Panchakarma: In India or not in India?
By Nora Coers
In the course of my 18 Panchakarmas in ten centres and on three continents, I have, between you and me, become a bit of a Panchakarma (PK) addict. Whenever anything crops up throwing me out of balance, I immediately think: oh, PK will get rid of that for me. As I walk out of one centre at the end of 21 days of treatment, I am already thinking of where to go for the next. At least, I was.
TIll I came to ONEWORLD ayurveda (OWA).
During a long chat with their Ayurvedic doctors Aparna and Ninnu, they showed me that this PK-hopping was just another wind trait – that is the life force responsible for the nerves. In other words, I had a Vata (wind) imbalance, together with sleeplessness, pain in the lower back, anxiety, fear, lack of concentration, memory loss and I have forgotten what else.
If you are a Vata (wind) person or if your wind life force is out of balance you need change all the time. You might have had several jobs, romantic partners, moved house a few times. And PK-hopped.
The problem with all this cleansing around is that every time you need to rebuild a relationship with an Ayurvedic doctor. You might spend 21 days with one, but have to start from scratch with the next. It is so much easier when the Ayurvedic doctor knows you well, which (s)he will after having seen you daily for three weeks. This is the case at OWA but not necessarily at all the Ayurvedic centres I have been to. And where they do not, it means it takes even longer to establish that crucial relationship, enabling him/her to set a course back to your health and happiness.
So what should you look for in a centre? Doctors, therapists, setting, degree of solitude and food are the five points you want to look at. The Ayurvedic doctors at OWA are amongst the best I have come across. They are knowledgeable (one is a PhD) and get results. At one centre in India the doctors were not all Ayurvedic, one was an allopathic one.
Therapists in Bali have those wonderful healing hands and they envelop you in love. Sounds corny, but that is the only way to describe it. In India some have been good and others not.
The setting is important in that you want peaceful surroundings. For example, OWA is located in the midst of spectacular rice fields north of Ubud, healing in itself. On the other end of the spectrum, one centre I went to in India was located in a seven-storey concrete building on a busy, polluted road.
And you want to think to what extent you want to be with others. I love the intimate dinners at OWA, the candles are lit, the table beautifully set. During the day I find I like to be by myself, but enjoy spending the evening with others. Sometimes my dinner is served on my balcony, especially on cleanse day. I like having the option though, which not all centres in India can give you. At the last one I went to we were not allowed to eat with others and had our meals by ourselves in our rooms.
Speaking of which – food. At OWA this is freshly prepared, there is no microwave and it is absolutely delicious. Meals rotate on an eleven-day basis, so you do not get bored. Everyone keeps commenting on it. It is international, sometimes western, sometimes not, giving you ideas for back home. Some centres in India serve only kitchari. Delicious, but three weeks of it? One had a microwave, another a buffet, yet another served fish, meat and even a glass of wine.
So do your homework before going.
As for me, I might still have a romantic partner or two, even move house, but I am sticking to one Ayurvedic centre.