed for vata disorders.
Veshtanam - Wraps with warm herbal pastes that reduce swelling, cellulite and lymphatic congestion.
Virechanam - Virechanam is a strong laxative (purgation) process. It removes excess pitta which can cause acidity, rashes, burning, bleeding, diarrhoea, irritability and agitation. Virechanam treats disorders of the liver, spleen, gall bladder, stomach, small intestine and skin when applicable.
The Kerala retreat therapies
These are oil and other tactile therapies, which are either rejuvenative or pre-panchakarma therapies practiced in Kerala.
Oil Application ~ Abhyanga: Full body and head massage with herbal oils freshly prepared on the premises. As with most treatments, this is carried out by several trained masseuses or masseurs on a specially carved wooden table. This is called a Droni and is made from a medicinal wood such as teak, sandalwood, Jack tree, Himalayan cedar or neem. Benefits: Most relaxing and rejuvenative. Used in disorders of Vata, such as rheumatism, arthritis, muscle, bone and neurological disorders.
Herbal stream ~ Dhara: Milk, buttermilk, medicated oil, ghee or herbal decoctions are poured on the head or body in a specific rhythmic way from a wide-mouthed earthen vessel with a cord hanging from the centre. The patient lies on the Droni, a clean cloth is then tied around their head to prevent oil from pouring into their eye. The treatment lasts for 60 to 90 minutes. When it is done on the body, it will be accompanied by massage also. Benefits: Dhara alleviates fatigue, improves mental capacities and restores systemic imbalances. It is especially useful in insomnia, chronic fatigue, chronic headaches, ear and nose diseases, neurological diseases, spondylitis, paraplegia and psychiatric disorders.
Oil steam ~ Pizhichil: At least four attendants are required in this treatment. The patient lies on the Droni and the attendants then dip cotton strips of cloth into warm medicated oil and apply the oil by squeezing it from the cloth onto the body. The patient is then massaged all over and then bathed in a special herbal infusion and pulse flours. The treatment generally lasts for about 40 to 90 minutes. Benefits: Specific musculo-skeletal disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, lumbago, sciatica, hemiplegia, neuropathry, chronic fatigue, skin disorders and mental disturbances.
Rice pudding massage ~ Navara kizhi: This treatment causes the whole body to sweat by the gentle application of warm medicinal rice and herbs. Medicated oil is massaged over the head and body of the patient. The patient then lies on the Droni and cotton bundles of special navara rice are massaged over the body. Massage is continued for up to one and a half hours. The excess rice is then cleaned from the body, then oil massage and warm bath is taken. Benefits: Musculo-skeletal disorders, rheumatism, paralysis and sciatica.
Cranial oil pooling ~ Sirovasti: This treatment requires the patient to get fitted with an open topped “dunce cap”. It is fitted around the head with special dough and cloth. The patient generally sits upright as the warm medicated oil is poured into the cap, effectively covering the crown of the head. The treatment continues for 45 to 90 minutes. While the oil is taken out and reheated oil will be filled in the hat at regular intervals, without disturbing the system. The body will be massaged with medicated oil before and after treatment. At the end the oil on the head is then wiped with dry towels and the patient’s body is bathed in warm water. Benefits: Ear, nose and throat disorders, chronic headaches, facial paralysis, spondylitis, insomnia, psychiatric and nervous disorders.