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Ayurveda Journey - The Pounding

Festival founders Ram and Sonali Banerjee continue to lead us through their Ayurvedic retreat diary.

The oil massage for both Sonali and I was repeated every day for the first three days before the doctor announced that my treatment will now change, For me they prescribed Podi Kizhi which was pounding with hot cloth bundles filled with a mixture of dried herbs ground into a powder. The idea is to reduce my excess Kapha, which should bring about a lightness in the body. The treatment was only being introduced slowly so for three days I was to have only the lower half of the body treated. The bundles are heated on a dry wide bronze pan on a gas stove. After a small massage with oil, the therapists each took the bundle and tested on themselves for heat. They then proceeded to pound my skin in a synchronised manner up and down the lower half of the body – making sure they did not crush any sensitive bits! This was meant to induce sweat, which is one of the natural ways of extracting toxins. The pounding itself is a massage that makes the body more supple. After three days of this, the decision was take to extend to the whole body. I cannot describe what this feels like in sufficient words. It's like you are being gently punched with a hot boxing glove from both sides. Has it worked? Well, I was not expecting much from it until on the third day I noticed that I was becoming more flexible. Imagination? Could be, until on the following day the muscles in my neck became sufficiently relaxed to allow my spine to reposition itself with a noticeable ‘click’. Suddenly, the sleepiness I was feeling at that time – and I will write more about sleep later – left me. I simply felt more awake. Imagination this was not, there was an audible click. Bottom line, I feel better.

Sonali’s treatment was a little more gentle. She had an extra day of oil massage followed by three days of Ela Kizhi, similar to me but with hot bundles filled with medicated crushed leaves. There were seven types of leaves in there and their exact ratio is determined according to the condition of the patient. In her case, it was designed to improve dryness. Now dryness on the outside of the body can be treated with moisturising lotions but exactly what is internal dryness? It is where muscles and joints loose lubrication or eyes become dry and irritated and so on. Apparently internal dryness accelerates ageing so madam was very interested in being rejuvenated and slowing down ageing. The medications continued throughout this period. Delivered to our cottage at 5.30pm every day in little pots marked with our names and with instructions on when to consume. Twice a day, the ‘consultations’ continued. Apparently, even the subject you choose to speak about and your emotions during conversations allow them to build a better picture of your exact condition. Apparently there are 12 points to monitor about a patient during consultations. I am just wondering how they manage to teach all this and how can a UK GP with his allocated 7 minutes per patient possibly compete!

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