Panchakarma Detoxification: Day 4-8- Snehapana: Into the woods we go…

Ayurvedic cleansing detoxification
Abhyangam, ayurvedic massage. It is not meant to be relaxing, it is supposed to squeeze and drain out toxins.

Now that the good doctors at the Retreat took care of my dermal and nasal toxins and opened up my pores for what was to come, my body was ready for the next phase.

The dreaded Snehapana (Sney-huh-paa-nuh) and Vamana( Wuh-muh-nuh).

Sound like two evil twin sisters from a bad Bollywood flick.But like in the Hindu pantheon of Gods, even the dark lords are required to further promote the cause of good.

Snehapana: Drinking progressively increasing amounts of medicated ghee till it literally comes out of your pores(Dadimadi Gritham in my case). This is followed by:

Vamana: Induced vomiting to rid the stomach of toxins. No one offers this in the Land of the free and the home of the brave, I would like to hear if you do. We Americans are considered too delicate for this very vital part of Panchakarma.

Why is this important?

The Gastrointestinal tract is the most absorptive organ in the body. It breaks down food and takes it to every cell in the body. Without Snehapana the medicated ghee will not find its way to every cell in the body. Without Snehapana, the medicated ghee will not bind with the toxins in each cell. Without Snehapana, the toxins, now bound to the ghee, cannot make their way back to the Gastrointestinal Tract for flushing out.

Once the medicated ghee has made its way into the intestines, the leftover is forced out of the stomach by Vamana.

Why use Ghee, why not chicken fat?

Ghee is structurally the closest to our lipids and is superior in hitching the toxins for the ride out of the body.

Day 4:

Duration: 2 hrs

I was allowed to rest and eat well balanced, good meals, copious amounts of fruit and even a bit of indiscretion in the form of a cupcake. Abhyangam or ayurvedic massage with large quantities of oil was done .I was massaged with Pinda Thailam. It is done by two masseuses, mirroring each other, using long squeezing strokes. I was made to sit, lie and sit again in seven positions while the massage was done.

Again, as stated before, a vigorous rubbing and pulling of muscles is done to loosen toxins. This is the polar opposite of a soothing Swedish deep tissue massage or a shiatsu (if that is what you want, please don’t pay ayurveda prices for a relaxing deep tissue massage) . The treatment room is bright to keep the patient from sleeping and the masseuse to see how the skin is doing and any problem areas that need to be avoided.

The patient remains alert as an active participant in his healing. The masseuses are not supposed to make idle chat. Instead they concentrate on providing healing in a silent, sacred space.

Abhyangam is followed by a 15 minute steam bath and a lovely warm bath with herbal bath powders.

Day 5

Duration: 3 seconds

Snehapana begins at 6.30 a.m. One is expected to brush one’s teeth and be done with the morning rituals to drink 25 ml of medicated ghee. Piece of cake!

My system was in shock, I generally felt strange in the tummy region.

I was advised to stay out of the elements. I covered my head and ears with a scarf or woollen shawl to prevent catching a cold or fever. And was also advised not to exert myself as the ghee starts to loosen the muscles and joints.

Diet: Rice congee with salt, only when I was hungry.(Yup, you read that right! )

Abhyangam followed by steam bath and a warm bath (Duration: 1 ½ – 2 hours).

Day 6

6.30 a.m. comes the knock for my 50 ml of Dadimadi Ghritham. I close my eyes and drink it up.

Diet: Rice congee with salt, when I got hungry at 1 p.m. Same for dinner.

Abhyangam followed by steam bath and a warm bath (Duration: 1 ½ – 2 hours).

Day 7

100 ml of ghee at 6.30 a.m. You know by now you are getting there; you can feel it come out of your pores. There is a sheen on your skin and your underarms (excuse me!) are starting to feel icky.

Diet: Thin Rice congee with salt, only when I got hungry at 3 p.m. Same for dinner.

Abhyangam followed by steam bath and a warm bath. The darn underarms won’t degrease no matter how many times you soap them.

Day 8

125 ml of ghee at 6.30 a.m. Blindfolded for drinking this large amount and given a lemon to suqeeze and smell, which I totally used for half the day.

Abhyangam followed by steam bath and a warm bath (Duration: 1 ½ – 2 hours).

Diet: Copious amounts of boiled Rice water through the day and in preparation for Vamana, on Day 9, I was offered a bowl of delicious sweet black bean and sesame porridge for dinner. I was also given a bowlful of laddoos (Indian sweets). I could barely eat one.

My experience in retrospect:

The gruel diet was the hardest part for me; I am ex-chef and love my food. The Ghee actually made me feel good. My body was so dry internally that the Ghee diet was strangely energizing. By day 8, I could really see my skin glow with an oily sheen. My cheeks and lips were red, I am nutty brown otherwise. This is the sign the doctors are looking for. My veins looked a bit more prominent than usual but my body seemed fine otherwise.

Would I do it again?

Knowing what I know now, YES!

Day 9: Vamana

Vamana needs a blog post of its own, it’s that precious. Sally forth brave Ayurvedic Cleansing warrior.

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