“We have moved away from nature and that is when you start to get all the illnesses and diseases we see now.”
The centre treats various conditions from psoriasis, allergies and migraine to osteoporosis and depression.
There’s also stroke and head injury rehabilitation with Dr Thomas explaining that all treatments centre round three basic fundamentals – massage with medicated oils, the placement of poultices made from herbal powders over specific pain points and sweating.
Yes, you read that right, sweating induced by the old fashioned type of sauna box where you sit inside with your head sticking out of the top and are engulfed in billows of steam.
The difference here is that the steam is mixed with specific oils, prescribed by the doctor, which are absorbed through the hair follicles and aid detoxification drawing impurities out of the body.
This all makes perfect sense when you consider that ayurvedic medicine aims to integrate and balance the body, mind and spirit leading to health and happiness and prevent illness.
The oil massage relaxes the body and stimulates the circulatory and lymphatic systems along with the sweat and sebaceous glands and, in tandem with the steam bath, it makes for an efficient detox to re-establish the body’s biochemical balance.
Dr Thomas says the treatments, coupled with exercise such as yoga and herbal medications, can have a stroke survivor walking within around three months – depending on the seriousness of the initial attack.
However, it’s not all about treating the sick, as Dr Thomas explains: “We believe prevention is better than cure and for healthy people we also offer massage for relaxation and rejuvenation – head, face and full-body massage and then a spell in the steam.
“You can either follow a seven-day, 14-day or one-month programme and people leave rejuvenated – they say they feel younger.”
But don’t be fooled, ayurveda is not all pungent oils and harmony, there are also some pretty scary sounding procedures too such as the kalari massage in which the body is first rubbed down with medicated oils then the masseur, using a rope suspended from the ceiling to keep his balance, performs the massage with his feet!
Then there are the body cleansing therapies, or panchakarma, which aim to remove toxins and metabolic impurities increasing immunity.
Sounds innocuous enough but they include nasyam, the application of herbal extracts through the nose, vamanam, which involves inducing vomiting, vasti, medicated enema therapy, and rakthamoksha which is blood letting!
Thankfully I simply tried the sirodhara, designed to relieve stress and mental tension, in which you settle back on one of the gorgeous solid wood treatment beds and a continuous stream of herbal oils is poured onto your forehead.
I must admit, I was skeptical at first but there is little to dislike about 45 minutes of absolute relaxation and I certainly did leave feeling de-stressed but as to the claimed improvement in brain function and memory? Only time will tell. And a word to the wise, don’t do this before a hot date or important meeting. The oil hung around for days despite repeated shampooing and, judging by the smell, there were curry leaves in that oil! Bahrain Wellness Resort, Avenue 35, Janabiya (17 795 961). Treatment sessions from BD15, plus BD10 for initial consultation.
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Bayoga Yoga, meditation and relaxation in ladies and mixed classes from beginners through to advanced and one-on-one classes also available. Membership BD10 and BD20 for eight classes or BD3 per class, membership not required. Bayoga, Juffair Avenue, near the Chinese Embassy (17 725 027).
Hot Yoga Also known as Bikram yoga, this is a series of yoga poses carried out for 90 minutes in a room heated to around 40 degrees and at humidity of 40 per cent. Sounds hideous but we’re told it’s addictive. NIA: Healing, Movement & Meditation classes also available. World Beat Fitness Centre, Janabiyah (17 612 576).
Namaste An upscale destination in Budaiya offering a holistic wellbeing experience in a feng-shiu style centre with yoga studio and reiki treatment rooms. Various yoga sessions including laughter yoga. Namaste, Budaiya Highway in the Tariq Pastries building, (38 855 999/17 591 565).
Power Yoga A more vigorous form ashtanga yoga or classical yoga but with the alignment of movement and breath which produces a flow rather than a series of poses and carried out more energetically than with regular yoga. Hatha yoga also available. Bodyline Sports & Spa, Saar/Budeiya (17 793 932).
Sahaja Yoga A meditation technique which aims to produce a state of self realisation accompanied by the experience of thoughtless awareness or mental silence (Nirvichar Samadhi). Practitioners are said to feel a cool breeze on their hands and on top of their head while meditating, other effects include deep physical and mental relaxation. Free classes Fri 10-11am, Karanataka Social & Cultural Club, Manama, and Tue 7.30-8.30pm, Telugu Kala Samithi, Adliya Call (39 575 301), www.sahajaogabahrain.com