Rejuvenating yourself with Yoga or Ayurveda

I was introduced to Yoga by Baba Ramdev’s television  programs and learnt a few asanas by watching him on TV. Carried on like this  for years. Read about a three day course at Kaivalyadhama Lonavla  (www.kdham.com). So I decided to go for it. This article is about my  experiences there.

Lonavla is a hill station i.e. under two hour’s drive from  Mumbai. The best season to go there is during the monsoons when the place is  lush green and you walk through clouds. Am told it is very nice during the  winters as well.  

It is called a Destress Package that starts on Thursday afternoon  and ends on Sunday morning. Every day there are two yoga classes, an Ayurveda  and naturopathy treatment session each. The day ends with a talk post dinner.  There are three types of courses advanced, basic and therapy yoga, all seven  days each. Those who take the destress package become part of the therapy  group.

It took me an hour and a half hours drive from Mumbai. At  Lonavla get off the expressway onto the old national highway and drive past the  Lonavla market. About a km after that on your left is Kailash Parbhat hotel.  Take the first left turn after that and you reach the Kaivalyadham campus.

It is spread over 150 plus acres and was founded in 1924. It  has a hospital, research centre, college, rooms, central administrative block,  book shop and staff quarters. It has an ashram like atmosphere. There is peace,  serenity and greenery all around. Buildings are mostly with thatched roofs and  maximum two storey’s high.

Day One
I went to the Health  Centre building and registered myself. The cost of the destress program is Rs  3,500/ which includes stay, food, yoga classes, two Ayurveda and Naturopathy  treatments. You pay an advance of Rs 1,000/ through net banking or at the  Mumbai branch and the balance on reaching there.

After paying fees I was  directed to meet the in house Doctor who checked my blood pressure, asked me  about specific health problems and reviewed the medical history form that I had  filled in. These were in turn reviewed by a senior doctor. Based on that the  doctor suggested treatment I should take and specific asanas that I should  learn. I was given the program for the next 3 days.

Next checked into my room i.e. clean, comfortable and  functional without the frills of a hotel. We had our first yoga class from 4 to  5pm. Since I do yoga at home was able to do most of the asanas without a  problem. When in doubt look at the Yoga teacher or at the person on either side  and you will know what to do. 6 to 7pm was a Pranayam session where we not only  spoken to about the benefits of pranayam but also shown how to do it. The  speaker Shri Parhlad Bharadwaj is a very good story teller – made it interesting.

Dinner is from 7 to 8pm. After that went to the Dining Hall i.e.  on the ground floor. Food is sattvic without onions and garlic. It consists of  dal, chapatti, sabzi and khichdi and is well made.

After dinner there was a one hour talk on Stress Management.  It was spoken in simple Hind English with lots of humor and real life situations thrown in. Thereafter, I walked around the campus. That really  recharged my batteries.  

Day Two
Herbal tea is  served from 6 to 7am.The first yoga class is from 7 to 8am. Focus is on simple  asanas. There is a big hall on the first floor where the class is conducted.  Yoga mats or durries are provided. We did the following asanas not necessarily  in this order – Vajrasana, Ardha Halsana, Pavanamuktasana (ardha & purna),  Bhujangasana, Shalabhasana (ardha and purna), Makarasana, Parvatasana,  Brahmamudra, Chakrasana, Tadasana, Pada Hastasana, Triconasana amongst others.

The Yoga teacher  taking the class pays personal attention to see that every student is doing it  correctly.

There is a  provisions shop outside the main building where you get biscuits, snacks and  blank cds. Some people video shoot the Yoga class and burn cds. 

After breakfast,  bath went to the Ayurveda therapy centre. Since I have a migraine problem the  Dr suggested Shirodhara for me. The centre offers the following treatments-
1. Nasya: add drops of medicated Ghee in the nose.  Purpose is for calm and quiet sleep, for enhancement of intellect, for neck,  shoulder pain and hair problems etc.
2. Netra Tarpana:   warm oil bath to eyes esp. effective for those handling computers.
3. Karnapuran: pouring warm medicated oil in ears  with special massage around ear and on the face, lower neck by using marma  technique followed by facial steam.
4. Shirodhara: It consists of pouring warm medicated  oil on the third eye. Effective for quiet and calm sleep, stress, hair  complaints etc.
5. Kati Basti: warm oil bath with gram flour dough  ring on back. Strengthens vertebral column and spinal cord, reduces back pain  etc.
6. Pottali: warm massage with bolus of medicated  rice and milk. Effective for removing stiffness and pain from muscles etc.
7. Hruda Basti: warm oil bath with gram flour dough  ring around the heart region. Excellent for heart patients etc.
8. Sandhibandha: special treatment for joint paints  by using warm medicated oil and binding material helps to reduce knee pain etc.
9. Padabahynga: massage on sole by kasa wati and  ShataDhoutGhrut (100 times washed ghee). Highly effective to take out toxins  saturated around brain and from the eyes. Instant reliever of fatigue amongst  other benefits.
10.Abahynga and Swedana: whole body massage with  warm medicated oil with special traditional technique followed by herbal steam  bath for anti ageing, strength etc.

There are other  treatments also. I took the Shirodhara on day one and Netra Tarpana (for my  eyes) and Karnapuram (for my ears) on day two. An hour or so after Shirodhara  my head began hurting badly. The doctor examined me immediately, gave some  Ayurvedic medicines and asked me to do Pranayam. By evening I was feeling  better. After a good night’s sleep I was fighting fit the next morning.

After Shirodhara  had lunch, relaxed and then went to the Naturopathy Centre at 2.30pm where had  mud pack treatment.  The centre offers  the following treatment – hot foot bath, enema, mud bath, face pack, water  massage, spine bath, full massage, immersion bath etc. The next day had a water  massage and head massage.

Honestly enjoyed  the Ayurveda treatment more. Perhaps because the treatment dealt with specific  health problems that I have. The price of destress package includes two  Ayurveda & Naturopathy treatments. You can avail of more treatment by  paying for it.

3 to 3.30 pm was  herbal tea time. Some fruit is also served. The Yoga class was from 4.30 to  5.30pm. Similar asanas as referred to above were done.

After a short break  our next session was TRATAKA from 6 to 7pm. The whole class was divided into  small groups who sat around a lit candle. We were asked to concentrate on the  candle flame without blinking and do so till water rolled down our eyes. If we  blinked or did not concentrate hard enough then water would not roll down said  our teacher. It took about fifteen minutes of concentration for my eyes to get  moist although I must admit did blink a couple of times. After that we relaxed  in Shavasana. Found it very relaxing. I hope to buy a candle and concentrate  the same way atleast once a week.

After dinner the  earlier days talk on Stress Management continued. I was too tired and went to  bed at 8pm.

Day 3
After a good night’s  sleep woke up at 5am all charged up. Yesterday’s heavy head was behind me. I  walked round the campus. There was a slight drizzle and the hills behind had  clouds all over them. Very scenic! Had herbal tea at 6 and was ready for the  7am Yoga class.

By now my body had  got into the groove. The asanas were much easier to do and the sequence had got  memorized as well. I enjoyed the morning session. A heavy downpour brought down  the temperature and made it very pleasant.

I went for my  Ayurveda treatment sessions at 10.30am. Got eye and ear treatment done. Felt  very good after that. Earlier my eyes used to get dry by end of day – no  longer.

When I returned to  the main building the yoga teacher Shri Parhlad was searching for me. Only a  few days ago he had given a super talk on daily routine to live a healthy life.  I was keen to learn so he organized a special talk for those who had missed it.

Lunch at 12  followed by sleep. At 2.30 went to the Naturopathy Centre for a Water and head  massage. Yoga class at from 4.30 to 5.30 pm.

Since it was a  Saturday evening a number of students who came for the 7 day course left. By  end of day two had become good friends with quite a few.

At 6.30pm we went  to Swamiji ashram for pooja. He lives in a small cottage at one end of the  campus. Earlier the area was very quiet but with the Mumbai Pune expressway  running alongside his home it is not as peaceful any longer.

Dinner at 7pm  followed a talk on Yoga.

Day 4
Herbal tea at 6  followed by a class from 7 to 8am. The class was conducted by one of the senior  teachers and very good. He spoke while his wife, also a yoga teacher, did the  asana in front of us. After breakfast it was time to leave. It was a time to  exchange numbers, email ids with promises to be in touch.

Type of people who came for the Camp
 The youngest was  perhaps 20ish and the oldest 70ish. There were more women than men. A large  number of couples came. Some people came for a break others were fond of Yoga  or had specific ailments. I met two foreign Yoga teachers, one from Italy and France. They came here to brush up  their skills and probably stay at Kdham for a month.

Tips
1. Whilst booking yourself asks for a room in the  main building the other rooms are five minutes away. The dining hall and yoga  room is in this building itself so it is convenient to be living there. More  over these rooms are bigger, have more sun and light than others.
2. You need T shirts and jogging pants throughout  your stay.
3. In the monsoon season get an umbrella with you.
4. Remember to collect a T shirt and cloth bag i.e.  complimentary with every course.
5. Visit the book shop – has a good collection of  books, cds and t shirts.
6. Walk around the campus as much as possible.
7. Insist that Ayurveda treatments be based on your  specific medical problem.
8. Try to get one to one sessions with Yoga  teachers or in small groups, request them for personal attention. They are  always willing to help.
9. If you are doing this camp for the first time  take 2.5 day one that I took. The next time take the seven day course.
10.The library has an Internet facility. For a  small fee you are connected with the world.
11.A membership booklet is given to you on  registration. It contains pictures of asanas and details of treatment taken.  Preserve it.
12.Whilst you are there master the asanas that are  required to take care of specific health problems.

My experience
I came back to  Mumbai totally rejuvenated. Not only did I learn new asanas but also began  doing the ones I knew correctly. The aches have gone. My body is a lot more  flexible. The key is to do the asanas regularly, something I will have to work  hard on. I hope to be there sooner than later.

To know more visit www.kdham.com or call 91 02114273001 in Lonavla  now.