KATE O’BRIEN takes you off the beaten track with a few alternative treatments to reboot body and mind. Today we take a look at an ancient Indian system of healing, Ayurveda.
At the heart of Ayurveda is the concept that our bodies are a microcosm of the universe with three doshas at work: vata (air), pitta (fire) and kapha (earth). Just as each of us has an individual thumbprint, we also have a unique pattern of physical, mental and emotional energy that corresponds with these doshas. Achieving balance and harmony between the doshas is the aim of therapy and the foundations of health and wellbeing in Ayurvedic medicine.
From diet, yoga and lifestyle to an array of Indian techniques, including Abhyanga massage, Shirodhara and other steam- and oil-based therapies, Ayurvedic practitioners will work to cleanse and rebalance individual constitution.
CLOSE TO HOME
Dr Donn Brennan practises Maharishi Ayurveda in Monkstown, Co Dublin, ayurveda.ie.
Essential Ayurveda – nestled in the heart of the Lincolnshire countryside, expert Ayurvedic practitioners Andy and Laura Shakeshaft offer bespoke retreats lasting three, five or seven days and comprising daily oil massages, steam therapy, yoga and qigong sessions, dietary advice, cooking demonstrations, and individual Ayurvedic counselling, essentialayurveda.co.uk.
Ananda Spa, at the foothills of the Himalayas, runs regular Ayurvedic retreats with visiting masters. Close to the ashram town of Rishikesh (the birthplace of yoga), the spa offers traditional massage and Shirodhara therapies as well as more complex, doctor-assisted programmes designed to cleanse and recharge body and mind. Unquestionably the perfect place to simply “be” in the home of the gods, where the cleansing properties of the Ganges are at their most powerful, anandaspa.com.
Ulpotha is a traditional working farm set in an ancient pilgrimage site on the western fringes of Sri Lanka’s cultural region. With accommodation in mud-style huts, no electricity, hot water or doors, Ulpotha is not for everyone, but those seeking peace and spiritual renewal tend to become hooked. The resident Ayurvedic physician designs personalised detoxification programmes, while some of the world’s great masseurs and yogis run workshops amidst the lush and spiritual countryside. “The most therapeutic thing about Ulpotha is to have the mind get still,” says founder Viren Perera, who many years on continues to be amazed at its success, ulpotha.com.
This article originally appeared in the February issue of IMAGE. The March issue is on shelves now.
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