It is time to cleanse! Read Sneak Peak’s new article featuring an interview with Julia on the benefits of yoga and Ayurveda for detoxing after a long winter.
In a country with over a billion people, little infrastructure and a great deal of open sewage, it seems only fitting that I should be writing about shit. It all began in Savasana, early in the morning, on a rooftop in South India. Floating across the warm breeze, the cheerful ring tone of a cell phone gently drifts to my ears.
At first the doctor’s voice doesn’t register.
“Excuse me maam?”
I begrudgingly open on eye, squinting against the sunlight and see the doctor, who is also our yoga teacher, hovering over me.
“You have treatment ma’am. Enema.”
This may come as no surprise, but there’s really nothing like hearing the word “enema” to make the rectum clench.
“Thank you?” I respond, and jump up, heading to meet my unexpected fate.
To back up a little, I am studying Ayurveda here at the source, in a wonderful Ayurvedic and Integrative Medicine Hospital in Madurai, down in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. In addition to the theory of Ayurvedic treatment, our program involves daily Panchakarma here at the hospital. Meaning “five actions,” Panchakarma is a powerful series of treatments used in Ayurveda to cleanse, detox, heal and prepare for the change of seasons. Often mistaken for simple massage in the West, it actually ranges from head massage and nasal oiling, to vomiting and purgation, steam treatment to induce sweat and the aforementioned enema. Upon arriving and receiving my consultation with Dr. Rameesh, a third generation Ayurvedic doctor and director of the hospital, it was determined that I should be placed on a nourishing treatment plan, as opposed to the detoxifying measures being undertaken by some of my counterparts. So while my new friends here drank copious amounts of ghee in preparation for their vomiting sessions, I enjoyed nightly massage and wrote gleeful emails to my friends at home. So, in the name of balance, I guess something had to give.
Enema, or Vasti in Sanskrit, is often performed using oil, water or milk to release toxins from the body and enhance the general downward flow of energy. My personal history with enemas involves a sole instance prior to my appendectomy at the age of 10. I remember the nurse explaining that they would administer the enema, and after “a few minutes” I would need to go to the bathroom. I remember the “few minutes” being a misjudgment on the nurse’s part, and getting to the bathroom in time being an unreasonable expectation. So, based on personal experience, things are not looking great.
On the plus side, this experience starts out a bit more glamorously. Back at the ranch, I’m relieved to be handed a pair of Tarzan-like disposable underwear and a hair net which I’ve come to learn here are sure indications I’ll be receiving a full body massage. I troop dutifully into the bathroom to change into this attractive attire then, largely naked, I head to the massage table. Since you’ve read this far, I can only assume you’re dying to hear about the enema! Here’s how it went down:
Purged of toxins, dignity and inhibitions, I can honestly say I’ll do it again! Next week in fact, according to the good doctor.
Read Julia’s contribution to this Denver Post list of 31 ways to get and stay healthy this year!
This last new moon of the year, and the final 10 days of increasing darkness leading to the Winter Solstice, offer us a contemplative time to reflect upon that which has no more growth potential in our lives and our world, and the choice to release ourselves from it in order to rise together with the promising new light of the coming year. Join us for this earthy hour-long lunar practice which we prepare ourselves for with a meditative Prana Flow prostration before sinking deeply into our hips, roots and source.
Call it jubilation over the end of election coverage, but we could not get enough of standing on our hands in Vail this week! Join us for this intense hour-long practice that visits Adho Vrksasana over and over again. As Sri Dharma Mittra says, when it comes to handstand, keep kicking up till you get it! (Alternatively, skip the handstands and still enjoy a full practice!).