From traditional Ayurveda to holistic Naturopathy – a journey through southern India
Bright colours, exotic spices, impressive landscapes and a country full of contrasts – that is India in my imagination. High peaks of the Himalaya in the north and tropical rain forests as well as high humidity in the south.
And exactly in these tropical – and due to the monsoon season quite humid – Indian south was the target of my journey to the CGH Earth Wellness retreats and clinics with their unique concepts. All four properties focus on sustainable and responsible tourism and attach great importance to social responsibility. Untouched nature, the gentle noise of the ocean and fresh, clean air – that’s how the SwaSwara Wellbeing Retreat welcomed me, about three hours by car from the airport in Goa. The nearest town, Gokarna, is about 20 minutes by car and an Indian pilgrimage site where Hindu believers wash with holy water in the Koti Teertha temple basin and then visit the Mahabaleshwar temple dedicated to the goddess Shiva. A small, but colorful and lively place – definitely worth a visit.
Back in SwaSwara the calming silence is once again striking – especially in contrast to Gokarna – only interrupted by the soft sounds of the wind and the waves of Om Beach. Thanks to the monsoon season, the monotonous but melodic crackling of the dense rain mixes with it, almost having a meditative effect. The next morning begins with my first medical consultation followed by a first treatment: a revitalizing and classic Indian full body massage, performed simultaneously by two therapists, which stimulates the energy and blood flow of the body – heavenly, especially after the long journey. Over the next two days, morning yoga at sunrise as well as various breathing meditations and art therapy will be on the schedule.
With exciting impressions and many culinary inspirations (the freshly prepared and regional food is delicious at SwaSwara. During the daily cooking lessons, you can even look over the shoulder of the Indian chef and I have dusted off a lot of tips and tricks) we continue south to the state of Karnataka. At Kalari Rasayana, one of the two NABH certified Ayurveda clinics of CGH Earth, an even deeper and more comprehensive insight into the thousands of years old Indian doctrine of Ayurveda awaits me. The clinic is picturesquely situated on the Paravur Backwaters, surrounded by thick coconut plantations and is a place of peace and natural beauty. The main building is built openly with columns and always with a view to the backwaters, where the local fishermen row out with their small wooden boats every morning. My stay starts with a very long and detailed conversation with Dr. Sankar. Far away from any time pressure, he explains to me the effect and the course of every Ayurveda cure: It begins with an anamnesis and evaluation of the patient’s life situation, health problems and open questions, on the basis of which a completely individual treatment and nutrition plan (meat, tea, coffee and alcohol are not allowed, smoking is of course also taboo) is drawn up for each guest. This is followed by the activation of the metabolism (usually through a vitalizing full body massage), before the purification and detoxification begins. At the end our body is regenerated and rebuilt with a lot of peace and care. In Kalari Rasayana, a special focus is placed on nutrition – not only on the individual diet plan of a patient, but above all on the conscious handling of food. That’s why everyone sits at their own table (also with a view to the water) to concentrate completely on the meal in front of them – without entertainment, without neighbours, without a mobile phone or a book. In the beginning this is an unusual feeling for me, but then it changes into well-being. My body absorbs each spice and each taste of the food much more and one chews completely consciously, instead of pushing as often in the stressful everyday life simply a fast snack in.
The last destination on my journey through India is the really impressive nature of the mountains of Panchalimedu (also a famous Indian pilgrimage place, a hike up to the summit early in the morning is rewarded with a fabulous view …except in the cloudy monsoon season ). CGH Earth’s Prakriti Shakti Naturopathy Centre is located on a densely overgrown hillside and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding hills, mountains and forests. The fast moving cloud covers in the monsoon season add something mystical to the special view. Here, too, the doctors take their time every day for a personal conversation, Dr. Cijith explains the effects of naturopathy to me. Thanks to a balanced diet, sufficient rest for mind and body through meditation combined with supportive treatments and stimulating yoga units, the body’s own self-healing powers are activated. Therefore, Prakriti Shakti does not use any kind of medicine (also herbal based) but rather trusts in the abilities of the body. The day at Prakriti Shakti is therefore firmly structured: Meditation to connect the five elements (water, fire, earth, air and ether) through barefoot walking, breathing exercises and sunbathing, followed by morning yoga and a delicious raw food breakfast. In general, the diet plays a key role in detoxification and revitalization. Prakriti Shakti focuses entirely on raw foods which means the purely herbal foods are not heated above 40 degrees during preparation. It sounds very monotonous, but – thanks to the chef’s creative ideas – it is surprisingly varied and tasty. The variations range from breakfast bowls and smoothies to various cold soups, salads, raw food pizza and date ice cream. Patients also go through a fasting phase in which they only consume water and thinly mixed juices that are easy to digest. This allows the body to focus more on the healing process.
At the end of my stay at the CGH Earth Wellness properties, the quiet wish to take some time off in the future for a at least two-week Ayurveda cure at CGH Earth to experience the effects and healing methods firsthand remains … and to then feel like newborn at the end. Namaste!