“A city dweller discovers the wonders of Ayurveda at wellness centre tucked away in a corner of Kerala.”
On the lid of a vessel placed on an induction cook stove sat four potlis (cloth bundles) like plump ladies getting steam together. As harmless as they looked I knew the bundles were not to be taken lightly. Like with all Ayurvedic treatments, my massage started with a generous application of oil to the head and shoulders. A short face and body massage followed. Once every inch of me was slathered with oil, I was asked to turn around and lie face down. By now, I was slightly apprehensive of what was going to happen next but before I could mull over this, two lady masseuse started patting my body with the fomented hot potlis in perfect synchronisation. My entire body got a gentle beating down. I imagined this was what a ball of dough felt as it was pulled and kneaded. In the end, I felt a lightness I hadn’t experienced in a while. The seemingly simple Kadikizhi treatment is particularly effective in relieving aches and pains, reducing hypertension and aids weight loss. It’s one of the many treatments offered at Kairali Ayurvedic Healing Village, a wellness centre located 150 kilometres from Kochi.
Relying on the 5,000-year-old wisdom of Ayurveda, Kairali’s treatments are a combination of massages, yoga, meditation, natural medicines and wholesome food. Ayurveda believes that each individual is a unique combination of five elements – earth, water, fire, air and space. If either one of these is not in balance, it manifests in bodily and mental diseases. People from around the world go for ayurvedic treatments for a variety of ailments, stretching anywhere between seven days to about 21 days.
I made my way to the common dining area where everyone has their meals. The circular structure with red oxide floors and large open windows felt cool despite the rising temperature and high levels of humidity outside. Breakfast was a combination of pomegranate juice, fresh watermelon and papaya, and masala oats porridge with vegetables, served with mint and coriander chutney. I would normally crave my caffeine fix of either tea or coffee after a sumptuous breakfast, but both are strictly prohibited during Ayurvedic treatment. Instead, I was served herbal tea. Although known as tea, the mix doesn’t contain any tea leaves and is made from gokshura, fennel and other herbs.Kerala is home to a large number of ayurvedic retreats in India
“The Kadikizhi treatment is particularly effective in relieving aches and pains, reducing hypertension and aids weight loss”
Eating the right food is an integral part of Ayurveda. Almost all ingredients are sourced from an organic farm and care is taken to use fruits and vegetables that are in season. Lunch and dinner usually consists of simple vegetable soups, fresh salads, lightly spiced curries, iron-rich red rice along with chapattis, green gram and finger millet dosas. It was jackfruit season and the fleshy yellow fruit invariably made its way into dessert.
Between massages and after meals, there was plenty of time to relax. My room overlooking the stream running through the property was the perfect place to unwind with a book or to just sit back and observe nature. With just 30 villas spread over a 15-acre property Kairali’s verdant grounds were a refreshing change from the city vistas that I am used to. Sitting on my porch I had soaring coconut, neem, fruit-laden jackfruit trees an numerous butterflies for company.
The morning massage session was followed by another in the evening. Over the three days, under the expert guidance of my masseuse, I was given Abhiyangam, Shirodhara and Udvartanam treatments, besides Kadikizhi. Before each session, the masseuse would consult the doctor who recommended specific oils or herbal mixes to be used tailored to my physical constitution.Kairali Ayurvedic retreat
I knew a wellness programme would be relaxing and pampering, yet I was sceptical about its efficacy. But by the end of the first day itself, my doubts were laid to rest as I noticed a visible change in my energy levels and state of mind. Eating right, sleeping well, hour-long yoga sessions first thing in the morning and evening meditation sessions, along with the massages were slowly but surely working their magic on me. There was a slowness in my body, a stillness in my mind and a spring in my step. What more could a weary city dweller ask for!
Food is an important part of Ayurveda. There is a famous sloka that says, “food is medicine when consumed properly”. If we eat foods suited to our physiology and follow a sattvic routine, it helps improve digestion, enhancing our immune system. We should eat loads of fruits and vegetables, not only for their nutritional value, but also because they are good natural internal cleansers.
Words: Chaitali Patel