Whole Life Magazine

June/July 2013

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/133640

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Page 23 of 43

Tough Love, Ayurveda Style I Health tourism in India offers hope for a truly healing vacation ndia is widely acknowledged as a country of contradictions, something I recently experienced firsthand. On a doctor-ordered, no-milk diet, I found myself awash in dairy one steamy afternoon, as two giggling young women resplendent in saris poured rose-tinted milk over my near-naked body. The paradox struck again when I was pummeled with hot poultices and submitted to an oil enema while in pursuit of peace of mind, body and spirit. Welcome to hardcore ayurveda. Not satisfied with an anti-aging day treatment at a Beverly Hills spa, I journeyed from California to Kerala, birthplace of one of the world's oldest medical systems, to immerse myself in the real deal for a month. To fully reap the benefits of ayurveda takes time—not all of it enjoyable—with detox effects that can range from fatigue to irritability. Even so, increasing numbers of health tourists, frustrated by Western medicine's failure to ease chronic ailments and pain, are flocking east for the wisdom of this 3,500-year-old tradition. My travel companions—my friend Kamala, her husband Joel and her Indian-born mom—had previously sojourned to this healing mecca. On past visits Kamala's debilitating migraines had vanished, and her mom had completely recovered from a kid- ney disorder that had baffled Western doctors. This time I was the ayurvedic rookie, willing to try anything to relieve painful sinuses, L.A.-style brain smog and excruciating pain in my fingers, a hazard of the writing profession. To hear my friends talk of ayurveda's rejuvenating powers, I'd return with the lungs of an Olympian! The calm of Buddha! The hands of a five-year-old piano prodigy! My brown eyes might even turn brilliant blue. We arrived in the town of Varkala in early January, peak season, with a range of complaints from cramps to cataracts. Most tourists stay in the varying-priced resorts that dot the cliffs of the Arabian Sea; however, we'd booked a spacious apartment with two bedrooms, two western-style bathrooms, kitchen and balcony overlooking papaya and coconut trees for $600 a month (www.savasanahome.com). The next morning we hit the North Cliff beach to meet several practitioners. At Absolute Ayurveda (www. absoluteayur.com) we consulted with Dr. Soumya Sagar, an attractive woman with a serious demeanor who communicated in a mix of English and Malayalam, the native language of Kerala, translation courtesy of Kamala's mom. Dr. Soumya explained that she and her husband Dr. Sreejith ran another, less glamorous but much more affordable clinic on the other side of Varkala, only a motorized rickshaw—the Indian taxi—drive away. We were sold. 24 wholelifetimesmagazine.com FINAL REDESIGN WLT-5-27-11pm.indd 24 5/28/13 11:12 AM Photo: Kamala Lopez Photo: Tommy Rosen GINI SIKES

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