March's Ayurveda Tips
by Connie Mardon
Hi folks! Many of you have heard the word “Panchakarma” being tossed around. A lot of the treatment is in Sanskrit wording and frankly, it is a mystery to some people exactly what it is.
Panchakarma is the cornerstone of Ayurveda. It is usually done at the change of seasons to rid the body of accumulated doshas from the season before. For instance, fall is a good time to go on a PK cleanse because during the summer months, we have accumulated a lot of heat, Pitta, in our system. PK helps to rid the body of heat and prepare for the Vata time, which is fall and winter. Likewise, spring is also a good time because during the winter months, we have stored some extra fat, (hopefully) from eating those hearty, heavy soups and stews to ground out Vata, which increases our Kapha. And springtime is the Kapha season, which can bring on a lot of upper respiratory problems.
Also, PK has been used for chronic illnesses such as arthritis or high blood pressure, colitis. Typically a good rejuvenating cleanse lasts 5 to 7 days. If you have chronic problems, it can last anywhere from 5 to 21 days.
Panchakarma is a Sanskrit word meaning Pancha = five and Karma = action. So typically there are five standard treatments that happen when you undergo PK. Because every body is different, there are even more personalized treatments, but we will focus on the basic five.
First when you decide to take the PK plunge, you will be asked a week before to start changing your diet. You will be eating your very, very basic dosha diet and cutting out all the “good stuff,” i.e., coffee, alcohol, cheese, meat, sugar, etc…You will be eating everyday what is known as Kitchari, basically a stew of split mung bean and basmati rice, with herbs for your dosha. Four days before you come to clinic, you will be asked to ingest ghee and take warm Epsom salt baths. Each day you take more and more ghee until the last day, you are taking in over a quarter cup. This is to ensure proper oleation. The premise behind this is that the ghee goes deep in your tissues and dislodges what is known as AMA. AMA is undigested toxins accumulated in your tissues. It’s like a W-D40. If you think of honey pouring out of a bowl, it is going to stick. But if you oil the bowl beforehand, it will glide right out. This is the premise behind PK, as well as balancing your Prakruti or dosha, so your body can do its own magic in healing.
On the last day of taking your ghee, you will be asked to take castor oil in the night. The idea behind this is that AMA or toxins have been dislodged from your tissues and brought to the stomach or digestive tract. The castor oil flushes it all out. Yes, I know…already you’re going ohhh, nooooo…
Day five you come to clinic..and this, folks, is the best part! Each day it goes like this.
Five actions…. Abhyanga, Nasya, Swedana, Shirodhara, Basti.
By now, you will only be eating Kitchari.. yes, this can sound boring and yes, you get tired of it. So what happens is you truly only eat when you are hungry. And at least you are not fasting, which is against Ayurvedic principles for any time longer than a day. Kitchari will provide you with enough nutrition to keep the body strong as well as keep the digestive fire kindled throughout your PK process. Split mung is not only nourishing and easy to digest, it also aids in detoxifying. It is truly a magical little bean..
Abhyanga is warm, herbalized oil tailored to your doshic imbalance and rubbed all over your body. It is like an oil bath. Very nourishing and calming
Nasya is administration of nasal herbs, usually an oily substance. This is very powerful for getting rid of accumulated waste in the nose, throat and sinus area. The nose is the gateway to the brain. Perfect for those prone to sinus congestion.
Swedana or sweating with a steam tent is the next step. The idea behind this is it is further liquefying toxins so they may keep going to the digestive tract to be eliminated.
Shirodhara is the icing on the cake. It is thought in Ayurveda that deep relaxation provides an environment where deeply rooted imbalances can be overcome. Shirodhara is a subtle and profound treatment that consists in pouring warm oil in a slow, steady stream on the forehead. It pacifies vata dosha, calms and nourishes the central nervous system, promoting relaxation and tranquility, and improves mental clarity and comprehension.
Basti is an herbalized enema. This is especially good for vata types, as the home of vata lies in your colon. Less than one cup will be administered of a mixture of herbalized oil and water. Let me tell you what, there is no other treatment better than Basti for Sciatica, joint pain, kidney stones and chronic constipation.
(there are many, many more different treatments that I will incorporate with each individual. The above five will almost always be included)
After your treatment ends, you will be asked to slowly start incorporating your doshic diet back into your life. You will be given some rejuvenation herbs and a list of certain foods that will give you energy. You will look and feel so great, that you will want to keep up with your new way of thinking and eating.
Now, you’re thinking how much does something like this cost? And yes, that is the rub. You will be charged anywhere from 250.00 to 450.00 a day for this treatment, which usually lasts from 2 to 3 hours. It usually includes kitchari while you are undergoing PK. It is not cheap, not to mention you must take off work for this to be effective. And I realize that most of us folks, including me, can’t afford to do this twice a year, let alone once…
There is hope.
You can do this on your own.
It’s not nearly as fabulous, but it is possible.
And it is effective too and the price is very fair.
Next newsletter I will tell you how you can do this.
You can either go out and buy and make your own supplies or purchase them from me.
Let’s do it together!
I’m certainly ready, how about you?
Connie Mardon received her 200-hour training from Seaside Yoga
Sanctuary and is a Certified Ayurvedic Medicine Practitioner. She
specializes in Ayurvedic consultations, massage and Panchakarma, an ancient
cleansing for body, mind and spirit. In her yoga classes, Connie
discusses Ayurvedic postures for different body types and Ayurvedic tips for
healthy living and emphasizes breath, body movement and meditation, focusing on
integrating the three and becoming one with the mind.
Connie has had yoga in her life for over 35 years and believes
yoga is for everybody and encourages all people. Yoga is not about turning your
body into a pretzel, but it is about getting to know yourself and taking the
journey inward. She believes that living in a world where demands and
challenges are coming at us every day, yoga and meditation can change one’s way
of handling stressful situations in a more peaceful manner.
is also a tribal belly dance instructor, integrating yoga and dance, and is a
Certified Shorthand Reporter.