Ayurveda is an alternative to Western modern medicine, favoring a preventative and holistic approach to mental, physical, and spiritual health over a one-time treatment to symptoms of disease.
If you’re considering going to an Ayurvedic clinic, it’s likely that you’re already aware of the powerful effects of the ancient practice.
There’s no cookie-cutter for your overall experience at an Ayurveda clinic. Every individual’s journey is totally unique, involving remedies, treatments and routine changes based on who you are, your health problems, and your Dosha make-up.
However, what we can help you with is what to expect during your very first visit to an Ayurveda clinic.
In this article, we’ll explore:
- What is Ayurveda?
- What is an Ayurvedic clinic?
- What are the benefits of going to an Ayurvedic clinic?
- The initial examination
- Popular Ayurvedic treatments
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda has been a prominent part of Indian culture for almost 5000 years.
Translated literally, Ayurveda means “the Science of Life.” The name is derived from the Sanskrit words ‘Ayu’, meaning Life, and ‘Veda’, meaning Knowledge.
Ayurveda is an alternative approach to health that emphasizes bringing the mind and body into balance in a holistic manner. As such, it encompasses medicine, diet, psychology, yoga, massage and more.
The system’s overarching aim is to empower people to live long, healthy, and fulfilled lives without the need for prescription medication, major surgeries or suffering bought about by disease.
What is an Ayurvedic clinic?
At an Ayurvedic clinic, you’ll find highly experienced Ayurvedic physicians who use ayurvedic treatments to restore patients to health and bring relief from suffering.
Although Ayurveda originates from India, the ancient practice has gained increasing traction in large parts of the Western world as well.
Chances are, you’ll be able to find a reputable Ayurvedic clinic relatively near you. Just make sure you do your research thoroughly, checking the certifications of the practitioners as well as the reviews.
Why should I go to an Ayurveda clinic?
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Ayurvedic medicine and diet can help treat a host of hormonal, inflammatory, digestive, and autoimmune disorders.
Although the benefits of Ayurvedic treatments and therapies largely depend on the unique needs of the individual, the most commonly reported benefits include:
- Improved digestion
- Reduced asthma symptoms
- Stress reduction
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- Improved sleep
- Improved skin
- Pain relief from chronic conditions
- Reduced symptoms of autoimmune disorders
- Reduced obesity risk
However, although people have used Ayurvedic practices to improve their health and well-being for thousands of years, the jury of the scientific community is still out.
That is to say, although individual studies have supported the benefits of Ayurveda, large-scale clinical trials are needed to prove the safety and efficacy of these ancient treatments.
Indeed, some Ayurvedic treatments can be incredibly dangerous if practiced incorrectly or without the supervision of a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner. For instance, performing nasal irrigation with a neti pot without the use of a sterilized solution can be potentially fatal.
As such, you should always consult a certified practitioner before attempting a treatment at home or making any major changes to your lifestyle.
The initial examination
It should come as no surprise that on your first visit to an Ayurvedic clinic, you need to be prepared to talk about yourself.
Since Ayurveda is concerned with all aspects of your life, your visit will not only involve both a physical and observational examination of your body but also a thorough personal and medical history.
The examination itself is usually split into 3 parts:
Also known as Darshan: the act of beholding or seeing.
The practitioner will begin by evaluating your physical health.
They will check your nails, body shape, skin, eyes and hair, as well as observe your joint movement and general mobility.
Also known as Sparsha: the sense of touch.
The next part of your examination involves physical touch, during which the practitioner will employ three Ayurvedic techniques.
The first is known as sparshanam, which involves palpation – the medical term for touching and pressing down on parts of the body to determine the condition of tissues, internal organs, and other structures.
The second is known as shrvanaa, which involves listening to sounds made by internal organs.
The third is known as akotana, which involves tapping on specific parts of the body to determine the presence or absence of sensation – for instance, to identify any numbness due to nerve damage.
There is an emphasis on pulse rate, tongue health, nail health, and speech pattern during this component.
Also known as Prashna: the act of inquiry.
The final part of your examination involves the practitioner asking questions as a diagnostic method to gather information about all aspects of your health.
This could range from questions about any ailments or injuries to questions about diet, exercise, daily routine, mental health, your profession and working environment, relationships, and more.
They’re not just being nosy. This will enable the practitioner to identify key areas of imbalance and determine which treatments might be appropriate, so be as honest as possible.
Popular Ayurvedic treatments
Once your initial examination is complete, your practitioner will suggest a number of treatments and therapies to undergo, as well as recommend changes to your daily routine (dincharya) and seasonal routine (ritucharya).
Ayurveda is arguably best known for its powerful herbal remedies.
But although the remedies are natural, they’re certainly not to be taken lightly; herbs as innocuous as turmeric can be potentially harmful when used incorrectly or consumed in excess.
As such, it’s important that you only take Ayurvedic remedies prescribed by a certified practitioner.
Administering these herbal concoctions is a precise science, with the efficacy of each herb determined according to three factors:
- Ras (taste)
- Virya (active potency)
- Vipak (post-digestive effect)
From improving digestion and sleep quality to reducing symptoms of illness and disease, Ayurvedic herbs can have a huge effect on human biochemistry, psychology, and physiology.
Check out our Ayurvedic tea guide for safe herbal remedies you can make at home.
Dosha work and nutrition
Your initial examination will allow the practitioner to assess your dominant Dosha.
According to Ayurveda, humans are comprised of and influenced by three fundamental forces known as Doshas. These are Kapha, Vata and Pitta.
During your initial examination, your practitioner will determine your prominent Dosha and help you understand which food or lifestyle choices are thought to aggravate your primary Dosha into imbalance or towards diseases.
- Comprised of air and ether elements
- Body type: typically slim, lightweight, tall or short, dark or olive undertones, dry skin and thin hair
- Balanced by: warming, moisturizing, oily, creamy, and fatty foods. Think root vegetables, protein, avocados, and nuts
- Comprised of fire and water elements
- Body type: typically medium physical build, may have red hair, muscular, excellent digestion, shining skin
- Balanced by: cooling, energizing, and refreshing foods such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Think cucumbers, melons, coconut, coriander, and mint
- Comprised of earth and water elements
- Body type: strong and heavy physical appearance, soft skin, strong teeth, round features, thick hair
- Balanced by: dry, warming, flavor-filled foods. Think leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, spices, and beans
Panchakarma is a five-part method of cleansing the body of toxins and unwanted waste.
NB: Some of these techniques are highly invasive and must be performed by an experienced Ayurvedic practitioner. Do not attempt these at home.
1. Basti: Purging the large intestines via a herbal enema.
2. Nasya: Cleansing the nasal passage through a variety of techniques.
3. Vamana: The removal of toxins in the stomach through induced vomiting.
4. Virechana: The removal of toxins from the small intestines via prescribed herbal and oil-based laxatives.
5. Raktamokshana: The carefully controlled letting of small quantities of blood.
Shirodhara is a technique that involves dripping medicated oil on your third eye – the region of forehead between your eyebrows.
The treatment brings balance to the doshas and is suggested to improve sleep quality, manage insomnia and reduce stress.
Your practitioner will determine what type of medicated oil is used and the treatment will be performed by a trained message therapist.
Also known as Abhyanga, Ayurvedic massage techniques are used to restore balance to the doshas within your body, as well as improve lymphatic drainage, release muscle tension, increase blood circulation and nourish your skin.
According to Ayurveda, blood travels at a 100 times faster rate with Ayurvedic massage.
Your practitioner will select specific massage oils according to your diagnosis.
NB: getting an Ayurvedic massage immediately after undergoing panchakarma can impede the cleansing process and cause complications such as indigestion and heaviness.
Avoid Ayurvedic massage for 2-3 days after undergoing panchakarma.
Your first visit to an Ayurveda clinic will be an eye-opening experience that has the potential to radically change your life for the better.
Good luck, and feel free to let us know how you found it!
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