What Does Panchakarma Involve?
Panchakarma is the ultimate mind-body healing practice of detoxifying the body while strengthening the immune system and restoring your body’s pH balance. It provides an overall sense of calm and wellbeing.
Panchakarma is a 3 part process: pre-cleansing, main treatment, and post-cleansing.
I. Cleanse Prep (Purva karma)
The cleanse prep is done before Panchakarma to prepare the body for the main cleanse. This process is divided into 3 steps:
1) Pre-cleanse diet – Pachan: This process stimulates the processing of undigested food, clearing the stomach. When your body is burdened with toxins and digestion is poor, a few days of a kichadi diet alongside Ayurvedic herbs can effectively revitalize your system and prepare you for deeper cleansing.
2) Oil Treatment – Snehana: This process moisturizes the body inside and out through the use of oils and ghee. The combination of internal and external moisturization swiftly releases toxins from the system. Abhyanga massage is often used in this process to get the best results.
3) Steam Treatment – Swedana: Swedana is a steam treatment infused with Ayurvedic herbs based on your constitution. This set of procedures intensifies the benefits of the oil treatments in phase 2, encouraging the body to sweat out toxins, purifying the system for the main cleanses.
II. Main Cleanses (Pradhan karma)
The main phase includes one or more of the 5 processes panchakarma employs to clear the system. The choice of the method depends on your individual constitution and current practice in your region. Vamana can help clear obstructed airways and reduce excessive kapha. In virechana, specially prepared herbs are used to clear toxins from the blood, skin, sweat glands, and digestive tract. Basti restores vata and digestive issues to balance by flushing out toxins from the digestive tract and has been traditionally used to great success with constipation, acidity, kidney stones and stomach troubles. Nasya has traditionally been recommended to help reduce headaches, allergies, and other head, neck, ear, and throat issues. Like this, there are a number of treatments, which are used depending on the person’s constitution.
Panchakarma has many enjoyable procedures, which result in deep cleansing, balance and physical restoration. At the end of the day, this means greater energy and vitality. So don’t worry if some of these procedures sound intimidating at first glance.
Other treatments may include:
Shirodhara (cooling oil stream) – Because of the profound effects it has upon the consciousness, it has often been called “Bliss Therapy.” Shirodhara is a continuous pouring of warm oil in a slow steady stream on the forehead that helps to pacify the subtle aspects of the doshas: nourishing the nervous system, promoting relaxation and tranquility, and improving mental clarity and comprehension. When done in a series, it can help with various neurological and mental imbalances as well. Its benefits are greatly enhanced if they follow a therapeutic massage or Abhyanga, when the body is already relaxed and in a very receptive state.
Marma (replenishing energy treatment) – One of the most restorative treatments for body and mind, Marma stimulates specific energy points that rejuvenate the vital organs of the body, settle the nervous system, and pacify the doshas.
Abhyanga massage (oil massage) – One of the world’s oldest massage therapy techniques, warm oil is rhythmically massaged into your body, loosening toxins, relaxing the nervous system, and providing profound rest, nourishment, and rejuvenation.
Shila Abhyanga (hot stone massage) – This is an ancient practice in which hot basalt stones are placed on core centers of your body for a deep massage that promotes healing and longevity by releasing tension and connecting the flow of prana (vital energy) throughout the body. This balances the physical body, stimulating the circulatory system, softening muscles, helping to release toxins, and relieving pain and muscle spasms. And, it also affects the subtler, emotional body, inducing a state of deep relaxation.
There are more treatments and the selection depends on your constitution and what you need at this important time of cleansing and restoration.
III. Post Cleansing (Paschat karma)
This is the process of gently returning the body to normal life in a way that preserves the progress the Panchakarma treatment has made. Maintaining healthy eating habits, lifestyle choices, and continuing to follow the recommend herbs and lifestyle procedures for your dosha are vital to enhancing the effectiveness of the first two PK steps and your life as a whole.
If you’d like to find out more about Panchakarma and how it can help improve your quality of life, especially in relation to the aging process, you can check out the ebook All About Panchakarma.
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