It is during the winter months that tourists from across the world flock to Kerala's Ayurveda retreats to reap the benefits of the 5,000-year-old tradition of alternative healing practices. However, several experts claim that the best season to actually indulge in Ayurvedic therapy is the monsoon.
"The sudden change of climatic conditions leads to low levels of immunity, which is also why the monsoon appears to bring with a flurry of illnesses, from viral to dengue," says Dr Sreenath, Sri Sri Ayurveda Panchkarma, adding that digestion-related issues are the most common ailments at this time.
Ayurvedic physician Dr Arun Aravind, who heads the wellness centre at Niraamaya, a chain of wellness retreats in Kerala, and specialises in Ayurveda Panchkarma therapies, adds: "Traditionally, people don't go out a lot during monsoons and stay indoors as the weather doesn't allow a lot of outdoor activities. This makes the body receptive to healing therapies the most. So much so, that any Ayurvedic therapy undergone at this time will most probably set you straight for the rest of the year."
However, it is not always necessary to head to God's own country or even an Ayurvedic physician to take a little extra good care of yourself this season. Here are a few super-simple Ayurvedic practices that you can include in your life to stay healthy.
1. Substitute white rice with wild red rice and keep your dinner light.
2. Get a light oil massage almost every day. Here's how to give yourself one. Once a week, a medicated herbal oil massage can increase the blood circulation and can also ease physical stress.
3. Keep your meals light, and avoid eating outside. A light gruel at dinnertime works well. Dr Aravind even suggests skipping one meal of the day if you have been eating rich, oily food throughout the day.
4. Try your hand at meditation. 20-30 minutes of meditation every day will help soothe your mind, and rid your body of lethargy or weakness.
5. Warm food, says Dr Aravind is easily digested compared to cold food. But it's more important to ensure you're eating freshly-cooked food.
6. Apply a mix of turmeric, gram flour and raw milk to your body at least once a week. Turmeric, a natural healer will increase your body's immunity, says Dr Sreenath.
7. Include plenty of warm soups in your diet. Drink plenty of barley water and broths made from old rice and oats with a seasoning of cumin, pepper and asafoetida.
9. "Ayurvedic therapies like Panchakarma, Abhyangya, Shirodhara, Navarakili and Pizhichil are commonly adopted during this time to rejuvenate and detoxify the body," says Dr Sreenath. "However each treatment should be undertaken only after consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor."
10. Instead of tea or coffee to wake you up in the mornings, opt for a refreshing brew of cinnamon, ginger and basil. - "They're rich in antioxidants, sans the caffeine, and actually keep you refreshed for much longer," says Dr Sreenath.
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