Shiela Dimof on Ayurveda training in India


Greetings from Vasanta Institute of Ayurveda, India!
I hope you are well and enjoying the transition into fall!
I arrived here at the institute  outside of Pune, India almost two weeks ago after completing a 3 week pilgrimage of several ashrams in different areas of India.

The spiritual heritage here is incredibly rich and it is quite a gift to experience the birth place of the ancient sister sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda.
Upon arriving at Dr Lad's school, the staff greeted each one of us so warmly with a special ceremony that included getting chanted to and receiving a marigold garland around our neck. The Center here is small and incredibly well kept up. Our typical daily schedule includes waking up early to do morning meditation, breathing, yoga practices and dinacharya (daily routine) along with Agni hotra which is a fire ceremony done at sunrise. After breakfast we have classroom time with Dr. Lad  where he has been teaching us Ayurveda Sutras that pertain to the Panchakarma treatments that we are learning. Each day he also covers something practical such as techniques for applying medicated oil, use of pulse diagnosis or of marma points. 

Panchakarma is an Ayurvedic purification process that includes several different bodywork therapies.  Làst week, Dr Lad spent several days sharing the Ayruveda sutras that speak specifically about  Snehana (or oleation). In Sanskrit, the  word Sneha means oil and it  also means love. It shows the reverence that  Ayurveda has for the healing value of medicated oils.  He went into great detail on the different types of oil and ghee that can be used and for what purposes. 

A documentary recently came out about Dr. Lad  that is viewable on Amazon prime. most of it is filmed in Pune around his clinic there as well as at the Institute where I am right now (which is about an hour outside of Pune). It is very enjoyable to watch if you would like to learn more about Ayurveda or Dr. Lad or see footage of his clinic and institute here in India. During our training, we have several opportunities to sit in and observe at his clinic. It is quite a special experience! People line up down the street to have a medical consultation with him and he does it all free of charge including their herbal preparations. Here is the link for the documentary:

In the afternoon, we have time in the treatment rooms where the staff is training us on how to do all of the different  therapies. In a typical treatment, the oil is warmed up and applied by two therapists at once. so much oil is used in the massage process that afterwards a shower is necessary. However, before getting in the shower, the client steps in the sauna so the pores can open and the medicated oils are able to go in deeper into the tissues. The treatment finishes with Shirodara -  a steady stream of warm oil  poured over the forehead for 20 minutes (wow! it feels amazing). The perk of getting to learn all of this is that we practice on each other!  In another week, people will start arriving for 10 day panchakarma retreats. During their time here, the participants coming for the treatments go on a mono diet of kitchori (a simple ayurvedic meal of basmati rice and split yellow mung dahl) and they receive the different bodywork therapies each day. They also have herbal treatments and different customized ayurvedic protocols prescribed by Dr. Lad and the staff. during this time, we get to watch Dr. Lad meet with them, assess their unique conditions, and put together their protocol.  The idea is that during the whole process, ama (or toxins) from the body is able to loosen from the deeper tissues and exit the system. Some people come with more serious health conditions and others come for a general tune up. The staff and my classmates are a very inspiring group of people and each day, i find my eyes filling with tears that I get to be here drinking all of this in. 
Wishing you all lots of love!
Take Care,