ON THE PATH TO AUTHENTIC AYURVEDA Ayurveda Education and Treatment in India

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Ayurveda is beckoning the world, East & West alike, and there is a growing fascination to all things traditional, cultural and ancient. In this milieu, there are questions galore in the minds of a newcomer to the world of Ayurveda. Some of them are naturally thus: How can one tell the difference between a good Ayurveda treatment and one that should be avoided? We learn that Ayurveda is everywhere, at least so it appears because signs abound through Kerala, indeed all of India, inviting and announcing Ayurveda treatments. What is the real scenario today? Are there restrictions as to who can practice (legally) and which centers should best be passed over? Here is an attempt to answer these queries and many more, and guide as well as welcome all to Authentic Ayurveda.

Ayurveda towards Green & Olive in Kerala It is a positive step for good Ayurveda today that the Tourism Ministry of Kerala Government has introduced a process of certification of Ayurveda Centers primarily run in resorts and hotels. There are certain prescribed standards which if adhered to, the applying Center is eligible for “Green Leaf Certification” and “Olive Leaf Certification”. The elevation of ‘Ayurveda’ as a USP of Kerala Tourism has brought a substantial increase in the Ayurveda massage centers in and around all the major tourist destinations in the State. However most of these operate according to their terms and often flout safety and health regulations. To forestall any such misuse and maintain a uniformity of practice Government of Kerala has brought out a scheme for the Approval of Ayurveda Centers vide G.O. (MS) 140/98/GAD dated 23-03-1998. According to this order a uniform approval is given to all the centers fulfilling the conditions prescribed, irrespective of its class in quality.

A Positive Step Indeed

The information has been taken from the pages of theMinistry of Tourism, Government of Kerala – & as seen, the standards are not very stringent; still it is a good beginning. Thus, as a first step, one who is totally ignorant of India and Ayurveda can safely look for “certified centers in Kerala” on the basis of the above criteria; at least, these centers will be better than the numerous fake centers that otherwise exist. Please note that the standards described above are very simple and needs to be considerably improved. Hence while the concept of certification is good, there is still some distance to travel before a credible and unbiased certification program is achieved. The unfortunate part is that many genuine Ayurveda centers offering authentic Ayurveda treatment have not applied for the above certification. Currently it is only the Ayurveda centers running in hotels/resorts, the centers established in tourist locations as well as the traditional Ayurveda centers that have applied and secured this certification. Many Ayurveda centers run by Ayurveda families and having lesser number of beds are outside the purview of this certification process. A seeker of authentic Ayurveda should be able to find the right place, as ultimately what matters is the individual care and cure offered at any Center – with or without Certificate.

Some Criteria For Olive Leaf Certificate i) Technical Personnel:a) Qualified physician with a recognized degree in Ayurveda. b) At least two numbers of masseurs (one male and one female) c) Following the Kerala tradition, only same gender massages are legal ii) Quality of Medicine and Health programme:a) The Center will offer only those programmes, which are approved by the approval committee. b) The Health programmes offered at the Center should be clearly exhibited. The center should also exhibit the time taken for normal massage and other treatments. c) The medicine used should be from an approved and reputed firm. These medicines should be labelled and exhibited at the centre.

iii) Equipment: The Center should have at least the following equipment. a) One massage table of minimum size 7 feet x 3 feet in each treatment room, made up of good quality wood/fibre glass. b) Medicated hot water facility for bathing and other purposes. iv) Facilities: a) Minimum two numbers of treatment rooms with attached bathroom b) One consultation room c) There should be a separate resting room d) The general construction of the building should be good. Locality and ambience, including accessibility, should be suitable. Furnishing of rooms should be of good quality. The entire building, including the surrounding premises, should be kept clean and hygienic.

Some Criteria For Green Leaf Certificate The basic facilities required for Green Leaf Certificate is the same as Olive Leaf. In addition to the requirements for Olive Leaf, the following additional facilities also are essential to get Green Leaf Certificate. i) The general construction, architectural features etc of the building should be of very high standard. The furnishing curtains, fittings etc should be with superior quality materials. ii) The bathroom should have facilities for steam bath. The following are additional

A Guide to Choose the Right Ayurveda Center for You It is just a matter of good discretion and one can effortlessly select the ideal Ayurveda center – big or small, in village or in city – for, what matters is the patient’s choice & comfort level. As Ayurveda acts on each individual based on his/her body characteristics, the comforts and care at any Center suit differently to patients, based on particular likings. Some important factors that one can consider while deciding where to go for treatments are: Is one going to Ayurveda for… Curative treatment as a patient? Rejuvenative treatment as a patient? Rejuvenative treatment as a guest? The difference between rejuvenative treatment as a patient and as a guest is that the former is more long term and requires one to follow all the dietary and lifestyle restrictions; while the latter can be short-term and the restrictions, while advised, will not be mandatory. Needless to say, the former is far more effective. Thus if one is planning to be a patient who requires serious, intensive treatments, then it is better to avoid the hotels/resorts and focus more on finding a good Ayurveda hospital which suits one’s requirements of healing.

How to Enjoy Good Healing as a Good Patient? To be a keen & serious patient, it is important to make the following preparations before going for a course of intensive Ayurveda treatment. Be mentally prepared for total physical and mental rest. The more one slows down one’s physical and mental processes, the better will be the healing. Be mentally prepared for emotional healing during or after the treatment process. This can happen up to 6 months after the treatment especially for those who have been through intense emotional trauma. Be prepared for a qualitative shift in your own life post-treatment. That is when the real healing happens – for while the treatment facilitates, healing happens only when you shoulder full responsibility and introspect, recognize and find solutions for the “problem centers” within yourself, your family, your environment, work etc.

Be prepared for a simple, vegetarian and apparently “low nutritional” Indian diet. During the treatment, even the metabolic processes within are slowed down and hence very light and easy-to-digest food is what is preferred – while it may not look nutritional or have your recommended intake of vitamins and minerals and proteins, it will certainly suffice to take care of you during the treatment period and for some time after that. Be prepared to share with the Ayurveda physician complete details about oneself – the medical history, family history, emotional history, occupational history and anything else that the physician needs to know. Do leave it to the physician to decide what is relevant and what is not. Be prepared for a gradual and steady improvement process – patience is a key word when it comes to healing. Last but not the least, have absolute faith in Ayurveda, the physician treating you and the treatment and healing process. The firmer your conviction, the better will be the healing process.

Finding your Ideal Vaidya

Ensure that there is at least a B.A.M.S. (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery) qualified Ayurveda physician with a minimum experience of 5-7 years at whichever center one chooses. In fact, going to a center having a minimum of 2 Ayurveda physicians would be better, to ensure that at least one physician is always available. Or, it will suffice if there is a reputed Ayurveda institution’s name associated with the center.

Do remember that the physician is the fulcrum of the Ayurveda treatment program. Hence we reiterate the importance of identifying a good Ayurveda physician, and more importantly, resonating with him/her. Hence if you get a reference to a particular Ayurveda hospital or center or physician, that would almost certainly be a good starting point. It might even be good to have a few conversations over email or internet prior to finalizing where you want to go to. The above is all the more important if you desire to learn more about the treatment and understand as much as possible about every aspect of the treatment given. In a traditional setting, invariably only the physician and few others would know English, making communication not easy. Many Ayurveda physicians are not prone to detailed explanations and believe in economy of words. Thus if communication is an essential factor, then a prior conversation is always a must. There is nothing secretive about any Ayurveda treatment – if a center or physician refuses information on “grounds of secrecy”, that would be a place that you should consider avoiding.

Your Healing Medicine As you choose your best healer, it should also be possible to procure the authentic Ayurveda medicines/oils at 2 or more reputed Ayurveda institutions – for these are almost always standard, though of course, the quality can vary. One can always verify if the manufacturing unit possesses the Government’s Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certification, which is a right indicator for quality, traditional medicines. The role of the right medicine taken in the right quantities at the right time is very important in the journey towards healing, and hence it is worth the effort taken to select.

Mind the Indian Ambience The “decibel levels” would be another important factor to consider while making your decision. Many centers are located in crowded localities and hence if you prefer a “quiet ambience” it is better to spell it out initially. It is also better to double check, for what may be “noisy” to the westerner may “not be so noisy” to the Indian. Hygiene is yet another factor that disturbs many westerners who come to Ayurveda hospitals in Kerala. If you are looking at budget accommodation, be mentally prepared to stay in a space which may not be “clinically hygiene”, but which would still suffice to meet essential standards for healing.

The Right Ayurveda Milieu You can make a conscious choice of location for your Ayurveda healing. While the rejuvenative guest has umpteen options along the sea shore as well as in the backwaters, the serious patient should look for facilities that are in interior Kerala, for the sea breeze and the beach are not the most conducive for a serious patient. If you have any history of emergency hospitalization, you might want to ensure that there is a reliable western medicine emergency care unit within a radius of 4-5kms of the center. Most Ayurveda centers are not well equipped to deal with emergency situations, and hence it is always good to have a support system nearby. You can also choose between being in a town or city as compared to the countryside – while the countryside is green and beautiful and generally quiet

and free from external pollution, there may be a problem with getting amenities, as also with communication with the outside world – while the telephone lines are fine, internet/email is still to reach many of these smaller hospitals that are located in the countryside. But it can also be the perfect haven for those looking for a real break from the hurried modern life, as in it can offer the peaceful calm that can quicken Ayurveda healing.

Your Ideal Ayurveda Space A good Ayurveda center would – have at least 2 experienced Ayurveda physicians and support staff like therapists use the medicines/oils of a reputed Ayurveda institution or make their own medicines/oils provide good personal care and attention and would virtually treat you as a part of the extended family (especially in the smaller centers in the countryside) be transparent about the treatments and medicines, and would in fact be willing to give you a detailed discharge summary containing details of your entire treatment process (including procedures, medicines, diet etc.) for the duration you were at the center not hesitate to consult or refer you to other Ayurveda/Allopathy physicians where necessary not suddenly stop any medication that you may currently be on – would invariably request you to consult with your doctor and reduce the medication as and when he feels it is fine not give you false promises of “panacea for all diseases” So, here is wishing you happy healing, with authentic Ayurveda at your right Ayurveda home! Visit www.punarnava-ayurveda.com to learn more about Ayurveda centres in India, Ayurveda education and treatment.

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