W Magazine article: Lentil soup for the soul by Samantha Conti
Their clients range from bus ticket collectors to British royals, and their philosophy falls somewhere between Deepak Chopra and an Indian grandma. Carol and Danny, who run Ayurveda UK, are in the business of balancing body and mind – with regular doses of castor oil and lentil soup. “We believe that if you quiet and tidy up the mind, then the body can do what it needs to do,” says Carol. They adopt a yin and yang approach to work “I’m the emotional counsellor, he’s the Ayurvedic scientist,” Carol explains.
The couple are relaxing on a leather sofa in the lobby of London’s Excel conference center, where they have spent the past few days walking over hot coals – part of a mind-over-matter exercise – at a lecture given by self help guru Anthony Robbins. Carol, a former photographer, and Danny, a former nature reserve warden, discovered Ayurveda – the ancient Indian life science that encompasses diet, healing and spirituality, via transcendental meditation and yoga – 20 years ago. After studying the practice at Maharishi University of Valkenburg in Holland, the two worked regularly with Ayurvedic doctors, simultaneously becoming experts in everything from therapeutic massage techniques to Eastern philosophy. They established Ayurveda UK in 2000.
While past clients have included the late George Harrison and socialite Jemma Kidd (the couple won’t reveal current clients’ names, although two members of England’s royal family are devotees, as are a sprinkling of European aristos), there is nothing glamorous about their methods, which are – literally – rather homely.
The two either move directly into the client’s house to deliver a 10-day detox treatment, or practice out of a small red-brick cottage in the Staffordshire countryside. Ideally, a client will stay for a 10-day period, twice a year. Prices per person range from approximately £4,800 for the 10-day stay in Staffordshire and £12,800 for the private program at the clients home. The couple currently have 22 clients and a rather long waiting list.
“People come to us for weight loss – but that’s often just a side effect of the treatment. I try to help them figure out what’s attached to that weight,” says Carol, whose methods range from basic one-on-one counselling, life coaching and stress management to Thought Field Therapy, intended to clear emotional baggage like phobias or addictions by gently tapping pressure points on the body. Danny meanwhile develops a specific program of massage, warm oil treatments, yoga, meditation and a daily eating and sleeping routine aimed at helping the body discharge toxins. One of the couple’s main aims is to improve digestion – so, yes, enemas are sometimes involved.
Carol and Danny’s clients – ranging in age from 18 to 80 – experience a variety of problems, from chronic illnesses to chronic irritations like headaches, bloating and indigestion. “Many simply come to us because they want to lead a healthier life,” says Danny.
Before the uninitiated even start the program, their Ayurvedic advisors suggest they lay off meat, dairy, coffee and tea. Carol greets clients with a cup of hot water infused with ginger or fennel – to get those digestive enzymes flowing – followed by a lunch of steamed vegetables with lentil sauce or carrot and red lentil soup. For those on the full Ayurveda detox the first drink of the morning is ghee – clarified butter, meant to gather all the body’s oil-based toxins, which are later flushed out by a dose of castor oil – followed by carrot and spinach juice and more hot water with ginger.
Reassuringly, life isn’t all home-grown and healthy chez Carol and Danny, and the last thing they want to project is a holier-than-thou image “You have to live a little – if you can’t resist the pizza, have it, but at lunch time rather than in the evening so it’s digested more easily,” advises Carol. Danny adds, “We’re human, and I think that’s why our clients like us. We travel often, and when we eat out, we’ll have a meal that may not always be vegetarian. And we might even have a beer!”.