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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.