The day after I arrive I’m straight into the medicated ghee to start my day. I meet Doctor Rumee downstairs at 6.10am for my prepared morning delight! This specialized procedure of Panchakarma falls under the category of Snehana (Oleation) Karma. This internal Snehana is done by drinking ghee and oils cooked with herbs specifically prepared for me.
The objective of taking this medicated ghee is to circulate the properties of the herbs into the cellular level, to soften internal residual toxins, to open circulating channels and to help the toxins to flow through these channels and reach the digestive system. Basically this ghee acts as a vehicle to take all my toxins to the digestive system or the intestines where they will later be purged.
I am to take the ghee for three days, increasing the amount each day. The first day I take 40ml, the second 50ml and the final day 60ml. This is traditionally mixed with warm milk however as I don’t particularly like milk they make a nice ginger tea for me to mix mine with.
So on this first day of taking it, the doctor sits with me to make sure I mix it and drink it correctly and the following two days I’m on my own. The initial taste is hard to describe, slightly pungent and the sensation of drinking oil is a bit odd. All in all it’s not too bad and I down it fairly quick smart followed by a refreshing cup of hot water. I’m then told to head back to my room to rest and meditate then I’m to meet the doctor again in an hour for an hour long consultation.
Dr Rumee takes me into a treatment room and asks me various questions about my health, past and present, my childhood, major issues I want to get out of my Panchakarma treatment and so on. She already has all of this information along with my medical reports from various bone density scans, back scans and others but we go through all of this together. She then takes my blood pressure (120/80), performs percussion on my internal organs, examines my pelvic and back area and other parts of my body in great detail.
She then shows me how to perform daily pelvic exercises that will balance my hormones and strengthen my internal pelvic area, in turn helping to deal with my back pain – these are to be done every morning for the duration of my stay and to be continued when I return home.
The next treatment followed immediately after, I am shown how to perform daily eye exercises followed by eye washing. The benefits are to improve eye function, give strength to my eye muscles, give relaxation to the eyes and to improve vision difficulties. I am then shown how to perform oil pulling and mouth gargling which I am also to add to my daily routine (Dinachara).
Ayurveda advises oil pulling to purify the taste buds and the entire system. The tongue is the mirror of the whole digestive and metabolic system, that is, each section of the tongue is connected to the kidneys, lungs, spleen, liver, heart, pancreas, small intestines, stomach, colon and spine.
Thus, an oil-mouth-massage soothes and stimulates the key meridians where taste meets organ. Simultaneously, as in any skin massage, the inner skin and lining of the mouth, palate and tongue become warm and supple and the lubrication prevents dryness. The specialised herb oil used here is Pitta (one of the three dosas/constitutions) predominant energy, which means bodily fire. This is involved in the whole metabolic transformation process. So it helps to digest or metabolise ama (undigested or un-metabolised food or stress).
At last I am allowed breakfast shortly after 9am. My food plan for the next three days while I’m on the ghee is a light to normal diet which I actually find very substantial. Breakfast is porridge cooked in ghee, brown sugar and spices and cooked apples with various spices including cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Lunch and dinner varies, always starting with a Dahl soup, some sort of grain such as rice or couscous, chapati, vegetable momos and a selection of steamed or fried vegetables usually cooked in very tasty spices plus there is always a fresh chutney to finish it off.
Later that morning I have my first yoga session also with Dr Rumee. We start with breath awareness, followed by what they call foundation 1 yoga poses, pranayama breath work and ending with Bhramari (deep humming bee sound) and OM chanting. At the end of this session the doctor then guides me in using a neti pot to cleanse my nasal passages. The first seven days I am to use a warm milk concoction, not the most pleasant activity I have done so far but I’m sure there will be worse to come. This practice detoxes the nasal passages and sinus area and is the quickest route in the body to the brain helping clarity of thought.
After a yummy lunch I have the most amazing massage treatment – a whole body synchronized Abhyanga cleansing massage that is performed by two therapists. This is just amazing, being massaged by two hands is wonderful enough but four hands is simply divine.
After the massage I have my first Picu treatment. Another oleation practice, this process involves submerging cotton cloths in warm oil to heat them, compressing the cloths and then applying them to the specific body parts to treat those areas. Mine concentrates on my lower back, neck, shoulders and knees. It provides nourishment to muscles and tissues, releases stress, increases flexibility and restores muscle and joint movement by penetrating into the deep tissue level. It is excellent for joint pain and swelling, joint and muscle stiffness or deformity, muscle and tendon cramps, twists, and tears, spondylosis and backache. It improves the lymphatic system and general circulation. It also feels damn good!