Meaning five (Pancha) action (Karma) is an Ayurvedic purification and detoxification program for the body, mind and consciousness.
Ayurveda medicine is “the Science of Life”, an ancient art of healing, 5000 years ancient in fact. The most ancient of all medicine and is traditional to India.
The belief in Ayurveda is that there is no such thing as disease, just imbalances in the body. These imbalances are due to toxins and it is through our daily exposure to emotional, environmental, cultural, social influences in life that we accumulate toxins causing our bodies not to function to their best abilities. Ayurveda believes that all of these imbalances (what we call diseases) can be balanced and therefore eliminated.
No toxins in the body = no disease
It helps to:
Clear the body of toxins
Efficiently eliminate waste
Rejuvenate organs to function optimally
Balance and harmonise the body
Deep tissue cleanse
Puts the mind at peace
Create calm and happy emotions
Improve overall wellness
Return your body to its natural balanced state
Our Natural state is one of balance and harmony and as a cloth needs to be cleaned so does the body.
In Ayurveda the body will inherently consist of 3 main dosha’s or constitutions. Pitta, Kapha or Vata. Our elemental energies, that encompass the earthly elements of water, earth, fire, air and ether/space.
As each body will be a different dosha (I am Pitta / Vata), it is treated differently to accommodate.
No two panchakarma treatments will be the same. Each person is evaluated individually (makes sense!) and you are evaluated on your TRUE dosha / constitution. That is, what you were like as a child. As more often than not this shifts throughout our life…hence the whole imbalance thing!
I was drawn to Panchakarma as I was living in Bali at the time. I went there for the sole purpose to practice and study yoga and meditation, and basically just live a life that went with that…. I spent 4 months there all up. It was the best time of my life and it totally changed me…
To compliment this, I wanted to cleanse my mind and body and help restore it to its natural state of balance and harmony…why wouldn’t you right!
It seemed completely normal and radical to me at the same time. So simplistic in its application so I was fearful that it would not be that powerful….
Well I can tell you it was.
Here's a little about my experience with it..
I did the 10 day purification. There are other options such as a 5 day rejuvenation.
Traditionally the purification would be anywhere up to 22 days depending on how toxic you are. I could have done the 22 days but opted for the 10 day.
I mainly wanted to treat hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, sleeping problems and reoccurring illnesses. I had been on the contraceptive pill for years and all sorts of heavy duty prescriptions for my skin such as Roacutane. Plus I’d been popping pills for anxiety and depression for a while. I guess I was susceptible to feeling a little depressed.
I forever had a sore throat, had experienced pneumonia and, well, just a general sense of being unsettled, toxic and out of balance! The lifestyle I had lived for years did not help much either.
I am feeling very vulnerable telling you all this stuff you should know, but who cares, it's my story!
I knew a little about Ayurvedic medicine and the dosha’s from the Yoga Teacher Training I had done plus my own studies and investigations. Yoga and Ayurveda are like sister sciences…
You are expected to be completely open to the experience and follow all the guidelines, such as no exposure to intense sunlight i.e sunbaking (which I thought was going to be positively cruel in Bali, but it was actually the last thing I felt like doing). It is a time of quietness, introspection and self love.
So I read a lot, wrote, did a little gentle yoga, meditated and watched pirated balinese movies and the whole 4th season of True Blood…very yogic!
Each day started with drinking Ghee….something that still makes me gag. Whoa…
I started with 1 tablespoon and that doubled each day until day 5…so that is a lot of Ghee in the end! This involved some serious mental strength, water at the ready and to be close to the basin…
The theory for drinking the ghee, which is glarified butter, is that is lubricates all the tissues in the body whilst accumulating and binding toxins…This helps prepare the body to release the toxins in purging stage. My day of purging was scheduled for Day 8.
Each day I would walk 200m down the quiet lovely road of Nyuh Kuning to the Ayurvedic clinic where I would have a couple of hours of treatments, take my herbs and be given my meal for the day.
The daily treatments looked a little like this:
1 hr Abhyanga Masssage – you are stark naked and soaked in Sesame Oil and given the most delicious massage ever. And I mean starkers! And the girls from the clinic would just waft in and out of the room..Often leaving the door open! Hilarious..
Shirodhara – the pouring of warm sesame oil on the forehead. My absolute favourite. It would send me of into a Nidra state, which is the state between waking and sleeping. All sorts of cool things happen there…It is VERY hypnotic and calming for the mind and helps to balance the conscious and subconscious minds.
Swedhana – sitting in an little individualised herbed sweat box with your head poking out. Again…stark naked.
The daily diet was Kitchari, soups and herbed teas. Kitchari is the mixture of 2 grains, rice and mung beans or lentils and loads of yummy indian spices. It is cleansing, easy to digest and a source of complete protein.
Its a bit like creamy rice, dahl, or lentil soup. You would think I’d be sick of eating it every day but I couldn’t wait for my serving to arrive. It was basically all I ate. The hunger really got to me I must say. AND yes, I did lose a lot a weight. WAY too much for my liking. I was really happy with my weight and body shape before Panchakarma. It is not at all one of the reasons I did the detoxification and it should not be.
So each day you do this, increase your Ghee intake, take your daily herbs all in preparation for DAY 8. The day of purging. I had been really looking forward to this day throughout the whole process, until Dr Sujatha put the fear of god into my with a tiny black pill. Let me tell you, this black pill was no bigger than a Tic Tac but yowsa, she was powerful.
Day 8 comes around, I don’t get a lovely massage or my favourite Shirodhara treatment. Actually I think I got a super quick massage to get the juices flowing, then I get a black pill and a 1/4 glass of some funky tasting herbs and am told to go home immediately and be prepared to be on the loo for the next few hours. Dr Sujatha had barely finished telling me this and I had to literally run back to my villa. All in the nick of time..
Long story short, I basically moved from the bathroom to the bed for a much too extended period of time for my liking. Probably about 12 hours in the end which is not particularly normal. By the end of it I was delerious, pulling out my hair, not sure what was going on, writhing around like a lunatic. Luckily I had the sense to call Dr Sujatha and she took me off to the hospital to get put on a drip! I was just massively dehydrated, but CLEANSED!! ha..
Please don't be petrified! I would totally do all of this again. Dr Sujatha was amazing and monitoring me all the time and I felt safe at all times. This happens once in a blue moon apparently and I have complete faith that everything was done as it should have been.
The next day I was a bit delicate but fine. So off I went back to the Ayurvedic Clinic for one of my lovely massages and a good old fashioned herbal enema. This is not to purge, it is more to rejuvenate your bowel and insides. I basically shoved a whole lot of lovely herbs and nourishing oils up that region. Again, I was quite thrilled to be doing that…for the benefits I would get and no other reason!
I must say the recovery period is pretty big and long. I felt like a delicate new born afterwards. You are not meant to travel and are encouraged to live a calm and quiet life for at least a week afterwards. Stupidly I went Island hopping 1 day afterwards which took its toll on me so I would highly recommend adhering to this rule. I was very tired and still needed to massively nourish my body. Which I did to the best of my abilities whilst nomading around.
I felt for the months following that I was still coming back in to balance and my body was rejuvenating itself. You are given loads of lovely post-panchakarma herbs and dietary recommendations to support your re-entry into the world. I came back to Melbourne a couple of weeks after that and I dont think I have ever been the same. Nothing but positives though..
I would do Panchakarma again. Absolutely. It would have been nice though to have someone with me as it got a bit lonely and all sorts of things came up. And I would probably do it at an Ayurvedic Ashram in India. Even though my experience in Bali was just amazing…
Can I just say, this is my story…I have tried to be as factual as possible BUT, if you want the facts, here are a couple of good websites to do your own research. I did MY Panchakarma with the delicious Dr Sujatha at the Amrtasiddhi clinic in Ubud…
Something to think about…