Get Set and Well!

In pursuit of wellness, modern science directs us to pop some pills, bombards us with advertisements of products with essence of some fruits we rather should have consumed, markets us the next exotic diet plan some celebrity is following to get a body like theirs. And this works, until after a few weeks, the problem reoccurs, and the drill continues. But, there is a branch of alternate medicine which promises to not just give temporary relief, but eradicate the illness completely, through an approach which balances your mind, body and soul. And it just costs simple things like the Aloe Vera plant next to you propped up for interior decoration, or basic rules like avoiding salty food when consuming milk. Welcome to the world of holistic medicine.

India is the second largest exporter of Ayurveda and alternative medicines, and Uttarakhand is one state which is home to rich medicinal as well as aromatic plants and herbs, health centres like ashrams and spas dedicated for a spiritual retreat, and famous pilgrimage sites amidst a pleasant environment, all of which together boom the state’s health tourism. Primary healthcare of the people of the state are dependent on ancient knowledge of these medicinal herbs and routines coupling meditation with exercise. In fact, one of the many Indian Government backed AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) industrial clusters has been set up in Uttarakhand, with a projection of 30% growth in the industry. There are 506 Ayurvedic and Unani clinics in the state, and two government Ayurvedic colleges- Uttarakhand Ayurveda University, and Uttaranchal Ayurvedic College and Hospital.

Ayurveda is made up of two words, Ayur meaning Life and Veda meaning science. It is apparently as old as the Indus Valley Civilization goes. Recognizing that our body is made up of three humors or Dosa, Ayurveda tells that imbalance of any one of these leads to suffering and diseases. Medicines are herbs and plants based, derived from their root, stem, seeds, fruits or leaves. Special emphasis is given on diet and metabolism. Yoga and meditation is advised. Natural cycles of sleeping, eating, working and meditating are promoted. The underlying concept being, individual health units influence each other, and thus the holistic balance is the goal. So, for example, if you are suffering from skin problems, they’ll look at the condition of your liver and your stress management. Some well known Yoga centres in Uttarakhand are Yoga Niketan (Rishikesh), Sivananda Ashram (Tehri), Dev Sanskriti University (Haridwar), Parmarth Niketan (Rishikesh) and Patanjali Yogpeeth.

By now, you already know about our body humors, and how imbalance of any of these leads to corrupt health status. A toxic by-product known (in Ayurveda) as Ama gets accumulated, which we need to get rid of. Panchakarma is Ayurvedic equivalent of a detox program and as the name suggests, consists of five steps- vaman (vomiting), virechan (purgation), vasti (Enema), nasya (nasal cleaning) and raktamokshan(impure blood removal). It is preceded and succeeded by two other sessions known as Poorva Karma (preparation) and Pashchaath Karma (post-therapy), respectively. In the former, a detailed analysis of the body is carried out to determine further course of actions. The latter focuses on us following a specially tailored diet to re-establish our digestive fires in order for the detoxing to come to a closer and thus provide us with a long lasting healthy mind and body.

Ayurveda is integrated with the science of Naturopathy to provide the ultimate wellness package to people. British Naturopathic Association notes Naturopathy as “a system of treatment which recognizes the existence of the vital curative force within the body”, in a way it promotes self healing through non-invasive, drugless methods. Thus, the traditional knowledge of herbs, massage, acupuncture and diet plans play an important role here. There are a plethora of therapies and bathes under this which will leave you healed as well as amused, like mud bath, hip bath, sun bath, colon irrigation, underwater exercises, magnet therapy, acupressure, etc. Leading players in this sector are Patanjali Yog Gram (Haridwar) and Niketan Naturopathy & Yoga Hospital (Rishikesh).