An Introduction to Ayurveda: Practices and Retreats

ayurveda india

Individuals seeking a natural solution to health issues, or simply hoping to improve their overall well-being, have often looked towards India for inspiration.

Ayurveda, meaning knowledge of life, is an ancient form of medicine that comprises a range of different practices including yoga, the diet and herbal treatments to promote a healthy balance between the mind, body, and spirit.

With interest in wellness and natural remedies increasing in recent years, more and more people are choosing to stay at Ayurveda yoga and wellness retreats in India.

This article takes a look at what people can expect when embarking on an Ayurveda treatment program plus practical advice for obtaining the correct India visa for traveling to a resort.

What is Ayurveda and Where Did it Begin?

Ayurveda originated in subcontinental India and has now spread across the globe, becoming a widely known form of alternative medicine.

Classical texts depict how Dhanvantari, Hindu god of Ayurveda, embodied himself as a king and taught medicine to physicians. The Ayurveda philosophy is therefore based on the idea of medical knowledge being transferred from the gods to humankind.

Since this time, Ayurveda has evolved but the core principle has remained the same, focusing on the entire body to achieve optimal health.

What many find appealing about this holistic approach is the use of natural substances: herbs, leaves, roots, and bark all feature heavily and many have been in use since the Indus Valley Civilization.

Ayurveda Medicines and Treatments

As previously mentioned, natural remedies are at the center of Ayurveda medicine. Some of the herbs and spices most commonly used are those found in abundance in India:

  • Cardamon for the removal of excessive mucus
  • Tumeric for its anti-inflammatory properties
  • Cumin as it promotes good digestion
  • Amalaki given its high vitamin C content

 

Treatment plans are usually personalized and practitioners are likely to select the natural substances which will target each patient’s specific issues.

In addition to natural remedies, yoga, exercise and meditation, and the diet all play fundamental roles in balancing the body and mind.

What Is the Ayurveda Diet?

One of the most important aspects of Ayurveda is the diet. Followers of the medical practice encourage individuals to tailor their diet according to the balance of doshas.

Doshas are the bodily humors:

  • Vata
  • Pitta
  • Kapha

 

The balance between the humors differs from person to person and defines someone’s characteristics and personality.

It is considered important to choose foods based on the predominant dosha.

Whilst Vata types should opt for cooked and warm foods that help to soothe anxiety, Pitta diets focus on cold foods that cool a fiery temperament.

Generally, the Ayurveda diet is based on freshly prepared meals and whole fruits and vegetables plus herbs and spices. All of which are believed to aid digestion and promote overall wellness.

The Benefits of Ayurveda Massage

Whilst many other forms of massage focus on the muscles, Ayurveda also prioritizes the skin. This is achieved through the use of oils and hand movements which stimulate blood flow.

The advantages are said to be relaxed muscles, lymphatic drainage and healthier skin across the entire body. Some people also report improvements in the quality of their sleep.

Ayurveda massages are usually customized to meet the needs of the individual so follow some preliminary questions to determine the dosha of the patient.

There are several renowned Ayurveda academies in India, particularly in the southwestern state of Kerala, where courses are offered teaching massage techniques to students from across the world.

Staying at An Ayurveda Retreat in India

Whilst Ayurveda can be incorporated into their daily life, many people, especially those seeking relief from a specific ailment or health concern, seek out a specialized resort.

There are many Ayurveda retreats distributed across India offering a vast range of services. Most resorts are staffed by experts in Ayurveda medicine, lifestyle and exercise whilst many will piece together a bespoke diet plan based on the guest’s dosha.

Some of the most popular Ayurveda centers offer:

  • Yoga classes
  • Ayurveda massage
  • Spa facilities
  • Gardens and swimming pools

 

Accommodation is designed to promote relaxation and rejuvenation, rooms are often luxurious whilst some also offer private villas with swimming pools.

Resorts can be found throughout India with some renowned centers in the foothills of the Himalayas, by the beach in Kerala and Bangalore.

How to book an Ayurveda retreat in India

Information about resorts and the facilities and treatments they offer can be found online. It’s a good idea to read reviews left by previous guests and check the list of services available when choosing the retreat and package.

The next step is to obtain an Indian visa. Foreigners heading to a yoga and wellness center require an Indian tourist visa which can now be obtained online.

Quick and efficient, the India eVisa application is hassle-free, the perfect way to begin a journey designed for relaxation and calm.

What to take to an Indian Ayurveda retreat

When booking an Ayurveda experience, ask what material is provided. Most will have yoga mats available but it’s advisable to check.

Other essential items include:

  • Leggings and exercise clothing suitable for yoga
  • Comfortable casual daywear
  • A journal for writing down daily thoughts and experiences
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses for time spent outdoors

 

Depending on the season, warm clothes may be necessary, especially in the evening. The best time of year to visits India is generally considered to be from October to March when temperatures and humidity levels are lower.