Ayurvedic treatments are contributing significantly to the wellness resort businesses all over the world. Seldom do you find a dedicated wellness resort or wellness hotel or wellness spa without Ayurvedic therapies in their spa menus, whether it is in India or abroad. In my diverse experience in wellness resort consultancy, I have seen many destinations despite having abundant natural wellness resources and their indigenous therapies, including Ayurvedic treatments in their wellness resort programs.
This wellness therapy guide is purposed to give you details about vital Ayurvedic treatments sought by medical patients and wellness tourists and the necessary infrastructure you need to have in place if you have a wellness resort, wellness spa, or wellness hotel or plan to have one. Health facilities looking to integrating alternative wellness therapies can also gain important information about Ayurvedic wellness programs.
Guide to Ayurvedic Treatments and its requirements in Wellness Resort programs by Dr Prem Jagyasi
Ayurvedic Therapies offered in wellness programs in resorts
Panchakarma, a five-step detoxification process, is the cornerstone of Ayurvedic Healing.Pancha means five and Karma means actions that involve five sequential external and internal body treatments. We have a separate guide toPanchakarma with details of its concept, processes, and benefits. Here we will talk abouta few vital Ayurvedic treatments for your wellness resort programs.
Snehana Karma or Oleation Therapy in wellness resort programs
It is the initial therapy of the Panchakarma Ayurvedic treatment that involves lubrication of internal and external body channels with fatty substances or Sneha Dravvyas. It includes two steps, the first one is Snehapana (Internal Oleation) done by administrating small quantities of ghee or medicated oils internally. The second one is Abhyanga (External Oleation) involving massage with medicated oils.
The duration of internal oleation, the type and quantity of medicated oil or ghee to be used is decided by a certified Ayurvedic therapist after a full health evaluation of the patient. The patient may be asked to have aliquid diet or light food a day prior to the Snehapana therapy. The patient will have to consume the medicated oil or ghee and will be asked to sip warm water frequently. After complete digestion of the medicated oil, the patient will be given light food.
Swedana or Fomentation or Sudation Therapy
This procedure is done after the Snehana Karma that induces sweating to relieve stiffness, heaviness, and coldness of the body. Toxic substances blocking the energy flow in body channels are driven out enabling smooth circulation. A steam box is used to kickstart the perspiration, and you can easily place it in the therapy room along with other furniture.
Waste materials are brought into the main body channel called Kostha before it is expelled through various treatments of Panchakarma. Snehana and Swedana are meant to soften the channels and loosen the toxins for easy expulsion. These two basic procedures are mostly included in prominent Ayurvedic wellness resort services.
This is a technique of inducing vomiting using natural ingredients to flush out toxins or Kapha from the respiratory system and sinuses. Excessive Kapha in the body can lead to several digestive and respiratory issues. The patient undergoes Snehan and Swedan prior to Vamanam. The patient has to consume a special medicinal decoction of milk, rock salt, and honey to stimulate the digestive system for vomiting. The therapy is useful for skin diseases, asthma, and mental issues dominated by Kapha.
You will need a comfortable chair, medicinal ingredients, a big vessel, water bath, towel, tissues, a measuring cup and a glass. The therapy should be prescribed by an Ayurvedic physician and done by trained attendants.
You will come across this traditional therapy in many Ayurvedic wellness therapy guides. This traditional therapy aimed at cleansing the digestive system is also a vital part of Ayurvedic holistic healing program. This is a medically-induced purgation where the person is given specific medications early in the morning. He is encouraged to drink lots of warm water. The medicine slowly gets absorbed and stimulates defecation, which expels all toxins from the body.
The therapy benefits in treating pitta diseases, skin diseases, digestive disorders, mental disorders, eye disorders and chronic rheumatism. The medication given is patient-specific comprising natural and herbal ingredients as prescribed by an Ayurvedic physician. You will need vessels for preparing the medicine, measuring cups, 1-2 liters of warm water, glass for drinking, comfortable chair or bed and a lavatory facility.
Kashaya Basti in Ayurveda
It is a part of the Pradhana Karma or Main Part of the Ayurvedic Panchakarma treatment. Through an enema, various medicines are inserted to pacify the aggravated ‘Doshas’ (vital energy systems in our body). Measured doses of natural and herbal ingredients like SaindhavaLavana (medicated salt), honey, Gomutra ( cow urine) and Sesame oil are mixed to insert into the body.
The Basti Yantra or device has two parts Basti Putaka and Basti Netra. You will need a Panchakarma Droni, a gas stove and 2-3 vessels for the therapy. One Ayurvedic physician and two masseurs can handle the entire procedure successfully.
Tarpana or Tharpanam
It is the most revered Kriya Kalpa extensively used in Netra practice aimed at improving vision or Drushti Shakti. It is a very effective, preventive, and curative procedure to be likely found in any wellness retreat in India.Sneha or Ghritha is poured into a well-like structure created around the eye and kept for a specific time period.
Typical medicines used are Triphalagritha, Patoladigritha, Jeevanthyadigritha, Yeshtyadigritha, and Mayuradhyagritha. You will need one Akshitarpana yantra, one Panchakarma Droni, one gas stove, 2-3 vessels, 4 numbers cotton pieces measuring 1ftx1ft and 2 meter cotton thread. The procedure needs less time and should be run under one Ayurvedic physician and two masseurs.
Putapaka Rasa is applied in the same mode as Tarpana. After Snehapana and Tarpana, the body and eyes become fatigued. Therefore, in order to restore the strength of eyes, Putpaka is done. Juices of herbs are poured over the eyes to clean them of the remaining ghrita in the eye ducts that may cause temporary haziness and heaviness from the Tarpana procedure.
The fat or Snehana used is muscle fat and juice of burrow animals or those who bite or cut their foods and live on marshy lands. The drugJivaniyagana macerated with milk is also used. Other ingredients used are yoghurt water macerated with the paste of animal and bird liver, pearl, ash of copper and iron, salt, srotonjana or antimony sulfide, conch shell ash, cuttle fish, and orpiment. Equipment and manpower needed are the same as in Tarpana.
Pichu in Ayurveda is a palliative therapy recommended for the remedy of cranial nerve disorders caused by imbalance in Vata (one of three Doshas or energy system). Pichu or cloth is wetted in medicated oils or herbal juices based on the condition of the patient and placed over the area of treatment. The temperature of the liquid could be warm or cool depending on the condition to be treated.
The body slowly absorbs the medicated liquid and stimulates nerve endings and body circulation lubricating the joints. If you include this therapy in your wellness resort services, you will need one Panchakarma Droni, one gas stove, 2 or 3 vessels, 4 pieces of cotton measuring 1ftx1ft, 2 meters of cotton thread, 8-10 palm leaves, one towel, and one hot water bath. An Ayurveda physician for consultation and two masseurs are needed to run this procedure.
Thalapothichil or Shirolepana
This is another common Ayurvedic treatment available in wellness retreats in India and in the world. The focus of this therapy is the head or the brain. Our daily stress, tension, and anxieties arise from our head and Thalapothichil or Shirolepana could be a crucial addition to wellness resort programs. A suitable oil is applied on the patient’s scalp to enhance the response of the treatment.
Next, the head is smeared generously by a smooth paste of gooseberry pulp and butter milk which is followed by covering it with a tender banana leaf. This is allowed to stay for 45 minutes. A suitable oil is also applied over the patient’s body to complement the treatment. The scalp starts sweating due to the heat generation of the paste. The follicles open up and stimulate blood circulation allowing better absorption.
Commonly used medications are Gooseberry powder, Panchagandhachoorna (a combination of 5 aromatic herbs), and Musta (Cyperus rotundus). Medications are selected as per the patient’s condition, and are prepared either by boiling and soaking them in buttermilk overnight. Fresh juice or ingredients do not need soaking and can be directly added to make the paste. You will need one Panchakarma Droni, one gas stove, 2-3 vessels, 4 cotton pieces measuring 1ftX1ft, 8-10 palm leaves, towel, and hot water for bath.A prior Ayurvedic physician consultation is necessary. Two masseurs or trained attendants should run the procedure.
This is a common Ayurvedic massage you will find in wellness resort programs. Also termed as Choorna Pinda Swedam, this massage is focused on the overall body to alleviate pain and swelling caused by arthritis, muscular spasm, and rheumatism. Bundles of cotton cloth holding herbal powders are rhythmically pounded all over your body for about 45 minutes.
Selected herbs usually a mixture of castor roots, cotton seeds, and sesame seeds are heated first in a pan and then grounded to a coarse powder. Four small bundles of cotton cloth are created with the powder in it and are pounded all over the body. During the massage, the bundles are further warmed in neem or castor oil to enhance its effectiveness in stimulating the blood circulation and lymphatic system of the body.
Other ingredients likely to be used are curcuma, rock salt, garlic, and lemon. To run this therapy, you will need one Panchakarma Droni, one gas stove, 2-3 vessels, 4 cotton pieces each measuring 1ftx1ft, 2-meter cotton thread, 8-10 palm leaves, towel, and a hot water bath. The procedure should be done under the supervision of an Ayurveda physician, 2 masseurs, and 2 attendants.
You will also find this wonderful therapy in Ayurveda wellness resort services in which herbal paste is applied externally over the affected body parts to treat specific skin and joint disorders like eczema, gout, arthritis, etc. Specific herbs are chosen based on specific conditions. A paste is made by mixing herbs in water, oil, or ghee depending on the patient’s requirement.
The paste is lightly warmed and then applied over the area to be treated. It is left to dry and the body gets ample time to absorb key ingredients. You will need one Panchakarma Droni, 50 gm of powdered herbs or drugs, 4 cotton pieces each measuring 1ftx1ft, 2 meter length cotton thread. The procedure should be overseen by an Ayurveda physician and conducted by two efficient masseurs.
You will find this special Ayurvedic massage therapy in many wellness retreats in India. Warm herbal concoction is poured from a hung vessel over the parts of the body to be treated. Cereals (Dhanya) and vinegar (Amla) from citrus fruits are used to prepare a mixture. The therapy is beneficial for gout, arthritis, Rheumatic fever, and other joint disorders.
Sliced fruits, Navara rice, horse gram, and millets are blended in a piece of linen and boiled in a large water pot for a specific duration to allow vital ingredients leach into the pot to form the vinegar. You will need a Panchakarma Droni, Shirodhara device, Dhara table, and 3 liters of the herbal liquid. Ayurvedic physician consultation is a must and the therapy must be done by two masseurs.
This could be one of the most sought-after wellness resort programs as it is effective in soothing your mind and body. It is seemingly simple but benefits are many. Apart from reducing stress and improving sleep, it is also useful for treating hypertension and facial paralysis. Little but concentrated quantities of herbal oils or a paste is applied on the head.
The scalp absorbs the oil and stimulates the peripheral nerves. You can use any one of the oils amongKarpasasthyaditaila, Ksheerabalataila, Chandaditaila, Dhanvantarataila, and Narayana taila. You will need a Panchakarma Droni, a gas stove, and 2-3 vessels for storing the oil. The entire procedure should be done under the supervision of an Ayurvedic Physician and two masseurs.
It is an important part of the therapeutic use of Panchakarma that helps in managing certain diseases and conditions. Different techniques are applied to let out the blood either by leeches or through a wound.
You may think of including this therapy in your wellness resort programs, but it is often the last resort when other therapies fail to produce the desired outcome. You will need a Panchakarma Droni, leeches, instruments for incision and vein puncturing, and 2-3 vessels. The therapy should be done under the guidance of one Ayurvedic physician and two masseurs.
Udwarthanam (Dry Massage)
I always advocate simple and effective therapies in wellness resort consultancy, and Udwarthanam or Dry Massage is one of them. This is quite similar to the deep tissue massage that you commonly find in wellness resort services. Udwarthanam means to elevate or to promote. A coarse powder of Triphala, KolakulathadiChoornam, or KottamchukkadiChoornam is forcibly rubbed over the body with upward strokes.
This invigorating massage activates the lymphatic system and boosts the metabolic rate. It is beneficial for weight management, skin rejuvenation, and immunity-boosting. You will need a Panchakarma Droni and 4 pieces of cotton measuring 1ftx1ft. The massage should be done by two masseurs under the guidance of an Ayurvedic physician.
Also known as PalpukaSwedam, KsheeraDhooma is a traditional therapy unique to Keraliya Panchakarma system. It is a form of Swedana treatment that comes under the umbrella of NadiSweda and BashpaSweda as mentioned in the classification of Swedana in Ayurvedic texts. Specific herbs are infused in milk and then steamed together to apply over the face carefully.
This is done after the initial application of medicated oil or ghee as per the requirement. This unique therapy is beneficial to treating facial paralysis, frequent headaches, and other conditions affecting the brain and nervous system. You will need raw drugs, BalamoolaQwathaChurna, measured quantities of water and cow milk, and medicated oil enough for Abhyanga, and 2-5 kamala.
Equipment needed are a large vessel with a lid having a narrow opening, NadiSwedana yantra or a heat and leak-resistant long tube with a tight-fitting nozzle for creating high pressure steam, a stove, blanket, towel, bandage cloth, large pieces of square-shaped cotton pieces or cotton swabs, tissues, sterile cloth, a massage table and a reclining chair. An Ayurvedic physician and two attendants should oversee the procedure.
As the name suggests, Ksheera means medicated milk and dhara means a continuous flow of the medicated liquid, Ksheeradhara is prominent in Ayurvedic wellness retreats in India and also in other wellness destinations. The therapy is similar to Shirodhara, another common Ayurvedic treatment included in wellness resort programs, but instead of herbal oil, herbal milk is used.
Milk is a very good moisturizer and the herbal infusion helps in relieving stress, tension, and anxiety and also supports skin rejuvenation. You will need a Shirodhara device, one Dhara table, 3 liters of Ksheeradhara liquid, towels, and tissues. One Ayurvedic physician and two attendants must oversee the therapy.
In this therapy, medicated milk, medicated oil, buttermilk, coconut water or Kashyam are poured over the body part to be treated. This is a highly relaxing procedure where the liquid is poured in a rhythmic with simultaneous gentle massages.
You will need one Abhyanga table, 100-150 ml of medicated oil, a vessel of 200 ml capacity, tissue, soft towel, green gram powder, medicated snanachruna or medicated soap. The therapy should be done under the supervision of one Ayurvedic Physician and two attendants.
This is another unique Dhara therapy that couples a full body massage with Takra or Herbal buttermilk being poured over the forehead in a continuous stream. The therapy has a cooling effect on the body, and is recommended for Diabetes management and other related issues.
You will need one Abhyanga table, 100-150 ml of Takra liquid, 200 ml capacity vessel, tissue, soft towel, green gram powder, medicated snanachurna or medicated soap. Manpower requirement is the same as that of EkangaDhara.
Avagaham – Medicated Bath
Avagaham is the best way to invigorate the whole body and mind. It sets deep relaxation into one’s body in the most traditional way. In this process, the whole body is immersed in a specially formulated decoction of herbs or oils. This is a part of Purvakarma or a preparatory therapy for Panchakarma and is highly beneficial for treating upper and lower back pain and urinogenital disorders.
The decoction will be decided by the Ayurvedic physician based on the individual requirement. You will need a full-size bath tub filled with the decoction and other bathing accessories. Two attendants should look after the entire procedure.
This is a type of Swedana treatment in which heated bolus (Potalis) are applied either locally or over the entire body of the patient depending on the condition. The bolus or Potalis contain patras (assorted herbal leaves) and Naranga (lemon) and other herbal powders. Ingredients used are Jambira, methikachurna, ShatahChurna, SaindavaLavana, Lashuna, Narikea, and Erandataila.
It helps in treating sciatica, spondylosis, lower back pain, and severe inflammatory arthritis. You will need a Panchakarma Droni, one gas stove, 2-3 vessels, 4 cotton pieces measuring 1ftx1ft, 2 m of cotton thread, towel, and hot water for bath. The procedure needs Ayurvedic physician consultation and should be done by two professional attendants.
Shiro Abhyanga is a Sanskrit word. It is composed of two words, Shira or head and Abhyanga, which means inducing specific movements in the body with a gentle oil massage. The massage is done over the head, neck, and shoulders which are mostly affected by stress and strain.
Normally, Karpasasthyaaditaila, Ksheerabalataila, Chandaditaila, Dhanvantarataila, or Narayana taila are used for the massage. You will need a Panchakarma Droni, one gas stove, and 2-3 vessels for the procedure. Ayurvedic physician consultation is required.
In this therapy,herbo-mineral oils are poured into the ears to lubricate the delicate tissues of the ear canal, remove impurities, and improve hearing capacity. Karna means “ear” and Purana denotes “filling” or “pouring”.
Sesame oil, Dhanvantaritaila, Anu taila, Lasunditaila, BilwaTaila, KsharaTaila, and Sarshapataila are mainly used for this process. You will need one Panchakarma Droni, one gas stove, 2-3 vessels, 2 m length of cotton thread, and a towel.
Elakkhizi (Patra potaliSweda)
You will find this almost in all Ayurvedic wellness resort programs whether in India or in the world. Patra PotaliSweda refers to the Swedana performed by specially prepared bolus of medicinal leaves. Leaves of medicinal herbs are fried in herbal oil and tied into a soft linen in the form of small pottalis or bolus.
This therapy is recommended to treat muscle, bone, and joint pain.Commonly used leaves are, Eranda (Ricinus communis), Amlika (Tamarindus indica), Karanja (Pongamia glabra), Shigru (Moringa oleifera),Dhatura (Datura metel), Arka (Calatropisprocera), and Nirgundi (Vitex Negundo). Common oils used in this therapy are Karpasasthyaditaila, Kottamchukkaditaila, Balaashwagandhaditaila, Dhanwantarataila etc.
You will need a Panchakarma Droni, one frying pan, vessels for heating, one gas stove, 1 kg of chopped leaves of medicinal herbs, 100 grams grated coconut, 15 gm rock salt, 2 lemons, and 100 ml medicated oil. The therapy should be done under the guidance of an Ayurvedic physician and two masseurs.
MarmaChikitsa is a traditional Ayurvedic therapy aimed at restoring health and vigor by applying pressure on specific Marma or points in different parts of the body. It balances the flow of Prana in the body and helps the body heal quickly.
MarmaChikitsa helps to repair the network of channels within the body that nourish each tissue. It enhances communication at the cellular level, affecting cellular intelligence, metabolism and immune function through Prana, Tejas and Ojas. The therapy is available in many wellness retreats in India.
Marma massage involves having a controlled diet, oil massage, and application of herbal paste. The procedure may continue for several days under the guidance of trained masseurs and Ayurvedic physician. Using MarmaChikitsa, you can remedy several health conditions such as snoring, certain heart conditions, aches, pains and fatigue in the body and also reduce blood sugar levels. You will need a massage table, vessel for storing oils, towels, and tissues.
It is another fomentation therapy that you will find in various Ayurvedic wellness resorts. It is a sweat-inducing therapy where herbal powders are warmed in potlis which are applied for fomentation. After applying oil over the body or on specific area, the therapist will apply the potli after dipping it in warm medicated oil kept at a steady temperature.
The potli or khizi is massaged over the patient with soft strokes. Herbal powders used are Triphala powder, KolakulathadiChoornam, and KottamchukkadiChoornam. You will need one Panchakarma Droni, one gas stove, 2-3 vessels, 4 pieces of cotton 1ftx1ft, 2 meters of cotton thread, 50 gms of fine herbal powders, and hot water for bath.
A decoction of herbal powders along with honey, oil, and SaindavaLavana is introduced through the anus to expel toxins from the body. The therapy helps in reducing morbidity thus enhancing the health and longevity.
This therapy is beneficial to treat constipation, bloating, backpain, colic pain, neurological disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and gynecological disorders. You will need one Lit capacity Vastiputaka (Bladder or polythene bag approx.), one vasti Netra (Nozzle), vessels, churner, heating apparatus, thread, table, bench, towel, and hot water for bath and a lavatory facility.
Common medications used are oils of Abhyanga, Swedana karma, oils for Vasti,Kwatha (Decoction) & Kalka (Paste) made from prescribed medicines, Madhu (Honey),and Saindhava (Rock-salt). You will also need Ayurvedic physician consultation and one masseur to conduct the process.
The process involves the application of medicated herbal paste on the whole body or specific areas depending on the patient’s condition. This is useful for treating various types of inflammatory disorders, arthritis, gout, skin diseases and eczema. Continuous application of herbal paste reduces inflammation and increases blood circulation providing relief to the patient.
Lepam paste bear high anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and the liquids used are good for tissue nourishment. You will need 1 Panchakarma Droni, 50 gm of finely powdered prescribed drugs, 4 cotton pieces 1ftx1ft, and 2-meter cotton thread. Two masseurs are needed for the therapy along with Ayurvedic physician consultation.
Whatever Ayurvedic therapies you choose, make sure it resonates with the philosophy of your wellness resort, wellness spa, or wellness hotel. In my wellness resort consultancy projects, I have always emphasized this vital point. Each wellness resort, spa, or hotel is unique and so are the customer demands. There is no magic combination that you will find in any wellness therapy guide suitable for your facility; expert guidance is necessary.