My Panchakarma Experience in Mexico
Ayurveda, the “science of life” in Sanskrit, is more than medicine. It is a roadmap to a “good” life in every sense of the word.
10 Things to Bring
One thing to remember when traveling to remote areas is that if you forget something, you can’t easily re-purchase it. This fact is especially true at Villa Ananda, where they don’t want you to leave the property (it apparently interferes with the detox process). While Villa Ananda provides shampoo and conditioner, it’s one of the very few areas where they fall short. The products, in refillable bottles, are (I’m sad to say) very cheap, watered down and smell like harsh chemicals. Further, neither the ‘shampoo’ or the ‘body wash’ come close to getting all that sesame oil out of your hair. I would highly recommend bringing the following:
- Your hair will be drenched in oil. Bring a good oil-fighting shampoo and conditioner — and lots of it! Hair elastics, too.
- Bar soap, as this isn’t provided.
- Mosquito repellant.
- Sunscreen, toothpaste, etc. — all the regular stuff. You won’t be able to get more.
- Sweet snacks (to cheat on your diet).
- DVD’s or ripped movies on your laptop (because there’s no TV!)
- Lots of reading material (because the only books lying around Villa Ananda are Ayurvedic health books).
- Neoprene socks for walking on the beach (there are a lot of little rocks and shells).
- Binoculars (for whale watching, if it’s that season).
- Clothing you don’t care about, because they’ll get oil stains on them.
The first three days of Panchakarma generally are light fasting with pureed vegetable and herb soup. Breakfast, for the entire trip, was sliced and sautéed pear or apple in ghee with chunks of dates (if I begged), almonds and spices, or quinoa with almonds and spices. Lunch and dinner were either Kitchari (an Indian dish with basmati rice, mung beans and spices), or steamed vegetables with spinach and pine nuts in a coriander coconut sauce with red quinoa.
Each vegan meal is prefaced with ginger, digestive tea and customized herbs based on your dosha. The herbs definitely don’t taste good — in fact, it’s pretty hard to choke them down most of the time — but they’re good for you, and it’s an essential part of the detox process. At Villa Ananda, you should expect healthy, but very repetitive meals. And I mean very, very repetitive and very, very simple. No sweets are allowed, for the most part. That includes fruit. So if you have a sweet tooth (they are gong to kill me for saying this), I recommend you bring some sweets with you — and hide them well! Meals are savory, and you can pretty much guess what you’ll be getting tomorrow — the same as today!
The woman who was staying in the other casita works at the New York Times. She said that the last time she visited, she lost about 20 pounds. Amazingly, I didn’t lose any weight that week, but I could see how a person easily could. Just make sure to keep up the healthy vegan diet when you get home — that’s the trick in it. She followed shortly after by letting us know that Thanksgiving did her in and she gained it all back. Sounds like an excuse to come back if I ever heard one!
The upside of this is that, in my case, I had been dealing with a food allergy that was causing a rash on my legs. Because my diet was so minimal in terms of what went into it, my rash went away by the time I left, eight days later. Of course, once I left Villa Ananda and started eating normally again it returned. However, because of the simple diet at Villa Ananda, I was able to narrow down the cause (I knew I hadn’t had soy or corn all week, for example) and finally pinpoint my allergy.
Oh yes; lest I forget: alcohol and sex were officially off the menu, as they are both too draining. (Ok, ok, so that last one I may have cheated on with my hubby. At least now I can say ‘I cheated with my hubby’! Ok, that was cheesy.)