Day 28 of Panchakarma – only four days until freedom, what’s next, and the ‘M’ word

The end is coming into view. There’s not just light at the end of my Panchakarma tunnel but now also colour and form. Feels great. And because the end of the programme is now so close I’ve started considering what’s next.

This morning I got confirmation from Dr A that when we complete on Thursday 2 March there is no need for much follow-up. She’s recommended a herb supplement for the next six months to a year that will help keep my tension and stress levels in check. I reckon that’s no bad thing. Part of the reason for ending up in the toxic mess I was in when I started the programme is down to stress and a tense body I was literally painfully aware of.

One thing I want to do next is get my house in order. Here in Tamil Nadu we’re also going through Spring, but in a few weeks it’s going to start feeling like summer. So now would be a good time to do a Spring Clean – a detox on the house to compliment the one I’ve just been through.

The other thing I’m keen to do next is some other body work. Namely exercise (other than my twice-daily cycle rides). Given I’m in India I reckon having another go at yoga is the thing. To that end I want to do a couple of private sessions and I’m in the process of making enquiries.

In the meantime, back with that book on Ayurveda.

Although the book is just an introductory text, skimming over all that makes up Ayurvedic principles and practice, the author has managed to include a lot in a short word count. There are even diagrams and photos. I’m currently reading the chapter on Longevity.

I’m not much bothered about the duration of my life (I used to be convinced my end would come under the wheels of a red London double-decker bus), but like any sane person the concern is more with the quality of whatever life I do live. In the Longevity chapter the author has included breathing, meditation and, no surprise, yoga as the recommended form of exercise.

From an Ayurvedic perspective, everything a person does should be modified according to the dominant dosha. My dominant dosha is Kapha. When it comes to the yoga poses for Kapha body types, some are not suitable. Example the ‘Hidden Lotus’ (puts too much pressure on the adrenal glands apparently). I’ve done a couple of yoga courses over the years but never heard of this pose. When I saw the photo I can see why: lying face down on a mat but resting your face on your chin, chest flat to the mat, hands behind your back and, get this!, your legs in some kind of cross-legged lotus pose. No friggin’ way. How the hell do you even get into that pose? Hidden lotus indeed; so hidden it looks as though the yogini in the photo is trying to do deep-sea diving in her search for the thing. In which case the author can rest easy – I ain’t never going to attempt that pose, never mind (as he suggests) not holding it for too long. Not only not long mate, no time at all.

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On the other hand, one of the poses suggested for my dosha I’m totally happy with. The ‘Palm Tree’. Stand, clasp hands and raise arms above the head. Simples. Love it.

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Like I say, the book is a basic introduction. There’s no instruction about the poses. I’ll let you know how I get on with classes, if I find a suitable tutor. If not here then when I’m back in London.

The M Word
Now, on yet another note, I wanted to mention the M word. The M word being Menopause.

Last night I spoke with a friend on the subject. She happens to be a nurse. Our conversation about menopause was not our first given our relative ages. She reiterated her belief that the reason the menopausal phase of a woman’s life is not well-managed is because so few of us, including the medical profession, knows much about it, but with no one group at fault. Her belief is that part of the lack of knowledge is down to the vagueness of the symptoms that starting showing up during a woman’s 40s. Given what I’ve been through during my 40s I think she’s spot on.

We both bandied around the concept of systemic dis-ease during a woman’s progression towards a more definable set of menopausal symptoms. But before those definable symptoms come into play – the hormonal changes that can upset a whole host of physical, mental and emotional functions – there are gradual, subtle changes taking place. Changes that seem to creep into a woman’s life like a barely discernible siren call that grows stronger and wilder and which we are helpless to resist until, crash! we’re dashed against the rock face of those menopausal symptoms we had no idea would be so debilitating.

Another aspect of the menopause that she has been spot on about is the ‘hot flushes’ women often experience. She asserts that the naming of the symptom down-plays the intense, distressing, all-encompassing experience that comes with vasomotor instability. Thankfully that’s one aspect of the menopause I’ve not had to deal with – the friends who have say those ‘hot flushes’ are hideous.

I’m also bloody grateful for having gone through this Panchakarma treatment now when I’m about to crash into my own menopausal rock face. Life before the treatment was descending into an unmanageable, unbearable beast of a thing. The daily distress with my body and myself was exacerbating and feeding into the tension I was feeling at all levels of my experience. To what dark and dastardly depths would I have plummeted with the addition of more hormonal/menopausal symptoms? Clearly those symptoms may still come, but at least after this intense detox I should be able to navigate a more sane route around those rocky shores. Here’s hoping anyways.

For now – and with a happy heart that my detox programme is almost complete, my sanity returned, and a body that feels like a body rather than a bloated barrel constricted by dense metal rings – I shall away to practice that ‘Palm Tree’ pose…

However you do it, and whatever you do – stay healthy!

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