Web review (Ciao) by Helen Bradshaw
Author’s rating: 5 star
Atmosphere: Very warm and pleasant
Staff service: Excellent
This is quite a lengthy review, as there was a lot of detail to cover. I hope you enjoy reading it nevertheless.
I have been looking forward to the short break I have just taken for months and months now. I first found out about Ayurveda UK last April, when a Daily Mail reporter wrote an article about her own stay. I initially enquired back then but decided I could not really afford to go at that time. However, as we entered the New Year 2002, I had been thinking about enquiring again, when they mailed me out some marketing information. I grabbed the bull by the horns, and took the first week available, which was last week.
Ayurveda UK is in Tutbury, Staffordshire. I checked in for five days of treatments. Ayurveda UK only takes one guest at a time, typically for five days, although some do stay ten. This means on average only 25 guests a year can be seen. The proprietors will also go to your home to carry out the treatments, if your cheque book is big enough. They do this every year for Prince Andrew, apparently, so I was in good company.
My five day stay in Tutbury cost £2400. Full payment is required on booking. However, they are almost fully booked now until the end of 2003, and therefore I was glad that I was able to get in when I did.
Ayurveda is an Indian approach to general health and wellbeing. It is holistic in nature, and involves treating the mind as much as the body. This type of treatment dates back thousands of years, and is a simple approach to health, and what we eat.
Ayurveda basically states that there are three main body types. These are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. I completed a short questionnaire prior to my arrival at Ayurveda UK, and this was interpreted to state that I was a Pitta/Kapha type. They also said that my Kapha was out of balance, and this was causing some of the effects I had suffered from for years, such as prone to weight gain, lethargic, lacking in energy and prone to sinusitis and congestion.
We all have some elements of each type in us; however some elements will usually be stronger than others.
The treatment I undertook is called Panchakarma. The emphasis for me for the five days would be enabling the Kapha elements in my body to get back in balance again.
Panchakarma essentially involves releasing, loosening, melting, mobilising and eliminating toxins from the body. Toxic residue from food creates water retention, excess weight, painful joints and cellulite. Treatment would consist of a healthy diet, massage, Yoga and exercise, meditation and Bastis (more on these later!).
Panchakarma is focused on cleansing the digestive tract, and requires preparation. There are numerous books on the topic of a healthy gut, and why doing so reduces the likelihood of serious disease somewhat, which unfortunately there isn’t the room to go into here.
Preparation for my Trip:
I was advised that I needed to eat a light diet for five days before I went away. This consisted mainly of vegetables, rice and lentils. No bread, potatoes, meat or fish, alcohol, coffee, tea, or dairy! As I thought I was a particularly sad case, and I really wanted to kick start my weight-loss, I followed this diet for seven days. During the day, I mainly had soup, and in the evenings, I ate mainly tasty Ayurveda curries, which were in the recipe section of my pre- treatment reading material. All the recipes I tried were extremely tasty.
The tongue contains taste buds which register six types of taste, these being sweet, sour, salt, pungent, bitter and astringent. It is recommended that all six tastes are included in a meal, to reduce cravings, and increase the feeling of satisfaction. It was working for me so far.
I was also advised to take Ginger Pickle, about half an hour before the main meal. This can be made by combining a teaspoon of lemon juice, tsp grated ginger, tsp honey, and a pinch of salt into a small bowl. This has the effect of satisfying the taste buds, and also firing up the digestive enzymes in preparation for the meal.
I was also advised not to bring many clothes, as I could predominantly stay in my dressing gown all day. No wild nights on the town for me then..!
My Stay: Sunday
I was greeted by the two proprietors, who live next door. I was shown around the property that was to be my home for the next five days. The property is a terraced cottage about five minutes from the village centre in Tutbury. The property contained a kitchen area, lounge, stacked to the ceiling with inspirational books, and health books, and inspirational CD’s or relaxing music, bedroom, conservatory, treatment room, and bathroom. No television or loud music here! The property is homely and comfortable.
I was given a flask full of fennel tea (delicious), and several bowls of vegetable soup. One of the weaknesses in my own diet is (was!) that I do not take enough fluids, of the right type anyway, and I was soon to realise that I was going to be drinking a lot of teas of different varieties over the coming days.
Prior to my meal, the first stage of the detox began. I was given a small amount of Ghee, to digest. This process is called Shehana, and involves taking increasing amounts of ghee over a period of a few days. This is a very pure food, and aids the process of detoxification. It isn’t a particularly nice taste, however, and this can be overcome by sucking on an orange segment after taking it!
All my meals were prepared by Carol, one of the proprietors, in my kitchen. Meals were served in the conservatory, and I dined alone. I was also advised not to clear away after myself, which is a test for us Pitta types, as one of our traits is that we are extremely organised and tidy (apparently).
The first health tip I received was about the practice of tongue scraping. Apparently the white coating you get on your tongue sometimes is Ama or undigested food. It is toxic to the body. I was given a tongue scraper and advised to use this during my normal tooth brushing routine. Scraping the tongue each morning avoids this toxic residue being absorbed back into the body. It also helps to give you fresher breath!
I was also advised to use all the toiletries as provided, and not the ones I had carried down with me, and lay out in the bathroom. All the products and food at Ayurveda UK are Organic or “Green”, and the proprietors often visit their suppliers to find out how products are made before they will use or recommend them.
I was left to my own devices for the evening, and I relaxed, with the music and library of books at my disposal, before retiring to bed early, as instructed.
I rose at 6am, and Carol arrived at 8am. She prepared my breakfast – a carrot and ginger drink, fresh from the juicer. I was also given a flask of Ginger tea, which is simply hot water, and about three or four one inch pieces of root ginger, in a flask.
The other proprietor, Danny, came about nine AM, and started the first of several educational sessions and Life Coaching sessions over the next five days. This morning we started with Exercises and Yoga, which I was new to. I learned several different Yoga positions, and the Sun Salute routine. Danny also taught me Belly Breathing, which is an excellent way of relaxing after exercise, and calms the mind as well as the body. We then practiced Pranayama, which is a Nasal breathing exercise, again designed to relax, but also aids congestion. He then talked to me about Vedic Meditation, and we practiced that. It is remarkably easy, and extremely stimulating to the mind. It is recommended to have two 20 minute meditation sessions per day, and this became my routine for the rest of the week (and continuing now I am home).
Carol came and cooked me a delicious lunch of Buckwheat and vegetables. Delicious – and presented so beautifully.
In the afternoon, my massage treatments began. Ayurveda massage involves two technicians working in total harmony on each side of the body. Every massage treatment I received during the week began with a Head Massage and Foot Massage. I was then massaged all over with gallons of sesame oil, and advised to use the movement of the technicians as my Mantra, to help me relax. This had to be one of the most enjoyable and heavenly massages I have ever experienced in my entire life. It was followed up with a treatment where gallons of sesame oil ran past my forehead, again, totally heavenly. The entire treatment took about two hours, and then I was retired to bed for half an hour, where I found a cosy hot water bottle.
The next stage of the process is Virechana, which is a process with castor oil to flush the toxins from the colon. My diet was extremely light today, just Peya Soup, which is a soup made from Yellow Mung Beans and basmati rice. In the afternoon, I had a different type of massage and one designed for weight loss. It was a deep massage using a herbal paste which was followed up with a steam treatment, where my entire body was encased, apart from my head.
Finally, in the evening, the Basti treatments began. These are Herbal enemas, given by an Ayurveda technician, and quick if not that dignified! However, if they are good enough for a Prince, they are good enough for me, I suppose. These continued for the next two days. One was designed to eliminate and two were simply to nourish.
I had another of the Weight Loss Massage. My skin was noticeably softer by this time, and was beginning to clear up somewhat. I had the afternoon free, and so I went into the village for a little walk. However it was half day closing, and not many places were open. I think this is a ploy to ensure you don’t buy any food you are not supposed to be eating. In the evening, Carol also carried out a lymphatic drain massage on my legs. She (and I) had noticed that I had some blockages in my lymphatic system, and this would help clear them.
This happened to be my Wedding Anniversary, and I received flowers from the other half. A very unusual way to spend the day, with two enemas and the last of my invigorating Weight Loss Massages.
My last day, and I had another of the heavenly massages I had had on the first day, together with my fourth and final steam treatment. Once I dressed and packed I discussed the next stages of the treatment with Danny and Carol. Carol prepared me some soup for the journey home, and also gave me Sesame Oil and Skin Brushes for use at home.
I must say by the end of the trip, I felt lighter, and a lot more energised than when I had arrived, and I feel this was a worthwhile investment. The educational sessions, together with the library of books (I read heaps), has considerably increased my knowledge on alternative health and has given me a great deal of motivation to maintain a healthy diet.
It is important to continue a light diet after the five day Panchakarma treatment, and I will therefore be continuing in this manner for another few days yet, despite my birthday tomorrow.
The ideal daily routine should run something like this:
Arise at Dawn, Skin Brush, Massage with Sesame Oil, Sun Salute, Yoga, Pranayama, Meditation, Clean Teeth, Scrape Tongue, Shower. Porridge and Vegetables Juices for Breakfast. Drink Hot Water.
Lunch at Midday, should be the largest meal of the day, followed by a short walk and brief rest.
Afternoon: Creative work and Vata types might need a light snack and in the early evening some Yoga.
It is recommended that to keep the body and digestive system in top working order, we should undertake Panchakarma treatment twice a year. It is also recommended to do a mini detox every three months. I am not sure if I can afford to go again next year but if there is a way, I will – I want to go back. It was a life changing experience and the best treatment that the body and mind could have – and deserves to have!