Panchakarma literally means “five actions” and involves five main types of treatments to address doshic imbalances, remove toxins from the body and restore energy flow throughout the organs’ system and tissues. This process happens in three phases:
PURVAKARMA – preparation
Usually starting 30-15 days prior to Panchakarma series of treatments, a period of preparation supports the body to eliminate toxins and reduce intake of foods that aggravate doshic imbalance, therefore making the body ready for further purification.
Starting with a consultation, the practitioner gathers information to identify individual constitution and present health conditions. Accordingly, herbs, nutrition, meditation practice and treatments are chosen to most efficiently induce detoxification.
PANCHAKARMA – five actions of purification
Usually 7 days residential retreat, emphasizing elimination at a deeper level.
As a foundation, clients receive a combination of:
Abhyanga – traditional Ayurvedic massage applied with warm herbal oils; Udvartan – skin exfoliation using flour and herbal mixture;
Shirodhara – face, head and neck massage followed by 20-45 minutes of warm herbal oil preparation, slowly dripping on the third eye, to relax and balance the nervous system, as well as open to insights and deeper levels of awareness.
Simultaneously, regular intake of ghee, or other oil, is recommended. This therapeutic combination liquefies toxins, improves blood and lymphatic circulation, supporting the movement of accumulated doshas back to the GI tract, from where they are finally eliminated.
The actual panchakarma, emphasizes further elimination and depletion, and include a combination of the traditional five actions: Virechana – purgation, primarily used to treat Pitta imbalance.Basti – enemas using oils and herbs, to balance excess Vata.Nasya – cleanses the sinus and nasal passages, assists on the removal of mucous, with the use of steam and medicated oil. Svedhana – clear impurities through sweating in a steam cabin. The heat opens the pores, liquefies toxins and mobilizes impurities from the tissues, supporting elimination of toxins through the skin.Vamana – therapeutic vomiting, mostly needed in case of Kapha imbalance.
These treatments are chosen and combined considering above all the uniqueness of each individual.
Traditionally, and still in India nowadays, Rakta moksha– bloodletting, is used to purify and cleanse the blood. Typically it involves the application of leeches and is beyond the scope of practice in the USA and Europe.
Plenty of rest is recommended, as well as a mono diet of kitchari (a seasoned mixture of basmati rice and mung dal), and extra personal care, so that the body is encouraged to focus on this process of elimination.
RASAYANA – rejuvenation
During this phase, the body is revitalized with herbs, nutrition and review of lifestyle. The client receives educational support to reintroduce adequate and nurturing foods into daily diet, increase digestive fire, as well as, strengthen and balance all tissues and organs’ system.
Panchakarma cleanses the cell walls at the deepest level, revitalizing the entire body, and further rebuilding immunity. It enlivens the body, mind and spirit, offering a great opportunity to jumpstart into a balanced lifestyle.
Especially recommended during the change of seasons, or/and to support life transitions, end of cycles, or the simple need to renew from inside out. As a health maintenance program it is suggested once a year.