Ayurveda in Bahrain
We get the lowdown on this ancient Indian practice Discuss this article
One of the world’s oldest medical systems, ayurvedic medicine originated in India and has evolved there over thousands of years.
According to Dr Mariam Thomas of the Bahrain Wellness Centre, the word ayurveda literally means ‘the science of health’..
“It’s the art of living,” says Dr Thomas. “How to keep the body healthy such as through exercise and meditation and being close to nature.
“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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