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Ayurvedic Detox (Part 3): Panchakarma


Ayurveda, the holistic medicine from India, has given us the ultimate way to detoxify the body-mind: Panchakarma.

Panchakarma, or the “five actions,” is a time-tested cleansing process that releases stored toxins and restores the body’s innate healing ability. It is a series of therapies that helps remove deep rooted stress while balancing the body-mind types – vata, pitta, kapha.

Panchakarma was developed thousands of years ago by the physician-yogis of India. Its five actions refer to the five cleansing and rejuvenating procedures described in Ayurvedic textbooks. Panchakarma in the West mainly uses three of these five Ayurvedic methods for removing toxins, each prescribed based on one’s body-mind type.

Scientific studies have proven that the natural purification treatments of Panchakarma can successfully eliminate environmental toxins such as PCB’s and pesticides from the body.

A Panchakarma program is only effective if special detoxification diet is consumed along with the treatments. The staff at the Shankara Ayurveda Wellness are keenly aware of this and every individual undergoing Panchakarma receives a special diet which is monitored by the doctor.

The Process

Think of Panchakarma as a three step process: mobilization of toxins, elimination of toxins, and body-mind rejuvenation.

Step 1: Mobilizing Toxins
Panchakarma begins with oleation — the application and ingestion of oils and ghee to loosen and mobilize toxins from the stomach and intestines. Deep soothing massages are given, using warm oils like coconut and sesame, that have been infused with healing herbs.

Step 2: Elimination and Release
After oleation, comes Swedana, or sweating therapy, in the sauna or steam room. Sweating allows toxins to be eliminated through the skin while improving circulation and releasing tension. In addition, the toxins mobilized in Step 1 are released using a series of daily basti’s, or therapeutic enemas. Basti is much more than an enema, however. It refers to a special type of colon cleanse that uses herb infused oils to remove fat-soluble toxins from the intestinal tract.

Step 3: Body-Mind Rejuvenation
Once the toxins have been released, the time is ripe to nourish the body with natural foods, with meditation and gentle yoga.

The Shankara Ayurvedic Spa Experience

Panchakarma Retreat for wellness at the Ayurveda Spa.

A Panchakarma Detox Retreat is pampering and de-stressing experience, customized just for you. It includes

  • Initial Ayurvedic consultation with pulse assessment followed by daily check ups with an Ayurvedic Health Practitioner so that you experience the best treatments for you
  • About 2 1/2 hours of daily Ayurvedic treatments, customized to your personal wellness program
  • Abhyanga (warm oil massage): One of the world’s oldest massage therapy techniques, herb-infused oils are massaged into the body, loosening toxins, relaxing the nervous system and providing rest, nourishment and rejuvenation.
  • Swedna (steam room therapy)
  • Combinations of several different treatments, such as shirodhara, karna purna, nasya, marma, kati basti, netra tarpana as recommended for you
  • Therapeutic, organic diet designed to optimize your experience in treatments
  • And much more, like Ayurvedic cooking classes and daily satsang/kirtan

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Releasing Emotional Toxins

Emotional toxins can be just as damaging as physical toxins – for example, the suffering caused by a toxic relationship at home or undue criticism at work. It’s important to remember that your mind and heart are continually digesting energy and information as well as foods.

The inability to clear these toxic emotions like anger, jealousy or grievances can lead to stress related illnesses, from ulcers to hypertension to stroke. If your emotional agni, your inner fire, is strong, you will be able to reinforce the positive emotions that nourish you—like happiness, contentment, joy and gratitude – and eliminate the negative emotions that no longer serve you.

Cleansing the Mind: Mantra and Pranayama

Both Ayurveda and Yoga recommend mantric chanting and conscious breathing as an important part of holistic healing. Some mantras, like Aum and OM Shanti, are soothing to the nervous system. Other mantras, like the Gayatri, a mantra for higher consciousness, are chanted for wisdom and illumination.

In addition, pranayama, breathing exercises like nadi shodhana, can rapidly relieve anxiety and soothe the worries and hurries of the mind.

According to Ayurveda, good health depends upon our ability to fully assimilate all aspects of life, taking in that which nourishes us and eliminating the rest. If we don’t completely digest our food, experiences and emotions, toxins will accumulate in our body and mind, creating imbalance and, ultimately, disease.

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