Post-Panchakarma – business as usual, mostly…

Mmmmm, coffee. Morning coffee. Mmmmm. No worries, before I indulged I still started my day with hot lemon water, fresh watermelon and a small portion of masala yoghurt*.

And the watermelon tasted all the sweeter for being a gift from one of Dr A’s harem. She’d brought it from her village and was happy for anyone to have it. Being as it was my last day that meant I was the only one allowed fruit. Lucky me. Dr A also gave me the remainder of my smoking medicine – that’s it next to the watermelon. I’ll be honest, I’ve not yet used it on my own – I hated doing that smoke decongesting part each morning (Dr A forgot one time and the hope that she’d forget again lived on, despite that never happening) – but I’ll have a go soon. Also on my last day I got another special treat.

Dr A’s clinic premises are much in need of some house repairs and maintenance. She’s only been in the building the past three months, so clearly the lack of love is down to the current owners. That said, they’ve finally got on with the job of doing some work on the place (but only because Dr A is footing most if not all of the bill). The areas needing urgent work are the toilets/wetrooms. As mentioned in an earlier post, when I was doing that purge thing, the toilet was a lot less than lovely. So my treat yesterday happened post-enema when I got to inaugurate Dr A’s newest toilet bowl! Now that’s a first for me – an enema excretion leading to a toilet inauguration.

Anyways, back to that coffee, the one poison I’ve not given up, and other foods. Thankfully, one small cup of the hot brown stuff is enough now. I no longer need a whole pot. What I was more concerned about was the other crap I’d been shoving down my gullet in the name of nutrition. Namely low-value carbohydrates in the form of white flour products – bread, biscuits, tortilla wraps, parotta – as well as cheese and paneer. Being almost exclusively vegetarian in India means I’ve tended to add more dairy to my diet. Hence those bastard fat bubbles. Anyhoo, Dr A’s dietary recommendations are simple enough – no white flour, no nightshade vegetables** and drastically reduce the quantity of cheese, paneer and butter (yoghurt and ghee are OK). Does that mean I won’t ever eat any of those foods again? No! Will I pass up the opportunity to have a nibble on a small slice of full-fat gorgonzola, or sweet brie? Again No! Will I shun a dip into a bag of chips  (that’s fat french fries to my North American friends) from my favourite local fish n’ chip shop in south London? Abso-bloomin’-lutely not!

So maybe you’re wondering what the heck I got up to on my first day post-Panchakarma. Did I laze around? Did I get extra cuddle time in bed with Mr D? Or did I bounce out of bed with excitement and enthusiasm for a new day that came with knowing I’d regained some fresh freedom?

Yes – I luxuriated in getting up later than normal, then crawling back to bed with a book.
Yes – I grabbed my extra morning cuddles.
Yes – I enthusiastically set about starting on a spring clean of my house (the bathroom is now the cleanest its been in weeks).
No – I did not bounce out of bed, but I was thrilled, excited and gratified to have my days and my time back.

As I write, the day is well-started even though its not yet 8am and despite the greyness of the sky this morning. It’s a Saturday. The kids are off school and hanging out nearby, their voices raised in play and games – I think I hear the thud of ball on cricket bat. And although I’m not missing rushing out the house for my early Panchakarma start, I’m kind of missing the cycle ride along our neighbourhood lane when daylight has been but a dirty smudge across the lower part of the sky. At one end of the lane is a milking spot. Cows are led there each morning and evening for milking. A milk broker sits nearby. He collects milk from the cow owners and doles it out, for payment, from those without their own cows, each person walking away with a small, metal, lidded milk pail swinging from their hands. For a city chick like me, simple morning sights like that fill my heart with a soft peace and a quiet bliss.

And so, away from enemas and powerful rub-a-dub-dubs, life goes on – the chores, chucking things off the To Do lists, the cuddles and laughter, and the integration of all I’ve been through this past month.

I’ll be back with a few more updates as and when they happen – possibly a photo too (which’ll probably be disappointing in its banality, but I’ll have a go anyway).

For now wishing you, in amongst the regular maelstrom of life, your own moments of soft peace, quiet bliss and a bundle of fun too.

* yoghurt (curd) masala – basically yoghurt mixed with any combination of flavourings you like; mine was with salt, turmeric, freshly-ground black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, ground jaggery (palm sugar), and a drop of water; goes well with a chapati 😉

** nightshade vegetables include potatoes, aubergine (eggplant), tomatoes, regular peppers/capsicum & chilli peppers (the following links give more detailed information, but it seems the delicious potato, when green and sprouty, is potentially the most lethal) (the author seems to have tried to back-up the information with scientific research) (a fairly full list of nightshade-inclusive foods) (a counter-argument for those who like a balanced view on things)


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.


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.


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!