The Indian Ayurveda tour
It is no hidden fact that in the trail of events that marked the beginning of the human civilization, the Indian peninsula had its own sets of laurels. Right from the prehistoric era and all throughout the process of development, there have been several areas where ancient Indians have made their eminent contributions. Be it the quintessential concept of ‘zero’ or as we would know discuss, the ancient practice of Ayurveda, the fact that these originated from India and spread to all parts of the world is a univocally accepted fact. Although the practice was hugely popular in the past, in the wake of the century, with modern allopathic medicines gaining popularity, there was a substantial degrade in the way people relied on the concept of Ayurveda.
Synopsis of the term, Ayurveda
If not all, certainly most of us must have heard the term Ayurveda. In a layman’s term, Ayurveda is a term of the Indian origin that refers to all the practices of treating the body with Ayurvedic medicines. However, there is a lot more to this word and an inside knowledge often helps in understanding the core processes and how do Ayurvedic practioners deal with patients.
Ayurveda is a word formed by two roots, ayus and ved meaning longevity and knowledge respectively. The literal meaning of the term says, it the inbuilt knowledge of body constitution and a way to lead a longer and healthier life. The word can be traced as back to the Vedic period, which is around 1500 BC and is of a strictly Sanskrit origin. Just like the language, it is considered as one of the oldest and univocally, the mother of all archaic and contemporary medical practices.
What was ayurveda in the past?
The history of the Ayurvedic practices in India is almost synonymous to the history of the land and the people themselves. The earliest examples of such practices dates to the prehistoric eras where the ancient sages and saints were known to perform religious pious acts with the help of herbs like rosemary, thyme and the sacred tulsi. It was not untilthe Vedic period in around the mid-second millennium in BC that any written records of the processes and the benefits of the plants used were found. Therefore, it can be safely ascertained that it was in the Vedic period that scientific methodologies were employed in the practice. The four religious volumes, the Vedas are an encyclopedia of the past and the Atharva Veda, with its 114 hymns dedicated solely to the ayurvedic practices of the time is regarded as the earliest collection in the subject. In the years that followed, there were several additions and modifications to the existing techniques and sages and physicians like the great Charaka, Sushruta, Atreya and many more made their contributions and complied versions called Samhitas. It was not only medicines that were used, processes like surgery and other complex medical procedures were also refined. It was a surprise to the western world that a modest medical practice like ayurveda knew the precise method of cataract operation, how to treat angina pectoris, Rhinoplasty etc. with the advent of the kingdoms, these practices that earlier were confined to the ashrams, got their vent and flew far and wide via travellers and traders from Arab, Chinese travelers in the courts of eminent rulers and later the British personnel.
Ayurveda in the present; Indian Ayurveda tours
Now that we know in brief what is the past of this great practice, it is apt to talk about the present scenario in the nation and worldwide.
As mentioned earlier, due to the increasing developments in the field of sciences like paramedics, physics and Nano technology and its extensive use in the medical line, the precision with which allopathic drugs or surgeries work is much higher than the slow and time taking methods of Ayurveda. This, along with unfortunate instances of health hazards caused due to Ayurvedic drugs drifted the popularity away from the practice. Ayurveda has a broad-spectrum line of work and it aims on not only the area affected but also cures and purifies the body and the soul too. This is achieved not singly by drugs but also through meditation, yoga practices, massages and many more sciences that are allied. It is this holistic approach toward wellness that is again bringing people in par with the ideas and the lost popularity and believes is reviving slowly. To make things better, special Ayurvedic tours are initiated by the government of India and the Medical Council in strategic locations like the beautiful lands of Kerala, the serene forests of Rishikesh etc. These tours include custom-made itineraries for the people based on their choices and budget. From a stay in an ultra-chic resort equipped with state of the art facilities to treatments in the best Ayurvedic spas and clinics, there is something for every soul in the tours.
Of the many tours mentioned by the Ministry of Travel and Tourism in India, the Kerala Ayurveda tours are the most sought after ones. The popularity of these tours is more among the foreign travelers than the local tourists. One major reason for this the fact that the tour packages are not categorically cheap and cost a little fortune.
Kerala, the spice capital of India is special in many ways. Due to the extremely serene and highly picturesque backwaters, darted with tall coconut palm trees, it becomes one of the most ideal settings for a session of ayurvedic therapy. Taking advantage of the geographical locations at the extreme southern tip of the country, there are a lot of ayurvedic centers and spas coming up there. Another reason for the flourishing body care industry in these areas is the fact that Kerala has some of the most fertile soils in the country and a wide variety of medicinal plants and herbs grow redundantly. It is in fact one of the most popular tours and with the number of people interested in holistic wellness programs, increasing such spas and treatment centers are always on the hike. The best time to visit this green paradise is during the monsoon spells that begin in the month of June and continue well into the winter months. With an equitable climate all throughout the year, you can visit Kerala in ideally all months of the year. There are several travel companies that conduct such tours and include everything from the best of the best hotels and resorts to the perfect treatments by trained practioners in the spas and other ayurvedic health centers strewn all across the state. Apart from this, there are a lot of rejuvenating activities like meditation, yoga training and other recreation activities that help to revive and cure your body holistically. The spas are world renowned for their dedication and customer satisfaction and the famous Sanskrit sloka; ‘atithi devo bhav’ gets a completely new meaning. The range of treatments in these spas is ideally endless. Some of the most popular ones are the head oil massage called Shirodhara that uses a constantly trickling down source of essential oils over your head to heal anxiety related problems. Others include body massages to revive the Marma or the crucial points in the body, mudpack facials and body wraps to make your skin glow, literally and many more.
How are ayurveda and its techniques beneficial and better than the modern medical practices?
We all know that the main difference between the modern allopathic techniques and the ancient methods adopted in the art of Ayurveda is the use of drugs. Where the former uses synthetic chemical drug derivatives and other cliché scientific techniques like MRI, USG etc. to diagnose and for the prognosis of diseases, ayurveda on the other hand relies totally on the natural sources like plants, animals or minerals to treat the patients. This is the reason behind it being called naturopathy, alternately. Some of the advantages that it has over the allopathic treatment methodologies are cheap and easily available drugs as they are derived from plant and animal products. Next is the fact that most of these ayurvedic medicines do not have any side effects on the body, except a few rare cases where a person can be allergic to certain plant products. As all of plants and animals are found locally in the country and often are endemic to the region, it makes India not only a self-sufficient entity in this market but also a global exporter of ayurvedic products.
The core principles behind ayurvedic practices
After knowing about the advantages and the popular stops for getting a mudpack massage, it is apt to throw some light on the governing principles of the science. From time immemorial, the Indian people have worshipped the four elements that are believed to constitute the earth and all tis beings, whether living or dead. According to ayurveda, the body is made up of the four forces namely, vayu (air), jal (water), prithvi (Earth) and Agni (fire). In addition, there are the seven elements or the sapta dhatu like the bone marrow, blood, gut etc. that run all major functions in the body. A very important concept in ayurveda is the concept of the three energy circles or humors called the Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These are the key points that are present in the body and it is a harmonious balance between these three that makes the body healthy and free from all anomalies. The basic concept in ayurveda is to maintain this balance and when the balance falters, diseases or doshas occur.
How do ayurvedic practioners diagnose and treat a disease?
Now coming to the most important part of any medical science, the ways in which an ayurvedic doctor treats you is very different from what the modern physicians do. As mentioned earlier, it is all about maintaining a balance between the three energies, Vata, Pitta and Kapha. It is therefore the first thing that the doctor does. By checking your pulse or the process of Naadi vishleshan, and the crucial points or Marma he or she builds the diagnostic report. Just like modern allopath, some diseases of the internal systems require proper blood or fluid tests before a concrete report is made. After the complete process of checkup, a detailed report of the various habits of the individual including, eating, resting and others is made. This helps in prescribing the right medicine and also the right path to recovery. This is clear from the fact that ayurveda aims at a holistic development instead of masking the effects of the diseases or just eliminating the causative agents. Along with medicines, ayurvedic methods lay a lot of emphasis on meditation to treat all sorts of mind instabilities or otherwise. Yoga and ayurveda are almost synonymous today and there is no ayurvedic practioner in the world who denies the obvious benefits of the two when adopted together.
The treatment techniques can be broadly classified into two branches, using only medicines, exercises, and the second using surgical procedures as well. The Panchakarma or the five-step body purification technique is one of the most widely used ones. It finds the use of herbs and other plant products to heal and detoxify the body. Other popular methods, used especially to cure skin diseases or bone deformities are oil massages. This should be done only by trained professionals because if done incorrectly can have adverse effects on the body joints. A special type of massage called Chooranaswedan is a boon for treating neurotic disorders. Herbs like mulethi, ashvagandha, sanjivani etc. are some of the most commonly used ones with several medicinal properties. Aloe Vera is known to have excellent anti-diabetic and cancer healing properties and is an active element of many ayurvedic medicines. The treatment routine also includes detailed descriptions about good dietary habits and about the things one should avoid.
The whole process of diagnosis and prognosis are never generalized instead, are always made to suit each patient.