A cake appeared on the table on the sixth day of ‘detox’. If you happen not
to eat chocolate for a week and drink hot butter every morning, seeing a desert
in front of you brings contradicting feelings. The mesmerizing scent of cocoa
beans sends a signal to the brain to start producing serotonin, which is
responsible for the feeling of happiness. But the effect is certainly lagging
in time. Probably because you've been happy since the beginning of the week.
And maybe because of the realization that a strict Indian doctor will not let
you commit a crime. A waiter begins cutting the dessert. The defense is weak
against this move.
“Aren't we on detox though?” I resist, following the knife cutting through
the flakes of whipped cream. The chocolate aroma takes me back in time when I
visited a candy factory as a child.
“It's a vegan dessert, so no crime here,” says the waiter and puts the slice
on the plate with a calm demeanor.
“Is it sure vegan?”, I'm double-checking with mistrust.
“Of course,” joins the conversation Dr. Shailesh, “there's not a gram of
cream, chocolate, or sugar in the cake.”
He is the Head of the Ayurvedic practice at Four Seasons Resort at Landaa
Giraavaru. He grins, and I can understand now: he himself ordered to prepare
this surprise. “And what about Panchakarma? Didn't we come here for
purification?” The doctor shrugs: the psycho-emotional balance during the
cleansing of the body is no less important than the physiology and the
elimination of toxins. I agree. Given that I have not sun-bathed or even come
into the ocean since arriving on the island (the course forbids such
liberties), the unexpected dessert was a pleasant reward in the middle of the
holidays on a strict regimen.
The emotional balance during the cleansing of the body is no
less important than the physiology and the elimination of
The same evening, Dr. Shailesh and Dr. Suraj, dressed in white linen robes,
came to our villa. Personalization is the central aspect of Panchakarma at Four
Shailesh and his team work based on the individual needs of each guest.
There is no set program – doctors create the course individually for each
guest, considering any health conditions (or lack thereof). How does this
happen? First, the dosha is determined and then Shailesh decides which
treatment options would be most appropriate. Noting the silent question in my
eyes, the Hindu explains,“The common detox programs are conducted in the same
way for everyone: you would be ‘cleansed’ according to standard methods
developed by a ‘spiritual guru’. This is not the right way because every human
is unique.” In Ayurveda, your dosha determines the type of treatments. What is
dosha? It is the sum of everything we learn during the diagnosis process:
habits, predispositions, metabolic rate, psychology, character, and physiology
of the body. There exist only three doshas. Almost every person is a
combination of any two doshas. Based on the parameters identified, doctors
assign appropriate medicine and procedures to help speed up the
The Ayurveda curator asked me how the day went. Except for the dinner
‘incident’ (the cake turned out to be fantastic), the past 12 hours were not
different from previous ones. You wake up at 6:30 a.m. for a bathing ritual
with the doctors who will become your family halfway through the course.
Communal reading of the mantra. After that, you drink ghee – a type of skimmed
liquid butter. That's the main reason I and my wife traveled to Maldives, where
the Ayurvedic purification program was launched recently. Ghee is a butter
churned from cream from which water and protein were removed by boiling and
skimming. After the process of distillation alchemy, you get a dreary fluid
that you take every morning. This is called the oiling procedure. Ghee is meant
to lubricate the internal organs and pull the toxins out of them. “The first
thing we do is oiling the organism and preparing it for purification,”
clarifies Shailesh. Then the toxins will be forcefully removed. There are five
ways to do that (keep reading to find out).
the head of Spa Center at the Four Seasons at Landaa Giraavaru
Not so long ago a woman came to the resort and said she needed a three-week
Panchakarma course. We talked, and I proposed to shorten it to ten days. The
program implies some restrictions (one cannot sunbathe or swim during the first
days), and some people are not ready for it. The woman came alone, and although
we visit our guests five or six times a day, we still feel they're lonely. I
said, “There's no need to go to the extremes. Let's make it a ten-day program,
you don't need more than that.” And that really was enough. So, it all depends.
Shirodara expels the unneeded thoughts of
Dr. Sooraj collects medicinal herbs for procedures
Ingredients for the preparation of herbal massage
Ayurveda purifies the body and mind
After taking ghee, you
should meditate and introspect. You can't swim in the first week. During this
time, it is better not to even approach the ocean: too great a temptation to
jump into the azure water, too great a risk of getting sick because the
organism is weakened and hypothermia can cause complications. You shouldn't
worry about having a slight fever during the program. That's how the body is
summoning all its resources to digest the high-calorie butter. Ghee, also known
as , slows down metabolism, and that's why Dr. Shailesh forbids any physical
activity, including intimacy, during those is following you around. But we are
Still, the doctor's
team is watching you, yet their attention is discreet.Shailesh and Suraj appear
exactly when you call them in your mind. In fact, doctors come to the villa 5−6
times a day. They always ask how you feel. They ask questions and cheer you up
with the fact that you could swim in just two days. No, Panchakarma is not a
voluntary torture. The program is quite enjoyable. The thoughtful attention you
receive from the Ayurveda masters helps you to survive the hardships that arise
during the confinement on the sunny island. One of these hardships is the
absence of sugar.
However, by the end of
the course, lack of sugar is no longer a problem.
So, what can you do if
you can't swim and love each other on a fabulous island? Shailesh suggests
dedicating time to yourself. You're probably dependent on your work or gadgets.
Start a digital detox. Read books, write your memoirs, or just walk. Meditate.
Listen to your body. What's your body telling you? Do whatever that helps you
disconnect from the world outside the island. Draw the borders and look
within,You won't necessarily enjoy what you'll see, but it's only good to
restart and defragment your brain during the course. The unpleasant thoughts
will be formatted by themselves. The valuable thoughts will get sorted in the
correct order. Clarity of mind is not a mere clichal consequence of the
program. Heavy consciousness, unnecessary thoughts, news, and fears prevent one
from seeing adequate solutions. Do you want to clear your brain? Come to
Shailesh. At the end of the course, you're turning into Grandmaster, who thinks
four steps ahead.
At the beginning of the course,
it's better to avoid the alluring water. The temptation to dive into the
azure ocean is irresistible.
The rituals at the spa
center help to live through the challenging days. The program includes two or
three procedures each day. Abhyanga (four hand massage with oil), Shirodhara
(oil applications onto forehead), steaming, scrub, and wrapping sessions
complement the Ayurvedic course and awaken the creation potential. Evening yoga
lessons that incorporates only light stretching and meditative breathing
exercises, help you connect with the body.
Then you will wander
around the island and enjoy a light dinner. All food is vegan, the menu lists
red ground rice and intricate curry dishes. The dinner is always offered on
demand: you only need to eat when you feel hungry, not by following your
habits. Shailesh explains, We are hostages of habits. And we eat the way we got
used to. Panchakarma helps us remember what hunger is and how to achieve
balance. You will have another short walk after dinner and then
An obvious question:
what inspired the hotel management to launch the strictest regimen program on a
resort island? Louise Anderson, Regional Director of Spa at Four Seasons in
Bali, Langkawi, and Maldives, gives a concise answer: In India, it's dirty and
noisy. I visited Southern Indian cities. They are mad and dusty, you just can't
relax there. In Kerala, dozens of hospitals offer Panchakarma programs. But be
prepared for the spartan conditions of the Indian hospital. Now, compare this
to the chance of undergoing a serious Ayurvedic course in the five-star
conditions of Four Seasons Resort. We're sitting on the shore, listening to the
rustling water and admiring giant rays gliding along the coast. Shailesh, who
was born in India, says that the meditative conditions of Maldives help to
awaken consciousness. And this is the main purpose of Panchakarma. He adds: The
climate in the Maldives and India is similar, therefore the takes place in
optimum weather conditions, but with added comfort.
“In India, it's dirty and noisy. We offer a serious
Ayurvedic course in the five-star conditions of Four Seasons.”
The seventh day is
dedicated to eliminating the toxins from the body. In Panchakarma, there are
five ways to filter the : taking medicine by mouth (Vamana), colon cleansing
(Vicherana), enema (Vasti), nasal procedures (Nasya), and blood cleansing
(Raktamokshana), which is rarely used. Most likely, Vasti and Vamana would be
enough. The final choice is up to Shailesh.
But don't think that
Panchakarma is a detox treatment. In fact, this is more about rejuvenating the
body at the cellular level. Shailesh explains: Detox is a trendy word.
Panchakarma aims at solving an extended range of issues, not limited to the
pulling the toxins out of the body. It's about preventive medicine, and the
main goal is to avoid sickness. Yet in practice, we first need to fix the
organs that are most vulnerable. The begins by bringing the body to balance. In
Ayurveda, which is older than 4,000 years, there are two types of therapy:
Shodhana and Shamana. Shamana aims at solving an existent problem, stabilizing
and controlling the situation.
And Shodhana addresses
the root cause of the problem. It allows one to forget about diseases. To do
that, you would need to rejuvenate the physical and mental body with the help
of Ayurveda, and then undergo the supporting course once a year. If a person is
healthy, we show the path to self-development. However, if health conditions
are present, we attend to that first, says Dr. Shailesh. He adds: the minimum
duration of the course is 14 days, and you can engage in self-improvement
program for as long as three weeks. Shailesh decides the duration. One month
ago, a woman decided to dedicate 21 days to a thorough cleanup. The remaining
time you should devote to enjoying the sun and the sea.
It also matters how you
finish the program. The central rule: after the course is completed, you should
stick to the moderately strict regimen for the duration of the program. Two
weeks of the course would mean that you should stay vegan for another two
weeks. Again, no one will watch you, but it's only in your interest to maintain
the positive effect of the program. You don't need to run towards a coffee
machine for a powerful ristretto. The body will not approve. You will not long
for a coffee after the course anyway. ELITE
Four Seasons at Landaa Giraavaru
Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru is located on Landaa
Giraavaru Island in Atoll of Baa, an archipelago of the Maldives, 120
kilometers north-east (30-45 minutes flight) from Malé International Airport.
Spa Hotel was recognized as the largest in the Indian Ocean. It is divided into
two zones: Ayurvedic and European. The program costs $26,000 for two persons.
The program includes accommodation, meals, medical procedures, doctor
consultations, and spa treatments.