Body Mind and Soul India

Healing Traditions Ayurveda Pancha Karma Bala Chikitsa Tibetan Medicine
Nethra Chikitsa Kalari Chikitsa Vasuri Chikitsa Visha Chikitsa Naturopathy
Herbal Steam Bath Pizhichil SirooJnara Sirovasthi Acupuncture
Yoga Njavarakkizhi Benefits of Yoqa Meditation Acupressure
Aromatherapy Unani Sidha Reiki Pranic Healing
Gem Therapy

Healing Traditions There is a spiritual source in India which is at this time exerting a powerful influence on the Western world.
When the Beatles first incorporated an Indian string instrument called the sitar in the first notes of their classic song Norwegian Wood, they would forever change the sound and direction of pop music.They were beginning a love affair with Indian mysticism and music that would take them on a historic pilgrimage to the ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.This was followed by encounters with the hip and beautiful personalities of the 1960s who visited the ashram such as Mia Farrow, Donovan and Kike Love of the Beach Boys. Reintroducing the world to India's mysticism.
Constraints of modern medicine have led to a growing interest in ancient proven healing methods.Western medicine is organized around the theory of diseases, which believes that a person becomes sick because he or she contracts a disease.Each disease is seen as an independent entity that can be fully understood without regard to the person it afficts or the environment in which it occurs. Thus, conventional treatments are treatments of diseases, not of people.
In contrast to the Western system of medicine, traditional systems of healing in India, as in other ancient cultures, approach sickness as a dynamic event in the life of an individual. It is the result of disharmony between the sick person and his or her environment. Under this approach to understanding illness, the 'disease' itself has no independent reality. The therapeutic focus is always on the person who is ill and the context in which the illness occurs, rather than on the disease itself.
More and more people are moving away from modern medicines and turning towards traditional, also referred to as 'alternative' systems of medicine, for enhancing health and treating illness. While drug based treatments of modem medicine are often the best choice to cure infections and other acute health problems, they fail to provide a satisfactory solution to people suffering from ailments like arthritis, back pain, allergies, harmful effects of stress and other chronic diseases.
India has a rich heritage in the areas of traditional or natural medicine. The earliest mention of Indian medical practices can be found in the Vedas, around the second millennium B.C. The earliest Sanskrit treatises on Ayurveda (a traditional system of medicine in India) were the 'Samhitas' of the great ancient physicians Bhela, Charaka and Susruta.A systematic and scientific approach was adopted by the sages of the times, leading to the development of a system that is relevant even today. The legendary Jivaka, a famous physician of Buddha's time is also reported to have performed remarkable cures & involving deep surgery.
Natural system of medicines which focused on holistic healing developed in other ancient cultures as well. In ancient China the physicians developed the system of 'Yin Yang' while the Greeks gave birth to the 'Unani' system of medicine. Through the passage of time, these systems of medicines found their way to India.
Today, one can choose from various systems of alternative medicine be it acupuncture, aromatherapy, meditation, Ayurveda, Unani medicine, mud therapy, Pranic healing, Reiki, Tibetanmedicine and many more. Nature has given us abundant resources to help us replenish our bodies and restore it to health. It is time for us to reclaim our trust in these healing processes of life.

Ayurveda It draws heavily from the doctrines developed in the Charaka-Samahita. The main quality that Ayurveda has borrowed from Charaka is its aim of removing the cause of illness and not just curing the disease itself. Ayurveda is based solely on herbs and herbal compounds. The herbs used in Ayurvedic remedies do not operate against the body's metabolism; their effect is registered gradually resulting in minimum side-effects. According to Charaka, a noted practitioner of Ayurveda in ancient India, "A physician who fails to enter the body of a patient with the lamp of knowledge and understanding can never treat diseases. He should first study all the factors, including environment, which influence a patient's disease, and then prescribe treatment. It is more important to prevent the occurrence of disease than to seek a cure".
Ayurveda considers that an individual is made up of five primary elements. These elements are ether (space), air, fire, water,and earth. While people are a composite of these five primary elements, certain elements have the ability and combine to create various physiological functions. For example, ether and air combine to form what is known in Ayurveda as the Vata dosha. Vata governs the principle of movement and therefore can be seen as the force, which directs nerve impulses, circulation, respiration and elimination.
Fire and water are the elements that combine to form the Pitta dosha. The Pitta dosha is the process of transformation or metabolism. The transformation of foods into nutrients that our bodies can assimilate is an example of a pitta function. Finally, water and earth elements combine to form the Kapha dosha. Kapha is what is responsible for growth, adding structure unit by unit. Another function of the Kapha dosha is to offer protection. Cerebral-spinal fluid protects the brain and spinal column and is a type of Kapha found in the body. Also, the mucus lining of the stomach is another example of the Kapha dosha protecting the tissues.
The system of Ayurveda states that humans are made up of unique proportions of Vata, Pitta and Kapha doshas. These ratios of the doshas vary in each individual. When any of the doshas (Vata, Pitta or Kapha) become accumulated, Ayurveda suggests specific lifestyle and nutritional guidelines to assist the individual in reducing the dosha that has become excessive. Ayurveda may also suggest certain herbal supplements to hasten the healing process. If toxins in the body are abundant, then a cleansing process known as Pancha Karma is recommended to eliminate these unwanted toxins.
This art of healing had been held in high esteem in ancient India. It was elevated to a divine status, and Dhanvantari, the practitioner of this art was deified as the God of Medicine. Even ordinary practitioners of this art - the Ashwinikumars - were given a special status in mythology and folklore. Ayurvedic massages may have tongue-twisting names, but are close to guaranteed remedies. Massages are done on a long wooden table.Abhyanga, a synchronised massage uses traditional herbal oils as two masseurs knead the body. The effect of this is obvious as the body relieves itself of excess fluids. Pizhichil rejuvenation treatment is for those with rheumatism and arthritis. An unusual feeling of wellness is experienced with Sirodhara, as medicated oil is poured in an even stream onto the forehead, said to pacify and revitalise the mind and body.

Pancha Karma The Pancha Karma is the cornerstone of the Ayurvedic management of disease. While diet, lifestyle and herbal supplements play key roles in creating and maintaining health, Pancha Karma is the process, which gets to the root cause of the problem and corrects the essential balance of mind, body, and emotions. Pancha Karma is designed to achieve an increased efficiency of medicines, foods and rasayanas (tonics).Before medicine, food or rejuvenative tonics are taken, it is essential that the body becomes receptive, so that it is capable of absorbing and assimilating what is being taken and that the accumulated wastes and toxins are eliminated. In addition, this therapy greatly enhances one's natural immunity thereby providing additional protection from many diseases and disorders. Ayurveda advises undergoing. Pancha Karma during seasonal changes to keep the metabolism strong, and restrict toxins from accumulating in the mind and the body.
There are several eliminative procedures in Pancha Karma that assist in eliminating toxins.

  1. Therapeutic vomiting (vamana) promotes elimination from the stomach and thoracic cavity.
  2. Purgation (virechana) promotes elimination from the small intestine.
  3. Therapeutic enema (Vasti) works on the colon to eliminate toxins and strengthens the tissues.
  4. Nose drops (nasya) cleanse toxins from the head and sinuses.
    Ayurvedic holidays are best experienced in the state of Kerala. Here, an entire range of experiences await body, mind and soul with options for rejuvenation and therapy.

Many resorts such as Kairali Ayurvedic Health Resorts, The Coconut Grove and Somatheeram Ayurvedic Beach Resort follow traditions passed down generations. Treatment for ailments like arthritis, paralysis, obesity, sinusitis, migraine, premature ageing and general health are offered in many resorts and Ayurvedic centres.

Bala Chikitsa In Kerala, bala chikitsa was handled on the basis of books like Aarogya Kalpadhrumam, Bala Chikitsa, Mahasaaram, Karappan etc. The numerous works on bala chikitsa are based on ancient Sanskrit works. Kerala has advanced a long way by introducing its own methods of treatment in this area.

Nethra Chikitsa (Ophthalmoloqy) Even from ancient times ophthalmic treatment was widespread. The vaidyans of Thevalakkara and Kammancheri were proficient in nethra chikitsa.

Kalari Chikitsa Kathakali artists and fencing masters undergo this treatmentsually. 'Marmadarppanam' is an important work on Kalari chikitsa.This treatment involves the use of specific tablets, oils, ointment, medicinal decoction etc. (Kalari is the training centre for fencing).

Vasuri Chikitsa (Treatmentfor Small Pox) Early works on this disease refers to the existence of around ninety types of small pox 'Vasunmala' is a popular work dealing with this particular treatment

Visha Chikitsa This treatment removes the poison of creatures like snake, scorpion etc. from human body. Eminent men have done research in this field have come about with modernapplications and medication. The Visha Cahikitsa involves two methods –visha vaidya and visha vidya. The former includes use of medicinal herbs while latter relies on mantras and chants. Kokkara Namboothiri better known as 'vishachikitsa acharvan' is considered as the master of vishachikitsa in Kerala. 'Prayoga Samuchayam' is the authoritative book on visha chikitsa written by Kochunni Thampuran.

Herbal Steam Bath This is an exudation process using medicated steam to reduce high blood pressure, stiffness, pain and swelling.During this steam bath, medicinal particles present in the herbal oil are absorbed by the body and the impurities within are excreted through sweat glands, kidneys and liver.

Pizhichil A rejuvenation therapy to prevent ageing, scales, wrinkles and to cure rheumatism, arthritis and many spastic muscular disorders. Highly medicated warm oil is poured on the body one hour daily for 3, 5, 7 or 14 days.

SirooJnara This is a special Ayurvedic treatment in which medicated oil is poured on the forehead and head continuously. It prevents and cures diseases like paralysis, senile dementia, other neurological ailments and certain psychiatric diseases. This treatment also improves memory.

Sirovasthi A treatment applied in the case of facial paralysis and diseases of the head and neck.In this procedure medicated oil is retained about an hour, within a cap fitted around the head.

Njavarakkizhi This is also one of the process to correct neurological disorders, rheumatism, arthritis and undernourishment of limbs. Hot medicinal pudding tied up in cloth pouches is applied on to the whole body or part.

Yoga Yoga is a system of exercises for physical and mental well being. It combines stylised poses with deep breathing and meditation. The term Yoga is itself derived from a Sanskrit word meaning to join together. The ultimate aim in yoga is to unite the human soul with the universal spirit. Yoga was developed about five thousand years ago. The first written description was found in 'Yoga Sutras', attributed to Patanjali. According to Patanjali, within the human body there are channels called Nadi and centres called Chakra. If these channels and centres are tapped, energy hidden in the body can be released. This energy is called Kundalini.
Patanjali stated eight stages of Yoga, the Yama (universal moral commandments), Niyama (self-purification through discipline), Asana (posture), Pranayama (breath-control), Pratyahara (withdrawal of mind from external objects), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (state of super- consciousness). Besides the different stages present in Yoga, there are various forms of discipline touching different aspects of human life. These disciplines include Hathayoga (physical exercise), Gyanyoga or Dhyanyoga (exercise for the mind and intellect) and Karmayoga (disciplined actions in daily life).

Benefits of Yoqa This ancient health and fitness practice provides both physical and mental therapy. It considers ageing as largely an artificial condition, caused mainly by autointoxication or self-poisoning.By keeping the body parts clean and well-lubricated, cell deterioration can be greatly reduced. To get the maximum benefits of yoga one has to follow three main guidelines i.e. practice of Asanas, Pranayama and Yoga Nidra.
With the regular practice of asanas, we can control our cholesterol level, reduce weight, normalise blood pressure and improve cardiac performance.Asanas harmonize our mental energy flow by clearing any blockages in the subtle body, leading to mental equilibrium and calmness.
The practice of pranayama, the correct breathing technique, helps to manipulate our energies. Most of us breathe incorrectly (only thoracically not using our abdomen, thereby utilizing only half of our lung capacity). Pranayama is a technique wherein it re-educates our breathing process, helps to release tensions and develop a relaxed state of mind. It balances our nervous system, reduces the need for sleep and encourages creative thinking. Increasing oxygen to our brain, improves mental clarity, alertness and physical well-being.
Yoga Nidra is a form of meditation. Performed while lying on the back in the Shavasana pose, it relaxes the physiological and psychological systems. This technique completely rejuvenates the body and mind, giving a sense of well-being.

Meditation More and more doctors are prescribing meditation as a way to lower blood pressure, improve exercise performance in people with angina, help asthmatics breathe easier, relieve insomnia and generally ease the everyday stresses of life. Meditation is a safe and simple way to balance a person's physical, emotional and mental states. The concept of meditation works on the principle that when the mind is calm and focused on the present, it is neither reacting to memories from the past nor being preoccupied with plans for the future, two major sources of chronic stress known to impact health. Several techniques of meditation but they all have one thing in common - focus on quietening the busy mind. The concept is not to remove stimulation but rather to direct concentration to one healing element: one sound, one word, one image, or one's breath.
All forms of meditation can be broadly classified into concentrative meditation and mindful meditation.
Concentrative meditation focuses attention on a breath, an image, or a sound (mantra), in order to still the mind and allow greater awareness and clarity to emerge. The simplest form of concentrative meditation is to sit quietly and focus attention on the breath. Yoga and meditation practitioners believe that there is a direct correlation between one's breath and one's state of the mind. For example, when a person is anxious, frightened, agitated or distracted, the breath will tend to be shallow, rapid and uneven. On the other hand, when the mind is calm, focused and composed, the breath will tend to be slow, deep and regular.
As one focuses one's awareness on the breath, the mind becomes absorbed in the rhythm of inhalation and exhalation. As a result, breathing will become slower and deeper, and the mind will become more tranquil and aware.
Mindful meditation, involves becoming aware of the continuously passing parade of sensations and feelings, images, thoughts, sounds, smells, and so forth without becoming involved in thinking about them. The person sits quietly and simply witnesses whatever goes through the mind, not reacting or becoming involved with thoughts, memories, worries or images. This helps to gain a more calm, clear and non-reactive state of mind.
Studies show that after meditation, reactions are faster, creativity greater and comprehension broader. In addition, by silencing the mind, meditation can also put one in touch with the self, allowing the body's own inner wisdom to be heard.

Aromatherapy Aromatherapy has been around for over 6000 years. In India and other ancient civilizations of the East, plant essences were used for their fragrance to purify the air. Agarbatis and dhoop (incense sticks) are still in use as they were in ancient times in India.
The modern era of aromatherapy dawned in 1930 when the French chemist Rene Maurice Gattefosse coined the term 'aromatherapy' for the therapeutic use of essential oils. He was fascinated by the benefits of lavender oil in healing his burnt hand without leaving any scars. He started investigating the effect of other essential oils for healing and for their psychotherapeutic benefits.
Our sense of smell works at a subconscious level.Olfactory nerves conduct smell sensations to a part of the brain which also regulates and controls our moods, emotions, memory and learning. Studies with brain wave frequency have shown that smelling lavender increases alpha waves which are associated with relaxation in the back of the head.Fragrance of jasmine increases beta waves, which are associated with a more alert state in the front of the head. Essential oils are contained in plant materials like leaves, flowers, roots, seeds, bark and resin. Each essential oil contains as much as 100 chemical components, which together exert a strong effect on the whole person.
Depending on which component is predominating in an oil, the oils act differently. For example, some oils are relaxing, some soothing and some pain relieving. They leave no harmful residues. Aromatherapy is particularly effective for stress, anxiety, and psychosomatic induced problems, muscular and rheumatic pains, digestive disorders and gynaecological problems, such as PMS, menopausal complaints and postnatal depression.