Margherita Monti tells us about her enlightening experience at the Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort.
There is something about Somatheeram that makes you think “ah, zen” when you arrive. Actually, there are many things here that make you feel that way. From the slow drive to Trivandrum, passing by the lush greenery of Kerala, small towns, villages, green fields, coconut tree groves, backwaters, hills and more; to the stunning view from the property, perched on a hillside, overlooking the famous Kovalam beach; delighted in the rustic charm of the village life by staying in traditionally-styled houses nestled on the slopes of the hillock. Everything here seems equipped to cut away any distractions and concentrate on the healing that this place has to offer.
Excellence in Ayurveda by the Ayurveda People
Flaunting the title of world’s first Ayurveda Village with a resort ambience, the Somatheeram Ayurveda Resort is truly blissful.
Founded in 1985, and owned by the family who initiated the concept of Ayurvedic Resorts in India, it has since then been awarded several times, such as India’s Best Ayurvedic Resort, and Kerala’s State’s Best Ayurvedic Resort. The Resort is part of the Somatheeram Group, which also includes the Soma Manalhteeram, with direct access to the beach, and 5 more brands, with a luxury one in the making and ready for March 2020.
This place pampers you with heavenly experiences.
It offers Ayurvedic remedies for stress induced disorders, cardiac health, diabetes managements, weight management, hormonal disorders, and a detox and rejuvenate program for general wellbeing.
Here the patients learn how to take care of their body, and the effects last for long.
All the treatments are customized to the patients ailments and needs, and consist in therapeutic yoga, meditation, massages, food and rest: the Ayurvedic Way.
I mean, if you consider this as the Ayurveda paradise, it feels like being in very good hands.
Once I checked in, I felt easy, comfortable, relaxed, and even though I had no idea about what to expect and what I was going to do at the time, this seemed like exactly what I needed right now.
Ayurveda, a Blessing from the Past
Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine, indigenous to India, and Kerala in particular. It’s the knowledge gained 5000 years ago through constant learning and practicing. The origin of Ayurveda is said to be of divine, from Lord Brahma.
The term “ Ayurveda” is the combination of two words, “Āyu”, which means “life”, and “Veda”, meaning “knowledge”.
Ayurveda is the awareness that helps to protect the quality and longevity of life.
It is based on the ancient Indian philosophy of “Panchabootha Sidhantha”, which says that the whole universe, and the living and non-living matters it contains, is made up of five basic elements. These are collectively called Panchaboothas. They are:
1-Air 2-Space 3-Fire 4-Water 5-Earth
These five elements undergo combinations to form three basic factors or constitutions or dosha: Vata, Pitha & Kapha.
Vata is the combination of air and space. It controls all movements-nerve impulses, peristalsis, circulation.
Pitha is formed from the fire element. It controls the process of transformation, metabolism, enzyme activity.
Kapha is the combination of the earth and water element. It is responsible for stability, flexibility and growth.
These three factors, if in equilibrium, are responsible for health. If in imbalance, the same factors are responsible for diseases.
Ayurveda physicians promote health and cure diseases by balancing Vata, Pitha and Kapha.
As Healthy as Nature Intended
By balancing the dosha, Ayurveda cures the root cause of a disease and enhances health.
But it is not only for the diseased. It also explains the measures to be taken by the healthy person to maintain health, a proper routine, proper diet and proper way of living to stay healthy.
It is the perfect and complete system which goes hand-in hand with nature.
Ayurveda teaches that the human being is a microcosm, a universe within itself, the child of the cosmic forces of the external environment, the macrocosm.
So here I am to understand this ancient medicine deeply and closely.
Dr. Chandrika, my consultant at Somatheeram, explains that Ayurveda allows the body to heal itself. “We just activate the healing through natural methods; massages, good food, exercise, daily yoga practice, meditation, fasting, rest; and we give the body sun, air, water, earth and energy for the healing process,” she says on our first day of consultation. “All these things combined help to get rid of all your stress and worries amidst the lap of nature”.
So, where do we start? What dosha am I?
How Is the Diagnosis Done in Ayurveda?
Determining the individual constitution
Diagnostic procedures in Ayurveda are two-pronged. One is aimed to establish the state and type of pathology; the second to decide the mode of treatment to be applied.
Dr. Chandrika and her assistant checked my medical and surgical history, my present complaints – joints pain, back stiffness, fatigue, – the vital data – hight, weight, temperature – and started the physical examination.
The identification of the pulse, the accurate examination of the face – in Ayurveda, the face is considered to be the mirror of the mind; if disorders and diseases are present, they will be indicated on the face; of the lip and the tongue, the examination of the nails and the eyes, of the skin and the hair; these are all important steps in the diagnosis process.
My Program for the Week (Lifestyle and Routine )
The doctors say: “We can guarantee that patients will have a clear idea of what they have to do when they go back home, as their ailments are addressed and the results are seen. They will know how to stay healthy.”
With the examination being completed, I’ve been given my program, according to my body constitution (Pitha-Vata-Kapha).
(Eat) A sound and stable diet
Ayurveda teaches that each individual has the power to heal himself. Thus, this science of life offers everyone the freedom to recover health by understanding the body and its needs.
This awareness starts from a proper diet.
Diet should be chosen to suit individual constitution, and it’s very important to understand the constitution and its relationship with the various food.
All the food at Somatheeram is freshly prepared and organic from the garden, mostly vegetarian or vegan.
Warm herbal water is served on the table – water plays a vital role in maintaining balance in the body, and it should be just sipped while eating.
There is no food waste at Somatherem; the use of plastic has also been banned by the property.
All waste is reused and recycled. Purified water only comes in glass bottles, checked and refilled every day.
Concentrate, meditate, breathe, chant mantras
Very important is the pursuit of traditional practices as meditation and breathing exercises (pranayama): an understanding of the spiritual practices that can create harmony and happiness.
Meditation brings awareness, harmony and natural order to human life. It awakens the intelligence to make life happy, peaceful and creative.
On a regular and committed practice, life will become meditation and meditation will become life; all problems will dissolve in this new expanding awareness.
Pranayama has many healing benefits and can bring joy and bliss into life. If you want to stay healthy, learn how to proper breathe and what type of breathing exercises are suitable for your constitution.
Mantram is a Sanskrit term denoting a word or a group of words that carries certain phonetic vibrations and tremendous energy; chanting those words, in a certain way, releases this energy. The vibration of the mantras penetrates deeper and deeper into the heart and finally remains silent, working internally and creating the healing.
A meditation class at Somatheeram takes place every morning at 7.15 to kick start the day, followed by the best yoga practice ever. There is also an afternoon meditation session.
Yoga every (damn) day
Ayurveda and Yoga are sister sciences. Yoga is the science of union with the Ultimate Being. Ayurveda is the science of living, of daily life. When yogis perform certain postures and follow certain disciplines, they open up and move energies that have been accumulated and stagnated in the energy centers. When stagnant, these energies create blocks that create ailments.
Yoga is an effective cleansing of body and mind and consciousness; during the practice, all the blocks and disease-producing toxins are released. The healing starts here.
Ayurveda indicates which type of yoga is suitable for each person according to the person’s particular constitution.
“Forget your past, forget your future, forget your present,” chants the yoga master during the practice. A lovely way to deepen into my asanas (yoga poses).
At Somatheeram, I learned a new way to Yoga: I felt the awakening of awareness and a state of perfect equilibrium.
Variously processed herbs are used for the healing purpose. Herbs are either cooked in water or oil, sometimes powdered, grinded and rolled into pills.
At Somatheeram, there is a very well maintained Herbal Garden with various species of rare herbs, more than 800, used both for food and for special preparation of medicines and treatments, some of which are threatened with extinction.
A large availability of genuine medicines is also found here. There is a licensed Ayurveda Medicine Manufacturing Unit, which is under close supervision of a team of doctors.
The pharmacology of Ayurveda is a vast science that includes thousands of medicines, many of them being herbal preparations. But considering that the classic Ayurvedic texts suggest that all the substances found in nature have medicinal value, gems, metals and colors are also used in the healing process.
Ayurveda does not renounce to encompass anything – even modern ways – that could be important to the healing process.
The knowledge of Ayurveda is compared to an ocean. Just as the ocean allows rivers and streams to flow into it and enrich itself, similarly Ayurveda welcomes all other sources of medicine to enrich and enlarge its own scope. Sophisticated and specialized scientific and technical methods can be easily and smoothly integrated into the basic principles of Ayurveda. Just as the ocean does not lose its individuality when it assimilates, similarly, the intrinsic quality of Ayurvedic aphorism (sūtras) is not disturbed in any way when modern methods are added; on the contrary, the Ayurvedic System of medicine gets strengthen by this fusion of ideas.
Massages and treatments
During my stay at the clinic, I have been followed by the attentive and expert supervision of 15 highly qualified Ayurveda doctors, and a team of more than 90 therapists who have undergone a special training program. My progress has been closely monitored every day, with blood, amount of sleep, diet and energy levels in check.
All the treatments happen in 30 highly-hygienically maintained rooms, on special tables made from a single piece of Strychnos Nuxvomica wood. If there is heaven, it is here, it is here, it is here!
Massage is a therapy that involves the movement of energy in the body.
Ayurveda recommends massages with various oils, depending on the person’s individual constitution.
My therapy for the week – I was given a Rejuvenation Program – included a synchronized body massage by two therapists with medical oil, for 90 minutes per day for 7 days. And also:
Sirodhara: warm herbal oils, medicated milk, medicated butter milk (ghee etc) are poured on the forehead with a special method for about 40 minutes. This treatment is mainly for insomnia, headaches, mental tension and skin health.
Pizhichil: a very special treatment that I particularly loved, where lukewarm herbal oils are applied all over the body by the therapists in a rhythmic way continuously for about 60/90 minutes.
..and many more!
I suggest you to visit the website to have a closer and more specific look of all the treatments available at Somatheeram.
The patients are ideally advised to stay at the clinic for anywhere between 10 days to 2/3 weeks treatments (Panchakarma), but I only had 7 days.
Let me tell you, I made the most of it
THE POWER OF AYURVEDA: How This Profound Health Science Can Improve Your Life
I let Ayurveda enter my life: lose yourself to be able to find yourself
I came here without expectations, willing to find a place to relax in nature after a very tough and tiring year. I found myself.
Words are not enough to describe the immense gratitude I have for all the loving care and
support that I have received.
I left feeling energized, refreshed & rejuvenated, and rested on all levels of my being.
This is the ultimate experience in detoxing and healing of the mind, body and spirit.
The well-deserved rest that each one of us deserves as a gift to ourselves.
I managed to find myself and my hatha practice again. By the second day, I didn’t need to worry about what I would do with my time. I had to worry of what I was missing doing.
At Somatheeram, you must come knowing that you are willing to let go.
To lose some things, to gain some things.
“Believe in yourself, trust yourself” Vijith Kumar, my yoga master, says, while teaching me how to headstand (Salamba Shirshasana) and keep my asana for longer.
This is the strength he managed to pass on to me: dealing with my negative emotions.
Learning to let go
Ayurveda teaches you how to deal with anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, greed; all very common human emotions. It helps you to learn how to express these negative feelings – if they remain repressed, they may cause imbalances in body and mind – by observing and releasing them.
Now I know why it’s important to check in at Somatheeram for at least 10 days.
You need this time to emerge.