Before, During and After Panchakarma
According to Ayurveda, the unique therapy of Panchakarma (meaning five actions) completely removes toxins from the body and mind. This method reverses the disease path from its manifestation stage, back into the blood stream, and eventually into the gastrointestinal tract. It is achieved through special diets, oil massage, and steam therapy. At the completion of these therapies, special forms of emesis, purgation, and enema remove accumulated doshas from their sites of origin. Finally, Ayurveda rejuvenates-rebuilding the body’s cells and tissues after toxins are removed.
We do not recommend rushing Panchakarma because it is important that your lymphatic system and nervous system are ready to process the toxins and old emotions, beliefs and habits as they are released. We have found that it is best to book Panchakarma 4-8 weeks in advance.
New Patient Consult: 6-8 weeks before your Panchakarma start date, you will have an initial consult with Dr. Douillard to evaluate your health concerns and goals. If you have seen Dr. Douillard before, you will need to schedule a consult with him if it has been a year or more since your last consult. He will prescribe herbs, stress relief techniques, a lifestyle routine and Ayurvedic protocols to help remove the root cause of your symptoms and prepare you for Panchakarma. You will already begin to feel better even before your retreat starts!
Pre-Panchakarma Consult: 2-4 weeks before your Panchakarma start date, you will have a consult with Dr. Douillard to make any changes to your prescription and protocols and to prepare you for Panchakarma.
Oleation (Home Prep Cleanse): 7 days before your Panchakarma start date, you will do Oleation, which is a cleanse that you will do at home. Oleation helps you enter fat metabolism mode, pulls toxins from deep within your tissues to your digestive system for removal, balances blood sugar (and thus mood and energy), improves digestion, and opens your detox channels. Each morning you will drink increasing amounts of melted ghee, then follow a nonfat diet of khichadi (rice and beans), with steamed veggies and lean protein as needed. Oleation is easy for most people to do while working and continuing their regular life, though it does require some commitment. On the last day of Oleation, you will do a gentle laxative to remove any toxins that have accumulated in the intestinal tract. >>> Check out our Panchakarma cleansing supply kits at a discounted rate!
Panchakarma is an experience of transformation. You will experience a renewed sensation of healing from within, a powerful and potentially life-changing exchange of energy in your body, rejuvenating your spirit and soothing your soul. Each of the daily treatments you will be receiving, are designed to bring you into a deep experience of release. Each person will have different experiences.
Day One: you may feel tired and experience a small amount of bloating or heaviness. Do not be concerned. This is normal.
Day Two and Three: you may possibly feel a little lethargic and fatigued. This will pass as the liver is working hard to filter the blood of toxins. Emotions may feel engaged more than usual. Old memories may surface. Use the time to journal and release any emotional toxins that you have accumulated. Remember, the mind and body accumulate toxic build-up. Take it very easy and drink plenty of hot water and/or ginger tea. Whatever is happening, know that the body is deeply cleansing all toxins from the body. Continue to eat lightly and get plenty of rest. The Rounding Program of yoga asanas and pranayam that Dr. Douillard outlines for you will greatly enhance and smooth the process of purification.
Day Four: You will start to feel lighter and better. If there were any clouds, the sun will start to break through. Continue to be easy and quiet, eat lightly and stay away from hard to digest foods. Rest as much as you can throughout the day. Continue with the Rounding Program. Drink plenty of hot water and ginger tea to help move the toxins out of the body.
Day Five, Six, Seven +: You will start to feel more energetic and enlivened. Continue this rejuvenation as you journey home by setting the intention to nurture health and balance in your life.
Basti (Oil Enema) During Panchakarma
During your Panchakarma you will receive instructions to give yourself a Basti, or herb-infused oil enema, each evening before bed. The Basti is designed to rejuvenate and nourish the colon tissue. The LifeSpa Basti is a warm oil and herbal decoction enema that gently nourishes and rejuvenates the tissues of the colon, which generally experience excess air and dryness. Each Basti is a unique experience, so listen to your body and go when you need to. There should not be any cramping, diarrhea or forced elimination. This should be gentle and easy for you. If you experience any discomfort please let us know.
General Guidelines During Panchakarma
It is advised to get plenty of rest and to avoid strenuous exercise, sexual activity, late nights, loud music, television and other such stimulating activities.
The only exercise we advise is the gentle yoga stretches that Dr. Douillard will give to you on your first day. Running, hiking, biking are all too strenuous for this week when we are trying to get you to turn down the volume, and let your body detox.
It is also advised to take particular care to keep warm and protect yourself from wind and excessive sunlight.
Observe your thoughts and experiences and follow the self-inquiry guidance Dr. Douillard suggests.
Eat somewhat less quantity than usual (between ½ to ¾ of capacity) and continue to eat khichari. You can add steamed vegetables and a little bit of high quality fat during Panchakarma.
How to Maximize Your Retreat
Your Panchakarma journey is an incredible and rare opportunity for you to dive deep into yourself, to quiet your mind, and disarm your nervous system. This will facilitate a deeper detox of toxins, molecules of emotions and old patterns of behavior. To gain the most benefit from your Panchakarma, the key is to enjoy being quiet and inward. We strongly recommend the following guidelines.
- Un Plug the TV and Computer: Keep your mind and senses calm and clear by staying as far away as possible from your TV and computer (no internet or email!). Many of our patients like to set up an auto-reply message on their email.
- Turn off the phone: Our patients like to change their outgoing message to say that they will not be answering the phone during that time.
- A Land Far, Far, Away: Inform those you talk to regularly that you will not be accessible during PK.
- Quiet Time: As Dr. Douillard will be prescribing 3 – 5 hours per day of yoga, meditation, breathing and self-inquiry, you will not need to bring anything to entertain you or keep you busy. Keep any books, novels, or magazines closed.
- Tourism: If you travelled to Boulder for your PK, save your sight-seeing, hiking excursions and visits with friends or family for before or after your PK.
- Chatting: Though it may be tempting to strike up conversations with the people you meet, it will be easier to keep your mind quiet if you keep conversations simple and brief.
- Walking To/From the Bed & Breakfast: Enjoy this opportunity to walk mindfully and breathe through your nose. Become aware of your feet on the earth, the movement of your arms, the light on the leaves, the sensation of the cool or warm air, the sky. Thich Nhat Hanh, a joyous monk, invites us to massage the earth with our feet.
How to Turn Your Home into a Retreat
If you live locally or plan to stay with friends or family, we highly recommend that you take some preliminary steps to turn your home into a retreat.
- Follow the above guidelines.
- Unplug your TV and computer and/or drape them with a cloth.
- Driving To/From LifeSpa: Leave early so you aren’t rushed or frustrated with traffic. The point is to stay calm. Listen to soothing music, bring some tea, stay off the cell phone, etc. At stop lights and stop signs, enjoy the opportunity to sit quietly and breathe mindfully through your nose or do the bellows breath.
- Be In Silence: Commit to being in silence during PK. You can even make a little sign you wear on your shirt (like a button). Let anyone you live with know that you will not be talking – just writing notes. If you have a young child, simply be present and mindful. This is an amazing opportunity to bring your attention inward and to quiet your mind.
- Hide any Projects or Temptations: Hide any projects such as hobbies, taxes, closets to be cleaned, etc. You can even put up a reminder sign or a note that says “Enjoy PK, Stay Away!” Some of us can get tempted by watching movies, reading magazines, or other projects, etc.
- Clean the House and Organize Beforehand: Buy everything you need, do the laundry, make a vat of kicharee to last a day or two, etc.
- Enlist Help: Send someone else out to run the errand, cook the meal, or do the laundry. Some of our patients have done trades with friends, such as asking for help during their PK week in exchange for helping their friend with something later.
- If you need to be in activity, be mindful.
Things that might come up during your Panchakarma Retreat:
Changes in Sleep Patterns
Changes in sleep patterns are common during Panchakarma. Your sleep may seem lighter than usual due to greater restful-awareness and you may sleep fewer hours. If you wake-up, stay in bed with your eyes closed, bringing your awareness to the breath. This will allow your body to lower itself back to sleep. If it persists, we can provide you with some brahmi tea (take 1 tsp of brahmi powder with hot water before bed or Brahmi Brain capsules).
Fatigue and Tiredness
In the first few days of Panchakarma treatments, many guests feel more tired and have low energy. This feeling of tiredness is due to long-standing fatigue being eliminated from the system. Listen to your body and use this opportunity to get more rest. Be sure to follow through on the Rounding Program.
You may have some emotions come up, like unexplained sadness, joy, or anger. This is a natural part of the detoxing process. We will work with you to gently unravel these emotions.
The week or two after Panchakarma is a very critical time. For your benefit the following guidelines are recommended to ensure a smooth transition into your normal daily routine. Your Ayurvedic Therapist will meet with you on your last day of treatment to review these points and answer any questions you might have.
- Diet: It is recommended that you remain on the Panchakarma diet for a few days after treatment. It is important to take a full 6-7 days to gradually return to your pre-Panchakarma diet. You may be given specific dietary instructions from Dr. Douillard in your final PK consultation.
- Fluids: Continue to drink at least 3-4 cups of hot liquid per day, preferably plain hot water.
- Activity: Return to your normal level of activity and exercise gradually. Take 1 or 2 days to begin introducing your normal level of activity. Be regular with your routine.
- Daily Routine: Now is a good time to incorporate a healthy daily routine. A daily routine is absolutely necessary to bring radical change in body, mind and consciousness. Routine helps to establish balance in one’s constitution. It also establishes regularity in a person’s biological clock, aids digestion, absorption and assimilation, and generates self-esteem, discipline, peace, happiness, and longevity.
- Daily Self Massage: Doing daily oil massage with sesame oil, the LifeSpa TriDoshic Massage Oil and/or the LifeSpa Body Butter, is very beneficial during these next two weeks following Panchakarma. It is beneficial for the smooth transition from the detoxification and rejuvenation gained from Panchakarma. See instructions for “Daily Self Massage.”
- Seasonal Panchakarma: Classical texts of Ayurveda recommend that maximum benefit from Panchakarma occurs when treatment is performed on a regular, seasonal basis, three to four times per year. If you cannot take the time to do a full Panchakarma retreat, you can cleanse at home.