My first forays into panchakarma were two-day treatments over weekends that mainly consisted of abhyangas (think hot oil massages) and bastis (think enemas). My friend Linda describes full-course panchakarma as more like boot camp. You need to be geared up and ready to go, and then the treatments just keep coming.
My treatment day begins at 8:30 with a hot oil massage followed by an herbalized steam treatment, and then a buttermilk head bath streamed in a curving pattern on the forehead. Today, however, this routine was broken by a patra potli massage (I always hear paltry poultry), which consists of being ironed or massaged with big bags of herbs soaked in hot oil.
The next treatment, after lunch, is called the “doughnut” treatment. Initially, I was hopeful because of the name, but the technicians simply create two circular cradles of dough, one over the heart and one over the stomach, and each is filled with hot oil. Another part of this treatment is the face pack that smells like fermented apples, after which, one rests for about 20 minutes, and then has the messy task of cleaning the face pack off with a spoon. On some days, a third treatment consisting of a milk basti with herbs completes the afternoon.
After dinner, the last treatment consists of another basti, plus oil in the ears, herbal pads on the eyes, and herbalized ghee on the head (tied on with a blue bow), hands, and feet. The treatment day is now finished.
So far, we are about halfway through the course and I am becoming more used to the treatments. The ladies who are my technicians, Sunita, Shashi, and Indira, are wonderful–kind, caring, and very professional. I feel in good hands even if the course is rigorous.
Images: Face-pack model is Kiwi, Mark De Goldi, who was kind enough to pose. Photos and night treatment model courtesy of Richard Furlough.